Speakers Bureau

(Editor’s note: Some of the addresses below are old and out-of date. For the most current listing of speakers, click here.)

The following individuals have agreed to speak with researchers, scholars, and members of the media about their experiences in Peoples Temple.

Jonestown survivors (Temple members in Guyana on November 18, 1978)

Vernon Gosney left Jonestown with Congressman Leo Ryan on November 18, 1978, and was seriously wounded during the shootings at the Port Kaituma airstrip. His articles on this site appear here. He can be reached at alive@hawaii.rr.com.

Laura (Johnston) Kohl was a member of Peoples Temple in California and in Guyana.  She lived in Jonestown but was working in Georgetown on 18 November: ljohnstonkohl@gmail.com. A short biographical video clip appears here. Her articles on this website appear here.

Eugene Smith joined Peoples Temple in 1973 and lived in the Temple’s San Francisco commune before leaving for Jonestown in fall 1977. He was in Georgetown on November 18 clearing items from customs. Numerous members of his family – including his mother, wife, and infant son – died in Jonestown. He can be reached at eugene.e.smith@gmail.com. His articles on this website appear here.

Mike Touchette was among the original pioneers who built Jonestown. He and his wife were in Georgetown on November 18, but several family members died in Jonestown: MichTouc@aol.com.

Jordan Vilchez became a member of Peoples Temple as a teenager when her family joined. She was in Georgetown, Guyana on November 18, 1978, but her sisters and nephews died in Jonestown. She was on the Planning Commission and is familiar with many inner workings of the organization. She can be reached at jordanvilchez@gmail.com. Her articles on this website appear here.

Leslie Wagner-Wilson (Fortier/Cathey) was a child of Peoples Temple living in Redwood Valley from age 13. She lived in Jonestown until escaping with her three year old son and several others the morning of November 18th. Her husband, mother, sister, brother, niece and nephew died in Jonestown. She is the author of  Slavery of Faith – www.slaveryoffaith.com and can be reached via faithalways@slaveryoffaith.com. She is the author of A Continual Journey of Faith on this website.

 

Other Temple members

Don Beck, a member of Peoples Temple living in Redwood Valley in November 1978, was part of group making original trip to Guyana, and for summers of 1974 and 1976 as Jonestown was being built. His email address is donbeck@cox.net. His articles on this website appear here.

Mike Cartmell’s family joined Peoples Temple in Indianapolis in 1959, and he was a member for 17 years until he left in February 1977. His mother, step-father, sister and adopted brother died in Jonestown. He may be reached at Beemermcart@aol.com. His articles on this website appear here.

Laurie Efrein Kahalas, a long-time Temple member and author of Snake Dance, created the website www. jonestown. com which now appears on this site here. She can be reached through dan_laurie44@comcast.net. Her articles and reports of her investigations appear here.

Bryan and Kristine (Johnston Tarver) Kravitz, long-time Temple members, were living in San Francisco in 1978: kbbsherdt@yahoo.com. Bryan is the author of The Longest Twenty Years on this website.

Garrett Lambrev was the first person to meet Jim Jones and join Peoples Temple after the exodus from Indiana to the west coast. A recent dropout from a doctoral program in history at Stanford and seasoned peace activist, he thought he had found in Peoples Temple the realization of all his dreams. His passage through Peoples Temple was stormy, but he didn’t finally cut the umbilical cord until apprised of what he still considers “torture”in the summer of 1976. Today he’s a semi retired public librarian, living in Oaktown, California, who operates an online used book business through Amazon Marketplace. He’s always been a poet and early this year published his first collection, “Dogstar and Poems from Other Planets: 1964-1989” (Beatitude, 2007). He can be reached at garrett1926@comcast.net. His writings on this site appear here.

Deborah Layton is a former member who left Jonestown and encouraged Rep. Leo Ryan to investigate the community. Layton’s memoir, Seductive Poison has been required reading at major universities, and the audio version of the book, narrated by Kathe Mazur and Deborah, is available here. She can be reached through her website, or email at deborahlayton2012@gmail.com.

Andy Silver, a member of Peoples Temple for seven years, was living in the San Francisco church on November 18, 1978. He is married with five granddaughters, has a divorce mediation and hypnosis practice, and  serves on the Community Relations Commission in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he has lived since 1981. His writings on this site appear here. He can be reached at AndyS604@aol.com.

Vera (Ingram) Washington was a member of Peoples Temple for several years but left in 1973 because of conflicts she had with the leadership of the group: verajbw@gmail.com. Her writings on this website appear here.

David Parker Wise was a Pastor of the Los Angeles branch of Peoples Temple, and is writing the book Jonestown Legacy. His email address is hopetek@gmail.com. His writings on this site appear here. Mr. Wise also managed the Jonestown Legacy website.

 

Others

Lela Howard, niece of Jonestown victim Mary Pearl Willis, speaks about the shame and other emotions her family and others have endured as loved ones of Peoples Temple members, giving a different perspective as to how the massacre and media coverage affected survivors, creating a silent shame. She is dedicated to correcting this stigma. She may be reached at lelavhoward@gmail.com. Her writings on this website appear here.

Pat Ryan is the daughter of the late Congressman Leo J. Ryan, who was murdered while assisting Peoples Temple defectors to leave Jonestown on November 18, 1978. She currently serves as Executive Director of the California Mental Health Directors Association (CMHDA), a statewide association representing county mental health departments and services. Her e-mail address is pryan@cmhda.org.

 

Scholars

John R. Hall author of Gone from the Promised Land, is at the Department of Sociology at University of California – Davis. His e-mail is jrhall@ucdavis.edu. He is the author of Jonestown in the 21st Century on this website.

Massimo Introvigne, CESNUR – Center for Studies on New Religions, Via Confienza 19, Torino, Italy 10121; telephone 39-011-541950; e-mail maxintrovigne@gmail.com. He is the author of Jonestown and Liberation Theology on this website.

Rebecca Moore, Professor Emerita, Department of Religious Studies, San Diego State University; 485 Friday Avenue, Friday Harbor, WA 98250; telephone 360-317-1313; e-mail remoore@sdsu.edu. Her writings on this website appear here.

Catherine Wessinger, Department of Religious Studies, Loyola University, 6363 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70118; telephone 504/865-3182; e-mail wessing@loyno.edu. Dr. Wessinger’s articles on this site appear here.

Eileen Keremitsis, Ph.D., San Francisco-based independent historian and master researcher familiar with materials on Peoples Temple and Jonestown. Telephone 415/431-3644; e-mail e.keremitsis@sbcglobal.net.

Originally posted on July 25th, 2013.

Last modified on May 12th, 2020.
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