Community Recovery Advisory Group Members

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Tufail Ahmad was born at Allahabad and migrated to Pakistan in 1958 after obtaining a post graduate degree.  Tufail served in Pakistan for 15 years and migrated to the USA in 1973. After serving 27 years in the shipping business, Tufail retired and established the non-profit "Montgomery County Muslim Council" and then the "Montgomery Muslim Foundation" to serve the community.

Steve Allen is the Executive Director of the Spirit Club Foundation whose mission is to create greater access to exercise and fitness for people with disability. Prior to organizing the Foundation, Steve was Director of Development for Jubilee Association of Maryland. Steve also developed and managed Fannie Mae's single-family mortgage business for people with disabilities prior to Jubilee.

Kirsten Andersen, LCSW-C is YMCA Youth & Family Services’ Senior Director of Intervention Services and has worked in the non-profit field helping youth and families for over 20 years. Additionally, she has experience working to address veteran homelessness through her work at the Veterans Administration. Currently, Kirsten is responsible for providing programmatic direction to YFS’s social service, outreach, case management, community develop and mental health programs.  She supports the Directors, represents the Y in collaborative program development with outside organizations, integrates and coordinates multi-disciplinary programs, and leads collective impact strategies to advance the Y’s cause.

Isabel Argoti is a long-time resident of Montgomery County and a proud immigrant from Ecuador. After attending Montgomery County Public Schools for K-12, she attended the University of Virginia, being the first in her family to receive a college degree. Currently, she is a Program Manager at Collegiate Directions, Inc. (CDI), a nonprofit organization in Bethesda, MD committed to closing the achievement gap for low-income, primary first-generation-to-college students, spearheading the new Career Mentoring program. Prior to this, Isabel interned and fellowed for the National Park Service managing the national youth program, Every Kid in a Park, focusing on national and regional program data and communications. Isabel serves as a Commissioner on the Montgomery County Commission for Women and as the National Director of Public Relations for Sigma Lambda Upsilon/Señoritas Latinas Unidas Sorority Incorporated. She is passionate about her Latinx community, women's rights, youth empowerment, and access to education.

Nick Asante is a rising senior at Richard Montgomery High School and a resident of Germantown. He serves as the 43rd Student Member of the MCPS Board of Education. He looks forward to aiding in efforts to help the county recover from this devastating pandemic.

Shruti Bhatnagar is a community advocate who has served in leadership positions at the County and state level, with various non profit and community organizations, for over 15 years. She served on the County Executive's transition team and is currently serving as Chair of Sierra Club. Shruti has been a resident of Montgomery County for more than two decades.

Christopher Bolton is the East County Citizens Advisory Board Chair and has 15+ years of restaurant management experience. Christopher is a lifelong Montgomery County resident.

Karen Britto saw the increasing gap between the growing and diverse Montgomery County population and the limited number of diverse elected officials. She recognized that diversity, equity and inclusion are central to the success of the community; so she committed herself to promoting the most inclusive electorate possible by identifying, advocating for and advancing candidates of color. She was inducted in the Montgomery County Human Rights Hall of Fame for her dedication to promoting human rights and improving the quality of life for all Montgomery County residents, particularly women and minorities. Before her retirement, she was a lobbyist for an energy company; she also spent several years working in the international trade field, which involved championing American products to overseas buyers, seeking joint venture opportunities and attracting overseas companies to locate a facility in the U.S. She is a former member of the Maryland General Assembly and holds a bachelor’s degree from Villanova University and master’s degree from Howard University.

Sofia Bushen is Ethiopian born and she spent most of her adult life in the United States. She lived in Tennessee for eight years before moving to Maryland in 2014. Currently, she is working at Medstar Health as an Inpatient Medical Coding Team Lead, in the Rates and Reimbursement Department. She has both a Master’s degree in Healthcare Law and a Bachelor’s degree in Health Information Management. While pursuing her Master’s in Healthcare Law, she worked on various projects that dealt with both healthcare regulatory and statutory analysis. Aside from working in healthcare, she serves on Silver Spring Citizen Advisory Board (SSCAB).

Kristy Daphnis has resided in Wheaton since 2006, and has taken on a variety of leadership roles in community activities and causes over the past decade. She is interested in advocacy related to transportation safety, education policy, and broad-based equity for our under-served communities across the County. Currently, Kristy Chairs the Montgomery County Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Traffic Safety Advisory Committee, and is an organizational representative to the Montgomery Planning Pedestrian Master Plan Advisory Committee; serves as an Montgomery County Council of PTAs as the Einstein High School Cluster Coordinator, and contributor to the Safe Routes to School Subcommittee; and, is the Co-Leader of a local Girl Scout Troop, providing mentorship and confidence building activities to over 30 Wheaton/Glenmont/Silver Spring area Girl Scouts. In her spare time, Kristy enjoys enjoys arts and crafts, experimenting in the kitchen, and spending time with her husband and two children.

Derrice Deane currently serves as co-chair of the Caribbean American Advisory Group of Montgomery County. Derrice is a native of Barbados in the Caribbean and has been a resident of Montgomery County for 40-plus years. Derrice has been a member of the Caribbean American Advisory Group of Montgomery County since its inception 12 years ago. She has served as host and producer of Caribbean focused television talk show for the past 23 years and has worked with or been connected to several Caribbean Community and/or social organizations. She has over 30 years of experience working or volunteering in radio and television. Derrice is mother of three adult daughters all living in Montgomery County and five grandchildren.

Jean Dinwiddie is the Chair of the Montgomery County Commission on Aging. As a licensed clinical pharmacist, she also serves on the COA's Health and Wellness Committee and provides medication check-ups at various senior centers. Jean is a Lamy Champion with the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. An active volunteer, Jean is an usher at Ford's theater, a member of the Gaithersburg Senior Advisory Committee, Vice-President of The O Mahony Society, and a volunteer at her grandchildren's elementary schools.

Monica Escalante has been working in end-of-life care since 2001. She is currently the CFO and CCO of Montgomery and Prince George's Hospice. Monica serves as the treasurer of the board of Leadership Montgomery, and as steering committee co-chair of the Montgomery County Latino Health Initiative. Monica has extensive background in marketing research; she has conducted both qualitative and quantitative research in the Latino community nationwide on various health issues such as mental health, substance abuse, cancer prevention, and aging (for agencies including SAMHSA, CSAT, NIH, and NIA). Monica graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a Masters of Science in Marketing and has a Masters in Public Policy and Management from the Catholic University (Bolivia) & Harvard University. Her undergraduate degree is in Business Administration. Monica is a recipient of the Washington Business Journal's 2019 Minority Business Leader Award.

Debbie Feinstein has a been Assistant State's Attorney for Montgomery County for the past 20 years. In 2012, she became the Chief of the Special Victims Division where she is responsible for supervising and prosecuting cases involving murder, child physical and sexual abuse, domestic violence, elder abuse, human trafficking, sexual assault and computer crimes against children. Debbie currently chairs the Montgomery County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council, the Montgomery County Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team, and the Montgomery County Elder/Vulnerable Adult Abuse Task Force. Debbie also chairs the Montgomery County Choose Respect Healthy Teen Dating Initiative and is a member of the Governor’s Family Violence Council.

Deborah Fisher, Psy.D., is a Montgomery County based consultant to human services organizations. A licensed psychologist who moved from practice in a variety of health care delivery systems to executive management, she has devoted her career to advocating for and supporting the needs of people with disabilities in school and employment settings, promoting their rights to achieve self-determined, independent and engaged lives. She is a board member of several organizations including serving as a trustee of the Healthcare Initiative Foundation in Montgomery County and a Fellow of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Jillian Fisher-Bouchelle is a community member, parent of a child entering MCPS this fall, and is employed at a non-profit which provides supports to people within our community. She personally has been impacted and will continue to be impacted by COVID-19 as it has changed the way that she does her work and lives her life. She would like to have the opportunity to think through ways of ensure safety in all aspects of life, while still moving toward a new normalcy.

Melanie Fonder Kaye has lived in Silver Spring since 2008. Fonder Kaye is a communications strategist with more than 20 years of experience in communications, media, and journalism. Before founding her strategic communications firm, MFK Strategies, she served as Director of Communications to Dr. Jill Biden. She currently serves on the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board, the board of CREATE Arts Center, and as Vice President of the Little Explorers Child Development Inc. (LECDI), the parent board of Bright Horizons at NOAA. She lives in the South Four Corners neighborhood with her husband and three children.

Josephine Garnem was born in Sierra Leone and has lived in the Middle East, Uganda, Pakistan and Afghanistan before moving to the USA. She is an experienced community mobilizer and humanitarian professional, with over 24 years of global experience in many places including Africa, South Asia, the Middle East, and in the USA. Her passion is to strengthen links between communities through partnerships, in order to improve their health and wellbeing. Josephine organizes free Health and Wellness fairs, mental health awareness initiatives, engaging organizations, volunteer immigrant doctors, nurses and public health specialists, to serve the diverse immigrant communities in Montgomery County, MD. Josephine has also led initiatives that implemented culturally appropriate curriculum for African Immigrants on HIV/AIDS awareness & outreach efforts. Josephine, on her free time, loves to organize diaspora-led international medical missions focused on training and exchange of skills between local doctors, other health professionals and their diaspora counterparts.

Pat Grant is an expert consultant, specializing in project management, strategic planning, and talent management. Pat worked for the federal government for 11 ½ years as a Senior Computer Specialist and has over 15+ years’ experience working for several major corporations in management, project management, technical, and business development roles. Pat is the Immediate Past Chair of the African American Health Program (AAHP) Executive Committee, which is comprised of a voluntary advisory board members who counsel Montgomery County’s Department of Health and Human Services in its implementation and evaluation of the African American Health Program, as well as, advocate for the elimination of health disparities that impact the Black population in Montgomery County. In addition, Pat is a member of the Montgomery County (MD) Alumnae Chapter, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc and is the Immediate Past Chair of the Chapter’s Social Action Chair, as well as, a member of the Montgomery County, MD Section, National Council of Negro Women, Inc. (NCNW) and a Past President of the Section, as well as, a NCNW Life Member. Her recognitions include: Montgomery County Democratic Central’s Morgan-Jerney Community Service Award; the State of Maryland “Governor’s Volunteer Service Certificate” from the Montgomery County’s Black Minister’s Conference and the County’s Office of Human Rights; “Women of Faith Community Service” award from Clinton AME Zion Church; and the “Community Service Leadership” award from Norbeck Community Church. Pat has a MS, Technology Management, UMUC, and she is a member of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.

Wendy Howard is the Executive Director of One Montgomery Green, a local non-profit formed to promote Montgomery County, Maryland as a “visibly green” sustainable community. In her role as Executive Director of One Montgomery Green, Wendy has been instrumental in increasing One Montgomery Green’s outreach and promoting Montgomery County, Maryland as a “visibly green” sustainable community. In 2020 Wendy received and was recognized as one of the first 40 certified Climate Change Professionals (CC-P®) certified by the Association of Climate Change Officers and the State of Maryland. Wendy is also the owner of WH Consulting, a green/environmentally friendly computer firm providing sustainable IT support services and training for PCs and Macs. WHC was founded on the principle of providing real information and support services to its clients. WH Consulting specializes in streamlining IT systems to conserve natural resources and increase productivity.

Brigid Howe (she/her) is a lifelong resident of Montgomery County, currently living in Wheaton with her 9 year old son. She is a Senior Director for District Councils at Urban Land Institute, managing capacity-building and peer support for 52 local councils. From 2015-2018, she was the first full-time executive director of Nonprofit Montgomery. She is active in the PTA at the local and county level, and advocates for equity in schools and the community as a whole.

Samira Hussein I will bring over twenty years of experience advocating, organizing, training, speaking and leading to benefit the under-represented, immigrant, world refugees, victims of hate crimes, Arab and Muslim communities. Montgomery County resident since 1982, married for 43 years, mother of four MCPS graduates. Samira is fluent in Arabic and some Spanish and is a recipient of local, national and international awards and recognitions. Samira serves on the City of Gaithersburg Multicultural Affairs Committee for the Mayor and Council, is a member of the Islamic Center of Maryland Outreach Committee, and Co-Chair of Equality 4 Eid Coalition. Samira served on the Middle Eastern American Advisory Group for the County Executive. Samira created many programs to benefit educators, students and public officials about Arab culture and Islamic religion and is the Founder and Chair of Arab American Heritage Month, the first and only in the nation.

Abi Jinadu-Mustapha is a behavioral and mental health practitioner and consultant with over 25 years of experience in the field. She is a grassroots advocate and community organizer with demonstrated service, projects and outreach to and with special populations within the community. Abi has over the course of many years engaged at initiating outreach to and participating in service delivery and deliberations with diverse providers and people across interfaith, cultural, and professional array to mention a few. She is a dedicated team player eager to identify and proffer solutions beneficial to the greater, common goal. Abi thrives and excels in environments of nurture and grounding that values each.

Ebony Johnson is a certified career coach, small business consultant and non-profit founder located in Montgomery County, Maryland. Ebony is a proud Air Force Veteran and Operation Enduring Freedom Veteran. She has been an activist for women, veterans, children and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault for over 25 years. Ebony currently serves as the Chair of the Montgomery County Interagency Commission on Homelessness. She is the founder of The Next Chapter, a non-profit to advocate for veterans and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Sebastian Johnson is a public policy consultant and philanthropic strategist. He is a grants manager with Arnold Ventures, where he helps to oversee the philanthropic organization’s criminal justice portfolio in corrections and reentry. He has been a senior associate at Freedman Consulting LLC; a State Policy Fellow at the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy; and a Teach for America corps member in Lawrence, MA, where he taught third-grade math and social studies. He is a graduate of Harvard University, Georgetown University and Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Tiffany Jones operates Precious Moments Family Childcare (PMFC), a family childcare program licensed by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) Office of Child Care. Precious Moments Family Childcare is located in the historic West End community located within the city of Rockville. Established in 2006, Precious Moments Family Childcare has been on the forefront of providing quality year-round full-time & part-time family childcare as well as before and after school care to Montgomery County families. Precious Moments Family Childcare is licensed for a maximum of 8 children, accredited by the National Association of Family Child Care (NAFCC), Level 6 Credentialed as well as Level 5 MDExcels. Tiffany currently serves children 6 weeks through 12 years of age and accepts low income and subsidy clients. Tiffany serves the community and volunteers time as the Vice-Chair of the Montgomery County Community Action Board as a representative of the Head Start Parents Policy Council.

Elizabeth Kellar is Director of Public Policy for the International City/County Management Association and also oversees ICMA’s disaster recovery programs. She previously has served as ICMA’s Deputy Executive Director and Ethics Advisor. Ms. Kellar also is Senior Fellow for the Center for State and Local Government Excellence, an organization she launched and served as President/CEO from 2006-2016. Ms. Kellar is a Fellow in the National Academy of Public Administration and has served as chair for NAPA’s Standing Panel on the Federal System. She serves on the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board and previously served two terms on the Montgomery County Maryland Ethics Commission, including three years as chair of the Commission.

Omar Lazo has been a strong advocate for the small business community. As a 2nd Vice President of the Wheaton & Kensington Chamber of Commerce he has been a voice for the local businesses. As a member of the Wheaton Urban District Advisory Committee he been very pivotal in bringing change and redevelopment to the City of Wheaton. Currently he is on the executive board of the Latino Democratic Club of Montgomery County and recently appointed to the Board of Workforce Development for Montgomery County.

Li-Fang Liu, the current Deputy Executive Director of Chinese Culture and Community Service Center (CCACC), has been part of CCACC since 2011. CCACC, a 501(c)(3)non-profit organization, is one of the largest grassroots Chinese American organizations in the Washington metropolitan area. During the COVID-19 pandemic, CCACC has been delivering food to seniors, providing medical treatment, assisting with grant applications, conducting informational webinars, and translating government announcements and plans into Chinese for the Chinese American community. CCACC and Ms. Liu, as one of the leaders, continue to collaborate with other ethnic groups and community organizations, playing a role as a bridge between government and local communities.

Adam Lustig is a population health expert who has lived in the Forest Glen / Wheaton area of Montgomery County for the past 5 years. Mr. Lustig has over 10 years of experience leading and supporting policy development and partner building efforts to improve health and well-being for communities across the country. Adam is currently a Manager and Principal Investigator at the Trust for America's Health, a non-profit organization that promotes optimal health for every person and community and makes the prevention of illness and injury a national priority. He received his MS in Health Policy from the Thomas Jefferson University College of Population Health and a BA in Public Policy from the State University of New York at Albany.

Katharine Manning is the author of The Empathetic Workplace: Five Steps to a Compassionate, Calm, and Confident Response to Trauma on the Job (forthcoming HarperCollins February 2021) and the President of Blackbird DC. For fifteen years, Manning advised the Justice Department on victim issues in its most challenging cases, from terrorism to child exploitation to large-scale financial fraud. Manning now uses her expertise to help government, educational, and corporate institutions prepare for and respond to the challenges they face involving employees and members of the public who may be in trauma, from claims of sexual harassment or assault to large-scale impacts like data theft and workplace violence. A member of the California bar, Manning was a litigation associate with the law firm Pillsbury Winthrop in San Francisco, where she represented Fortune 500 companies in class actions, insurance, and media cases. Manning serves on the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board and has three children in Montgomery County Public Schools.

Peter Myo Khin is a retired US Postal Executive, past Chairperson of the East County Citizens Advisory Board, past President and current Treasurer of the District 14 Democratic Club, current President of the Tamarack Triangle Civic Association, and current Vice-Chairperson of the Montgomery County Commission on Common Ownership Communities.

Marjorie Nemes serves as the Latino Economic Development Center's Chief of Development & Strategy and has 18 years of experience in the community development field. Prior to joining LEDC, Ms. Nemes’ work focused on assessing the needs of vulnerable and marginalized communities and the programs designed to minimize social inequities. She has directed, consulted, and supported research and evaluation projects related to immigrant and refugee integration, public health, community change processes (policy change, race and ethnic relations, organizing/advocacy), and economic development. Having served as a research consultant to foundations, government agencies, and non-profit organizations, Ms. Nemes is well versed in the program development and organizational capacity building. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Maryland College Park in Psychology and a Master’s of Science in Cross-Cultural Psychology from Brunel University in London, England.

Marko Oven-Rivera was born and raised in Montgomery County and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Latino Democratic Club. Marko works as the lead coordinator for the UpCounty Consolidation Hub in Germantown with various partners organizing UpCounty food drives and drive thru distributions since the COVID pandemic started. Marko currently resides in Germantown MD and is passionate about community service and community advocacy.

Vernon Ricks proudly served in the U.S. Air Force. After leaving the military he worked for Xerox Corporation. He retired after 33 years with Xerox Corporation, were he received many awards for Excellence in Management. At the same time he was managing at Xerox, he was elected as the first black elected municipal official in Montgomery County, Maryland, serving as councilman and mayor pro-tem in the City of Takoma Park, Maryland from 1972 to 1982.

William J. Roberts, Esq. is an attorney and community leader whose work focuses on various issues including: civil rights, housing, transportation, education, and economic development. He serves in various community and non-profit capacities including as Chair of the Board of the Montgomery County Renters Alliance and as the incoming Chair of the Upcounty Citizens Advisory Board. William resides in Clarksburg with his wife Michelle and their daughter Mackenzie.

Fran Rothstein is a retired consultant who worked with federal, state, and local government agencies and nonprofit organizations. Issues included national service, workforce development, housing, economic development — focused on increasing opportunities for individuals and communities with barriers to success. Avid community and political volunteer. Headed the MoCo Women’s Democratic Club, Montgomery Women, Sligo Park Hills Civic Association, Takoma MS and Blair HS PTAs; served on several nonprofit boards.

Gloria Salazar is administrator of Maryland Child Services, Inc. which has 4 centers, all in the Excel MSDE program. Gloria has a BA in Early Childhood Education, a Masters in Special Education and has participated in various seminars and courses. Gloria is a past trainer in Instituto de Educacion Infantil and mentor of interns pursuing an education career.

Miriam Schoenbaum lives in Boyds and has 2 children in MCPS. Miriam is on the boards of the Boyds Civic Association, the Boyds Historical Society, the Friends of Ten Mile Creek and Little Seneca Lake, and the Action Committee for Transit, and is a member of the Montgomery Philharmonic.

Dr. John Seelke is currently a member of the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board. He also serves as an Instructional Specialist for Secondary Math for Montgomery County Public Schools. Dr. Seelke's work has focused on areas around equity in education, including ensuring all students have access to similar opportunities. He lives in East Silver Spring with his wife Clare and his twin daughters, Anna and Madeline, who will be rising 6th graders.

Lisa Seigel is President of Direct Support for Immigrants (DSI), an all-volunteer non-profit that helps immigrants access resources in and around Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. Many of the families that DSI works with have arrived in the U.S. from Central America in the last two years. In 2017, Lisa received the Advocate of the Year award from MCCPTA for leading a coalition of parents and advocates that brought attention to an outdoor playspace equity issue that resulted in the county amending the capital budget to incorporate $750,000 of funds for one school year and $6.1 million more over subsequent years.

Devang Shah is a lifelong resident of Montgomery County. Professionally he is partner with Law Firm of Shah and Kishore where he represents companies with immigration matters. He serves as the Chair of Interfaith Works and is a Board Member of AICS. Devang is also a 2016 Leadership Montgomery graduate. He also Chairs the Maryland Democratic Party AAPI Leadership Council.

Laura Stewart moved to Silver Spring in 1997 in order to be closer to her job in Tyson's Corner, and eventually raise a family. After 10 rewarding years in telecom and having two young boys, she decided it was more important to spend time with them instead of hours on the beltway. She has been on the board of Silver Spring Nursery School, Woodlin Elementary PTA and MCCPTA. This past year, she chaired the Women's Democratic Club Education Advocacy Subcommittee and was VP of Advocacy for MCCPTA while also serving as their representative on the Black and Brown Coalition. She is also the Democratic Precinct Chair in District 18. She enjoys teaching children piano part time and advocating for kids at the county and state level full time.

Lisa Taylor is a civil rights attorney who has worked at the U.S. Department of Justice for 19 years. She is also the chair of the Committee Against Hate/Violence whose mission is to eradicate acts of hate and intimidation through community, education and legislation. She is an zealous advocate who works to serve those who cannot serve themselves.

Tho Tran is the Founder and Executive Director of Vietnamese American Services (VAS). Tho has been working actively with the community through the COVID 19 pandemic. In March and April, Tho successfully called the Vietnamese community to join the Sewing Mask project. In Since May, Tho has been working with 30 volunteers weekly to deploy the COVID 19 Food Assistance Program to thousands of seniors and families in the County. Tho will be a good asset to connect the Vietnamese community to the County and otherwise.

Elijah Wheeler serves as the Executive Director of the Montgomery County Collaboration Council. Through his years of professional service, he has advocated for the strengthening of local programs and organizations as a way to bolster success and equitable access as well as opportunities for children, youth, and families. He has also worked on policy reform to ensure the reduction of disparate outcomes and treatment for communities of color. He currently serves as a board member of Maryland Mentor Inc. and also as chair of the Montgomery County My Brother’s Keeper initiative.

Gregory Wims is a 6th generation Montgomery County native. He has over 40,000 volunteer hours serving on more than 30 non-profit and for- profit boards in Montgomery County. In 1996 he founded the Victims' Rights Foundation which serves victims of domestic violence and other crimes.