Annual Community Service Awardees
Annually we award a community leader our Community Service Award (CSA). The Bernie Board chooses a member of the community who exemplifies our values and what we hope for in our awardees’ futures. The speech that the CSA winner gives at the event is always uplifting and offers encouragement and guidance to our scholars. Below are spotlights on some of our Community Service Award recipients.
Chris Ullman, 2019
Chris Ullman is Founder and President of Ullman Communications. He is a communications professional with 32 years of experience across the private, public, and non-profit sectors. Before launching his firm, Ullman Communications in 2019, Chris served as Director of Global Communications at The Carlyle Group, a global investment firm, for 18 years. Prior to that he led communications at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S House Budget Committee. A member of the Board of Directors of the American Red Cross, National Capital Region, Chris has long used his communications skills to assist non-profits and organizations that support low-income citizens in Washington, DC, including SOME (So Others Might Eat) and Vision Ministries, a Christian tutoring and mentoring program. Chris is also a supporter of Junior Achievement of Greater Washington, which teaches students financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship. As a 20-year board member of The Fund for American studies, Chris has served as a career mentor to hundreds of college students. Chris is the author of “Find Your Whistle: Simple Gifts Touch Hearts and Change Lives”, which empowers readers to use their simple gifts to make the world a better place one person at a time. In 2017 he gave a TEDx talk on how to improve race relations in America.
Ruby Rubens, 2018
Mrs. Rubens is a 50-year resident of Montgomery County. Her passion for social justice shows in advocacy for education, housing and human rights, a fair housing tester and VP of Suburban Maryland Fair Housing helping residents of Tobytown, Scotland, Sandy Spring and other historic African American areas; coordinator for the National Council of Negro Women’s after-school program (over 100 African American teen girls); founding member of Blacks United for Excellence in Education; member of the County’s NAACP (education, housing and Freedom Fund Chair); founding member of Coalition for Equitable Representation in Government (CERG); MCPS education advocate for African American students in MCPS; Advisory Board member of The Bernie Scholarship Awards Program. Recipient of: The Neal Potter Path of Achievement Award, Board of Education Award for Distinguished Service to Public Education, the County’s Human Rights Hall of Fame, and Women Making a Difference. She held County and Federal positions including for County education, housing and multicultural affairs; County Fair Housing Manager; instructor of law for U.S. Social Security Administration. Mrs. Rubens was the first African American Administrator in the Social Security Headquarters Field Department in Woodlawn, Maryland. Upon retirement in 2000, she was Ombudsman for the County Board of Education. From 2002-20012, she was a consultant to MCPS and developed Study Circles on the impact of race and culture on student achievement. She was also a consultant with the George B. Thomas, Sr. Learning Academy (Saturday School). Sadly, she passed away on February 27, 2020.
Hon. Craig Rice, 2017
Craig Rice was first elected to the Montgomery County Council in 2010, after having been a member of the Maryland House of Delegates for 4 years. He chairs the Council’s Education Committee and is also on its Health and Human Services Committee. Since 2016, Mr. Rice has been on the Maryland Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, where members review educational funding in Maryland.
Catherine Leggett, 2016
Catherine Leggett is Senior Vice President for Human Resources at ICMA-RC. She is a lifetime board member of Montgomery Hospice, Chair of Maryland State Commission for Public Art and was named Democrat of the year in 2007. She completed a J.D. and a B.A. in sociology and psychology from Howard University. As First Lady of Montgomery County, she serves on many nonprofit committees and is very active in the Montgomery County community.
Scott Murphy, 2015
Scott Murphy is principal of Watkins Mill High School in Gaithersburg and director of secondary curriculum and district-wide programs. Among Mr. Murphy’s innovations at Watkins Mill are the opening of a Wellness Center that takes a culturally sensitive approach to offering medical care, counseling, and health education to students, installation of a new stadium field, developing community partnerships, and new teaching practices replicated throughout the County.
Community Service Awardees from 1996 to 2020
1996: Carolyn Snowden, Community Activist
1997: Mary D’Ovidio, MCPS Principal
1998: Dr. Robert Parilla, former President of Montgomery College
1999: Officer George Hackey, community policeman
1999: Hon. Henry Heller, former State Delegate
1999: Dr. George Thomas, Co-Founder of George B. Thomas, Sr., Learning Academy/Saturday School
1999: Ed Bohrer, former Mayor of the City of Gaithersburg
2000: Dr. Hiawatha Fountain, former Associate Superintendent of. MCPS
2001: Gene Ford, Sr., former Chair of Edgewood Management, Affordable Housing Developer
2001: Norman Cohen, former HOC Commissioner
2001: Wangul Njuguna, BCC Student
2002: Joyce Siegel, Community Activist
2002: Roscoe Nix, former President of NAACP
2003: Teresa Wright, Educator and Student Advocate
2004: Chuck Lyons, Publisher of the Gazette Newspapers
2005: Rose Cramer, former Montgomery County Councilwoman
2005: Blair Ewing, MCPS Board Chair
2006: Dr. Stewart Edelstein, Executive Director of Universities at Shady Grove
2007: Hon. Ike Leggett, County Executive
2008: Kathy Dougherty, former Director of Social Programming for Edgewood Management
2009: Clarence Arthur Eubanks, Co-Founder of the George B. Thomas Sr. Learning Academy/Saturday School
2010: Frankie Blackburn, Community Activist
2011: George Payne, Vice President, Workforce Development and Continuing Education at Montgomery College
2012: Dr. Frieda K. Lacey, former Deputy Superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools
2013: Wilma K. Holmes, retired principal of Flower Valley Elementary School
2014: Shirley Brandman, past President of the Montgomery County Board of Education
2015: Scott Murphy, high school principal
2016: Catherine Leggett, Montgomery County First Lady
2017: Craig Rice, Montgomery County Councilman
2018: Ruby Rubens, retired Ombudsman for Montgomery County Public Schools
2019: Chris Ullman, Founder and President of Ullman Communications.
2020: Guy Filipelli, CEO of Squadra Ventures
Annual Scholarship Awardees’ Celebration
The annual Bernie Scholarship Awards Program’s (BSAP) Awards Event, with dinner, is a celebration of our new scholars. Our application process includes completion of their BSAP Application Form and proof of eligibility for an award (living in subsidized housing in Montgomery County and a minimum GPA of 2.0), then they are interviewed by Board members. Our awardees work hard to succeed in their courses despite personal, family and financial/employment challenges. We honor their courage, determination, resilience and persistence. The Awards Event is our chance to congratulate them on their accomplishments and their educational and career goals. Some awardees tell their personal “stories” at this dinner, and it is always inspiring.
(First-time $25,000 donation from BSAP to Montgomery College Foundation (MCF) for needy MC students)
BSAP donated $25,000/year to Montgomery College Foundation (MCF) in 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 ($100,000 total); MCF provided 148 awards to MC students eligible for BSAP scholarships. We will continue to make this annual donation to Montgomery College Foundation.