The program leadership is comprised of a Board of Directors and an Advisory Board.
Meet the people behind the scenes who are responsible for maintaining The Bernie Scholarship Awards Program’s success. Our Board members and members of the Advisory Board are volunteers. They help minimize program costs, which makes the program much more effective. The money goes where it is needed – to the students for their education and training.
Both the Directors and Advisors are accomplished, community leaders. In addition to providing their skills, they are role models for The Bernie scholars. Our Board and Advisory Board members get to know the awardees through their application review and personal interviews.
The Board of Directors meets from September through June on the first Wednesday morning of the month in Rockville. The Advisory Board meets twice a year and also advises and participates in events and planning. If you would like more information or to become a Board member, please send your request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tom Clark - Treasurer
Aziza El Bahja
Silvio Renzi - President
Advisory Board Members
Reverend Lon Dring
Tom Clark is the Chief Financial Officer at Georgetown Law School. Previously he worked as Vice President of JP Morgan Chase, Divisional Vice President and Controller at Prudential Financial and also worked for the law firm of Milbank Tweed Hadley and McCloy. Tom holds a Business Management degree from St. Francis College, an M.B.A in Finance from Pace University and a J.D. degree from New York Law School. Tom is also the Vice President and Treasurer for the Maryland Writers Association-Montgomery County chapter.
Jacqueline Dennard is a Community Director for the Community Services Foundation. As director of the Social Action Ministry at the People’s Community Baptist Church, she oversees 12 ministries involving community outreach activities, including the Political Action Committee.
Tosha Dyson is the Coordinator of the Family Self-Sufficiency Program at Rockville Housing Enterprise. She has also been a mentoring and leadership volunteer with youth and families at Goshen United Methodist Church and the City of Rockville.
Aziza El Bahja is a consultant at Megabill Technologies. She coordinated a joint venture between a group of medical doctors in Kuwait and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, provided expert knowledge on International Business and governmental entities overseas and in private sectors and ensured that clients maintained an appropriate measure of compliance with environmental regulations.
Lawrence Eldridge retired in 2017 from 36 years as a Hospital Administrator at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center. He served on the Board of the Friends of the Clinical Center. He had served on the Board of the of the Laurel (MD) Historical Society and will rejoin the Board of the Laurel Historical Society in July 2018. Since March 2018, he is a volunteer mediator with the Conflict Resolution Center of Montgomery County.
Lynn Feakes recently retired as Manager of Legal Services Programs at the National Education Association. Prior to her work with NEA, Lynn utilized her information technology skills as a consultant to several Federal agencies including the Housing and Urban Development, Department of Energy, and National Aeronautical and Space Administration.
Linda Mericle is an attorney, partner, and founder of the firm Cameron Mericle P.A. (formerly Linda Mericle P.A.). She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Baltimore School of Law and has been a licensed attorney in Maryland since 1991. Linda Mericle has taught paralegal classes at the University of Maryland, University College and served as an adjunct professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law. She serves on the board of the Jubilee Foundation of Maryland, serving disabled adults. Ms. Mericle has recently retired from the law practice and she now donates her time to many Montgomery County volunteer programs, including Jubilee, KindWorks, and Family Services.
Silvio Renzi is an executive with TurningPoint Global Solutions in Rockville MD where he manages sales and operations for all commercial IT products and services. He has over 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur building and managing businesses. Silvio is dedicated to service, holds various positions within his community and volunteers for various charities including Bernie Scholarship Award and Ride Allegheny; an organization raising over $500k per year for Operation Second Chance. Silvio holds an MBA from Seton Hall University and a BSBA from Boston University where he was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity.
Nancy Scull retired in March 2015 from 22 years as Coordinator of the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program at the Housing Opportunities Commission. She was founder of The Shepherd’s Table in 1983. In 2014 she received the Roscoe Nix Distinguished Community Leadership Award from County Executive Ike Leggett.
Cassandra (Sandy) Smith is a graduate of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ and attended Hofstra University for her MBA. She currently works with the Montgomery County Volunteer Center as an Advisor. Cassandra founded the NY Jets Wive’s Association and received the Nassau County award for her work with Domestic Violence Shelters. Cassandra was the Program Director for Suited for Change where she spoke to the Congressional Black Caucus and created numerous programs to empower Women and aide in their return to the workplace. Cassandra is married and mother of 3. She is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.
Sonya Hall Turner has over 25 years of legal experience and has worked both for and with in-house corporations and at a law firm. She currently is the Director of Contracts with Turning Point Global Solutions, L.L.C. in Rockville, Maryland, where she manages inception to close-out of the company’s commercial, Federal and State government contracts, as well as reporting and pricing. Sonya holds a B.A. in English from UNC-Greensboro, an MBA and M.S. in Contract Management and Procurement from UMD, University College, and a Paralegal Certificate in Business Finance/Corporate Law from Philadelphia Institute of Paralegal Training. She is a certified Interior Decorator, volunteers at the BlackRock Center for Performing Arts, is active at her church, Kingdom Fellowship AME, and has been involved with saving lives by expanding the bone marrow registry as Drive Outreach Coordinator for Swab a Cheek, Save a Life, formerly a Gift of Life campaign.
Bruce Adams is the Director of Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett’s Office of Community Partnerships (OCP). He served as an elected Montgomery County Council member from 1986-94 and was Council President 1991-92. He served as Senior Fellow at The James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership at the University of Maryland (1995-97), Fellow of the Kennedy Institute of Politics at Harvard University (1979), Associate of the Charles F. Kettering Foundation (1982-1986), and National Research Director for Common Cause (1977-1982). Bruce was named 1998 Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian magazine and received the 1993 Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ Scull Metropolitan Public Service Award for enhancing intergovernmental cooperation in the Washington Metropolitan Region.
Aubrey Alston is an Information Specialist at IQ SOLUTIONS in Rockville, MD. He is responsible for providing information and referral support for the SAMHSA Contact Center, a 24-hour National Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services information and treatment referral service. Mr. Alston is also the Chief Executive Officer of ALSTON & SMITH, LLC. of Fairfax, VA. He is responsible for managing and co-facilitating professional development trainings for NPO’s and for profit businesses.
Shirley Brandman is a retired member and past president, Montgomery County Board of Education. She has served on numerous boards including the Maryland Association of Boards of Education, Professional Standards and Teacher Education Board, Latino Youth Collaborative, Montgomery County Council of PTAs and Montgomery County Commission for Children and Youth. In 2014 Ms. Brandman received The Bernie Scholarship Awards Program’s Community Service Award.
Catherine Leggett is Senior Vice President for Human Resources at ICMA-RC, a nonprofit independent financial services corporation providing retirement security for Public Sector services. Mrs. Leggett was named Democrat of the year in 2007. As Montgomery County’s First Lady, she is very active in the community as a lifetime board member of the Montgomery Hospice, Chair of Maryland State Commission for Public Art and a former member of the Boards of Young Audiences, Imagination Stage, Maryland State Arts Council and Montgomery County Arts and Humanities Council. In 2016 she received The Bernie Scholarship Awards Program’s Community Service Award.
Paul McGuckian is a retired Senior Circuit Court Judge for Montgomery County, served as general counsel for the Housing Opportunities Commission and its predecessor, Public Housing Authority, for 12 years. He then served as the County Attorney for Montgomery County until his appointment to the bench in 1987. He has been on the boards of several County Sec. 236 Senior Housing projects.
Susan Messitte is a Member of and past President of the Foundation Board of St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She is a community activist having served on several Boards including Judicial Nominating Committee and Juvenile Justice Committee for Montgomery County. She is the past President of Woman’s Democratic Club and is a retired consultant for nonprofit organizations and a former Peace Corps Volunteer in Brazil.
George Payne is Vice President and Provost for Applied Technologies, the Gudelsky Institute for Technical Education, and Workforce Development & Continuing Education whose mission is to empower students to change their lives and enrich the life of their community. He has also received The Bernie Scholarship Awards Program’s Community Service Award.
Ruby Rubens retired in 2000 as the Ombudsman for the Montgomery County Board of Education. From 2002-2012, Mrs. Rubens served as a consultant to Montgomery County Public Schools working with the Study Circles program on the impact of race and ethnicity on student achievement. She has also been Special Assistant to the Montgomery County Executive and the County’s Fair Housing Manager, consultant to HOC for Affirmative Fair Marketing, Management Analyst for the US Office of Personnel Management, and Instructor of social security law for the US Social Security Administration. Mrs. Rubens has received recognition such as The Neal Potter Path of Achievement Award and the Delta Sigma Theta National Legacy Award to Women Making a Difference. She was also inducted into Montgomery County’s Human Rights Hall of Fame.