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Silver Spring Citizen's Advisory Board

Member Biographies
 

Bernice North, Chair

The daughter of immigrants from Ghana, West Africa Bernice Mireku-North is a lifelong Montgomery County resident and a graduate of Montgomery Blair High School.  After graduating from University of Maryland, College Park in 2003 with a B.A. in Government and Politics, she attended Howard University School of Law.  

Since joining the Board, Bernice served as Co-Chair of the Neighborhoods Committee and was voted as Executive Vice-Chair for two terms..  She also served on the boards of the African Immigrant and Refugee Foundation and  the Literacy Council of Montgomery County, and served as a member of the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Committee.  

Bernice works as an Assistant State's Attorney in Anne Arundel County, Maryland where she prosecutes criminal and traffic adult and juvenile cases including domestic assault, drug possession, and driving while under the influence of alcohol.  Bernice resides in Takoma Park with her husband Terrill and enjoys Terps basketball.

 

Praj Kasbekar, Vice Chair, Neighborhoods Committee

Praj Kasbekar moved to Silver Spring in 2007, attracted by the diversity of its people and the level of their involvement in the community. As a community planner and developer by profession, Praj contributes her knowledge, ideas and passion for building vibrant communities to the efforts of the Advisory Board and its committees.

Praj joined Montgomery Housing Partnership in 2007, a non-profit developer of affordable housing in Montgomery County, and is responsible for managing acquisitions, financing, and development of multi-family buildings.

Kasbekar received her Master of Regional Planning from Cornell University, and a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Pune, in India. Praj and her husband love the July 4th parade and fireworks display in Takoma Park and can regularly be found people watching in downtown Silver Spring and along Maple Avenue.

 

Mark Mendez, Parliamentary Vice Chair

Mark Mendez has participated actively in neighborhood issues for almost 20 years. He and his family are now in their second home in the same neighborhood they’ve called home since 1990.

His professional communications and marketing talents were put to good use working with neighborhood coalitions to maintain valuable green space surrounding the Gwendolyn Coffield Recreation Center as a park, and to shift the planned location of the Purple Line Train Yard from a commercial area to one that is already industrial.

Former SSCAB Member Charlotte Coffield, one of Mark’s neighbors and a sister to Gwendolyn – for whom the Rec Center is named, encouraged Mark’s participation on the Advisory Board. He is pleased to convey relevant and timely information to his neighbors and to the broader community. Mark is Vice President of the Rosemary Hills Neighbors’ Association and a member of the Lumina Theatre Board of Directors.

 

Uri Pasternak, Secretary

As a practicing civil engineer who is also working towards a Masters in Community Planning, Uri Pasternak is tuned in to balancing the need for continued growth and development against the needs and desires of the established community.  With a surge in development underway in Downtown Silver Spring, Uri’s attention is focused on how this is working in our community and how our community’s voice is reflected back to the County government.

When Uri, raised in Wheaton, and his wife, of New York, returned to Montgomery County from Philadelphia (where they attended college), they considered amenities available in various communities and moved to Silver Spring for its urban accessibility and convenience.  From bagels in the morning to Fillmore events at night, the walkability and offerings of our community present continuing appeal.

 

Jonathan Bernstein

Jonathan Bernstein joined the SSCAB in March 2013.  He and his wife Linda raised their daughter in Silver Spring, first in the Indian Springs neighborhood and then in Seven Oaks-Evanswood. Long a government campaign finance lawyer, he works and writes in the field but is able to spend more time contributing to a wealth of community projects. 

Jonathan is very active in his community. He helps with programs for Silver Spring Green, serves on the board of the Old Blair Auditorium Project, moderates his neighborhood list serve and continues to assist with the planning of the 5th Annual Taste the World in Fenton Village (save the date, May 3, 2015).  A fan of using technology more effectively, he is also a nonprofit director for Washington Apple Pi, a Metro area Mac user group.

A regular participant in SSCAB meetings and events, Jonathan receives much by contributing to the community through the SSCAB. He now co-chairs the TREE Committee, while continuing to support the valuable programming of the Neighborhoods and Commercial & Economic Development Committees.

 

Stacey Brown

South Four Corners/Montgomery Hills

Ms. Brown is vested in Silver Spring as a long-term resident and business owner.  She brings a particularly broad perspective on relevant Silver Spring issues through her participation and leadership in organizations established to further community goals, such as PTA and NAACP Parent Council Rep at community schools, the Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce and the MD97 Montgomery Hills Project Planning Study Stakeholders Group.

 

Philip Dittner

Active in Faith Community

Mr. Dittmer brings great enthusiasm together with both education and experience in developing and implementing public policy.  Having recently fallen in love with the “diverse, eclectic, and engaging downtown Silver Spring community,” Mr. Dittmer is especially interested in building community among young adults here in support of their choices to stay in Silver Spring rather than move elsewhere.  He has already shown his collaborative abilities in working with his faith-based community – Restore Church, service at Shepherds Table and promotion of local businesses through social media.

 

Ed Levy

After an accomplished 32-year career with the U. S. Department of Commerce, Ed Levy brings his enthusiasm for public policy and politics to the Silver Spring community that has been his family’s home for more than 30 years.

His increased activity in the community has been extensive. In addition to his commitment to the Advisory Board’s efforts – especially on Taste of Fenton Village and the Commercial Economic Development Committee, he has been a freelance writer/editor writer for several non-profit organizations and is a regular contributor to the Silver Spring Voice.

Originally from Baltimore, Ed had hitchhiked to 49 States by the time he was 20 years old.  He has been to 71 countries and on every continent but Antarctica.  He loves coming home to the friendliness and informality of Silver Spring and is deeply committed to “the success of our diverse, economically vibrant, and naturally beautiful county.” 

 

Matthew Losak

Downtown Silver Spring Renter community

Mr. Lasak has over 25 years of community activism.  Most recently, his work has focused on building an active and organized voice for renters in Montgomery county, including leading the County’s Tenants Work Group from 2008-2010 and followed immediately after with the establishment of the Montgomery County Renters Alliance in 2010 – the first non-profit in the County and State dedicated exclusively to advancing renters’ rights and security. Previously, Mr. Lasak worked with – among others – the AFL-CIO, the U.S. Department of Labor, the Peace Corps, and the White House.

 

Dan Morales

Dan Morales is an architect and urban planner who believes that buildings and communities should be designed for the people who will live in and among them.  He volunteers his time to influence project outcomes that are attractive, human scaled, and sustainable over the long term.

In collaboration with ESSCA, Dan provided feedback on aesthetics and massing for the Baptist Church redevelopment project at the corner of Wayne and Fenton to reflect the neighborhoods interests. He was able to help the community articulate its needs and help the developer satisfy the community's aspirations.  In collaboration with the SSCAB, Dan contributed to the Taste the World in Fenton Village.  

Attracted by Silver Spring's diversity and livability, Dan and his wife Melanie decided to move their young family from DC to make downtown Silver Spring their home.

 

DeAndre Morrow

New Young Professional Resident

Mr. Morrow brings the perspective of a new, young professional, resident who greatly values the unique diversity of our community.  In addition to seemingly boundless energy and ideas, he brings the experience of leadership roles in professional and multicultural community organizations and a passion for “breaking through any racial, cultural and economic barriers that may exist” in Silver Spring.  While an undergrad, he was awarded the David A. Portlock Cross-Cultural Diversity Award, and in law school, served as Vice President of the Charleston School of Law Black Law Students Association in Charleston, South Carolina. 

 

Sigurd Neubauer

Sigurd (Siggy) Neubauer is a resident of National Park Seminary, a historic neighborhood idyllically adjacent to Rock Creek Park between Silver Spring and Bethesda. Siggy is an internationally recognized foreign affairs expert, specializing in U.S. policy towards the Middle East and North Africa Region. Originally from Lillehammer, Norway, Siggy has been a proud Montgomery County resident for the past seven years and serves on a number of community and county boards. Siggy is passionate about promoting small-business, with a particular emphasis on improving the business climate in Montgomery County. Fluent in seven languages, Siggy is a graduate of Yeshiva University in New York where he studied Jewish history (MA), political science (BA) and French literature. Siggy currently serves on the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board and is a member of the Commercial Economic Development Committee. 

 

Sara Sheppard

 

Jessica G. Simon

Jessica G. Simon was raised in Rockville, MD where she attended MCPS schools graduating from Thomas S. Wootton High School. Jessica has a B.A. in English and Policy Studies from Syracuse University and an M.S. in Education from the University of Pennsylvania. After teaching high school English for three years at a public all-girls school in North Philadelphia as part of Teach For America, she spent a year studying at The Pardes Institute for Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, Israel.

 She volunteers with Jews United for Justice and works at the New Israel Fund as the D.C. Region Development Associate. She also writes and performs her poetry at various venues in Maryland and D.C. She is a renter in downtown silver spring with her partner and her orange tabby cat. She is proud to be a member of the SSCAB and looks forward to serving as Co-Chair of the Neighborhoods Committee with Adam Vicks. 

 

Adam Vicks

 

Jay Wilson

 

Mary Ann Zimmerman

Mary Ann joined the Advisory Board in March 2013. She retired from the US Department of State where she worked as a contractor for the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO) and is returning to her “roots” as an active participant in the Silver Spring community.  She has lived in downtown Silver Spring (at the Blairs) since 1993.

In addition to SSCAB, Mary Ann has been appointed to the WMATA Riders Advisory Council.  She is also on the Board of Silver Spring Village and the Silver Spring Branch of the American Association of University Women.  

Past affiliations have included Silver Spring Town Center, Inc. (SSTCi), First Night Montgomery, Silver Spring Urban District Advisory Committee, and the Montgomery County Blue Ribbon Panel on Pedestrian and Traffic Safety.  She is a graduate of Leadership Montgomery and the IMPACT Silver Spring community empowerment program.

Mary Ann is a civil engineering graduate from Purdue University, has worked for the City of Chicago, Cummins Inc, and as a management consultant in over twenty-five countries primarily in sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern Europe.

 

Suzy Zusy

A native Washingtonian, Suzy was born in DC, raised in Kensington, and schooled in Bethesda.  She earned an MBA at GWU and lived in Kalorama and Cleveland Park while marketing real estate development and architectural services.  During the 1990s, at the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation, she was involved in guiding the planning and development of Penn Quarter as major new residential buildings, retail, and arts uses were built and occupied.

Her continued interests in the decisions that produce vibrant cities and neighborhoods drew her to invest in a home, to serve on the Advisory Board, and to launch her business as a real estate agent in Silver Spring.

Suzy is committed to understanding local issues and supporting community efforts aimed at enhancing our quality of life.   In addition to serving on the Advisory Board, she represents the Advisory Board on the Urban District Advisory Board.


Silver Spring Regional Center · Silver Spring Civic Building · One Veterans Place · Silver Spring, MD 20910
 240-777-5301 · silver.spring@montgomerycountymd.gov