Staff Roster

Staff Roster document.

Staff Biographies


Diane Vu photo
Diane Vy Nguyen-Vu
Director
Office of Community Partnerships
Montgomery County Community Engagement Cluster
21 Maryland Avenue, Ste 330
Office: 240-777-8320
Cell: 240-418-7322
diane.vu@montgomerycountymd.gov
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

Tôi nói tiêng Viêt 
I speak Vietnamese

Diane Vy Nguyễn Vũ (Diane Vu) is the Director of the Office of Community Partnerships (OCP). She joined OCP in 2012 as the liaison to the Asian Pacific American and Middle Eastern communities and Language Access Coordinator.  She also formed the Montgomery County Legal Immigration Service Provider Network, led the County’s Citizenship Initiative, served as the staff liaison to Montgomery County’s Sister Cities with Xi’an, China; Hyderabad, India; and Daejeon, South Korea, and as chair of the LBGTQ Affinity Workgroup of the My Brother Keeper’s Initiative.
 
As the daughter of Vietnamese refugees and an immigrant herself, Diane understood at an early age the challenges of overcoming cultural and linguistic barriers. After graduating from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Diane served as an AmeriCorps Fellow working with Vietnamese seniors at the Association of Vietnamese Americans (formerly named Maryland Vietnamese Mutual Association), a nonprofit organization providing direct services to and advocacy for Vietnamese Americans. Upon completion of her 10-month fellowship, Diane went on to serve as the executive director of MVMA for 4 years and led the organization to becoming the first Vietnamese American organization in the nation sanctioned by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) to provide legal immigration assistance and representation. She was the only Vietnamese American BIA accredited representative in the DC metro area.
 
During her time at MVMA, Diane served on the steering committee of Nonprofit Montgomery, as an appointed member of the County's Commission on Aging and County Executive's Asian American Advisory Group and participated in capacity-building initiatives such as the Community Foundation of Montgomery County's Nonprofit Advancement Fund's Small Emerging Nonprofits Initiative.
 
Diane has been a Montgomery County Resident for almost 30 years and currently resides in Montgomery Village, MD. 
See Diane in " What Every American Should Know" by The Aspen Institute. 
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Kate Chance 
Faith Community Liaison
Office of Community Partnerships
Montgomery County Community Engagement Cluster
21 Maryland Avenue, Ste 330
Rockville, MD 20850
Cell: 202-360-6240
kate.chance@montgomerycountymd.gov
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

Kate Chance is the Faith Community Outreach Manager for the Office of Community Partnerships. She comes to this role with extensive experience working with faith leaders and houses of worship on a wide range of issues with a focus on interfaith initiatives. Kate earned her Master’s degree from the University of Oxford in the Study of Religion, with concentrations in Islam and Hinduism. She has a Bachelor of Arts from Flagler College, with degrees in Psychology, Philosophy and Religion.
 
She previously worked for the New York City Mayor's Office as the City-Wide Faith Liaison for the Center for Faith and Community Partnerships, which is housed within the Mayor's Community Affairs Unit. The Center for Faith and Community Partnerships seeks to transform the way faith communities and mission-based community organizations connect to City services. Kate represented the Mayor’s Office and worked to amplify the voices of faith leaders in city hall. She managed PPE distribution to faith leaders and houses of worship in vulnerable communities in all five boroughs during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and received the Brooklyn Salutes Award for her support to immigrant communities in Brooklyn and other boroughs.
 
Prior to working for the NYC Mayor’s Office, Kate worked for Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in Montgomery, Alabama as their Outreach Manager. She created and led initiatives for the SPLC on Campus program, including their #FirstWeRegisterThenWeVote campaign, which empowered over 200,000 students to register to vote across all 50 states. She also managed the daily operations of the Civil Rights Memorial Center, a museum that honors 41 martyrs who died during the movement including a monument created by Maya Lin. Kate provided tours and presentations to a variety of audiences at the museum, and represented various SPLC programs and projects at conferences and events across the nation.
 
Before her time at SPLC Kate worked for Islamic Networks Group in San Jose, California as their Community Engagement Manager, leading local and national programs to encourage interreligious understanding. She managed ING’s Know Your Neighbor program, which was previously a White House initiative focused on engaging people of faith across religious, political, racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds. She also managed the Interfaith Speakers Borough, training faith leaders to speak about their faith in K-12, college and community settings to combat stereotypes and encourage interfaith understanding. She managed panels, acting as a facilitator, and gave presentations and speeches at rallies and events. Kate also implemented and managed interfaith events and programs throughout the Bay Area, acting as a facilitator and bridge builder across faith differences.
 
Kate also worked for the University of Florida’s Hindu and Islamic centers, planning conferences and events with a variety of university departments and student clubs. She helped advance interfaith initiatives within the Gainesville, Florida area such as being on the committee to make Gainesville a Welcoming City as a part of the Welcoming America program. 

 


Anna DeNicolo
Program Manager
Gilchrist Center for Cultural Diversity
Mid-County Regional Services Center
2424 Reedie Drive, Suite 220
Wheaton, MD 20902
240-777-4944
Anna.denicolo@montgomerycountymd.gov
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

hablo español
Eu falo português

I speak Spanish and Portuguese

Anna coordinates the Gilchrist Center’s volunteer-led English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and Basic Computer classes, recruiting and supporting approximately 70 volunteers teaching 37 classes at 4 sites.   Anna grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with regular summer visits to her mother’s family in Salvador, Brazil, and weekends spent with her Italian grandparents.  She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Latin American Studies at the University of Michigan, during which time she studied abroad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  Anna later obtained a Master of Public and International Affairs with a Certificate in Latin American Studies at the University of Pittsburgh, writing a thesis on the role of the Catholic Church in grassroots development in Salvador, Brazil based on participant observation of favela community movements inspired by liberation theology.

Anna has more than twenty-five years of experience in program management, adult learning and outreach, including curriculum design and delivery, facilitation, and training.  Prior to joining the Gilchrist Center in 2012, she served as Knowledge Management Team Lead and as a Proposal Manager for 10 years at DAI, an international development consulting firm, as well as Development Director for an international nonprofit devoted to women’s health.  At both organizations, she conducted trainings and facilitated workshops in the US and abroad, in English and in Spanish.  She served as editorial coordinator for the Latin American Studies Association and the Inter-American Foundation.

As a Study Circle Facilitator for the Study Circle Program of Montgomery County Public Schools for 5 years, Anna co-facilitated parents, teachers, and administrators in six-week dialogues about the racial and ethnic achievement gap.  She led outreach efforts to Latino parents at her sons’ elementary school, directed a before-school tutoring program there, and organized a parent translation team for the school’s PTA, in addition to serving as PTA Vice President.  She is a trained parent educator with the Parent Encouragement Program.  

Anna continues to work for social justice and racial equity through the Racial Justice Circle of Christ Congregational Church, which is supported by Impact Silver Spring, and organizes education and advocacy efforts around criminal justice reform and juvenile justice.

Anna has lived in Silver Spring with her husband since 2001, and their two sons attend Montgomery County Public Schools.

What does Anna say about the county?

“I’m proud to live in and work for a county that appreciates the contributions and value of all its residents.  I am awed by the courage of the Gilchrist Center’s students and clients, who continue to study and work to improve their lives despite the great challenges they face. And the dedication and generosity of our volunteers, many of whom are immigrants themselves, never cease to inspire me." 
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photo of Arwa ElBoraei

Arwa ElBoraei

Middle Eastern Liaison
Office of Community Partnerships
Montgomery County Community Engagement Cluster
21 Maryland Avenue, Ste 330
Cell: 240-432-8319
Arwa.ElBoraei@montgomerycountymd.gov
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers
 
Arwa is program/project Management and Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning Specialist with long experience in international development and human rights law, particularly in public health, gender, and economic and social rights. Arwa worked for/with the United Nations, USAID, GIZ, private and public sectors, and non-governmental organizations. She is one of the International Labor Organization's (ILO) certified Evaluation Managers. Arwa holds a Master's Degree in International Development from Pittsburgh University, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and a specialization in Governance and International Public Management (GPA: 3.967), USA, Master's of Arts in International Human Rights Law. She also holds a Gender, Social Justice, and Citizenship Fellowship from University College London (UCL), UK. Arwa is a Fulbright Scholar and a Chevening Scholarship awardee. In 2017, Arwa received the Program Faculty Award, from Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Pittsburgh, for the most distinguished record among graduates of the International Development Program in terms of academic achievement and service to the School. She is fluent in English and Arabic. 
 
In 2012, Arwa founded the Sisters' Arts and Crafts for Economic Empowerment (SACEE) to boost mutual understanding between immigrants and host communities and to shine the light on the remarkable economic and cultural contribution of immigrants, particularly refugee and asylum seekers, to host communities, and thus, enhance social inclusion and integration. SACEE aims at altering the widespread perception that consider immigrants as burdens on host government and communities to a perception that recognize them as a value added to host countries. SACEE supports immigrants to recognize their existing art and craft skills, leverage them, and invest in them as a means for living and tools to channel their culture and values.

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Shawn Ellis

Community Outreach & Communications Manager
Office of Community Partnerships
Montgomery County Community Engagement Cluster
21 Maryland Avenue, Ste 330
Office: 240-777-2558
Shawn.Ellis@montgomerycountymd.gov
Pronouns: He, Him, His
 
Shawn Ellis is the lead for community outreach and currently the lead for COVID-19 Vaccine Outreach for OCP. He was the 2020 Census Manager for Montgomery County.  As the son of an immigrant mother from the island of Barbados and a father who was a native Washingtonian, he has always been immensely proud of the cultures and experiences of both sides of his family.
 
Shawn is a graduate of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School and has spent the majority of his life living in Montgomery County. Originally intending to follow in the footsteps of his parents to become a physician or medical professional, graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA. His path changed after graduation when realizing that his passions weren’t in medicine, but rather in the plight of underserved and underrepresented communities.   
 
Prior to his role as the 2020 Census Manager, Shawn worked to manage the County’s Volunteer Language Bank and served as the Language Access Program’s assistant manager.  He has also helped to manage the efforts of the County’s Citizenship, Legal & Legal Immigration Service Providers Coalition.
 
What does Shawn say about the County?
It’s easy to take for granted how fortunate we are to live and work in a place as diverse as Montgomery County.   If my years away at college weren’t clear enough evidence, my subsequent visits to other cities and the comments of friends who would visit me here from other places, have always served as stark reminders how special the county is.  The diversity of language, culture, and experience present in our county should continue to be celebrated, embraced, and certainly protected for all that it offers us.   

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Josephine Garnem
Program Manager, East County Gilchrist Imigrant Resources Center
3300 Briggs Chaney Rd, Silver Spring, MD 20904
240-777-8406
josephine.garnem@montgomerycountymd.gov
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

Ar dey tok Krio
وأنا أتكلم العربية

I speak Krio and Arabic

Josephine Garnem is the Program Manager for the Gilchrist Immigrant Resources Center for the East County region. She is responsible for developing and managing the basic computer literacy program and acts as the subject matter expert in the field of workforce development for the center. Josephine 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 20 years of global experience in many places including Africa, South Asia, the Middle East, and in the USA. Josephine holds a bachelor’s degree in Education from the Njala University, Sierra Leone, a certificate from Cornell University on Project Management Leadership, and presently pursuing her master’s degree in Social Work. Her passion is to strengthen links between communities through partnerships, in order to improve their health and wellbeing.
She joined the Gilchrist team from the international non-profit sector where she has served as the Strategic Outreach and Partnership Coordinator for International Medical Corps, an international humanitarian organization. Josephine worked in to Pakistan and Afghanistan after the attacks of Sept 11, 2001 to assist refugees and those affected by the conflict. Josephine then joined International Medical Corps’ HQ in the United States and led their Gift-in-kind department supporting over 30 countries in four continents, and most recently their department for Domestic and International Affairs as the project manager overseeing training of US Government personnel staff in humanitarian coordination in global emergencies.
As a long term Montgomery County resident, Josephine served in the Health and Human Services’ Leadership Institute for Equity and Elimination of Health Disparities (LIEED) advisory group and as well as the Chairperson for the Montgomery County’s African Affairs Advisory Group.
 Josephine has organized 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. Josephine lives in Montgomery County with her family.

What does Josephine say about the county?
Our family chose Montgomery County because we found it to be one of the most welcoming and diverse communities we have ever visited. We are so happy to have a county government that has an open door policy, and continues to work hand-in-hand with its residents to ensure their needs are met, and that they thrive and succeed in every way. It is also really wonderful to see how engaged the community is and their commitment to volunteering and giving back. The team we work with at the Gilchrist center are mostly volunteers and everyone truly believes in enacting positive change and its a great joy working with them. This is so motivating and continues to fuel my passion. I cannot imagine living anywhere else. 
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Photo of Amy Harbison

Amy Harbison
Senior Fellow Program Manager
Montgomery County Volunteer Center
Office of Community Partnerships
12900 Middlebrook Road #1600, Germantown, MD 20874
Office: 240-777-2600
amy.harbison@montgomerycountymd.gov
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

Amy is a Senior Fellow/Program Manager for the Montgomery County Volunteer Center.
 
She is also a certified transition coach with her own coaching practice and supports her clients through professional transitions and reimagining retirement. She is accredited through the International Coach Federation, Coaches Training Institute, and Retirement Options. 
 
Amy has been an award-winning communications strategist with more than 25 years of experience in positioning, messaging, storytelling and branding. She served in executive communications roles for associations, large and small arts nonprofits and in higher education, philanthropy, and health care.
 
Amy currently serves as a Commissioner for the Montgomery County Commission on Aging and hosts the Montgomery County’s public access TV show Seniors Today. She is a graduate of the Leadership Greater Washington Class of 2010, and a graduate of Senior Leadership Montgomery 2018.  She sings with the Rockville Community Chorus. A 30+year resident of Montgomery County, she is the mother of two grown children and resides in Olney with her husband and two rescue dogs.
 
What does Amy say about the County?
“I am privileged to live and work in a diverse, vibrant county that provides a wealth of services, cultural opportunities, parks, and other resources to its residents. The opportunity to give back to our community and have impact and purpose in our lives beyond our work is important at all ages and life stages. I’m so grateful to be working for the Volunteer Center where I see the generosity of our community in action every day.”
 

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Kaori photo

Kaori Hirakawa
Language Access Manager
Montgomery County Office of Community Partnerships
21 Maryland Avenue, Ste 330, Rockville MD 20850
240.777.4958
Kaori.Hirakawa@montgomerycountymd.gov
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

日本語話します。
Я говорю русский я��ык
I speak Japanese and Russian

Kaori Hirakawa is the Language Access Manager for Montgomery County.

Kaori is passionate about improving the County Government’s language accessibility so that all residents can be connected to services and be full participants in our community. She cultivated her dedication to her dedication to this effort through 15 years working at the Gilchrist Immigrant Resource Center, providing educational opportunities and resource information to county residents with diverse backgrounds. Most recently, Kaori established the temporary translations unit to provide translation services to county agencies to share public health and other resource information with community members during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prior to her work with the County, Kaori organized educational programs and conferences as staff of a national non-profit working with members of the disabled community, engaged university students in international education, and managed cultural and educational programs as a diplomat.  She holds B.A. and M.A. degrees in Russian studies, and has lived and worked in Russia, the United Kingdom, and Japan.  She has been a resident of Silver Spring for 19 years. 

What does Kaori say about the County?
“I am happy and proud to call Montgomery County my home and to dedicate myself to its success, because this is a welcoming, diverse place with a vibrant, engaged population and incredible potential.  I am proud to be part of this incredible team working hard to ensure that residents are empowered, engaged, connected and fully able to develop themselves and be a part of this thriving community.”


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Photo of Yunie Hong

Yunie Hong
Program Manager, Gilchrist Immigrant Resource Center Upcounty Region
Gaithersburg Library, 18330 Montgomery Village Ave., 2nd Floor, Gaithersburg, MD 20879
          and
Upcounty Regional Services Center, 12900 Middlebrook Rd., Suite 1000, Germantown, MD 20874
Gaithersburg: (240) 777-4960
Germantown: (240) 777-6950
yunie.hong@montgomerycountymd.gov 
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

Yunie Hong is the Program Manager for the Gilchrist Immigrant Resource Center’s Upcounty region, which includes the Gaithersburg and Germantown sites.  She acts as the Center’s subject matter expert in immigration. Yunie was raised by immigrant parents in the Koreatown area of Los Angeles, which is home to many immigrant communities.  She witnessed firsthand the personal struggles and institutional barriers that immigrants face in trying to achieve stability for themselves and their families, and has devoted her career to serving immigrant and refugee communities. 

Yunie graduated magna cum laude from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) with a B.A. in English literature.  During her time at UCLA, she did extensive community work, including providing tutoring and mentorship to incarcerated youth and youth who had recently immigrated.  After graduating from UCLA, she taught English in South Korea and traveled throughout Asia.  She then received her J.D. from Berkeley Law at the University of California, Berkeley.  While in law school, she interned with the Department of Justice at the Executive Office for Immigration Review.  She also provided legal services to Central American asylum seekers and low-income Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.  During law school, Yunie also spent time in Guatemala, doing volunteer work on behalf of indigenous communities and traveling throughout Central America. 

After law school, Yunie practiced civil litigation at a large law firm, where she also engaged in extensive pro bono work.  She then spent several years as an immigration attorney at two different Legal Aid organizations in Los Angeles County.  She represented low-income immigrants who had suffered abuse and human rights violations and were seeking humanitarian-based immigration status.  She also educated immigrant communities of their legal rights by engaging in outreach to immigrant communities and helping to implement a Legal Orientation Program for detainees in immigration detention.  Upon relocating to Montgomery County, Yunie continued her work in advocating for immigrant communities as Director of Policy Advocacy at a national nonprofit.  Her work focused on advocacy with legislative offices and federal agencies to address the barriers faced by low-income, monolingual Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.  She then worked as an attorney at a nonprofit organization which works to ensure that unaccompanied immigrant youth receive free legal representation in immigration court.  By providing mentorship to pro bono attorneys, Yunie helped to ensure that children fleeing violence in their home countries would receive quality legal representation and not have to face immigration court alone.
Yunie was selected as a 2013 Community in the Capital fellow for her work on behalf of low-income Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.  She was also one of twelve attorneys selected statewide by the California Bar Association’s Board of Governors to become a Leadership Academy Scholar. 

What does Yunie say about the County?
I feel extremely fortunate to live in a County of such rich diversity, which truly embraces the values of inclusion and respect. Immigrants and refugees have often times suffered unspeakable hardships, and their resilience and perseverance have always been a source of inspiration for me.  I feel honored to be part of a dedicated and hard-working team that is committed to providing the tools to help immigrant communities thrive.

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Dr. Amena Johnson
LGBTQ Community Liaison
Office of Community Partnerships
21 Maryland Avenue, Suite 330
Rockville, MD 20850
Phone (240) 462-1319 
amena.johnson@montgomerycountymd.gov
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

Dr. Amena Johnson serves as the LGBTQ Community Liaison. She has a deep commitment to social justice, diversity and inclusion, advocacy, and educational equity.  This passion began at the age of 5 on a ride with her grandfather to take people to the polls to vote in her hometown of Appomattox, VA.
 
Amena has 13 years of experience working in organizations with a focus on outreach and engagement to the LGBTQ Community. She has done this work at Prince George’s County Department of Social Services, George Mason University, Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders (SMYAL) and Georgetown University.
 
Dr. Johnson specializes in training, facilitation, and curriculum development. For 20 years she has engaged communities in dialogue and learning around: urban bias, intersectionality, the intergenerational workplace, LGBTQ topics, and diversity and inclusion in educational and nonprofit organizations. Dr. Johnson received a BFA in Drama Therapy from Longwood University. She received an MS in Organizational Leadership and Ed,D in Higher Education Leadership from Wilmington University.

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Julien Labiche
Manager
Gilchrist Immigrant Resource Center
11002 Veirs Mill Rd., Suite 506
(Westfield South Building)
Wheaton, MD 20902
c: 301-213-8981
julien.labiche@montgomerycountymd.gov
Pronouns: He, Him, His

Julien Labiche is the manager of the Gilchrist Immigrant Resource Center, Office of Community Partnerships. The Gilchrist Immigrant Resource Center is Montgomery County's welcome center for immigrants, providing information and referral services and other programs and services that support and help low-income immigrant residents succeed. Julien is responsible for leading the management team and coordinating the center’s operations while aligning its work with the mission of the Office of Community Partnerships.

Julien immigrated to the U.S. from France in 2006. He holds degrees in English and French as a Second Language. He taught middle and high schools in Southern France, then taught French upon moving to the U.S. In 2009 he joined Liberty’s Promise, a nonprofit organization serving low-income immigrant youth in the D.C. area. More specifically, Julien led civic engagement and professional internship programs at John F. Kennedy and Gaithersburg High Schools in Montgomery County. Julien worked with more than 900 low-income immigrant youth in the county to promote civic participation and increase youth access to educational and professional opportunities. He directly assisted youth in earning more than $1 million in scholarships for higher education. Additionally, Julien organized a Gaithersburg youth job fair and led a youth employment program in Gaithersburg. Later, as the Director of Montgomery and Prince George’s County Programs at Liberty’s Promise, he oversaw operations for 14 programs in suburban Maryland.

A proud Montgomery County resident, Julien has lived in Silver Spring since 2008. He joined the Office of Community Partnerships in 2021.

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Jessy Mejia Terry

Latino Liaison
Office of Community Partnerships
Montgomery County Community Engagement Cluster
21 Maryland Avenue, Ste 330
Office: 240-777-8321
Jessy.MejiaTerry@montgomerycountymd.gov
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers
 
Jessy has over 17 years of experience in the political and legislative arenas to build coalitions and reinforce community organizing, advocate for and strengthen the safety net to ultimately strengthen the inclusion and representation of the Latino and immigrant perspective in government. Prior to joining the Office of Community Partnerships, she focused on outreach and political communications as an independent consultant to political candidates aiming for positions at various levels of government. This experience opened her to campaigns throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.
 
Before her consultant role, Jessy was the Administrative Director of both the Governor’s Commission on Hispanic Affairs, and the Governor’s Commission on Caribbean Affairs for then-Governor Martin O’Malley from 2007-2015. Highlights while serving in that position include enhancing the Executive’s outreach with the State’s Latino community and leaders, specifically, the Salvadoran diaspora which is the largest share of the Latino population in the State. That enhanced relationship resulted in traveling as part of the delegation accompanying Governor O’Malley in his trade and cultural mission to El Salvador, by invitation of El Salvador’s President. Other highlights include working with State agencies and Departments to; increase the number of minority-owned businesses registered to contract with the State; creating a legal, bilingual pro-bono network of attorneys statewide to help mitigate foreclosures in the most vulnerable jurisdictions in Maryland; support the Governor’s Commissioners to advise the Governor on immigrant-friendly legislation around the REAL ID, the DREAM ACT; and establish resources to facilitate the integration of highly-skilled, highly-educated immigrants into Maryland’s workforce.
 
The creation of the first-in-the-nation Governor’s Commission on Caribbean Affairs in Maryland stimulated similar initiatives around the country; in New York, Florida, and Washington, DC. It was in the capacity of Administrative Director for this Commission that she helped to support efforts outside the state and collectively lift the Caribbean community within other state and city governments. 
 
Prior to her time at the Governor’s Office, Jessy was a legislative staffer to then-County Councilmember Marc Elrich. In that role, she focused on housing, economic development, and immigrant issues for the office. Working closely with community stakeholders, she was empowered to help reinforce housing code enforcement for multi-family units, and in the creation of the domestic worker’s “bill of rights”, that resulted in enhanced safety and worker protections for domestic laborers.
Jessy is a graduate of the University of Maryland at College Park where she focused on Government and Politics, and a minor in History. A native of El Salvador, she enjoys traveling and reading. She is a wife and mother to her two girls, Jujea and Mayah.

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Photo of Deborah Missal

Deborah Missal
Senior Fellow and 50+ Volunteer Network Program Manager
Montgomery County Volunteer Center
Office of Community Partnerships
12900 Middlebrook Road #1600, Germantown, MD 20874
Office: 240-777-2600
deborah.missal@montgomerycountymd.gov
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

Deborah Missal is a Senior Fellow responsible for the county’s new 50+ Volunteer Network.  She joined the Montgomery County Volunteer Center in 2011 as a volunteer, managing the Pro Bono Consultant Program.

After graduating from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in political science, Deborah moved to Washington, D.C.   She worked as the communications manager for the National Legal Aid and Defender Association; as Press Secretary to the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary and the Committee’s Chairman, Rep. Peter W. Rodino (D-NJ); and as the Assistant Director of Public Relations for the Association of Trial Lawyers of America.  She then attended Georgetown University Law Center and practiced law for a time with Piper & Marbury.

Deborah has been active in various community organizations, including four years as Cluster Coordinator for the B-CC Cluster and later as president of the B-CC High School PTSA.  In addition, she served on the boards of the B-CC High School Educational Foundation, the Somerset Elementary School Educational Foundation, the Temple Sinai Social Justice Committee, and the Bethesda Library Advisory Committee. 

What does Debby say about the county?

"I love living in Montgomery County and am constantly amazed by the strong commitment to community service that pervades so many aspects of life here.  I have been fortunate to witness first-hand the great work of our nonprofit organizations and the dedicated volunteers who serve every day to help make our world just a little better."

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Julian Norment

African-American Liaison
East County Regional Service Center
3300 Briggs Chaney Road
Silver Spring, MD 20904
Office: 240-777-8413
julian.norment@montgomerycountymd.gov
Pronouns: He, Him, His

Julian Norment was raised in Silver Spring, MD.  He attended John F. Kennedy High School, where he lettered in baseball and was a Washington Post All-Metropolitan football player and Maryland All-State football player.  Julian went on to earn his Baccalaureate of Arts degree from the University of Michigan, while playing football as a linebacker and completing work on a double major in Political Science and African and African-American studies.  After graduating in 1996, he entered the political arena and joined BatesNeimand, one of the top direct mail political consulting firms in the nation.  Later that year, he assisted the AFL -CIO’s Political Department in their voter mobilization unit, organizing hundreds of thousands of voter registration materials for union members.

In 1997, Julian continued his thirst for politics by serving as a Legislative Correspondent in the Washington, D.C. office of South Carolina U.S. Senator Ernest Hollings.  After eight months in that capacity, he was elevated to Legislative Assistant. In the summer of 1998, Julian took a leave of absence from Senator Hollings’ office and worked as Regional Field Director for the South Carolina Democratic Party.  In this position, he developed and managed a grassroots campaign organization of staff and volunteers consisting of over 300 individuals covering nine counties for the entire South Carolina Democratic ticket.  After returning from South Carolina, Julian expanded his legislative duties in Washington, D.C. for Senator Hollings as a Senior Legislative Assistant, handling issues in the areas of transportation; government affairs; labor; housing; veterans affairs; small business; Indian Affairs; and Transportation/Treasury, VA/HUD, Legislative Branch, and District of Columbia appropriations bills for Senator Hollings’ Appropriations Committee assignments.

While maintaining those responsibilities, Julian also pursued a law degree.  In May, 2004 he received his Juris Doctor from The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law with a concentration in labor and employment law.  In January 2005, Julian completed his duties as a Senior Legislative Assistant for Senator Hollings, who retired. 

After spending three years as a Principal for The Ferguson Group, LLC, a municipal lobbying firm, Julian decided to explore entrepreneurial interests.  Julian was a Founding Partner of Municipal Prosperity Group, LLC where he provided strategic federal grants and appropriations consulting to public entities, universities and non-profits on their local projects and programs.  In 2009, Julian teamed up with Barry Strumpf, a former U.S. Senate colleague, and became an Equity Partner at Strumpf Consulting, Inc, where he provides federal business consulting and advocacy for corporations, universities and non-profit institutions.  In January 2013, Julian was hired as the African-American Community Liaison in the Office of Community Partnerships, Montgomery County, MD.  In addition to the exciting community liaison undertaking in his native Montgomery County, he will continue to fulfill his duties at Strumpf Consulting.      

Julian is a member of many organizations, including Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.; lifetime member of the Montgomery County, MD NAACP; and the University of Michigan Alumni Association.  He is also the former Co-Chairman of the Montgomery County, MD African-American Advisory Group, which he served for four years. 

Julian currently resides in Silver Spring, MD.

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photo of Harrieta Shangarai

Harrieta Shangarai
African Affairs Liaison
Office of Community Partnerships
Montgomery County Community Engagement Cluster
21 Maryland Avenue, Ste 330
Harrieta.Shangarai@montgomerycountymd.gov 
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

Ms. Harrieta Shangarai is the Liaison for the Montgomery County Executive’s African Affairs Advisory Group. Previously, she served as the chair of the African Affairs Advisory Group 2016 -2017. She also served as the vice-chair for the 2020 Census campaign for the East County Region Complete Count Committee and in other organizations including the Constituency for Africa, Harvard Medical School’s Global Health, African Union diaspora outreach initiatives and the Association of Tanzanian Community.

 Ms. Shangarai is a native of Tanzania and a fluent speaker of Swahili & English. She has a passion for community work and started her career as a youth volunteer in forming a local non-profit organization, “Kilimanjaro Women Against Aids” which worked to eliminate HIV/AIDS in the Kilimanjaro region of northern Tanzania. Her years of experience in grassroots community organizing bring unique competence in engaging marginalized communities, building strategic relationships, promoting civic participation, and working collaboratively with community stakeholders to address community needs, and advocate for needed services and resources.

 After earning her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing, she went on a mission to address health and social-economic disparities in her community and other marginalized groups. She worked to create awareness of civic responsibility, promoting access to healthcare services, education, job opportunity, mental health services  and Pro-Bono legal services. Ms. Shangarai strongly believes there is a need for increased support for people of African descent living in Montgomery County, to overcome health and socioeconomic disparities. Harrieta also worked as a senior community health nurse for the African American Health Program (AAHP) in a capacity to reduce maternal and infant mortality and the Department of Health and Human Services supporting the Montgomery County Public Schools.

Ms. Shangaria received several accolades for her dedication to community service including the Outstanding Philanthropist Award (2014), Outstanding Community Service Award (2018 and 2020), and the Echoes of Africa Award (2018) from the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Mayor's Commission on African and Caribbean Immigrant Affairs.
 
What does Harriet Shangarai say about Montgomery County?
I have been a resident of the County for over 20 years. Despite our different stories, countries of origin, multiple languages and dialects, Montgomery County is a place for everyone to learn, grow, and give back to their community.  Here in Montgomery County, we welcome diversity, and value civic participation in shaping policies that address our diverse needs and our values. Through county activities and annual celebrations we bring communities together to promote unity, tolerance, foster acceptance and social cohesion. 

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photo of Yi Shen

Yi Shen

Asian Liaison
Office of Community Partnerships
Montgomery County Community Engagement Cluster
21 Maryland Avenue, Ste 330
Office: 240-777-8207
Yi.Shen@montgomerycountymd.gov
Pronouns: He, Him, His 

For almost a decade, Yi Shen has accumulated knowledge and insight from his career in all levels of Maryland’s government.  He wants to use the experiences gained to assist and support the Asian community in Montgomery County.
 
Yi served four years in Governor Martin O’Malley’s administration as the Director of the Governor’s Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs (GCAPA) and the Governor’s Commission on South Asian American Affairs (GCSAA).  Both the GCAPA and the GCSAA initiated and supported a wide range of activities which promoted the welfare of Maryland’s Asian American population and increased the understanding of Asian American culture and history.  Afterwards, Yi continued his career in public service as a Constituent Service Representative in the Office of Senator Chris Van Hollen.  He managed casework in the areas of immigration and consular affairs, taxes, environmental, census, and elections.  Yi also handled all the outreach to the Asian community organizations.
 
Prior to joining the Office of Community Partnerships, Yi worked as a Senior Legislative Aide in the Office of Councilmember Sidney Katz.  He managed constituent and legislative issues relating to transportation, environment, infrastructure, energy, land use planning, parks and recreation, housing, and economic development for District 3 in Montgomery County.
Yi is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park and received his Juris Doctorate from David A Clarke School of Law.

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Kathleen Meaney Stobie

Director, AmeriCorps Seniors Program
Montgomery County Volunteer Center
Office of Community Partnerships
Montgomery County Community Engagement Cluster
12900 Middlebrook Road #1600
Germantown, MD 20874
Office: 240-777-2612
kathleen.stobie@montgomerycountymd.gov
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

Kathleen Meaney Stobie has been with the Montgomery County Volunteer Center for nine years, six as RSVP Director.  It is her distinct honor to connect seniors age 55+ with volunteer opportunities in Montgomery County.  Kathleen is an active member of the County’s Vital Living Network and coordinates guests for the County’s Make a Difference program, a cable TV program focused on volunteering.

Kathleen hails from Brooklyn, NY, but has been in the area since her undergraduate days at Georgetown University where she earned a degree in Business Administration.  She also has a Master’s in Health Services Administration from George Washington University.

She brings a wealth of experience in volunteer management as well as a genuine commitment to giving back.  Currently, Kathleen regularly volunteers with Shepherd’s Table as a team coordinator for her church.

What does Kathleen say about the County?

“I have been a Montgomery County resident for 31 years – go East County! I love being part of the Volunteer Center team where I see the power of giving back to the community.  In particular, I marvel at the impact of the senior volunteers in RSVP … making a difference every day at area nonprofits and agencies! Ben and Jerry (yes, the ice cream guys) said it best, “No one can do everything, but everyone can do something!”

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Rodrigue Vital  
Caribbean Liaison 
Office of Community Partnerships
Montgomery County Community Engagement Cluster                                                                                                                              21 Maryland Ave, Ste 330
Rockville, MD 20850
Office: 240-777-8207
rodrigue.vital@montgomerycountymd.gov
Pronouns: He, Him, His

After spending six years developing and managing the State of Maryland’s New American Workforce Program housed at the Department of Labor Licensing & Regulations, Rodrigue Vital is thrilled to join the Office of Community Partnerships (OCP), to support its mission of strengthening relationships between the government of Montgomery County and the diverse residents it serves.  

Rodrigue will utilize his community engagement and policy development skills to help coalesce and support the Caribbean American community in the county, as he did while directing the New American Workforce Program that sought to accelerate the socioeconomic integration of all immigrants in Maryland.  

Hailed from the Caribbean island of Haiti, Rodrigue studied journalism in Berlin, Germany, before he completed graduate studies in International Affairs and Public Policy at Georgetown University.  The author of one book and dozens of articles published in both Haiti and the U.S, Rodrigue has been a Montgomery County resident for over 30 years.     

 

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Gretchen Zekiel photo

Gretchen Zekiel
Senior Fellow and 50+ Volunteer Network Program Manager
Montgomery County Volunteer Center
Office of Community Partnerships
12900 Middlebrook Road #1600
Germantown, MD 20874
Office: 240-777-2600
gretchen.zekiel@montgomerycountymd.gov
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

Gretchen is a Senior Fellow/Program Manager for the Montgomery County 50+ Volunteer Network, the County's new senior initiative that connects skilled volunteers with nonprofit and government agencies needing assistance.  For the prior two years, she served as the RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program) Manager focused on running the RSVP/AARP Tax-Aide Program.  In this volunteer capacity, Gretchen 
used her significant marketing and business management skills to help the Montgomery County Volunteer Center -- a perfect example of a 50+ Volunteer Network match!

For 25 years, Gretchen worked in senior marketing and product management positions at Bloomberg BNA and U.S. News and World Report.  Her volunteer work includes roles on numerous local political campaigns, and serving as Chair of the Bates College Parents Fund. She hold an undergraduate degree in English Literature from Gettysburg College and an MBA in Marketing from George Washington University, and is a member of Senior Leadership Montgomery Class of 2018.

A life-long resident of Maryland originally from Baltimore, Gretchen's interest in public service began when she interned during college for then Senator Paul Sarbanes and Congresswoman Barbara Mikulski.   She has lived in Montgomery County for nearly 30 years. A mother of two grown children, Gretchen resides in Bethesda with her husband and two adorable dogs.

What does Gretchen say about the County?
"In Montgomery County, we are incredibly fortunate to have a wealth of resources, programs, and services -- along with an immensely diverse population that relies on them.   We need to continue to give back and stay vigilante, in order to preserve, promote, and improve these assets.    Volunteering is a great way to do so!  Each one of us CAN make a difference in our community."

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