About Us

Board of Directors


Melvyn Leshinsky, Chairperson

Melvyn Leshinsky
Aronson LLC (Retired)

Melvyn Leshinsky is a former senior partner of Aronson LLC, a certified public accounting firm, located in Rockville, Md, which he joined in 1971 and retired from in 2010.

During his tenure, Aronson enjoyed unprecedented growth and received many professional and community acknowledgments. Aronson’s client base is made up of construction, real estate, government contracting, nonprofit, technology and private industry companies located in the Greater Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

Leshinsky received his Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration from Long Island University in 1964, his Master of Business Administration, specializing in Taxation, from Pace College in 1966 and his Juris Doctorate from Howard University School of Law in 1969.

Leshinsky currently serves as Chairman of the Montgomery County Public School Educational Foundation and is a member of the Board of the Institute for Community Initiatives. He is also a co-founder of the Chesapeake Center for Youth Development in Baltimore.


Patricia O'Neill, Vice Chairperson

Patricia O'Neill
Montgomery County Board of Education

Mrs. Patricia O'Neill was first elected to the Board of Education in 1998. She is currently serving her fifth four-year term on the Board. She has served as both president and vice president five times. Mrs. O’Neill currently serves as chair of the Board's Policy Management Committee. She is vice chairperson of the Montgomery County Public Schools Educational Foundation. She also participated in the 2009 Harvard Public Education Leadership Project.

Mrs. O’Neill is past president of the Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE) and past co-chair of the Washington Area Boards of Education. She has served on numerous advisory committees for education-related issues, including the Maryland Blue Ribbon Panel on Teen Pregnancy and the Maryland Comparable HSA Task Force. In 2006, she was named by then-Governor Robert Ehrlich to represent MABE on the Task Force on School Safety.

Prior to joining the Board, Mrs. O’Neill was a longtime PTA activist in the Walt Whitman Cluster who served in various volunteer and leadership roles.

In 2015, Mrs. O’Neill was named one of the 100 Most Powerful Women by the Washingtonian magazine. Mrs. O’Neill is a graduate of Walter Johnson High School and has a degree in social science from Southern Methodist University. She is married and has two daughters who are graduates of MCPS.


Paul Leleck CPA, Treasurer

Paul Leleck
Chief Financial Officer for Building Hope

Paul Leleck is the Chief Financial Officer for Building Hope. In that role, he manages the organization’s finances and underwrites financial assistance to public charter schools. He also works with client schools on their accounting and budgeting through Building Hope Services. Paul is a certified public accountant with over 35 years of accounting, finance, business and management experience. He has assisted development stage companies and has served as a partner in a Big 4 accounting firm. Paul currently serves on the boards of the Latin American Montessori Bilingual Public Charter School and Paul Public Charter School.


Thomas Pumphrey, Secretary

Thomas Pumphrey
Inter-denominational Church of God

Thomas Pumphrey was installed as the Senior Pastor of the Inter-denominational Church of God (ICOG) in September of 2012, after serving 37 years as Assistant Pastor. He is the visionary and head of the Eldership of ICOG and the principal Preacher/Teacher of the congregation on Sunday mornings.


Jack R. Smith Ph.D., Superintendent

Jack R. Smith Ph.D.
Montgomery County Public Schools

Jack R. Smith began his tenure as superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) on July 1, 2016. A dedicated lifelong educator, Dr. Smith has been a classroom teacher, principal, curriculum director, and a local superintendent of schools.

Dr. Smith was appointed interim state superintendent of schools and treasurer of the Maryland State Board of Education on September 14, 2015.

Dr. Smith joined the Maryland State Department of Education as the chief academic officer for the Office of Teaching and Learning in August 2013.

His steadfast goal has always been to provide all students, regardless of their learning needs, race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status, with options and choices upon graduation. Among Dr. Smith's many illustrious awards and honors, he was named Maryland Superintendent of the Year in 2013 and he received the 2010 Change Agent Award from the Maryland State Department of Education's Division of Career and College Readiness.

Dr. Smith is a member of Leadership Maryland's Class of 2011, and he has served on a variety of volunteer boards. A graduate of Eastern Washington University, with a bachelor's in English and Communications and a master's in School Administration, Dr. Smith received his Ph.D. in instructional leadership from Notre Dame of Maryland University.


Yolanda Johnson Pruitt, J.D.
Executive Director

Yolanda Johnson Pruitt
MCPS Educational Foundation

Yolanda Pruitt became Executive Director of the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Educational Foundation in 2012. As the foundation reaches its 30th year, Pruitt has worked to increase the charity’s capacity to effectively support MCPS programs and special initiatives. She works with the Board of Directors to increase foundation assets, to increase annual contributions, to expand the base of donors, and to engage the community in the outreach efforts of the Foundation.

Her position with the Foundation follows a career with the University System of Maryland, where she served three campuses – University of Maryland, University of Maryland Baltimore, and Bowie State University. For these campuses, Pruitt held senior-level positions and raised funds for research, lectureships, endowments, science laboratories, new construction, athletic facilities, and academic programs.

Yolanda is a graduate of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland, College Park (Bachelor of Science; 1978); and the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law (Juris Doctor; 2004).


Pennie Abramson, Gary and Pennie Abramson Charitable Foundation

Pennie Abramson

Pennie Abramson is a leader in the philanthropic world. Her contributions range from arts to sciences, from creating education seminars to funding educational buildings, and her influence is as much local as it is national and international.

Mrs. Abramson is the current chair of small grants for the Montgomery County Public Schools Educational Foundation where she raises and disperses funds for projects that are not supported by the county schools, such as providing handicapped equipment to children, and scholarships to local residents.

Mrs. Abramson is an active member in The Fisher Island Philanthropic Foundation, a fund which supports children’s charities based in Miami, FL. She also sits on the Board of Trustees for Friends of Cancer Research, Project MediShare, Operation Embrace and Aleph Bet Montessori School. She is a past Women’s division Chairman for State of Israel Bonds and spent many years serving for the American Cancer Society and the Leukemia Society of America.

Mrs. Abramson has been married to her husband Gary Abramson for 46 years. They have three children and four grandchildren.


Josh Bokee, Comcast Corporation

Josh Bokee

Josh Bokee is in government affairs and a policy and legislative analyst for Comcast Corporation. Josh has a wide and varied interest in nonprofit and service clubs, including United Way of Frederick County; Mental Health Association of Frederick County; Frederick City Planning Commission; Rotary Club of Carroll Creek; Frederick Chamber of Commerce; and the Neighborhood Advisory Council.

He has lived in Frederick for nine years, is married, and has one child.

Bokee received his Bachelor of Science degree in business management, concentration in economics, from Pennsylvania State University and his master’s in community planning from the University of Maryland, College Park.


Thomas Choate, Retired MCPS Employee

Thomas Choate

Thomas W. Choate is a long-serving member of the Board of Directors of the MCPS Educational Foundation. He was born and raised in New Jersey. He attended Dartmouth College, where he received a BA in Economics and, after a six year tour in the U.S. Marine Corps, an MBA in what would today be called Information Technology.

Mr. Choate has retired three times: once as a software development manager from General Electric after 28 years, once as a Colonel from the US Marine Corps Reserves after 29 years, and once as Classroom teacher and Computer Support Specialist from MCPS’s Thomas Edison High School of Technology after eight years. For the past nine years, Mr. Choate has been a volunteer IT Coordinator at a small non-profit in Jupiter, FL.


Steve B. Cohen, ProShares Advisors, LLC

Steve B. Cohen

Steve Cohen joined ProShares in 2002. In his current role as Managing Director and Head of Strategy, he is responsible for product development, product management, investment strategies, and branding. Mr. Cohen previously led the marketing team and played a large role in helping shape the firm’s corporate strategy and product development efforts.

Prior to joining ProShares, Mr. Cohen served as Vice President of Marketing at Folio Investing, and before that at the mutual fund company, Calvert. He also worked with several large agencies in the advertising business for 15 years, including Saatchi & Saatchi and Bozell Worldwide where he ran the Merrill Lynch account. He earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing and management information systems from the McIntire School of Commerce, University of Virginia. Mr. Cohen is married and has three children, all of whom have gone through the MCPS education system.


Debbie Driesman, Frank Islam and Debbie Driesman Foundation

Debbie Driesman

Debbie Driesman has lived in the Washington DC area for the past 3 decades, having grown up in Ontario, Canada. She worked as a computer engineer in NASA's communication division at Goddard Space Flight Center until she retired in 1999 to oversee the construction of a home.

She and her husband Frank Islam have since built another new home in Potomac, MD. Debbie has been involved in the Potomac Area Newcomers Group since 2002.

Mrs. Driesman is the Vice President of the Frank Islam and Debbie Driesman Foundation and also serves on the Board of Directors of the National Symphony Orchestra, the Honorary Board of the S and R Foundation, on the Board of Trustees of the Montgomery County Public Schools Educational Foundation, and the Board of Trustees of the Shakespeare Theater Company. She and Frank are members of the Kennedy Center International Committee on the Arts.


Jeffrey Gonyo, Steward Partners Global Advisory LLC

Jeffrey Gonyo

Jeffrey C. Gonyo serves as Divisional President, a Wealth Manager, and is a founding partner at Steward Partners Global Advisory. He has 21 years of experience in the financial services industry. Mr. Gonyo most recently held the role of Senior Vice President of Wealth Management and Branch Manager for Morgan Stanley.

Jeff currently serves on the Board for Montgomery County Public Schools Educational Foundation, the Advisory Board for the College of Business at Bowie State University and has been an inclusive participant in SIFMA Stock Market Game. Jeff has also been an active sponsor and partner of the Maryland Women’s Business Center in Rockville, MD and the Start Right Business Plan Competition for Women Entrepreneurs.

Jeff attended Siena College, where he received a Bachelor’s of Science in Finance with a concentration in Accounting. Jeff lives in Rockville, MD with his wife, Vira and their boys Michael, Nicholas, and Jeffrey II.

Jennifer Nordheimer, Community Member

Jennifer L. Nordheimer is a lawyer in the public affairs and public policy field with a focus on health, telecommunications and disability policy. Mrs. Nordheimer graduated from Tufts University with a degree in Art History and received her JD from the University of Maryland.

In addition to her work with the MCPS Educational Foundation, Jennifer serves on the Board of the WHC Sisterhood and on the PTAs of her children's schools. A product of the MCPS system, she feels very strongly about ensuring that all Montgomery County students have equitable access to its innovative programs and resources. Mrs. Nordheimer is married to a fellow MCPS graduate and is the parent of three current MCPS students.


Linda Plummer, NAACP Montgomery County Branch

Linda Plummer

Linda Plummer formerly held Montgomery County NAACP Branch offices as Branch Secretary, President, 1st Vice President and Membership Chair, and has also served as the NAACP Maryland State Youth and College Adviser. She is a member of the MCPS Educational Foundation Board of Directors and a graduate of Leadership Montgomery. She has received the County's Human Rights and MLK Humanitarian Awards, and has been an NAACP Golden Heritage Member since 2009.


Paula Reed, BizEducation Consulting Inc.

Paula Reed

Paula Reed advises school districts across the country with the belief that every student can excel with the right help at the right time. This high-quality standards-aligned digital K-12 program uniquely collects student work data and addresses the need for direct personalized learning. Prior to BizEducation Consulting, Paul was VP of Business Development for Mathspace, She also previously served as the National Director of Education Partnerships for Discovery Education since 2011 where she built key relationships and had direct connections to over 100 national superintendents. She maintained strong relationships with all levels of administrators throughout various districts, specializing in large urban/suburban districts.

Prior to Discovery Education, Paula worked with Educational Services of America, Resolute, and University of Maryland University College. She is a 1984 graduate of University of Maryland College Park.


Dr. Fazaneh (Fazi) Sabi, Mid-Atlantic Permante Media Group

Dr. Fazaneh (Fazi) Sabi

Dr. Farzaneh (Fazi) Sabi was appointed Associate Medical Director of Hospital Operations, Perioperative Services, Utilization and Case Management, and Network/Contracting for the Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group (MAPMG) in February 2013. She leads the strategy and execution of when and how Kaiser Permanente members will receive care within the integrated care delivery system of Kaiser Permanente versus from contracted facilities and providers to ensure the highest quality outcomes. She also oversees the utilization management and case management departments.

A fellow of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr. Sabi completed her residency training at the Naval Medical Center San Diego, Balboa Hospital. She holds bachelor’s degrees in biology and psychology from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and a doctor of medicine from the George Washington University Medical School.

Dr. Sabi has been named a MAPMG Health Care Hero and a Washingtonian Magazine “Top Doctor” for several years. In 2012, she received the MAPMG Exceptional Contribution Award. She lives in Maryland with her husband and four children.


Vic Samuels, Vice President of Community Relations, Educational Systems Federal Credit Union

Vic Samuels

Vic Samuels, Vice President of Community Relations for Educational Systems Federal Credit Union, joined the board of the MCPS Educational Foundation in 2016. Vic began her career at Educational Systems Federal Credit Union in 1985 and is passionate about the Credit Union’s core purpose of serving the education community. In her role as the Vice President of Community Relations, she partners with the seven county school systems and the three community colleges that the Credit Union serves to support education through sponsorships, volunteerism and charitable giving. With over $850 million in assets and 12 branches, the Credit Union serves over 85,000 members in seven school systems and three community colleges throughout Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George's, St. Mary's and Talbot counties.


Rob Smith , Director, Management Review Team, Fitzgerald Auto Malls

Rob Smith

Rob Smith oversees development and implementation of process-based management systems deployed across multiple locations in three states to achieve desired results in net profit and customer satisfaction objectives. He has extensive previous experience in sales and service in a variety of roles including sales and service management. He has held his position since 1989.

Rob is also President of ASSETT - Americans Standing for the Simplifcation of the Estate Tax, which is a grass roots non-profit organization dedicated to changing the collection methodology for the estate tax.


Rebecca Smondrowski , Montgomery County Board of Education

Rebecca Smondrowski

Mrs. Rebecca Smondrowski was elected to her first four-year term on the Board of Education on November 6, 2012. She is the Chair of the Board's Committee on Special Populations and a member of the Policy Management Committee.

Prior to joining the Board, Mrs. Smondrowski served as the Legislative Aide for Senator Roger Manno. She has served on the Montgomery County Council of Parent-Teacher Associations (MCCPTA) Board of Directors, including positions as the Vice President for Legislation, Vice President for Programs, Chair of the Curriculum Committee, Quince Orchard Cluster Coordinator, and MCCPTA’s representative to the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) K-12 Mathematics Joint Task Force.

Mrs. Smondrowski was re-appointed as a Commissioner for the City of Gaithersburg Ethics Commission in January 2015. She also serves on the Board of Trustees for Future Link and the Board of Directors for the MCPS Educational Foundation.

Mrs. Smondrowski is married with two children, an MCPS graduate and one currently attending the Montgomery County Public Schools.


Kim Watson, KMW Public Relations

Kim Watson

Kim Watson served as the Vice President for Corporate Philanthropy and Partnerships at PEPCO. Her primary responsibility was strategic development of corporate partnerships and relationships through the development of signature programs that highlighted the corporation’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities. Ms. Watson has over 30 years of experience in customer service, government relations and stakeholder development and engagement.

She currently serves on the board of the YWCA-NCA. Ms. Watson also serves on the Board of the American Diabetes Association of Greater Washington and the Montgomery County Education Foundation. She is Board Emeritus of Leadership Greater Washington and the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship of Greater Washington (NFTE). Ms. Watson is a former member of The Conference Board Philanthropy II Council; the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business Civic Leadership Center and the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP).

Ms. Watson received her M.B.A. from Georgetown University (IEMBA) with a concentration in International Business. She holds an M.A. degree with concentrations in public administration and international relations from Howard University in Washington, D.C., where she also completed doctoral studies. Additionally, she received a B.A. in political science from McMaster University in Canada. She completed the MIT-Harvard University Program on Negotiation in Boston, Massachusetts and the Harvard Business School Program on Corporate Social Responsibility on Creating Social and Business value in 2012.

Honorary Directors

  • James E. Cafritz, James Cafritz, Inc.
  • John "Jack" Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald Auto Malls
  • Seth Goldman, Honest Tea
  • Sally Scott Marietta, International Business Machines Corporation

Finance Committee

  • Steven Cohen, Chair 
  • Jeffrey C. Gonyo 
  • Paul Leleck  
  • Melvyn Leshinsky

Investment of Foundation Assets

In March 2017, the Board of Directors approved the Finance Committee's retention of Northern Trust as the foundation's investment manager.