About Us

Board of Directors


Melvyn Leshinsky, MBA, J.D. Chairperson
Aronson LLC (Retired)

Melvyn Leshinsky

Melvyn (Mel) Leshinsky is a retired 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 LLC 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 Greater Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.

Mel received his Bachelor 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.

Mel 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.

Brenda Wolff, Esquire Vice Chairperson
Montgomery County Board of Education

Brenda Wolff

Ms. Brenda Wolff was elected to her first four-year term on the Montgomery County Board of Education (Board) on November 6, 2018; she is currently president of the Board and is a member of the Fiscal Management Committee.  Brenda also represents the Board to the Maryland Association of Boards of Education’s (MABE) Federal Relations Network Committee and is the vice chair of MABE's Legislative Committee. Following the death of Patricia O'Neill, Brenda became the Board's representative on the Foundation Board of Directors, an ex-officio role that serves as the Foundation Vice Chair.

Previously, she has served as the vice president of the Board and the chair of the Board’s Communication and Stakeholder Engagement. Ms. Wolff has served on various Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) committees, including the African American Student Achievement Group.  

Brenda has had a multi-faceted career that championed equality, civil rights, and education.  She was an attorney for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and a Hearing Officer for the Massachusetts Public Utility Commission. During her 27-year tenure with the United States Department of Education serving in various positions, including as the Chief Regional Attorney in the Boston Office for Civil Rights and the Deputy Director and Acting Director in the Philadelphia Office for Civil Rights.  She also served as the Director of the National Institute of Educational Governance, Finance, Policymaking and Management, and as the Acting Director of the National Institute on Education of At-Risk Students.  She retired having served as the Program Manager for the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Brenda graduated from Smith College with a degree in mathematics and a law degree from Suffolk University Law School. She is married with two adult children. 

Paul Leleck CPA, Treasurer
Building Hope

Paul Leleck

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. In 2016, Paul established the JoAnn Leleck Endowed Fund in memory of his wife who served as MCPS Chief Academic Officer. The fund supports the needs of the MCPS Elementary School renamed in JoAnn's honor.

Kim M. Watson, M.A., MBA Secretary

KMW Public Relations

Kim Watson

Kim Watson is the retired Vice President for Corporate Philanthropy and Partnerships at PEPCO. Her primary responsibility was the strategic development of corporate partnerships and relationships through the development of signature programs that highlighted the corporation’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities. Kim 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. Kim also serves on the Board of the American Diabetes Association of Greater Washington and is Board Emeritus of Leadership Greater Washington and the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship of Greater Washington (NFTE). Kim 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).

Kim 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, MA, and the Harvard Business School Program on Corporate Social Responsibility on Creating Social and Business value in 2012.

Monique Felder, Ed.D., Interim Superintendent of Schools
Montgomery County Public Schools

Monique Felder currently is the interim superintendent for MCPS. Dr. Felder has 32 years of experience in public education, including as superintendent for Orange County Public Schools in North Carolina, where she was nominated regional superintendent of the year.

Dr. Felder started her career with MCPS, serving as a classroom teacher, assistant principal and principal. During her time with MCPS, she was recognized with the International Reading Association’s Award for Exemplary Reading Programs in the state of Maryland, and as a finalist for The Washington Post’s Outstanding Leadership Award. She served as the director and supervisor of Accelerated and Enriched Instruction for MCPS for six years and director of the Interventions Network for one year before moving to Prince George’s County Public Schools (MD) as the Executive Director for Teaching and Learning.

Dr. Felder holds a bachelor of arts degree in elementary education from York College (N.Y.), a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University (Md.) with a specialization in elementary science and mathematics, and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Va.), where she studied the effective leadership behaviors and practices of principals in elementary schools serving predominantly students of color.

She has also pursued post-doctoral studies at McDaniel College, earning an advanced certificate in Equity and Excellence in Education, and is co-author of the book, Increasing Diversity in Gifted Education: Research Based Strategies for Identification and Program Services. In 2022, she was selected as a collaborating author of STEM Century: It Takes a Village to Raise a 21st Century Graduate, with a chapter entitled: “You Can’t Be What You Can’t See: Increasing Racial, Ethnic, and Gender Diversity in STEM-Careers.”

Kristen Wong Callisto, Ed.L.D.
Executive Director

MCPS Educational Foundation

Kristen Wong Callisto



Pennie Abramson, Gary and Pennie Abramson Charitable Foundation

Pennie Abramson

Pennie Abramson is a leader in the philanthropic world, both nationally and internationally. She has contributed to causes ranging from the arts to the sciences, supporting a wide variety of initiatives including creating education seminars and funding educational buildings.

Pennie is the current chair of the Foundation Small Grants Committee and co-chair of the Foundation Scholarships Committee. In this role, she raises and disperses Foundation funds for projects that are not supported by the county schools, including providing accessible equipment to children with disabilities and college scholarships for local students.

Pennie is an active member in The Fisher Island Philanthropic Foundation, a fund that 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.

Pennie is a graduate of MCPS school Norwood High School. She has been married to her husband Gary Abramson for 46 years. They have three children and four grandchildren.

Steve B. Cohen, MBA ProShares Advisors, LLC

Steve B. Cohen

Steve Cohen is the chair of the Foundation Finance Committee.

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. Steve 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, Steve 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. Steve is married and has three children, all of whom have gone through the MCPS education system.

Jennifer Nordheimer, J.D. Community Member

Photo Shy

Jennifer L. Nordheimer is co-chair of the Foundation Scholarships Committee.

She is a lawyer in the public affairs and public policy field with a focus on health, telecommunications and disability policy. Jennifer graduated from Tufts University with a degree in Art History and received her J.D. from the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.

In addition to her work with the 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. Jennifer is married to a fellow MCPS graduate and is the parent of a current MCPS student and two MCPS graduates.

Linda Plummer, NAACP, Montgomery County Branch

Linda Plummer

Linda Plummer is president of the NAACP Montgomery County Branch, and previously held the offices of branch secretary, 1st vice president, and membership chair. She has also served as the NAACP Maryland State Youth and College Adviser. Linda is 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.

Arlandis Rush, United HealthGroup

Arlandis Rush

Landis Rush is the National Vice President, State and Local Government, Advocacy and Education, Public Sector Labor &Trust at United HealthGroup. In this role, Landis identifies, builds and executes strategies to support PLS&T sales goals and objectives, including growth and retention.

Landis has more than 23 years of experience in policy, and lobbying. He has an extensive history working directly with local, state, and federal government official, including procurement and third-party administrators.
Prior to joining United HealthGroup in 2018, Landis was the National Vice President, State and Local Government, Public Sector and Labor, Aetna. In this role, he was responsible for managing a national network of C-level public sector and labor relationships with a focus on growth and retention of public sector clients, including cities, counties, schools and states.
Prior to joining Aetna in 2015, Landis was a federal lobbyist for the National Association of Counties (NACo), Large Urban County Caucus and Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee. In this role, Landis was responsible for lobbying Congress on behalf of our nation’s 3069 counties on important policy issues impacting local government. Landis has previously held positions as a state and federal lobbyist with the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP), Caduceus Occupational Medicine, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA). In these roles, he was responsible for managing a national public-sector network to help drive membership, growth, retention and revenue.

Landis’ broad public sector experience working with local, state, and federal appointed and elected officials, and prominent national organizations, such as, the National Association of Counties (NACo), International City and County Management Association (ICMA), American Teachers Federation (ATF), National School Boards Association (NSBA), National League of Cities (NLC), National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL), National Governors Association (NGA), National Forum of Black Public Administrator (NFBPA), State and Local Government Benefits Association (SALGBA), Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and the American Association of School Personnel Administrators (AASPA) will be extremely valuable in our efforts to provide a balance healthcare and health insurance expertise to our board of directors.

Landis holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) and Masters of Public Administration from Strayer University. Landis is based in Washington, DC.

Girado Smith, President, Educational Systems Federal Credit Union

Girado Smith has over 24 years of leadership experience with Educational Systems Federal Credit Union.  In January 2023, he became the President/CEO after serving as the Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer since 2004. During his tenure, he has led the Credit Union’s financial operations and strategic direction, which has resulted in surpassing the milestone of $1 billion in assets. He is committed to serving the education community by offering customized solutions and excellence in member service.

In his role as President/ CEO giving back to the education community is a priority.  He helped the Credit Union form the Support Education Foundation, Inc. in 2017 as a way for employees and members to contribute to charitable giving programs that benefit students and school employees. Girado served as the first Chair of the Board of Directors of the Support Education Foundation.

Girado received his Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a focus on accounting from Mansfield University. He holds a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation. 

Rebecca Smondrowski, Montgomery County Board of Education

Rebecca Smondrowski

Rebecca Smondrowski was first elected to the Board of Education in 2012 and was just re-elected to her third term in 2020. She is the Chair of the BOE's Committee on Special Populations and a member of the Policy Management Committee.

Prior to joining the BOE, Rebecca 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.

Rebecca 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.

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

Matthew Swibel, VP, Sustainability and Social Impact of Signet Jewelers


Matthew (Matt) Swibel became Vice President, Sustainability and Social Impact of Signet Jewelers in October 2023. He also serves as Executive Director of Signet Love Inspires Foundation.

Matt brings interdisciplinary expertise as a top executive in communications, sustainability and risk management, in addition to corporate governance leadership as a Board member at for-profit and non-profit organizations. He has redesigned business risk assessments and established multiyear strategies with balanced scorecards to provide assurance to Fortune 50 CEO and Board of Directors on matters related to compliance, risk management and environmental, social and governance topics. 

Matt most recently served as VP, Enterprise Communications and Social Impact at Lockheed Martin, and earlier led the company's Enterprise Risk and Sustainability function. Under his tenure, Lockheed Martin became the first U.S. company in its industry added to the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index, launched the largest vocational scholarship program for upskilling in the U.S., and increased philanthropic and corporate giving by 50%.

Prior to Lockheed Martin, he spent almost a decade as a business journalist. As Associate Editor at Forbes, he was recognized by the Overseas Press Club for his reporting from abroad, co-edited the World Billionaires issue and traveled with the U.S. Secretary of State. 

Matt received his B.A. from American University (DC) and MBA from the University of Maryland. He taught as an adjunct professional lecturer at the American University School of Communication from 2005 to 2008.

Matt also serves as a Central Area Vice President for the Montgomery County Council of PTAs. He resides in Montgomery County, Maryland, where his children attend public high school.

Leslie Zeid, CPA, Aprio

Leslie Zeid is a partner with Aprio’s Managed Servies Group specializing in nonprofit outsourced accounting. Leslie has more than 25 years of finance and accounting experience specializing in optimizing accounting systems and guiding nonprofit leaders to manage the financial aspects of their organizations. She works with several different types of cloud-based accounting systems and various external applications to simplify monthly processes and support enhanced management decision-making and grant reporting.

Leading a team of seasoned accountants, she provides quality client service by offering timely and efficient support to her clients’ accounting issues and meeting with prospects to help determine the best plan of action for their financial organizations.

Prior to joining Aprio, she led various financial and treasury groups in companies from small to large. In addition to business guidance, her skills include highly expert budgeting and forecasting.

Leslie received a Bachelor of Accountancy degree from Florida International University and an MBA from the University of Maryland Smith School of Business. She is a CPA in the State of Maryland, is Treasurer of The Aprio Foundation and sits on the Greater Washington Society of CPA’s Non-Profit Basics Task Force. Leslie and her husband Marc reside in Montgomery County.

In Memoriam

Honorary Directors

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


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.