Board of Directors


Chairperson and Treasurer

Melvyn Leshinsky

Vice Chairperson

The Honorable Patricia B. O'Neill

Superintendent of Schools

Jack R. Smith 


Thomas Pumphrey

Executive Director

Yolanda Johnson Pruitt



Pennie Abramson 

Gary and Pennie  Abramson Charitable Foundation 

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 Chairman 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’s involvement with the Weizmann Institute of Science spans 35 years.  She is President Emeritus of the American Committee and serves on the International Board.

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, 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. 

Thomas Choate

Retired MCPS Employee

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 US Marine Corps, a 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 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 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 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 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.

Paul Leleck

CFO of Building Hope


Mr. 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.


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 in 2010.  During his tenure, Aronson enjoyed unprecedented growth and received many professional and community acknowledgements.  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.

During the past 45 years I focused my practice on providing financial accounting, income, estate and gift tax planning, and business and management consulting services to businesses, individuals, development-stage and operating companies. I have also served as interim CFO and CEO to a number of companies. Currently I provide the same consultative services to clients of Aronson and other companies.

Leshinsky receivedy 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. 

The Honorable Aruna Miller

Maryland House of Delegates, District 15

Aruna Miller is a Maryland State Delegate that represents Legislative District 15 which includes the areas of Potomac, Germantown, North Potomac, Clarksburg and Poolesville. She was elected in 2010 and reelected in 2014. Aruna is a civil engineer with over twenty-five years of experience in planning, design, and construction of transportation facilities.  She serves on the House Appropriations Committee where she is the Chair of the Personnel Subcommittee; Vice Chair of the Capital Budget Subcommittee; Vice Chair of the Transportation and Environment Subcommittees and; President Elect for the Women’s Caucus. 

Mrs. Miller  believes that for Maryland to be globally competitive, we must invest in infrastructure, quality public schools and policies that attract and allow businesses to grow and to create jobs. Her priorities also include protecting children, our environment, and advancing gender equality in the workplace. She and her husband live in Darnestown along with their three daughters, her mother and two dogs.

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 MCPSEF, 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.


Patricia B. 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.


Linda Plummer

Montgomery County NAACP

Linda Plummer, currently serving as President. She 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 graduae of Leadership Montgomery. She has received the County's Human Rights nd MLK Humanitarian Awards, and has been an NAACP Golden Heritage Member since 2009.

Yolanda Johnson Pruitt

MCPS Educational Foundation.


Yolanda 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).

Thomas Pumphrey

International Church of God


Dr. Jack Smith

Jack R. Smith

Superintendent of 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. Jack R. 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.

Dr. Smith's 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.

Rob Smith

Fitzgerald Auto Malls


Rebecca Smondrowski

Montgomery County Board of Education

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.

S. Rob Sobhani, Ph.D.

Caspian Holdings, LLC

Rob Sobhani, Ph.D. is the Founder and CEO of Sparo Corporation, a technology company based in Maryland that leverages corporate social responsibility into higher sales for online merchants by marrying e-commerce and charity. He is also Founder and CEO of Caspian Group Holdings, a firm specializing in energy projects around the world. Dr. Sobhani serves on the boards of Z Advanced Computing, an image recognition company and Caspian Graphene, a project focused on building the next generation of solar cells. In 2012 he ran as an Independent for the U.S. Senate and has lived in Maryland for over 30 years.


Sabi Farzaneh

Dr. Farzaneh (Fazi) Sabi

Mid- Atlantic Permante Media Group 

 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. 

Kim Watson

KMW Public Relations

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 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          

Montgomery County Public Schools Educational Foundation

850 Hungerford Drive, Room 149
Rockville, MD 20850
Phone: 301-279-3432/ 301-517-5099
Fax: 301-279-3428

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