Dianne Lorenz, Chair
President, In Focus Foundation, Cofounder Womenade Circle Bethesda
Dianne Lorenz brings a solid business background in organizational and financial management, marketing and communications, business development and entrepreneurial leadership having founded and lead a successful 12 million dollar women-owned high technology company for over 20 years. She was recognized for her passion for quality and her innovative approach to team-centered management and client satisfaction.
Dianne describes herself as a “visionary entrepreneur” as she launches a post-retirement enterprise, In Focus Foundation, whose goal is to establish a microfinance vehicle in the Washington, DC area that helps women, especially women with families, become independent through creating their own small enterprise. The organization’s mission is to enable low-income women to reap the benefits of career success, financial security, education for their children and involvement in their communities. She is a co-founder of Womenade Circle, a giving circle that combines individual small donations to make a significant impact in the lives of women and families locally and internationally. She serves as co-chair of the DC Chapter of SERVAS International, which fosters understanding, tolerance and world peace through cross-cultural travel. Recent fundraising initiatives have benefited Dalit photojournalist in Nepal through The Clean Hands Project, Nepali orphans through Soccer Balls for Kids and women from small villages in Kenya seeking education opportunities through the Nikolas Sironka Dance Troupe. Some of her favorite volunteer activities are participating on the Leadership Team at Organizing for America, photographing homeless and low-income families through Help-Portrait and organizing annual winter clothing drives for S.O.M.E. For intellectual stimulation and pure enjoyment, she ushers at Studio Theater, Theater J and Wooly Mammoth.
Melissa Reitkopp, Secretary
Director, Talent Acquisition for TalentHunter
Melissa Reitkopp’s life exemplifies the belief that people and positive relationships, not money or things, provide lasting joy and can pave the way to personal and professional success. As an acknowledged leader in talent acquisition for profit and nonprofit organizations in the sciences and statistics, she has focused on developing long-standing relationships with client companies. Additionally, she has built an extensive network of talented professionals, some relationships spanning more than 15 years. As a child, Melissa traveled the world with her family while her father worked for the Peace Corps in Thailand, which showed her the importance of cultural sensitivity and open communication. The experience led her to create her own degree in “Cross Cultural Communication” from Cornell University and provided her with the principles she has followed throughout her life. She has taught soccer to youth in Latin America, studied the EEC in Europe, and even learned to milk cows in the Middle East. At home, she has been an active participant in her community and her children’s lives, including being an active member of the Bethesda Chevy Chase High School Guidance Advisory Committee; soccer coach/referee; Chair of Community Service for Beth El Preschool; and class parent at Rock Creek Forest Elementary School (a Spanish Immersion Program). She also shares her expertise through workshops that help attendees find employment, including skill identification, resume building, networking, and interviewing. Audiences have included students and professionals from embassies, private and public universities, high schools, and US Peace Corps Guatemala. In fact, her presentation to EWI students on developing networks led to her inclusion on the Board.
Earl Furfine, Treasurer
Entrepreneur and Columnist
Earl Furfine has more than 28 years of information technology and financial experience. He has been a founder or partner in 7 technology start-ups. He has consulted at many F500 companies as well a government agencies including CBP, TSA and Census. Mr. Furfine holds a Master’s of Management from Northwestern University, J. L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management, and a Bachelor’s of Science in Accountancy with a Computer Science concentration from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Mr. Furfine created the Cardinal Foundation, dedicated to finding corporations willing to donate job training for recent veterans. He is a columnist at Endurance Racing Magazine, a private pilot, and an avid triathlete. He has completed 30 races including Ironman Louisville 2010, Ironman Arizona 2012 and the Great Chesapeake Bay 4.4 mile swim. He published his first children’s book, “Red Redmond and the Great Plane Adventure” in 2012. He continues to enjoy reading days for students at local elementary schools.
CEO and Founder, AGG Inc
Ruta Aidis PhD is a Senior Fellow at the School of Policy, Government and International Affairs, George Mason University and CEO and Founder of ACG Inc., a global research and consultancy firm. Dr. Aidis has more than 20 years experience teaching, researching, consulting and publishing in the area of comparative entrepreneurship development, gender, institutions and public policy. She is a female entrepreneurship expert and advocate, an engaging speaker and data-driven analyst consulting on numerous entrepreneurship and gender related initiatives worldwide. For the past three years, Dr. Aidis has spearheaded an innovative research initiative that has resulted in the development of the Global Women Entrepreneur Leaders Scorecard sponsored by Dell, Inc.
Dorothy L. Myers
Long & Foster Real Estate (Realtor); Haven Interiors (Interior Designer/Decorator)
Dorothy has a great passion for small business, especially women-owned businesses, and seeks to identify and remove the emotional and financial obstacles that often hinder them from flourishing. As the Owner/Principal Designer for her own interior design firm, Haven Interior Design for the past 15 years, she knows these challenges first hand. Dorothy has more than 30 years of experience in business management and has maintained a record of surpassing sales and company goals in the high-end/luxury-goods market for residential and commercial clients. Her broad range of experiences includes sales and marketing strategies, account management, team building, leadership, and contract negotiation spanning the fields of international business, sales, and interior design. The breadth of her roles has given her the ability to deliver results and demonstrate agility across different functional areas. After graduation, Dorothy worked for more than 11 years in international business with the World Bank, IMF and Africare before transitioning to sales and design. Dorothy’s passion for small business strengthens her success in both real estate and design because it is focused on ensuring that her clients achieve their broad objectives while also succeeding in their individual goals.
In addition to her professional career, Dorothy is deeply committed to community service and has previously served on the board of StepAfrika!, has held a variety of leadership positions within the local chapter of her sorority, and has a long history of volunteering in a variety of nonprofits in Washington DC for the past 30 years. When not working, you will find her in her version of “heaven on earth” — trolling the local flea markets and estate sales looking for unique art, books and furniture.
Virginia/DC Small Business Area Manager at Capital One
Michelle Roth, delivers financial performance, customer satisfaction, operational excellence, and employee satisfaction. She and her team of 11-15 people focus on achieving aggressive sales growth targets, providing superior service while maintaining consistency for overall efficiency for the region. Serving in the financial industry since 1988 in various executive roles, her expertise spans multiple lines of business. Most recently, her focus has been the small business trade area, capitalizing on her expansive understanding of the financial industry. Michelle has served in multiple capacities on various boards and is an active volunteer in her community. Michelle is happily married with 3 children. She holds a BS in Business Education from the University of Maryland.
Sarah Ruiz, PhD
Gerontologist and Health Services Researcher, NORC at the University of Chicago
Sarah Ruiz has spent more than 15 years in the fields of health and aging research, program development and evaluation, and health care innovation, working with a wide range of clients including pharmaceutical, community organizations, foundations, and the Federal Government.
Dr. Ruiz is an expert in program evaluation for vulnerable populations, with extensive experience working on projects at the federal, state, and local level.She currently leads large scale program evaluation efforts to understand health care innovation for older adults and persons with disabilities under the Affordable Care Act. Her research considers the role of existing evidence-based interventions and use of new cost effective workforce models, such as lay health workers and community organizers. Prior to joining NORC, Dr. Ruiz held leadership positions in the nonprofit and private sectors. She served as research director for the National Self-Management Alliance, a public-private partnership to scale chronic disease self-management interventions that arose from the HHS Strategic Framework on Multiple Chronic Conditions. Dr. Ruiz was previously a research associate at RAND Corporation and IMPAQ International, where she managed and oversaw federal contracts and grants on health policy, long-term care, and evidence-based programs and services for older adults. Dr. Ruiz also served as an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of Southern California School of Gerontology.
Executive Vice President of LifeCourse Associates
Warren’s purpose in life is to lead people to feel empowered and hopeful about the possibilities of the future. He believes business can be a force for good and entrepreneurs can be agents for social change.
He has spent over 25 years in the field of behavioral sciences, statistics, organizational development, and media, working with a wide range of clients nationally and internationally including Fortune 500 companies, UK charities, US government, foundations, and nongovernmental organizations. Clients have included Navy SEALs, World Bank, World Economic Forum, Knight Foundation, FEMA, Proctor & Gamble, McDonalds, and American Airlines. Warren held leadership positions at Gallup over a 10-year period, an organization that combines the scientific advancements of psychology, sociology, economics, and statistics to achieve new insights for corporations, governments and nongovernmental organizations worldwide. As Managing Partner, Warren led the dramatic turnaround of the Gallup Government Practice. Government contracting revenue grew by $30 million with the number of core consultants expanding from 10 to over 50. Government contracting portfolio tripled as a percent of total Gallup domestic revenue (7% in 2006 to 21% in 2009). In 2011, Warren partnered with economist and author Neil Howe to help companies understand the impact generational differences and social change have in business — as employees and customers. They have two companies, LifeCourse Associates, and Saeculum Research.
Early in his career, Warren worked for radio and TV stations in advertising sales in Washington DC and Cleveland, OH, then went on to start a company called JobFinder.com with two friends in 1997. They sold the company in 2000.
Brian Hartman is an independent organizational consultant, with emphasis on manager-led problem solving and corporate strategic planning to improve revenue and cost performance. He has worked extensively with senior organizational leaders as a research director with the Corporate Executive Board Company, helping them identify and implement advantaged solutions to strategy, operations, sales and human resources management challenges. Brian has also held business planning and development roles with The Washington Post Company, Fannie Mae and an early-stage social media venture. Brian has a M.B.A. from the University of Virginia and a B.A. in philosophy from the College of William & Mary. He currently resides in Alexandria, Virginia with his wife and daughter, with whom he enjoys the outdoors, cooking and the arts.
Deborah Blank, PhD
Design, Development and Entrepreneurship Consultant
Deborah Blank, Ph.D. has expertise in both training design/development, and entrepreneurship. For 20 years she was a partner in a Bethesda-based company that developed technology-based learning materials for both private corporations, non-profits, and the Federal Government. The company had 75 employees when sold in 2000. She continues to work as a part-time contractor designing and developing courses, many of which are delivered over the Internet. In other entrepreneurial pursuits, Deborah assisted in developing and implementing a marketing program for her husband’s dental practice and inventing a senior fitness product which she manufactured overseas and sold to assisted living businesses. Deborah’s professional history also includes working with disadvantaged youth in a GED completion program and teaching ESOL classes.
President, OmniStudio, Inc.
For more than 30 years, Eileen Kessler has led an expert team of specialists to produce publications, brand identities, marketing communications and informational materials that build constituencies, educate, and inspire advocacy for positive change in our society. Located in Washington DC, OmniStudio has been instrumental in the communications activities of local, national and international institutions. Omni shares the goals and passions of our clients, especially in the areas of education, health care, the environment, and human rights. OmniStudio provides strategy, content, design, and development for online and print media such as Websites, newsletters, advertising, annual reports, and conference promotion. Ms. Kessler, who founded her business in 1977, has served in leadership roles for several volunteer organizations. Currently she is a founding member of Companies for Causes, a regional initiative that will bring businesses together to work to improve local communities.
OmniStudio was named one of the area’s “Top 25? graphic design companies in past four years by the city’s leading business publication, the Washington Business Journal. In 2007, Inc. Magazine ranked OmniStudio as one of 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in the country. The University of Maryland University College selected Kessler to receive the Top 100 Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Award in 2007, which is awarded by the University College, the Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs (GOMA), and the Maryland Chamber of Commerce.
Kate Campbell Stevenson
Activist, Artist and Producer Women: Back to the Future
Chair of the Board of Directors 2008-2012 Kate Campbell Stevenson combines over 25 years of professional experience in music, theatre and education to create Women: Back to Future. She has starred in over 30 Broadway musicals produced in regional theaters across the United States, including Camelot, Carousel, My Fair Lady, The King and I, Show Boat, Music Man and I Do! I Do! as well as performing in radio and TV commercials. In her one-woman show Kate brings to life historical women with “can do” attitudes who have inspired audiences from the poorest rural schools in South Carolina to the fanciest prep schools in LA; from small county fairs to the National Theatre and The Office of the President in Washington, D.C.; from state and national convention halls to renowned college and civic auditoriums.
Rosalie Smith has worked in public education for most of her adult life. She has taught various levels of students from Kindergarten through university. After spending a decade in the Middle East, she landed in Northern Virginia and spent her final teaching career with the Arlington Public Schools, specifically Wakefield High School, a low income, diverse and high achieving institution. Recently she has been involved with the Arlington Committee of 100, Wakefield Senior Project panels, Offender Aid and Restoration, Advent Lutheran Church, and the American Academy of Liberal Education (AALE) visiting and evaluating charter schools in the District of Columbia.
Certified Travel Industry Executive (CTIE)
Tharwat Abouraya is a Certified Travel Industry Executive (CTIE) with more than 25 years experience in retail/leisure/commercial travel, tour operation, multinational corporations/small agencies and travel promotion to global/sustainable travel destinations. Expert in turning around and building business as well as managing operations. Track record of success in designing/implementing innovative strategies to increase sales/revenue, address customer needs, improve market share. Longstanding reputation for skilled marketing, business development and negotiation. Rainmaker for nonprofit travel organizations. Consistent profit leader with a strong sense of urgency. He is experienced in change management, team building & motivation, sales and marketing, online travel business, negotiation & multicultural communication. Skilled in turning around retail operations for major corporations & small businesses, building business, developing a sales culture and motivating a team to meet aggressive goals. Started small businesses from scratch & rebuilt struggling retail operations. Travel Institute expert training collaborator, webinar leader and author of online publications on management and training.