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The Speakers




Member, Howard County Council (District-4)


Deb Jung, Esq.,

Local Environmental Issues

A longtime community leader, Deb served as: Co-Chair of the Howard County Sesquicentennial Celebration Committee; Co-Chair of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission; and was a 5-year member of the Howard County Human Rights Commission. Deb also served as President and was one of the founders of the Executive’s Charity for the Arts established to raise money for scholarships for Howard County residents to study in the arts. Deb is a member of the Howard County NAACP, the Howard County Women’s Democratic Alliance, and the Sierra Club of Howard County.


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Tracy Broccolino

Knowing Your Neighbors

Tracy is the Director of Early Childhood Education for the Community Action Council of Howard County, MD, the county's designated anti-poverty agency. She also served for over ten years as the National Director of Exceptional Student Services with Pearson Online and Blended Learning, overseeing services to special populations in 35 virtual charter schools in 29 states. Tracy has spent 27 years as n educator, including classroom teaching and reading specialist. Tracy will speak to us the importance of knowing your neighbor especially as we all redefine ourselves in the aftermath of the pandemic.

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Director of Early Childhood Education for the Community Action Council of Howard County, MD


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Senior @ River Hill High School


Sahara Ukaegbu

Disparities of COVID’s Impact and What We Can do About it

Sahara Ukaegbu is a senior at River Hill High School interested in pursuing political science on the pre-law track during college. Interested in repairing the inequitable environment of her school and community, she has dedicated her work to creating outlets for expression and action. Throughout her high school career, she has co-created the first River Hill Step Team, founded Let’s Talk: A Community Conversation, and founded the Howard County Student Committee for Equity. Examining the disparities of the pandemic in her speech, she continues to highlight the issues present in her community and suggests solutions for the future.

Marcy Leonard

Building a School Community in a Changing World

Marcy Leonard is the proud Principal of Wilde Lake High School. She is a lifelong Howard County resident and has been a teacher and administrator in HCPSS for 28 years. She serves on the Board of Directors for OhanaHC, a mentoring program for HCPSS students, and she is a member of the Women's Giving Circle of Howard County.

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Principal of Wilde Lake High School


Founder of Columbia Community Care (CCC)

Spanish Teacher @ Wilde Lake High School

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Erika Strauss-Chavarria

The Journey to CCC and Beyond

Erika Strauss-Chavarria is a 13th year Spanish teacher at Wilde Lake High School. Erika is a board member of several Racial Justice organizations and the founder of Columbia Community Care, and organization that has provided hundreds of thousands of Howard County community members. She is the recipient of the 2020 Howard County Human Rights Commission Human Rights Award and was selected as one of the Baltimore Sun's 25 Women to Watch.

Nicole Furst Koonce

College, Career, and Life

Nicole Furst Koonce is a Managing Director with Accenture Federal Services.  Over her 29 years with Accenture, Nicole has served both Commercial and Federal clients, bringing her expertise in Systems Integration, Program Management and Scaled Agile Delivery to customers around the world.  For the last seven years, Nicole has supported the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), serving the last four as the Program Manager for a mission critical system committed to enhancing the security of domestic and international commercial air travel. Nicole is active in the Howard County community – as a 2015 graduate of Leadership Howard County, as a member of the PTA and  as a Mom to her two very active sons, both of whom are part of the Howard County School System.



Managing Director@

Accenture Federal Services


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Senior Staff Scientist

Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory


Dr. Peter Thielen

The Data Within Us

Dr. Peter Thielen is a senior staff scientist with a background in molecular biology and genomics. His research focuses on advancing DNA and RNA sequencing to support rapid decision-making, including in the clinical, environmental, and national security domains. He currently leads multiple programs that focus on transitioning basic research approaches to operational environments, including viral genomic surveillance (e.g., influenza virus, SARS-CoV-2), characterization of genetically modified plant species, and the use of aquatic environmental DNA for ecological species monitoring.

Dr. Janice Lopez

Persisting In Our Mission

Dr. Janice Lopez is a clinical pharmacist who is currently the President of the Howard County Foundation for Black Educational & Cultural Achievement, Inc. This non-profit, organization led by an all volunteer Board of Directors is a scholarship foundation for black Howard County students pursuing post-secondary education. This Foundation was founded by a group of "Concerned Parents" who had a goal to recognize and support black graduating high school students in Howard County and fill a noticeable void. In her more than 10 years as the Foundation President, Dr. Lopez has led the organization to reach a milestone of having awarded over $1 million in scholarships and book awards to more than 900 students in its history. Dr. Lopez and the Foundation Board are very proud to have been able to persist in our mission of awarding scholarships and recognizing black student through the pandemic despite the myriad of challenges. Keeping our eye on our mission has been an incredible motivator.




Howard County Foundation for Black Educational and Cultural Achievement (HCFBECA)


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Senior @ River Hill High School

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Victoria Zhang

Lessons from the Pandemic

My name is Victoria Zhang and I'm a senior at River Hill High School. During the pandemic, I started an initiative called Lingual Lab to increase multilingualism among youth and have since expanded it internationally, attracting students from 33 states and 11 countries. I will speak about my experience with transforming an abstract idea into tangible results, learning to become an effective leader, and persevering through roadblocks along the way.


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Wonjae Suh

Mini-Death Stars and X-ray Lasers: The Insane Science of Zapping Rocks

Wonjae Suh is a high schooler with a background in physics and material science. He is currently a member of a shock physics lab at Johns Hopkins University.



Junior @ River Hill High School


Executive Director of Bridges to Housing Stability

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Jennifer Broderick

Strategies to make a community impact during uncertain times.

Jen Broderick is the Executive Director of Bridges to Housing Stability. Her family lives in Howard County. In High School in Albuquerque New Mexico, Jen visited a homeless shelter with her Key Club, and knew she wanted to work to end homelessness. This led her to pursue a Master's in Social Work and work in nonprofits focused on housing solutions. Community organizing and advocacy can have a big impact on lives. In her talk, she'll discuss small individual actions and strategies anyone can do in their community, at any time to make changes you want to see in the world.

Dr. Mariana Izraelson

Well being of Ho county and community impact of the pandemic

Dr. Mariana Izraelson, is an experienced leader of nonprofit organizations in Maryland, currently serving as Grassroots Crisis Intervention Executive Director. From her experience in rural Maryland to working in Baltimore City, Dr. Izraelson have been dedicated to providing high quality public health prevention and intervention services to at-risk populations. As a clinician, and program director, she developed skills in working with clients who had multiple health and social needs including substance use and mental health disorders. 

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Executive Director of Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center


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President of Indian Cultural Association (ICA)


Sanjay Srivastava


Sanjay Srivastava is the President of Indian Cultural Association (ICA) which is the largest Indian organization in the DMV area. ICA is engaged in public service activities for the most vulnerable in our community, including cultural events that have attracted over 50,000 people. During the pandemic, ICA has distributed over 2.4 million lbs of food to struggling families. Throughout his career, Sanjay has been involved in private industry and serves as President & Board member of multiple corporations. As President of the leading cultural organization representing the largest immigrant minority community in Howard County, he serves on various racial equity forums to advance the interest of the minority Indian American community and those most vulnerable in Howard County.



Founder and Executive Director of the Community Ecology Institute

Dr. Chiara D'Amore

Transformative Education

Dr. Chiara D’Amore is the Founder and Executive Director of the Community Ecology Institute, a non-profit organization working to cultivate communities in which people and nature thrive together. She holds a PhD in Sustainability Education and M.S. in Environmental Science and Engineering and is an adjunct faculty at Prescott College, where she teaches courses related to climate change, civic ecology, experiential education, and research design. She worked as an environmental consultant for over 15 years serving clients such as the United Nations, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and numerous energy utilities. Dr. D’Amore’s work is focused on fostering environmental and social well-being by reconnecting people with the natural environment as well as designing, implementing, and evaluating environmental and educational programs. As a mother, educator, community-builder, activist, artist, writer, and scholar, she is dedicated to helping people of all ages and from diverse backgrounds to lead happier, healthier, more connected and sustainable lives.


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Martina Maya-Callen

The Transformative Power of the Arts for Social Change

Martina Maya-Callen is the Founder and CEO of Love Your Vessel International, LLC. She is an internationally recognized advocate, activist, and educator working to spread awareness on social issues. Her sculpture and performance art piece, “The Hidden Secrets of Eating Disorders” was listed among the top 13 most inspiring body positive moments of 2017 by Cosmopolitan. Her advocacy and creative artwork has brought her to Argentina, Uruguay, Serbia, India, and England, evoking world-wide conversations and being featured on television, radio shows, and magazines such as Yahoo!, Teen Vogue, and Bustle for breaking the stigma on topics often ignored. She has been a collaborator with the National Eating Disorder Association for five years working to combat eating disorders through education and workshops. She also works as a Residential Victim Advocate at HopeWorks of Howard County for survivors of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and human trafficking. 



CEO of Love Your Vessel International LLC

Residential Advocate @ HopeWorks of Howard County



Sophomore @ River Hill High School

Sheryl Li

The Revolutionization of Space

Hey! I’m Sheryl, a sophomore at River Hill High School. I am curious about leveraging emerging tech to have an impact. I like doing activities that are meaningful to me such as working on projects involving AI, comp bio, and cs backed by principles of effective altruism.

Having witnessed firsthand how COVID-19 has affected the way we interact daily, I’ve taken a keen interest in learning about how we’ve adapted social interaction to meet the needs of living through a pandemic. Whether it be the higher reliability on virtual interaction or changes with in-person interaction, I hope to be able to explain some of the new ways humanity bas learned to interact through these unprecedented times.


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The Venue

River Hill High School

12101 Clarksville Pike, Clarksville, MD 21029

River Hill High School is a public high school in Clarksville, Maryland, United States. It is part of the Howard County public schools system. 

The Venue




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