Our Board of Directors


Rhea Cohn


Rhea Cohn is an Assistant Professor in the George Washington University School of Health Sciences as well as a Health Care Consultant. She has been a Literacy Council tutor since 2009.  Rhea received her B.S. in Biology from Tufts University, Masters in Physical Therapy from New York University and her DPT in Physical Therapy from Simmons College.  After almost twenty years of clinical practice, Rhea has been working in the area of health care policy and payment.  She now enjoys sharing this expertise with her graduate level students as they prepare for the changing health care environment.


Julian schweitzer

Vice President

Julian Schweitzer is a Senior Fellow at the Results for Development Institute with over 30 years’ experience in global health and development. He was previously Director of the Health, Nutrition and Population Department and Acting Vice President for Human Development at the World Bank and during this time provided strategic leadership to the Bank’s support for Results Based Financing. Since 2010, he has consulted for the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, African Development Bank, the UN Foundation, PMNCH, WHO, the Centre for Health Market Innovations, the Overseas Development Institute, the Global Fund and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance on issues related to international health and inclusive growth.

Julian has served on the Boards of various international health partnerships including the Global Fund, GAVI, the Health Metrics Network and The Global Health Workforce Alliance. He was Chair of the Board of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health in 2009/10 and helped provide new strategic direction to this important partnership in the run up to the 2010 Women Deliver conference and MDG Summit. He has worked extensively with the Partnership over the past few years and was co-author of the 2014 Success Factors study. Recently, Julian was part of the core team which prepared the 2016-30 Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescent’s Health and he has helped conceptualize and implement the Strategy’s accountability framework.

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Barbara Benson

Treasurer/VP of Finance

A retired senior executive with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Barbara Benson brings significant experience to the Board in strategic planning, human resources management, and leadership development.   She is a current tutor of an ESL student, a volunteer instructor for the Literacy Council’s tutoring program, and the Treasurer of the Board. A native of the Boston area, she holds a B.A. from Brown University and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Northwestern University

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mary gallagher


Mary Gallagher works as the Manager of the Center for Academic Success (CAS), the academic support department at the Universities at Shady Grove in Montgomery County. She began her career in student support in 2005 at Syracuse University, when her passion for writing and the mechanics of the English language inspired her to work as a writing consultant in the Syracuse University Writing Center and the University Athletic Department. She joined the staff of USG in 2009, and has served as CAS’s coordinator, senior coordinator and acting interim director. In her time at Syracuse, and CAS, Mary works to support diverse students, including language learners, to build skills and overall approaches to strategic learning. Mary is herself passionate about education and continual learning: she holds an MA Degree in Bilingual Education from UMBC, is currently pursuing a PhD in Language, Literacy and Culture, also from UMBC and is an alumna of the Education Pioneers Summer Graduate Fellowship.


Martin Blank


Martin Blank retired as president of Institute for Educational Leadership where he worked for more than 25 years. A major focus of IEL was on helping young people and adults with disabilities gain access to the workforce, which included attention to their literacy skills. He focused personal attention on the relationship between schools and their communities. In addition, he worked on a wide array of education, community development and human services programs, always in non-governmental organizations that give him an understanding of what it takes to make a small nonprofit organization successful – vision, leadership, strategic thinking and partnerships to name a few. He has relationships with organizations in the County that are working to improve the lives of children and families, most importantly, the Linkages to Learning Initiative which works with children and their families in high needs school in the County.


Annie Foster-Ahmed


Annie Foster Ahmed received her Master’s Degree in Science Education from the State University of New York at Buffalo (SUNY) and a B.S. in Biology from Daemen College. Prior to joining the CAS team in 2014, she served as the Associate Director for Pre-College Programs at the University of Maryland and was responsible for the day-to-day management of two TRiO Programs: Upward Bound and Upward Bound-Math/Science Programs. Both programs were funded by the U.S. Department of Education and were designed to prepare low-income and first-generation college students for success in college through academic, personal and social development. Her professional activities have centered around: program management, proposal writing, teacher training, staff development, and enhancing learning and study skills. Her passion and expertise is in helping students succeed and achieve their personal and academic goals by employing brained based learning strategies. She has presented on these topics at various conferences including the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE), the Mid-Eastern Association of Educational Opportunity Personnel (MEAEOPP) and the National College Learning Center Association. Currently, she serves on the Operations Boards for both the ACES Program and for Culture Shock, DC, a non-profit dance company in the Washington-Metropolitan area. She is also a member of Leadership Montgomery, Class of 2019.


Daniel Parra


Montgomery County is truly a mosaic of people and cultures, and well known as a welcoming county where diversity is celebrated. Daniel Parra connects with the many diverse communities as the Small and Minority Business Development Director for Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation. In this capacity, he reaches out to minority and ethnic Chambers of Commerce and other business groups to learn about their constituencies, services, and priorities. With this knowledge, Daniel helps fill gaps and find what’s needed to help grow businesses while cultivating partnerships and opportunities within communities. He is a multiple honoree, having received the 2018 Minority Business Leader award from the Washington Business Journal and the 2018 Hispanic Leader of the Year award from the U.S. Minority Chamber of Commerce. Daniel is also proud to have been selected for Leadership Montgomery’s CORE program, which gives established leaders opportunities to connect with key local issues and other area decision makers.


Denise pinkowitz


Denise Pinkowitz is a former educator and researcher who has been a high-performing volunteer with LCMC for four years. She has served as a tutor and as a member of the Fundraising Committee at LCMC. In addition to her service with LCMC, Denise has more than 14 years’ experience as a coordinator and fundraiser for Walking Warriors Battling Breast Cancer and Avon 39 Walk to End Breast Cancer. In these fundraising capacities she specialized in identifying and soliciting individual donors. She possesses excellent communication and interpersonal skills and seeks to continue developing relationships in the nonprofit field of adult education.