Board Members

Diana Benson is a graduate of Leadership Montgomery’s Emerging Leaders and has worked at Montgomery College’s Educational Opportunity Center for the past 10 years, during which time she was an Education Specialist and Acting Director.

Jim Brodsky is a founding member of the Washington DC law firm of Weiner Brodsky Kider PC, and a member of the Board of the Community Preservation and Development Corporation, a regional developer and owner of many affordable housing communities.  He was a Commissioner of the Housing Opportunities Commission, Chairman of the Board of the Montgomery Housing Partnership, a co-founder of the Open Door Housing Fund, and a senior member of the HUD staff. 

Jeff Bulman is a native Washingtonian and owner of the Original Pancake House franchise for Maryland and Virginia. He was on the board of the McLean School of Potomac, MD and through his business, an active supporter for many local charities.

Delores Cole retired in 2003 from 25 years as Resident Counselor at Housing Opportunities Commission.  In partnership with HOC she reinitiated Saturday Schools and worked there as a volunteer for 18 years. She has been a member of Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church for 40 years.  She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta and is a lifetime member of the Morgan State Alumni Association.

Jacqueline Dennard is a Community Director for the Community Services Foundation. As director of the Social Action Ministry at the People’s Community Baptist Church, she oversees 12 ministries involving community outreach activities, including the Political Action Committee.

Tosha Dyson is the Coordinator of the Family Self-Sufficiency Program at Rockville Housing Enterprise.  She has also been a mentoring and leadership volunteer with youth and families at Goshen United Methodist Church and the City of Rockville.

Aziza El Bahja is a consultant at Megabill Technologies.  She coordinated a joint venture between a group of medical doctors in Kuwait and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, provided expert knowledge on International Business and governmental entities overseas and in private sectors and ensured that clients maintained an appropriate measure of compliance with environmental regulations.    


Dr. Rhonda Friedman is a retired research scientist who has extensive experience as a member of the Boards of various nonprofit organizations related to assisting children and youth obtain skills to live long and productive lives.


Kellie Jackson is the Resident Opportunity Service Coordinator at the Rockville Housing Enterprise.  She is the founder of Uplyft Me, whose mission is to prevent diseases and promote health, rights and socioeconomic development status of disadvantaged women, children and youth in community settings while working toward the attainment of the United Nations’ Millennium goals.


Marilyn Joy Leeseberg is a music therapist who has worked for over 25 years in dementia, multiple handicaps and the autism spectrum.  Marilyn has a private practice and she additionally works at Community Support Services (CSS) with teens and adults on the autism spectrum.​

Tracee Matthias is a senior program director in the Workforce Development and Continuing Education division at Montgomery College. Her work with noncredit career education courses helps adults to attain job skills which lead to gainful employment. She previously led the work of the Educational Opportunity Center, a federal TRIO program designed to guide primarily low-income adults through the enrollment process. Tracee serves her community through participation on the Montgomery County Community Development Advisory Committee, Leadership Montgomery and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. Lambda Delta Sigma chapter.

Oma Ngwobia is a Social Scientist and a career Project Manager/IT Consultant who consults for state, federal, and private sector organizations. Her experience includes strategic planning, service delivery, managing program finance, data entry, presentations, leadership, customer services, and mentoring.  Ms. Ngwobia spent four years in the housing industry where she managed leasing and resident relations for Capright Properties and later Berkshire Realty. She served residents who were beneficiaries of housing assistance and collaborated with the Housing Opportunities Commission. 

Tocque V. Peyton, Board Chair, retired in September 2013 from 30 years at the Housing Opportunities Commission.  He has done extensive collaborative work with Montgomery County Public Schools, Montgomery County Recreation Department, the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Manna Food Center, Upper Montgomery County Volunteer Network and various local churches  to bring comprehensive holistic services to residents of HOC.  He has received several awards including the Nancy Dworkin Award in 1998 for his work with youth in Montgomery County.

Dr. Rodney Redmond is the Instructional Dean of English and Reading at the Rockville campus of Montgomery College. In his previous role as an English Professor and in his current role Rodney has worked to support access to higher education as a means of changing the lives of those in the communities where he lives and works.

Nancy Scull retired in March 2015 from 22 years as Coordinator of the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program at the Housing Opportunities Commission.  She was founder of The Shepherd’s Table in 1983.  In 2014 she received the Roscoe Nix Distinguished Community Leadership Award from County Executive Ike Leggett.

Bernie Tetreault for whom The Bernie Scholarship Awards Program was named, served as Executive Director of Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC) for twenty-four years. During his tenure, HOC was transformed from a traditional Public Housing Authority to a multi-faceted housing agency, providing both single family and multifamily financing, developing both large and small housing developments, and providing housing management and resident services programs. He served on the Board of Directors of the National Housing Conference and was a founder and past president of the Association of Local Housing Finance Agencies. He is the founder and President of the Innovative Housing Institute and was real estate advisor to the DC Housing Authority helping them develop mixed income communities on revitalized public housing sites. Bernie is known and respected around the country as a progressive housing innovator for affordable housing.

Advisory Board

Bruce Adams is the Director of Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett's Office of Community Partnerships (OCP). He served as an elected Montgomery County Council member from 1986-94 and was Council President 1991-92. He served as Senior Fellow at The James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership at the University of Maryland (1995-97), Fellow of the Kennedy Institute of Politics at Harvard University (1979), Associate of the Charles F. Kettering Foundation (1982-1986), and National Research Director for Common Cause (1977-1982). Bruce was named 1998 Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian magazine and received the 1993 Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ Scull Metropolitan Public Service Award for enhancing intergovernmental cooperation in the Washington Metropolitan Region

Shirley Brandman is a retired member and past president, Montgomery County Board of Education.  She has served on numerous boards including the Maryland Association of Boards of Education, Professional Standards and Teacher Education Board, Latino Youth Collaborative, Montgomery County Council of PTAs and Montgomery County Commission for Children and Youth.  In 2014 Ms. Brandman received The Bernie Scholarship Awards Program’s Community Service Award.

Catherine Leggett is Senior Vice President for Human Resources at ICMA-RC, a nonprofit independent financial services corporation providing retirement security for Public Sector services. Mrs. Leggett was named Democrat of the year in 2007.  As Montgomery County’s First Lady, she is very active in the community as a lifetime board member of the Montgomery Hospice, Chair of Maryland State Commission for Public Art and a former member of the Boards of Young Audiences, Imagination Stage, Maryland State Arts Council and Montgomery County Arts and Humanities Council. In 2016 she received The Bernie Scholarship Awards Program’s Community Service Award.  

Paul McGuckian is a retired Senior Circuit Court Judge for Montgomery County, served as general counsel for the Housing Opportunities Commission and its predecessor, Public Housing Authority, for 12 years.  He then served as the County Attorney for Montgomery County until his appointment to the bench in 1987.  He has been on the boards of several County Sec. 236 Senior Housing projects.

Susan Messitte is a Member of and past President of the Foundation Board of St. Mary's College of Maryland.  She is a community activist having served on several Boards including Judicial Nominating Committee and Juvenile Justice Committee for Montgomery County.  She is the past President of Woman's Democratic Club and is a retired consultant for nonprofit organizations and a former Peace Corps Volunteer in Brazil.

George Payne is Vice President and Provost for Applied Technologies, the Gudelsky Institute for Technical Education, and Workforce Development & Continuing Education whose mission is to empower students to change their lives and enrich the life of their community.  He has also received The Bernie Scholarship Awards Program’s Community Service Award.  

Ruby Rubens retired in 2000 as the Ombudsman for the Montgomery County Board of Education. From 2002-2012, Mrs. Rubens served as a consultant to Montgomery County Public Schools working with the Study Circles program on the impact of race and ethnicity on student achievement. She has also been Special Assistant to the Montgomery County Executive and the County’s Fair Housing Manager, consultant to HOC for Affirmative Fair Marketing, Management Analyst for the US Office of Personnel Management, and Instructor of social security law for the US Social Security Administration.  Mrs. Rubens has received recognition such as The Neal Potter Path of Achievement Award and the Delta Sigma Theta National Legacy Award to Women Making a Difference.  She was also inducted into Montgomery County’s Human Rights Hall of Fame.

Monica Sussman is a partner at Nixon Peabody.  She is a former deputy general counsel for HUD. She brings nearly 30 years of experience in affordable housing, Section 8 and FHA multifamily programs. Ms. Sussman represents developers in all types of affordable housing transactions and continues her strong relationship with HUD headquarters and regionally.

Teresa Wright is a parent resource teacher in the Division of ESOL and Bilingual Programs, serving Gaithersburg, Magruder and Watkins Mill clusters. She and other Up-County team members partnered with community organizations and educational institutions to organize continuing education programs for immigrant parents, establish a Teen Moms Program, encourage ESOL students to complete high school and attend college, and help Latino students avoid high risk behaviors. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including Excellence for Minority Achievement in 2001 from the Maryland State Department of Education, Outstanding Leader Award from Leadership Montgomery in 2002 and The Bernie Scholarships’ Community Service Award.

Resiliency • Courage • Drive • Persistence

​​Founding Members


Reverend Lon Dring

Barbara Heyman

Joyce Siegel


Program Leadership


The program leadership is comprised of a Board of Directors and an Advisory Board. 


​​Meet the people behind the scenes who are responsible for maintaining The Bernie Scholarship Awards Program's success. Our Board members and members of the Advisory Board are volunteers. They help minimize program costs, which makes the program much more effective.  The money goes where it is needed - to the students for their education and training.


Both the Directors and Advisors are accomplished community leaders. In addition to providing their skills, they are role models for The Bernie scholars. Our Board and Advisory Board members get to know the awardees through their application review and personal interviews.  This makes winning a more personal experience. In fact awardees are invited to take part in all aspects of the organization--from the application and awards process to fundraising and helping The Bernie Scholarship Awards Program gain more visibility.


The Board of Directors meets from September through June on the first Wednesday morning of the month in Rockville.  The Advisory Board meets twice a year and also advises and participates in events and planning.  If you would like more information or to become a Board member, please send your request to contact@berniescholarships.org.

The Bernie Scholarship Awards Program