Events2021 Melwood Ability Awards

Judges Panel

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David Egan, Advocate

David Egan has always dreamed big. When he was eight, starting out as a Special Olympics swimmer, he dreamed of winning his races. As he grew, he looked to bigger goals – having a job and finding ways to change attitudes toward people with intellectual disabilities. He has been living his dream – and inspiring others to live theirs. David has been working in a competitive job for the past 20 years, first with Booz Allen Hamilton as a clerk in the Distribution Center, then as a facilities coordinator for CBRE at the same Booz Allen Hamilton facility. He currently is a community coordinator at SourceAmerica.

David is an eager advocate for people with intellectual disabilities at the local, national and international level focusing and imagining the possibilities. He is the first person with intellectual disabilities to have served as a Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Fellow from 2015 to 2016 on Capitol Hill at the Ways and Means Committee working with the Social Security Subcommittee and then with the National Down Syndrome Society. He is a Special Olympics Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger. David serves on several Boards to promote Abilities and collaborate with other advocacy groups.

David has received numerous awards over the years. He is featured in Firestarters: How Innovators, Instigators and Initiators Can Inspire You to Ignite Your Own Life by Raoul Davis Jr., Kathy Palokoff, and Paul Eder and his own memoir: More Alike than Different: My Life with Down Syndrome will be published in July 2020.

David is the oldest of 4 siblings. In his spare time, he is a Star Trek fan, sports, science fiction and enjoys family time being an uncle.

Valerie Ervin, Special Assistant, Office of The Chief of Staff, Prince George’s County Public Schools

Valerie believes that public service is a calling and that government at all levels plays an important role in the lives of everyday people. Her work as a legislator focused on connecting education, government, business and the social safety net to serve the needs of all the residents of her community.

Prior to serving on the Board of Education, and later as a member of the Montgomery County Council, Valerie was a long -time parent activist and a founding member of both the Montgomery County Education Forum and Blacks United for Excellence in Education. These organizations focused on equity and excellence for all students and were the spark that ignited Valerie’s advocacy and path to elected office.

Valerie made local history by becoming the first African American woman to serve on the County Council. As an elected official, Valerie championed the issues that people care about ranging from local investment in attracting and retaining good paying jobs for residents, fighting for more public transportation options, addressing food insecurity issues, closing the Achievement Gap and passing laws that made school buses safer for students and the bus drivers that transport them.

Most recently, Valerie was the Executive Director of the Center for Working Families, and then it’s regional director and Senior Adviser. She left the organization in 2018 to join Kevin Kamenetz on his ticket for Lt. Governor in 2018.

Valerie has received numerous awards and recognition for her public service including: Commencement Speaker, Montgomery College graduation, 2014; Associate of Arts in Public Service Honorary Degree, Montgomery College, 2014; Inducted into the Women’s History Archives, Montgomery County Commission for Women, 2013; Appointed by Governor Martin O’Malley, Chesapeake Bay Trust Board of Directors, 2008-2012; Washingtonian Magazine’s Most Powerful Women Award, 2011; Maryland’s Top 100 Women, 2008 and 2012.

Valerie holds a degree in Labor Studies and an M.P.A. from the University of Baltimore. Valerie resides in Silver Spring, Maryland. She has two sons and four grandchildren.

Celeste James, Executive Director, Community Health and Benefit, Kaiser Permanente

Celeste James is Executive Director of Community Health at Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States. In this role, she oversees Kaiser Permanente’s community-based health programming, grant-making, and policy advocacy to create conditions that promote optimal health for all, particularly those experiencing inequity and injustice. Celeste leads a diverse team of public health professionals who work in Maryland, District of Columbia, and Northern Virginia, supporting nonprofit organizations, governments and communities to address community needs, with a focus on socio-economic opportunity, mental and behavioral health and access to culturally competent health care. In 2018, Celeste was appointed by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s Office to serve as a Commissioner on the Maryland Community Health Resources Commission. The Commission, established in 2005, was created to expand access to health care services in underserved communities across Maryland. Over its first 13 years, the CHRC has awarded 205 grants, totaling more than $63 million and serving more than 450,000 residents in every jurisdiction of the state. Celeste also is co-chair of Washington Regional Food Funders, supporting a viable, sustainable and equitable regional food system. She sits on several nonprofit boards: Crittenton Services of Greater Washington, improving the lives of girls and young women in DC and Montgomery County; Employ Prince George’s, preparing a strong and ready workforce; and Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers, promoting effective philanthropy in the Greater Washington region. Celeste began her career in the media industry in corporate communications and media relations for national outlets: USA TODAY/Gannett Co., Inc., U.S. News & World Report, and NPR (National Public Radio), where she left as Vice President of Communications in 2003.

Peggy Fox, Northern Virginia Media and Community Relations Manager, Dominion Energy

As the Northern Virginia Media and Community Relations Manager for Dominion Energy, Peggy is proud to be part of a company that’s leading the change for a sustainable future. Dominion Energy now owns the 4th largest utility solar portfolio in America and is developing the largest offshore wind project in the U.S.

Peggy’s background is in television journalism. She is a four-time Emmy winner who reported and anchored for WUSA9 in Washington, D.C. from 1995 until 2019.

As WUSA9’S Northern Virginia Bureau Chief, Peggy covered Virginia’s major news events over two decades. She won an Emmy in 2018 for her story on the first-of-its kind lymph node mapping procedure and received Emmys for breaking news, an investigation of lead paint on playgrounds and for a series on her brother-in-law who has a traumatic brain injury from a shot to the head while serving in Iraq.

She’s most proud of her stories that give voice to the voiceless, help to correct wrongs, break down barriers and open minds. Peggy is a native and resident of Fairfax County and a Virginia Tech Hokie. She grew up in Springfield where she met her husband, Tom Horan, at West Springfield High School. They have two children in college and are active in the McLean Community.

Jack McDougle, President & CEO, Greater Washington Board of Trade

Jack McDougle is the president and chief executive officer of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, a business organization that has served the District of Columbia, Northern Virginia, and suburban Maryland for 130 years. Under Jack’s leadership, this historic organization and its diverse membership are leading Connected DMV, a comprehensive public-private partnership to bring smart infrastructure and amenities to the Greater Washington region. Jack has worked with business, government, and nonprofits for more than 20 years to enhance competitive advantage. He helps teams thrive in complex environments, think with a global perspective, and adapt to change while generating creative, viable approaches to challenging situations. Before joining the Board of Trade, Jack founded Blutre Strategies to drive economic capacity building in the U.S., Central Asia, and India. Jack led the National Manufacturing and Innovation Initiative at the Council on Competitiveness. He also served as Deputy Undersecretary for Economic Affairs and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Industry Analysis at the U.S. Department of Commerce. At the U.S. Department of State, he led components of the U.S.-hosted G8 Summit at Sea Island, GA.  In the private sector, Jack was Vice President for Strategic Management at People’s United Bank. Jack regularly discusses economic, business, manufacturing, and trade issues with senior government and industry officials as well as presenting at various meetings and events. He’s been featured on PBS NewsHour and in numerous print publications. Jack earned his M.B.A. in strategy and finance at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts.

Alan Meltzer, CEO & Founder, NFP | The Meltzer Group

Alan Meltzer founded The Meltzer Group in 1982 around his clients’ needs – a decision that has continuously earned him the highest awards and accolades in the industry. Alan’s strong core values and work ethic were the driving forces behind the company’s exponential growth – and remain today as cornerstones of the company’s ethos. Alan was inducted into the Washington Business Hall of Fame in 2011, the same year The Gazette newspapers named him one of the “25 CEOs You Need to Know.”

Alan is equally as dedicated to serving his community. As one of the top corporate philanthropists in the Washington metropolitan area, Alan has served on the Board of Directors for numerous organizations, including Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Wolf Trap Foundation, For Love of Children, United Jewish Endowment Fund, Junior Achievement, K. Neal International Trucks, Jewish Federation Executive Committee and the Washington Hospital Center Foundation.

As an alumnus of American University, Alan continues to lend much support today to the AU athletics program and Kogod School of Business. He serves on the Alumni Affairs Committee, Athletics Committee, Audit Committee, and Finance and Investment Committee. In 2006, he was awarded the Cyrus Ansary Medal, which is bestowed upon a member of the American University community who has demonstrated extraordinary commitment to public service and philanthropy at AU and to the broader community, as well as for recognized professional accomplishments.

Walter Simmons, President & CEO, Employ Prince George’s, Inc.

Walter Simmons has extensive experience in workforce and economic development, serving in various roles in Prince George’s County, Washington, DC, and around the country. In his role as Executive Director of the Prince George’s County Workforce Development Board Walter provides leadership and guidance over the Prince George’s County Local Workforce Area, including its Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA) activities, policy development, and programming. The Prince George’s County Local Workforce Area serves over 30,000 job seekers and 1,000 businesses annually. Walter is also the President and CEO of Employ Prince George’s, Inc. (EPG), operating 10 workforce programs in Prince George’s County. EPG is the link between job seekers looking to begin or change careers, and businesses looking for skilled workers to maintain competitiveness in a changing labor market.

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