Northwest Neighbors Village is a volunteer-based, community-first non-profit.
Stephanie Chong, LICSW – For years Stephanie was attracted to the grassroots Village model for its effectiveness in championing positive aging and fostering a community that values older adults. In 2016, she jumped at the opportunity to be a part of the growing Village movement. Stephanie found a natural fit between the Villages’ culture of empowerment and her professional commitment to improve the aging experience. Stephanie has been working in the field of aging for over 20 years and has a wealth of experience that began with work as a certified home health aide. Stephanie has a Bachelor’s in Social Work from Stockton University and a Master’s in Social Work from Fordham University. Having dedicated her career to aging services in the District of Columbia, Stephanie previously ran a local non-profit care management program and has worked in all areas of senior living.
Heather Hill is a licensed social worker by training and has been the Member and Volunteer Services Coordinator at NNV since 2019. Heather previously worked as a Money Management Program social worker at Iona Senior Services where she helped older adults with memory loss with their finances, and as a clinical social worker at the National Institutes of Health. Heather has a Bachelor's in Anthropology from the University of Virginia and a Master's in Social Work from Catholic University.
Heather's partner, Carey Smith, has been providing weekly solo jazz guitar concerts via Zoom during the pandemic. Heather brings experience and empathy to her role here at NNV.
Leslie Pace has been the Administrative Assistant in the NNV office since 2019. She has a varied background including librarianship, information management, web design, and retail sales. As a native of Northwest DC, she has been delighted to come back into contact with NNV members whose children she knew in school. Leslie has a Bachelor’s in Anthropology from Franklin & Marshall College and a Graduate Diploma in Information Management from the University of New South Wales.
Morgan Gopnik joined NNV as a volunteer in 2014 and has been helping members with a variety of tasks ever since. Morgan was elected to the board in 2018, helped shape the Village’s future as part of the Strategic Planning Committee, and served as Vice-President in 2020. Previously, she worked for 25 years in environmental science and policy, with leadership positions at the National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, and the Ocean Conservancy. Morgan’s understanding of our members’ needs, paired with her demonstrated leadership and commitment to our Village’s mission, are invaluable to the organization.
Ann Van Dusen has been an active member of the board since 2015 and is well known by members for her long-time volunteer service. Ann and her husband Mike often volunteer together and have hosted many gatherings in their home to welcome new members to the Village. Ann was the Founding Director of Georgetown University’s Masters in Global Human Development Program and taught at both Georgetown and Johns Hopkins SAIS. With her long career at USAID and Save the Children, Ann brings significant operational skills as well as decades of experience addressing problems of poverty and disenfranchisement in differing cultures.
Beverly Lunsford has been on the board since 2015 and played an important role in NNV’s most recent strategic planning effort. She is committed to developing more community resources and services like NNV to enable older adults to remain in their communities with safety and dignity. As a Ph.D., R.N., and CNS-BC, Beverly brings valuable medical insights to board deliberations. Recently retired as Assistant Professor at George Washington University School of Nursing and Director of the GW Center for Aging, Health and Humanities, Beverly’s career as a nurse educator and researcher focused on improving the care of older adults and their families.
Sam Smith became a volunteer for NNV in 2018. He is both a Chartered Accountant and a CPA. He worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers and was the Chief Financial Officer for several companies, including 14 years at the National Contract Management Association, a membership-based not for profit. He retired in 2017 and NNV is fortunate to have his financial expertise in their corner.
Steve Altman has been a volunteer with NNV since its earliest days. He has been on the board since 2009 and has served as Treasurer, Vice-President, and President. Steve is the principal of Altman Dispute Resolution Services where he has mediated over 1500 matters in a wide range of subjects. Steve teaches negotiations and mediation advocacy at the Georgetown Law Center and provides training for the DC Bar, government agencies, and law firms. Previously, he worked at the U.S. Department of Justice and helped develop the Civil Division's Alternative Dispute Resolution Policy. Steve is President Emeritus of the DC JCC.
Richard Avidon is a volunteer at NNV and is excited about getting more deeply involved in its mission. He teaches at Georgetown Day School, where he has been a member of the high school faculty since 1988. First trained as an attorney, he left the practice of law after two years, looking for something more satisfying. At GDS, his main areas of teaching have been US and European History, Political Philosophy, Economics, and Constitutional Law. Nine years ago, Richard went part-time at the school and has since spent time taking care of financial and other matters for his mother and mother-in-law, giving him a deep understanding of the issues facing older adults.
Jessica Berenson joined the NNV board in 2020, shortly before the start of the Covid pandemic. Her perspectives as a physician have been invaluable in guiding the organization through this difficult year. She received her MD from the George Washington University Medical School and completed a pediatric residency and chief residency at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, VA. Jessica has worked in a variety of settings, applying her medical knowledge and skills beyond the realm of direct patient care. Currently Dr. Berenson is the Executive Director of the Matthew Harris Ornstein Memorial Foundation. Her primary residence has been in the DC area since 1994 and she and her husband currently live in Forest Hills, around the corner from his childhood home.
Shanti Conly has been an NNV volunteer since 2019. She contributed to NNV’s Communication Plan and enjoys building relationships with the members she supports. Shanti is retired from a career working internationally on HIV/AIDS and reproductive and adolescent health. She previously held leadership positions in HIV prevention within USAID and the PEPFAR program, working extensively in Africa and India. Shanti has also volunteered with the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and Food and Friends.
Judith Fien-Helfman joined the Board of NNV in 2014 and has served as Vice-President and President. During her tenure as President, she worked to enhance the organization’s strategic planning, donor stewardship, innovative programming, and collaborative partnerships. Judie is also an active volunteer who works with NNV members, plans fund-raising events, and assists her husband Jake in hosting the monthly NNV Bingo game. Judie is the founder of Concierge Philanthropy, where she works with individuals, multi-generational families, foundations, and businesses that require well-researched, strategic giving plans that incorporate a donor’s interests and values. Judie’s experience in leveraging multiple agency resources to create a continuum of services for seniors strengthens NNV’s vision of engagement and aging well. She currently reviews grants for federal aging programs, the Catalog for Philanthropy, and local foundations.
Bert Foer has served on the NNV board since 2019 and has lived in Northwest DC for most of his life. He practiced law, was a Senior Executive at the Federal Trade Commission, and founded the American Antitrust Institute. He also served for 12 years as Chairman and CEO of Melart Jewelers, a chain of jewelry stores in the DC area. He has served, and continues to serve, on a variety of non-profit boards, advisory boards, and committees, where he contributes his uniquely broad range of knowledge and organizational experience.
Alice Hayes serves as a volunteer at NNV and joined the board in 2018, contributing her energy and expertise primarily in the area of program planning. Alice retired from a long career in education which included serving as a Dean at Tufts University, Professor of German at Lincoln University, Administrator of the Office for Continuing Medical Education at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, and Vice President of VMT Nursing School. Alice also helped open the Mary McCleod Bethune Museum in Washington, DC, served as staff for the First National Women’s Conference in Houston, TX, in 1977, and was the owner of Bombay Fashion House and co-owner of Vivaldi's Restaurant. She has served on the boards of numerous civic organizations including the YWCA, the DC Chapter of the American Lung Association, the Chevy Chase Citizens Association, the National Association of Women Business Owners, and others.
Merilee Janssen has been an active volunteer at NNV since 2013 and a board member since 2015. Her focus has been on expanding and improving NNV’s member services and providing support to its most vulnerable members. Since her retirement from a career as an educator, educational psychologist, and administrator in special education settings, Merilee has dedicated her life to volunteering in non-profit organizations that work to improve the lives of immigrants, older adults, and those less fortunate in our society.
Gene Sofer joined the NNV board in 2021. He has a longstanding interest in issues affecting older adults. As a partner in The Susquehanna Group, his clients include the National Association of RSVP Directors, the largest federally-funded US organization using senior volunteers and providing services to seniors. Previously, he served as Majority Associate staff on the House Budget Committee and Counsel to the House Education and Labor Committee. Gene was the first director of Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations at the Corporation for National and Community Service and served as the Deputy Executive Director of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Holocaust Assets in the United States. Gene is a member of the Board of the Capital Jewish Museum.
Jan Solomon joined the board in 2021, having been an active volunteer and supporter of NNV for several years. Credited with the success of NNV’s Speakers’ Series and Salons, she brings extensive experience assisting non-profits, hosting and chairing events, and doing committee work. Jan retired after a long career at the US Department of Education and has served as Vice-President of the Brandeis National Alumni Board, on the Board of Trustees of the Lowell School, and as Vice-President of the Board of Trustees for Green Acres School. Jan is a docent at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and is active in the Washington Guild of Goldsmiths.
Karen Zuckerstein has been an NNV volunteer and board member since 2017. She has led outreach efforts, organized programs, and coordinated walks to keep NNV members active. Karen has also helped our members embrace technology by teaching classes, writing newsletter articles, and identifying new website content. Karen has a strong interest in the direction of public policy in DC, and currently serves as vice-chair of the Ward 3 Democrats. Before her retirement, Karen was assistant director of the Government Accountability Office where she directed efforts aimed at improving how the federal government partners with the private sector under grants and contracts.
Emeritus Board Members
Frances Mahncke is one of NNV’s founders and served as its first President and Treasurer. In 2008, with help from Ed Hayes of the Chevy Chase Citizens Association, Frances organized a meeting to discuss forming a Village in Northwest DC and the rest is history! After 10 years of continuous volunteer and board service, Frances was elected an Emeritus Board member for life.
Janean Mann is one of NNV’s founders and has served as President, Vice-President, Secretary and Assistant Treasurer. She has been an energetic volunteer since the beginning and has become a steady presence in the lives of many NNV members. Janean is a retired Foreign Service Officer, specializing in Africa, the Middle East and Counterterrorism at the State Department. During a 12-year stint at the U.S. House of Representatives, she worked on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and as Chief of Staff for Rep. John H. Buchanan, Jr. From 1966-1969, Janean was an award-winning journalist and assistant city editor for the Birmingham Post Herald in Birmingham, Alabama.
Stewart Reuter served as NNV's Treasurer for 6 years. His experience in leadership and non-profit accounting were invaluable in stewarding NNV's finances. Stew holds an MBA, was Treasurer and Business Manager of St. John's College High School for nine years, and Treasurer of the Navy League of the U.S. for five. He is a retired U.S Navy Submarine Officer, having made 14 deterrent missile patrols in four nuclear subs. He moved to the DC area in 1981.
Jo Ann Tanner is one of NNV’s founders and served as its Secretary for many years. Jo Ann wrote and edited the first NNV Volunteer Handbook and publicity materials. For much of the organization’s first decade, Jo Ann conducted the volunteer training program and organized the annual reception honoring NNV volunteers. As a social worker, Jo Ann worked with the elderly and people with disabilities; as a volunteer and Board member with the Anchor Mental Health Association in DC, she supported local residents with mental health issues. In addition, Jo Ann acquired extensive experience as an editor, writer, and publications manager for small newspapers, publishing companies, and The Washington Post, culminating in ownership of two publication production companies.