EDU-FUTURO BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Celina Penovi, Board President (2015-2018) is a Senior Legal Counsel at the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, a member of the World Bank Group. She handles international transactions in countries around the world and interfaces with government authorities on issues relating to foreign investment. Prior to joining the World Bank, she worked in law firms in Argentina and San Francisco, California where she received a service award for her pro bono immigration work with Latino clients. She is a strong advocate of bilingual education and has published several bilingual children’s books. She received her J.D. from the University of Buenos Aires, and her LL.M from the University of California, Berkeley. She is serving her second term on the Board.
Dr. Phillip Church, Board Vice President (2014-2017) is an economist with experience in design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of economic development projects internationally. As a Foreign Service Economic Officer with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), he has worked and lived in several Latin America and Asian countries and in Washington, DC. After his USAID career, Dr. Church joined DevTech Systems, Inc. as a Senior Economist focusing on strategic planning, monitoring and evaluation. Most recently in Central America he supervised and trained staff in the monitoring and evaluation of USG grants to organizations working to get child laborers out of work and back into school. He has a Doctorate in Economics from the University of Oregon. He joined Edu-Futuro’s Board in 2014.
Bill Maher, Secretary (2015-2018) has been the Chief Financial Officer of Arlington Community Credit Union, the only financial institution exclusively serving the people who live and work in Arlington, Virginia, since 2009. He has served in volunteer positions with Leadership Arlington, the Greenbrier Learning Center, the Metro Auburn Alumni Association, Children’s Miracle Network and Arlington Neighborhood Villages. He has been active with the Arlington Democratic Party, coached in the Arlington Youth Basketball Program and read for the Drew Model School African American Celebrations. Originally from Massachusetts, Bill moved to northern Virginia in 2009 from South Carolina. Bill’s wife, Rutty, comes from Bolivia. This is his first board term.
Connie Church, Board Treasurer (2014-2017) was the Director of Finance and Administration for the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research (APTR) until her retirement in 2009. At APTR she was responsible for all accounting, financial reporting to the board and to its government partners, human resources and office administration for this small membership non-profit. She grew up in Mexico and lived in Guatemala for several years, where she was co-founder and treasurer of an adoption agency. Later while living In Bangladesh she served as Vice President of the American International School Board. She has a BA in history from Stanford University and an M.A. in accounting from George Washington University. She is in her second term on the Board.
Francis Chukwu (2016-2019) is Counsel at the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, a member of the World Bank Group. Prior to joining the World Bank Group, Francis was a finance and capital markets lawyer at the Paris office of the international law firm Clifford Chance, specializing in corporate and project finance, energy and infrastructure and PPP projects. Previously, Francis worked as a legal research officer at the International Monetary Fund and was an external consultant for the UNCTAD project on responsible sovereign lending and borrowing. Upon his qualification as a lawyer in Nigeria, Francis also practiced law in Lagos, Nigeria with Aluko & Oyebode, specializing in litigation and dispute resolution, commercial and investment advisory, corporate and project finance. Francis received his LLB from the University of Nigeria and an LLM in international business regulation, litigation and arbitration from the New York University School of Law. He is admitted to practice law in Nigeria and the State of New York. This is his first board term.
Samantha O'Leary (2016-2019) is the Director of Policy for UnitedHealthcare Community & State, the Medicaid business of UnitedHealthcare proudly serving more than 5 million members throughout 25 states. UnitedHealthcare is a division of UnitedHealth Group, a diversified Fortune 500 health and well-being company with a mission to help people to live healthier lives. She serves as policy expert on Medicaid and health reform, developing enterprise positions on serving complex populations and modernized Medicaid programs. A devoted community advocate, she serves a leader with the Junior League of Washington and previously served on the Arlington County Commission on the Status of Women. She holds a Master of Public Policy degree from American University and a bachelor's degree from Gettysburg College. This is her first Board term.
Dr. Katharine Panfil (2015-2018) has worked in education over 30 years in the US and abroad, including Venezuela, Guatemala, El Salvador, Argentina and Tanzania. During her distinguished career with Arlington Public Schools (APS), where she began as an ESOL teacher, she was Foreign Language Supervisor, Principal of Key Elementary School where she led the development of APS Spanish language immersion program, and Principal of Randolph Elementary School as it became the first Primary Years Program of the International Baccalaureate in a public school in the DC metro area. She holds a doctorate in education from George Mason University. Dr. Panfil has served 4 non-consecutive terms on the Board and has been its President and Vice-President.
Robert Panfil (2014-2017) has over 30 years of experience working with transportation and infrastructure projects throughout Latin America, South Asia and the South Pacific. During his 25-year career at the World Bank, he undertook sector and program lending and project procurement and supervision. As infrastructure manager in India, he was responsible for the development of one of the Bank’s largest highway sector lending programs. He also served as the Bank’s senior advisor to the Australian Foreign Aid Agency. He has a B.S. from University of Pennsylvania in finance and an MS in Economics from the University of Wisconsin. He has served 3 non-consecutive terms on Edu-Futuro’s Board and served as a former Treasurer.
Cara Santos Pianesi (2015-2018) helps organizations communicate clearly to garner attention for issues of international development. She is Senior Communications Officer for the World Bank Group's ethics office. She previously worked at MIGA (World Bank Group), the United Nations Development Program, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Amnesty International. She moved to Alexandria, VA from Miami where she concentrated on private-sector communications vis-à-vis Latin America. Cara has a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University’s School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and a B.A. in international studies and economics from the University of Miami.
Ariana Rua (2016-2019) is a Web Developer and Representative at Lockheed Martin’s Information Systems & Global Solutions sector. She works on contract management, database operations, and web services for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency managing over 20,000 web pages. For two consecutive years she was awarded Lockheed Martin’s SRA award, for superior performance, leadership, and customer service. In 2011, Ariana graduated with a B.A. in Marketing with a concentration in International Business. She previously worked at CrosStar Network Solutions, New York City, assisting the executive board of directors with account and database management. Her passion for leadership, personal development, and education inspires her philanthropic efforts to help the Hispanic community increase and strengthen educational opportunities.This is Ariana’s first term on the Board and serving as well as the chair for Edu-Futuro’s Associate Council.
Gabriela Uro (2016-2019) is the Director for English Language Learner (ELL) Policy and Research for the Council of the Great City Schools where she works on ELL federal legislative matters and on the implementation of the new College and Career Ready standards. Gabriela has led or co-authored a number or publications including A Framework for Raising Expectations and Instructional Rigor for English Language Learners and Succeeding with English Language Learners. She joined the Council of the Great City Schools in 1997 after leaving the U.S. Department of Education where she served as a policy advisor in the Clinton Administration. Gabriela has an M.P.A. from Columbia University with a specialization in Education Policy and a B.A. from the University of California, Irvine. This is her first term on the Board.
G. Mikhail Velasco (2016-2019) is a Managing Consultant with IBM where he helps Fortune 500 organizations leverage the power of business analytics technology. Originally from Bolivia, his family immigrated to Topeka, Kansas. He's been engaged with Edu-Futuro since 2013 where has served as a mentor in Edu-Futuro's Emerging Leaders Program as well as part of the ELP scholarship selection committee. He holds a B.S in Business Administration and a B.A. in Economics from the University of Kansas. Mikhail currently resides in Herndon, Virginia. This is his first term on the Board.