Meet the Board
Montgomery County Sister Cities board with County Executive Ike Leggett from left: Roman Santillan, Darwin Romero, Cynthia Morris, Senior Fellow, Bruce Adams, Bill Nance, Chair, County Executive Ike Leggett, Diane Smith, Mumin Barr, Clemmie Solomon, Nan Qiao and Yasin Yamin. Not pictured: Tracey Alexis Dixon and Lorna Forde
William “Bill” Nance
Bill Nance is an international development specialist who has spent more than three decades working on multi-national issues. Nearly half of those years, he lived and worked in Asia and Africa, negotiating economic programs with senior U.S. and foreign officials and designing development strategies and projects for various countries. After the establishment of formal relations between the United States and Mongolia in 1987, he directed USAID’s economic development program in Mongolia and developed that country’s first comprehensive framework for U.S. economic assistance. Bill continues to consult on international development through the firm he founded—The Amida Group, Inc.—via government and non-government activities. He conducts evaluations and designs programs focusing on basic education and institutional policy issues in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Bill lives with his wife in Chevy Chase.
, Vice Chair
Dianne Smith is an attorney in the District of Columbia. She served as a law clerk to Judge Patricia Wald on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1982 before joining the Williams & Connolly law firm as an associate attorney in 1983. From 1990 to 1998, she was the deputy independent counsel investigating the administration of several programs of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. She then served as an associate general counsel at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute from 1998 to 2013. Currently Smith serves on the Board of Directors of TCT, a company developing a treatment for pancreatic cancer. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin (B.S., J.D.) and the College of William and Mary (M.A.).
Roman Santillan writes about film, theater, music, opera, and visual arts for Hola Cultura, a nonprofit Latino arts organization. He studied archaeology at the University of Yucatán, Mexico, before receiving a master’s degree in Spanish from the University of Ohio. He also earned a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) at Rutgers University and did doctoral studies at City University of New York. His career as a librarian in public and academic libraries has taken him to New York City, Washington, D.C. and Maryland. Over the years, he has taught college-level Spanish and Latin American literature in Ohio, New York City, and Washington D.C. His published works in English and Spanish include essays, short stories, and diverse articles that focus on academic librarianship and the history and literature of Latin America.
Tracey-Alexis Dixon, a project manager, has worked in public health and taught autistic and disabled children. Tracey, who identifies as biracial (African American/Hispanic), studied Spanish in Spain during her undergraduate years at Florida State University and assisted with two medical trips to Haiti while studying for a master’s degree in public health. Working in the town of Hinche and surrounding villages, she conducted a needs assessment for food, water, shelter, and money. On a return mission to Haiti, she conducted a 200-hour research study with local inhabitants and the orphanage to increase the awareness and importance of protein in their diets. Tracey is an active volunteer with the African American Health Program in Montgomery County and with the Montgomery Sister Cities- Gondar, Ethiopia, committee. As a volunteer with Sister Cities, she has taught English to immigrants, hosted a domestic violence seminar for women, and raised funds for Gondar. A dedicated volunteer, Tracey is committed to working with minority communities.
Bruce Adams has served as director of County Executive Ike Leggett’s Office of Community Partnerships (OCP) since 2007. OCP carries out Montgomery County’s commitment to empower ethnic communities while building strong partnerships between the county government and its nonprofit organizations and faith communities. Bruce’s tenure as an elected member of the Montgomery County Council from 1986-94 included a term as council president (1991-92). He has also been a senior fellow at James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership at the University of Maryland (1995-97), a fellow of the Kennedy Institute of Politics at Harvard University (1979), an associate of the Kettering Foundation (1982-1986), and the national research director for Common Cause (1977-1982). Bruce was named a 1998 Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian magazine and received the 1993 Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Scull Metropolitan Public Service Award. A graduate of Princeton and Georgetown Law, Bruce lives in Bethesda with his wife, Peggy Engel, a journalist. They have two adult children, Emily and Hugh.
Mumin Barre, a technical specialist with Travelers Insurance Company, is devoted to volunteerism and civic involvement. He served on the Maryland Governor’s Commission on African Affairs (2009-2013) and was the first co-chair of County Executive Ike Leggett’s African Affairs Advisory Group (2008-2009). From 2008 to 2010 he was a board member of the Montgomery County Muslim Foundation and vice-chair of the Montgomery County Muslim Council board from 2010 to 2012. Mumin’s other past positions include member and treasurer of the Montgomery County Muslim Council (2006-2008) and Montgomery County Committee for Ethnic Affairs (2005-2008).
Lorna Forde is a financial and contract management professional with more than 20 years senior-level private and public sector experience. As a small business owner, she currently consults for local organizations and government agencies. Lorna holds an MBA in finance from the University of Pittsburgh and a certification in contracts management from Florida Institute of Technology. Through her various affiliations, she has a long history of community service. In addition to membership on the Montgomery County Sister Cities Board, she currently serves several organizations: Montgomery County Commission for Women, commissioner; Menare Foundation Inc., executive board (chair of community partnerships); The People’s Community Baptist Church Foundation, executive board (treasurer); Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Montgomery County Alumnae Chapter, executive board (immediate past president); Montgomery County African American Advisory Group, member; Domestic Violence Coordinating Council, volunteer coordinator; Jewish Council for the Aging, Interages Bridges, mentor. Lorna is a member of the 2011 class of Leadership Montgomery. She previously served as vice-chair of The People’s Community Baptist Church Trustee Board and co-chair of Measurements for the Deputy Superintendent’s Minority Achievement Advisory Council. Lorna was recognized by Aunt Hattie’s Place and the Montgomery County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta for her volunteer spirit. During her tenure as president, she accepted the 2013 Montgomery Serves Community Group Award for the organization’s outstanding service in the county. Lorna lives in Germantown and has adult twin daughters, Aleisha and Mariah.
Michael Gruenberg is currently the president of Gruenberg Consulting, LLC, a firm he founded in 2012 to provide information services companies with sales source analysis, market research, executive coaching, trade show analysis and best practices advice for improving negotiation skills. In the past, Mike was director of sales for strategic account management at Cambridge Information Group’s ProQuest LLC, a $550 million information services company. He and his team were responsible for substantial revenue growth and subscription retention. Mike has been appointed to serve on the commission on juvenile justice for Montgomery County. In this role, he will utilize his experience as an educator in New York, where he taught and earned his principal’s license. He is also a volunteer facilitator for the State’s Attorney’s Office Truancy Program in Montgomery County. Mike lives in Bethesda with his wife, Barbara Bryden. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Long Island University and a master’s degree in educational administration and supervision from St. John’s University. He is an avid lifelong collector of musical recordings and since 2000 a columnist for an online site devoted to the latest musical trends. Mike’s first book, Buying and Selling Information: A Guide for Information Professionals and Salespeople to Build Mutual Success, was published in 2014.
Nan Qiao, a senior software engineer, has served the Montgomery County community for several years, mainly through his work with the Northwestern Chinese American Association of Greater Washington (NCAAGW), a Maryland-based nonprofit organization for Chinese Americans and immigrants with roots in the northwestern provinces of China. It is the largest hometown-based Chinese American association in the Greater Washington area. As vice president and chief financial officer of NCAAGW and chairman of its Sister City committee, Nan, along with other NCAAGW leaders, has worked in numerous capacities to coordinate government and local communities. In 2012, he was one of five key members of a Montgomery County delegation to China for the first official meeting in Xi’an aimed at establishing a Sister City relationship and advancing an exchange of jobs and investments between the county and Xi’an, a city of eight million people and home to the famous Terracotta Army. In 2013 Nan went to China with Montgomery County officials for the signing of a letter of intent to become a Sister City with Xi’an. He also accompanied County Executive Ike Leggett to several Chinese cities to meet with government officials. Nan received an associate degree in finance from Tianjin Normal University in China in 2000, a bachelor of science from Southeastern University (SEU) in Washington, D.C. in 2002, and a master’s degree in computer science from SEU in 2005. In December 2014, the NCAAGW board recognized Nan with the Excellent Performance Reward of the year.
Darwin Romero joined Montgomery County’s Morazán Sister City program in 2015 and has worked collaboratively in advancing its mission. Born in El Salvador, Darwin has lived in Montgomery County for 25 years. He attended Montgomery Blair High School’s magnet program and graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park, where he received a B.A. in economics and a B.S. in mathematics. He currently serves as the parent co-chair for the Latino Student Achievement Action Group (LSAAG) and is an active member of the county executive’s Latin American Advisory Group (LAAG), promoting economic growth and development. He has extensive experience in business administration and is the operations manager of a small construction company. Darwin is also president of AIRE Group LLC, a consulting firm focused on helping small-to-medium businesses take advantage of various procurement opportunities at state and local levels.
Clemmie Solomon is a dean for student engagement and student affairs at Montgomery College. He has a Ph.D. in education policy and social foundations from the University of Maryland, College Park, a master’s degree from the University of Dayton and a bachelor’s from Central State University (Ohio). His work history includes executive positions at the University of the District of Columbia and Bowie State University. He is a former president of the Association of Multicultural Counseling and Development and board chair of the American Counseling Association Foundation. Past leadership positions include serving as a member of the Prince George’s County personnel board, the University of Maryland alumni board, Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area board (chair), and Leadership Philadelphia; he is currently a member of Leadership Greater Washington. Clemmie was a Fulbright Scholar to Togo and Sierra Leone and developed several study abroad programs to Senegal, Gambia, and Ethiopia.
Yasin Yimam born in Ethiopia and moved to Maryland at the age of 14. Entering high school as a 9th
grader, Yasin graduated in in two years. He went on to earn an Associate's degree with a concentration in general study from Montgomery College in 2012. Yasin plans to pursue a degree in International Business and minor Political Science at the University of Maryland at Shady Grove.
Currently Yasin is the president for Montgomery-Gondar Ethiopia Sister City committee and serves as vice president for the Montgomery County African Affairs Advisory Group. Yasin also pursues his passion for developing business, education, and cultural networks for the Ethiopian community in Montgomery County.
Yasin is a resident of Silver Spring and owner of Yasin Limo Service which provides transportation throughout the DMV area.