Female Movers + Shakers of Potomac

The CEO

Georgette Godwin

Georgette Godwin is the CEO of the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, a business membership and advocacy organization of more than 500 members.

“As a first-generation American on my mother’s side, my ancestors came here to pursue opportunity, so, what I love about the chamber is not only do I get to work with some of the most important, influential thought leaders, but also increase access to opportunity, and, when we’re successful, that’s what happens.”

How do you unplug?

Spend time with my family and friends, neighbors, even colleagues who have become friends over the years. Also reading and taking in the latest movies, enjoying the performing arts and traveling.

The Athlete

Ashley Nee

In 2016, Ashley Nee was kayaking through the Olympic waters in Rio de Janeiro as she competed in her biggest competition yet.

“I love the feeling of getting good moves and working well with water. It’s an unbeatable feeling when you’re in connection with the water.”

As a young girl, a group of friends inspired Ashley to take up kayaking which she saw as a challenge to push her limits and reach her full potential. Her perseverance and dedication led to her spot in top competitions around the world.

 

How do you unplug?

Well, tomorrow I leave for an 11-day expedition with no electricity, so, that’s really unplugging. I’d say kayaking brings me my stress, but it also brings me my stress release.

The Instructor

Andrea Santman

Andrea Santman saw a need in the community, and, in 2015, opened the MOCO Movement Center. The pediatric therapy center serves as an inclusive sports and learning program for all children.

“A big problem for many families is they can’t afford the therapy forever, so we needed to come up with a solution to help them continue to make their therapy goals and make the magic of everyday movement,” she says.

The center provides physical, occupational, speech and behavioral therapy, in addition to a wide range of physical activities including basketball, baseball, swimming, ice hockey, ice skating, rock climbing and gymnastics.

How do you unplug?

Maryland offers opportunities for us to explore. I’m really into hiking and long walks. Lately, I’ve been listening to podcasts when I walk, but I used to count turtles on the C&O Canal.

The Healer

Kerry Blair

“What is bigger than you that you can turn to when you’re on your knees? What moves your soul and brings you peace?”

These are questions from Kerry Blair, the founder of Maximum Joy, a daily gratitude practice about reaching for our highest good. After her work in Africa during the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the early 2000s, Kerry got involved with United Nations program Club Hero.

“I couldn’t come back to my beautiful bubble of Potomac and forget what I saw,” she says.

She introduced the program into the middle schools of Potomac to educate children about the value of a dollar.

How do you unplug?

I think it’s important to take time to recharge your battery. Nourish your mind, body and spirit. I love being with my family and friends, reading, taking baths and traveling.

The Activist

Ethiopia Alfred

During her early years, Ethiopia Alfred began work with the Democratic National Committee where she met many people within the political arena and those involved with different coalitions. Through those relationships, she got involved with bills on Capitol Hill involving African-Americans, sparking her lifelong involvement with civil rights.

She was the first Ethiopian appointed as the commissioner for civil rights in Montgomery County and continues to support the journey to equality.

“The movement still exists. We’re still facing discrimination when it comes to crime, employment, rental housing, purchasing property and other things,” she says. “That’s why I feel that I can’t abandon the movement.”

 

How do you unplug?

I watch Ethiopian movies, read and learn about new technology.

The Philanthropist

Lisa Friedlander

Lisa Friedlander founded the Heartsongs Luncheon Fund after her daughter was born prematurely and became a patient of Children’s Hospital. Its mission is to make what can be the most difficult time for families a little more bearable. It began as a means to raise donations for things like new equipment, renovations for the patient and family waiting rooms, and funding for Dr. Bear’s Den, a home for the families of children who will be at Children’s for an extended period.

“When people save your child’s life and then continue to treat her, you spend the rest of your life trying to say thank you,” Lisa says. “This is one small way of showing my support and gratitude, and making sure that this wonderful place and the families have all that they need.”

 

How do you unplug?

I love spending time with my family. My friends are my savior, and I’m addicted to good television and movies.

The Educator

Jillian Copeland

Jillian Copeland filled a void that many experience when trying to find resources that meet all of the expectations for family members with developmental needs. She was inspired to start The Diener School after her unsuccessful hunt for an institution that would support the needs of her son.

Her efforts at Diener inspired her to start TeensLikeUs, a weekly social club and safe place for neurotypical teens, social issues and other needs to gather and participate in fun activities and community service.

How do you unplug?

Taking time for myself and doing things I enjoy; working out, yoga, walks with my family and taking away technology.

The Mompreneur

Monique Samuels

Monique Samuels wanted to create a community for moms to support and build each other up. Not For Lazy Moms is a global network of women who share lifestyle tips, natural remedies, and other advice to promote healthy and happy living.

“It’s a community of everyday moms, and we’re all sharing,” Monique says. “We’re saying, ‘I’m not an expert, but being an everyday mom and this is what I have to offer.’ I’m hoping by us women sharing those things it will help other moms.”

How do you unplug?

I go to the spa! Give me two hours of pure silence, leave my cell alone, and I’m gone with the wind.

The Survivor

Rachel Sullivan

Rachel Sullivan’s journey with Sibley Hospital began as a breast cancer patient where she was cared for by the phenomenal staff that ensured her comfort and care.

“We started the Hope and Progress Gala to raise money for new equipment in the breast center at Sibley, and it continued over the years, and, about two years ago, Dr. Colette Magnant decided to create a women’s center to make these resources available to everyone because we all deserve access to health care,” she says.

The Hope and Progress gala, now in its 17th year, has successfully brought the community together to support a cause that affects so many.

How do you unplug?

I believe in moderation. The one thing I never thought was that I would get breast cancer; that taught me that I can’t control everything, but I can control balance.

The Officer

Laurie Reyes

Laurie Reyes took an oath as an officer to protect and serve our community. Her work with the Montgomery County Police Autism Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities outreach program has helped educate fellow officers on effective ways to handle these encounters.

“We were averaging about two to five searches a week for individuals who had autism, IDD, Alzheimer’s and dementia, and we needed to address that concern from the police department perspective, not only with search and rescue, but as it relates to making sure the department has positive interactions,” she says.

 

How do you unplug?

I love to laugh, being with my family and friends, and just communicating with people when I’m not working. I talk to everyone and just strike conversation, and, for me, that’s unplugging. I enjoy that communication because I feel like there are no accidents in life and everyone I meet is meant to be there in that moment.