Regular Men Reach Uncommon Heights to Serve the Greater Good
Before becoming founder and owner of East West Tae Kwon Do in Potomac, Parshotam Sharma (everyone knows him as Master Sharma) gained inspiration, insight and motivation from others. His dad relocated to the United States from rural India and after a year earned enough for his wife and young Parshotam to join him.
“Whoever I am today, and wherever I go, it’s because of the lessons they instilled in me and the love they provided,” Master Sharma says of his parents. “Strong women in my life, my kids and my Tae Kwon Do instructor [Grandmaster John Holloway] have had the biggest influence in my life path.
“My instructor gave me my first student in Potomac in 1985. From this one student, I grew the program to 35 kids in one year and then kept growing it to the powerhouse that it is today.”
Master Sharma is a fifth Dan, or fifth-degree black belt.
“It’s not the belt that makes the man,” Master Sharma says. “It’s the hard work, training and character that is the most important.”
At East West Tae Kwon Do, Master Sharma offers classes that are structured and disciplined but also safe, fun and positive.
“We are the only program in the area to teach Olympic Tae Kwon Do, and we have a student ranked No. 2 in the USA. We feel that Tae Kwon Do is a life-long commitment.”
His No. 2-ranked student is aiming for the U.S. Olympic team.
“This is huge for our studio and our Potomac community,” says Master Sharma, who plans to open up several other studios in the future.
Dr. Reza Ghorbani
Dr. Reza Ghorbani believes things happen for a reason and everyone must chart their course based on experiences that shape who they are and how they impact others. His life story illustrates this point.
Dr. Ghorbani grew up in Tehran, Iran. As a teen in the 1970s, he was caught up in Iran’s Islamic Revolution, narrowly escaping gunfire from soldiers who suddenly began shooting into a crowd of protesters, as young Reza and a friend walked home from a tennis match.
As Iran fell into turmoil, Reza’s dreams of becoming a doctor appeared doomed. His family overcame significant political and financial obstacles to send him to the United States where he studied at Tufts University and eventually went to medical school.
Today, Dr. Ghorbani is a Harvard-trained author, inventor and board-certified Interventional Pain Management Specialist. His long resume includes many milestones, including his role as the president and medical director of the Advanced Pain Medicine Institute in Chevy Chase and Greenbelt.
After a recent self-described mid-life crisis, he found a way to get tennis back into his life, reestablish a healthy lifestyle and spend more time with his family, including two teenage sons. This allows him to combine his passions of sports and medicine to promote wellness and fitness. His community involvement includes serving on the advisory board of JTCC, a nonprofit tennis academy in College Park.
Dr. Ghorbani describes pain as a moving target or a puzzle with moving pieces that don’t easily fit into a clear treatment picture. He tells patients he wants to shatter the myth that their pain is inevitable and that optimism is a medicine he wants to put in their bottle.
“Being a physician means, above all else, dedication to lifelong learning. My greatest teachers continue to be my patients.”
In college in the 1980s, Bob Collins traded stocks to make money for beer and dates while he pursued an accounting degree for what he expected would be a career as a CPA. But fate had other plans.
In Bob’s senior year, he became awestruck by a “stock jockey” (a broker conducting a high frequency of trades) who was a speaker at a Career Services seminar. In that moment, Bob decided to become a stockbroker instead of an accountant.
After graduation, Bob saved money living at home and working for an uncle’s construction business before he landed an entry-level stockbroker position. Soon, he became an officially licensed broker after passing the required test.
Thirty-six years later, Bob is the owner, CEO and managing director of Collins Investment Group in Bethesda, an independent company he formed 11 years ago when he parted from Wachovia Securities.
Bob says he loves making a difference in clients’ lives and building wealth for them. One particular client in her 60s came to Bob.
“She was not educated. Not married. No kids. She didn’t have much money,” Bob says.
But she wanted to be remembered. Bob learned she was passionate about children, so he helped her build, manage, preserve and transition her wealth and become involved with a private school where she donated money for a security system, books and more.
“When she died, she left all her money to a scholarship fund. Every year, she educates from four to eight kids,” Bob says.
Other pillars in Bob’s life include his family, golf and charitable work. Among other charitable endeavors, Collins Investment Group gives one percent of gross revenues to local charities each year.
“Giving back is very key,” Bob says.
Investment products and services are offered through Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network, LLC (WFAFN), Member SIPC. Collins Investment Group is a separate entity from WFAFN.
Chief Tom Manger
Tom Manger knew he wanted to save the world. He just didn’t know how. As a high school student during Watergate, he says he had great admiration for Woodward and Bernstein, referring to the journalists who broke the story. Tom began college as a journalism major.
“I wanted to be a journalist and shine a light on injustice,” he says.
Then he switched to sociology, thinking he could save the world one person at a time, he says. But when he took a few criminal justice classes, he recalls, “I was hooked. Maybe I can save the world as a police officer.”
He began his law enforcement career in 1977 in Fairfax County and became chief there in 1998. He was chief in Montgomery County from 2004 until his April 2019 retirement. Along the way, he received enough awards and recognition to fill a trophy room and graduated from the FBI National Academy, the Police Executive Leadership School and other institutions.
His parents were lifelong influences on Tom.
“My mom taught me: ‘Don’t treat people differently because of what they look like or their lot in life. Treat everyone with respect.’ Dad taught me integrity and honesty. I never thought I’d be able to live up to his work ethic,” Tom says. “I’ve worked with amazing people along the way. I tried to learn from everyone and emulate those I admired.”
Tom was a longtime member of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, including a stint as president. In retirement, Tom is the group’s D.C. representative and has already attended meetings on Capitol Hill, at the Justice Department and more.
“I was blessed for 42 years that I had a job I loved,” he says. “I felt like I was doing good things and trying to make sure everyone was getting the police service they deserved.”