Catholic Coalition for Special Education

About Us — Our Board of Directors

Francesca Pellegrino, President and Founder, has 25 years administrative experience in the diplomatic community in Washington, D.C. She is married with one son, who inspired her to create CCSE and become an advocate for children and youth with disabilities. Mrs. Pellegrino has been an active member of the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Washington, D.C. since 1984 where she created the disAbilities Ministry - now a model for Catholic churches around the nation. She now serves on its Executive Committee. Mrs. Pellegrino also serves on the Archdiocese of Washington’s Disabilities Constituent Advisory Committee, Catholic University’s Early Childhood/ Special Education Advisory Council and on Montgomery County’s Commission on People with Disabilities. She has also served on the Board of Directors of a local performing arts organization. Mrs. Pellegrino is a native of Rome, Italy, but spent most of her formative years in England, where she attended the Polytechnic of Central London (UK). She is fluent in English, Italian and French.

Mary Brogan, Vice President, Director, serves as the liaison to the CCSE Parent Representatives. Mary holds a B.A. from Boston College and an M.Ed. in Special Education from the University of Maryland. She has taught Special Ed in both Fairfax and Montgomery Counties and presently serves on the Office of Youth Ministry/CYO Board of Directors for the Archdiocese of Washington. Mary and her husband, Steve, have six children and are members of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Silver Spring.

Patrick Murphy, Treasurer, is a Special Advisor to CFM Partners, Inc., a governance, risk and compliance firm in Washington, DC. Previously, Mr. Murphy served as CFM’s Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President for eight years where he was responsible for managing the company’s day-to-day operations. During this time, he led the design and development of the company’s Internet-based learning management system and assisted in its funding efforts. Mr. Murphy stepped down as the company’s COO in 2006 to enter the seminary for the Archdiocese of Washington. He spent four years in the seminary studying philosophy and theology at The Catholic University of America.

Prior to CFM, Mr. Murphy was an associate with the law firm of Bean, Kinney & Korman, P.C. where he represented financial institutions with loan workout and creditor rights issues. Before becoming a lawyer, Mr. Murphy worked for both First American Bancshares and First American Bank, NA. At First American Bancshares, Mr. Murphy completed an extensive bank-management training program where he was trained in all aspects of corporate and retail banking. After completion of the program, Mr. Murphy moved to First American Bank, NA, where he worked as a commercial real estate loan officer.

Mr. Murphy received his B.S. in Finance from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and his J.D. from Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law.

Frank Pellegrino, Secretary, is a Software IT Architect with IBM. Mr. Pellegrino a 25 year resident of Montgomery County, MD. has served on many non-profit organizations’ Boards of Directors. He brings a wealth of experience to CCSE both through his non-profit experience as well as through his professional management and sales background. Mr. Pellegrino holds a B.S. in Physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He enjoys playing the cello with several community orchestras. He is married to Francesca Pellegrino and is also an active member of the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Washington, D.C.

Roger Brown, Director, grew up in the Baltimore area where he received his B.A. from Virginia Tech. Roger is a former NFL Athlete and Super Bowl Champion and he is the owner of and a personal trainer at Train Like A Pro. Roger is married to Courtney Sullivan Brown and has three children and resides in Silver Spring, Maryland. He also presently serves on the Board of Silver Spring Lacrosse.

Carin Collins, Director, grew up in the Washington area where she attended Georgetown Visitation and then received her B.A. from The University of Maryland. She worked for The Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation for 10 years. Carin is married to Steve Collins and is the mother of 4 children. She also serves on the Board of Trustees at Mater Dei school.

Andrew Fois is presently Managing Director of the National Crime Prevention Council, a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing crime across the nation. In that capacity Mr. Fois manages federal crime prevention grant programs, communications, outreach, government relations, constituency services, development, licensing and a wide variety of legal matters. He has also served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C., Chief Counsel of the Crime Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives and Assistant Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice. He has been in private practice as a partner at the Venable law firm and as a sole practitioner. He has been an adjunct professor at the Georgetown University Law Center and the Washington College of Law at American University, has published widely, is a frequent public speaker and has made countless media appearances.

Mr. Fois has been a member of the Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament parish for 15 years and was a founding member of the Disabilities Ministry and currently serves on its Executive Committee. He also acts as a lector and Eucharistic Minister and has served on the Parish Council and Parish Commission. Mr. Fois was a member and Chair of the D.C. Coalition against Drugs and Violence.

He holds a B.A. from Georgetown University, an M.A. from the University of Essex in the U.K. and a J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center. Mr. Fois lives in Washington, D.C. and is married with two children, Andrew and Thomas.

Marguerite Kirst, Director, is Vice President of Marketing for the USO. A communications and marketing veteran, she heads up integrated marketing strategy and initiatives for this international nonprofit that supports America’s troops and their families. Prior to joining the USO, Marguerite served as vice president for constituent relations for the Autism Society of America and as deputy director of communications and research at IFES, an international non-profit dedicated to building democracies. She has experience with international marketing and business development with Price Waterhouse, the American Bankers Association, and the New York Institute of Finance. Marguerite has an MA from Johns Hopkins and a BA from Trinity College.

A native of Southern California, Marguerite is the mother of two children, an 11-year-old son with autism and a 13-year-old daughter with “empathy,” and is a parishioner at St. Bartholomew’s parish in Bethesda. She has served on the Woods Academy Parent Teacher Organization, volunteers with the Children’s Chorus of Washington, several auction committees, and was a parent/advocate member of the Special Needs Continuous Improvement Team of the Montgomery County Board of Education.

Fernand A. Lavallee, Director, is a partner resident in the Washington, D.C. offices of Jones Day. Mr. Lavallee’s law practice focuses on government contracts law and litigation. He is a frequent lecturer on topics of interest to federal government contractors, and is Co-Chair of the American Bar Association, Public Contract Law Section, Intellectual Property Committee. He holds an A.B. from Georgetown University and a J.D. from the College of William & Mary, Marshall-Wythe School of Law. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Alumni Association of the College of William and Mary Law School; and has served on the Board of Directors of Mary of Nazareth Roman Catholic Elementary School in Darnestown, Maryland. Mr. Lavallee and his wife, Lisa, have three children. They are members of Mother Seton Parish in Germantown, Maryland.

Melissa Lesmes, Director, is a partner with Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman in the Washington, DC office. She focuses her practice on complex commercial litigation with an emphasis on construction claims and insurance coverage disputes. Ms. Lesmes has substantial experience in construction defect litigation, having handled claims involving delay, total cost, design, defective products, mold, EIFS and Chinese drywall throughout the United States. She also has substantial experience in complex insurance coverage litigation, especially in claims involving builder's risk, CGL, professional, pollution, commercial property, business interruption and other policies.

Melissa has been recognized by Chambers USA as an outstanding attorney in her field and is a member of the team awarded the 2008 and 2010 Chambers USA Awards for Excellence in Construction.

Melissa is a graduate of the Marshall Wythe Law School at the College of William and Mary and holds an A.B. in Public Policy Studies from Duke University.

Melissa is delighted to serve on the CCSE Board of Directors. Her son, who has Down syndrome, has benefitted directly from CCSE’s work. Melissa also serves on the Board of Directors of Imagination Stage in Bethesda.

She is married and has four children and is a parishioner at The Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Washington, D.C.

Anna McDermott-Vitak, Director, is an executive director, Global Government Affairs with Amgen, Inc., in the Washington DC office. Amgen is the world’s largest independent biotechnology company and is based in Thousand Oaks, CA. She focuses on international diplomacy with primary responsibility for Amgen’s European affiliate relationships. Ms. McDermott-Vitak has over two decades of experience in biotechnology with areas of expertise in research and development, project management, investor relations, patient advocacy, trade policy and government affairs. Anna is on several business councils including the German American Business Council, the US Poland Business Council, the European Institute and the American Romanian Business Council.Anna is a graduate of LaSalle University with B.A in Science and an MBA in Marketing. She is currently enrolled at John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). Anna and her husband, Joseph, have four children and are parishioners at Our Lady of Mercy in Potomac, MD.


Past Board Members

Paul Nolan, Treasurer, is the Vice President Tax with McCormick & Company, Inc. in Sparks, Md. Paul holds a J. D. from the University of Virginia School of Law and a B.A. from Amherst College. He is a member of the New York State and District of Columbia Bar Associations, and has been a regular presenter at Global Tax Executive Conferences. He is a parishioner at Our Lady of Mercy in Potomac where he served as Chairman of the Finance Committee from 2004 through 2007. Paul began his career nearly 20 years ago in the Washington office of Davis Polk & Wardwell. In 1994, Paul joined AT&T Corp. where he held several positions of increasing responsibility in tax planning as well as mergers & acquisitions before joining Host Marriott Corporation in 1998 as Vice President Tax and Tax Counsel. In 1999, Paul joined Concert Communications, a joint venture owned by AT&T and British Telecommunications, plc., as Vice President -Tax, Mergers & Acquisitions Finance, and Decision Support. After the Concert joint venture unwind, Paul was named Tax Vice President-Global Tax Operations for AT&T Corp, where he remained until joining McCormick in 2006.

David K. Ficca, served as Treasurer from Octoer 2004 until February 2007. He is Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of the Baltimore Life Insurance Company. He is a licensed CPA (although not currently practicing) in Maryland and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. He is Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University. Mr. Ficca and his wife are graduates of Georgetown University, Washington, DC, where David majored in Accounting. They are parents to 4 boys and members of the The Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Washington.

Andrea W. McCarthy, Secretary, holds a B.A. from the State University of NY at Stony Brook and a J.D. from The Catholic University of America. She is a Senior Trial Counsel with the United States Department of Justice, Civil Division. Mrs. McCarthy is married with 2 children and is a member of the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Washington, D.C.

Kathleen Wach, Secretary, grew up in Washington DC where she attended Catholic elementary school and Visitation high school. She received a BA from the College of the Holy Cross and served in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps before receiving a law degree from Georgetown University Law School. Kathleen currently serves as the Pro Bono Counsel for Miller & Chevalier Chartered. Prior to her current position, Kathleen represented clients as a staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia and was a Westwood Fellow at the Neighborhood Legal Services Program. She also previously worked as an attorney in the Legal Division of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Kathleen is co-chair for the Judicial Conference of the DC Circuit’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services.

Kathleen met her husband, Peter Ellsworth, when both were volunteers at Catholic Charities’ Mt. Carmel House Women’s Shelter, where they later served on the Board of Advisors. Kathleen has five children, two of whom have significant learning disabilities and have required support throughout their education. Kathleen and her family are parishioners at Holy Trinity Church in Georgetown, and all of the children attend Catholic schools.

M. Elizabeth Latimer, M.D., Director, holds a B.S in Biology from Fairfield University and an M.D. from Tufts University, School of Medicine. Dr. Latimer is a Board Certified Pediatrician and Child Neurologist. She is in private practice in Bethesda, Md. and treats many children with special needs such as Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation, Learning Disabilities and ADHD. Her interest in the CCSE is in an advocacy role for her many patients who are in need of such services. Dr. Latimer is married and is a member of Our Lady of Mercy in Potomac, Maryland.

Patrick J. Caulfield, Director, is the President and co-owner of Coakley & Williams Construction, Inc., a large commercial and institutional contracting firm. Mr. Caulfield is an active member of a number of charitable organizations, including serving as: Chairman of the Board, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the National Capital Area; Board of Directors, Victory Youth Centers, Inc.; Board of Advisors, St. Anselm’s Abbey School; Board of Trustees, Connelly School of the Holy Child, and Board of Directors, Potomac Ridge Behavioral Health Foundation. He has also served in the past as: Chairman of the Board, Associated Builders & Contractors of Metropolitan Washington; National Board of Directors, Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc.; Treasurer, ABC of Maryland; Member, Prince George’s Community College Construction Education Advisory Board; Member, Alumni Board of Governors, Georgetown Preparatory School; as well as other professional boards.. Mr. Caulfield is married with 4 children and is a member of Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Potomac, Maryland.

David Kane, Officer, Director, Principal — Kane Real Estate Services. Since founding Kane Real Estate Services (previously Atlantic Real Estate) in 1999 David Kane’s exemplary career in commercial real estate has been highlighted by numerous local and national high-profile tenant transactions. During his 22 year career, Mr. Kane has proven his expertise in finding undetected market opportunities in his work with Fortune 500 companies, financial services firms, media organizations, law firms and associations. Most notably, Mr. Kane has specialized in representing firms with multiple locations around the country. The methods and techniques required to hire, manage and coordinate brokers in multiple cities and states host an array of hidden difficulty. These national Real Estate efforts are an area in commercial Leasing and Sales that Mr. Kane has much experience and expertise.

Mr. Kane attended Mount Saint Mary’s College where he studied Business and Finance. He is married and has four children and lives with his family in Potomac, Maryland. He is a member of Our Lady of Mercy Parish where he serves on the Finance Council, and is a member of the Sovereign Order of the Knights of Malta.

Ann Kern, Director, is a Speech Language Therapist at Ivymount School in Potomac, Maryland. She holds a B.S. in Psychology from Denison University and a M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology from Boston University. Ann has over 15 years of experience working with students with developmental disabilities. She has worked for Montgomery County Public Schools as a Teacher of a self-contained class for Language Disabled students, as a therapist in private practice, and currently as a Speech Therapist in the Post High School program at Ivymount School.

Ann grew up in the Washington area and is a graduate of Connelly School of the Holy Child. She is married and has three children. Ann is an active member of Our Lady of Mercy school and parish in Potomac, Maryland.

Marianne Rhoda, Director, is a resident of Chevy Chase, Maryland, and a graduate of the University of Maryland and the Art Institute of Atlanta. While at the University of Maryland she was a member of the Alpha Phi sorority and was a White House intern for Esther Peterson, Consumer Advisor to President Carter. Upon graduation from the University of Maryland, Marianne joined the ranks of IBM sales executives in one of the most respected marketing training programs in the industry. Upon completion of the IBM program, she was assigned to the Department of the Treasury account where she provided Information Systems solutions. She excelled to the top ranks within IBM by achieving the honor of Hundred Percent Club member for eight consecutive years. Subsequent positions with GE Information Systems as a program manager for tax systems led her back to IBM as a senior re-hire after taking time off to spend with her two children, Spencer and Hilary, currently 24 and 23 years old. Spencer attended Mater Dei School and is a graduate of Georgetown Prep and University of Pennsylvania. Hilary attended St Jane de Chantal and is a graduate of the Academy of the Holy Cross.

Marianne is currently the Vice President of HRH Group Inc a management company she started in 2005 to manage Hilary’s career. In Marianne’s capacity as an HRH Group Inc Vice President, the company is involved in international endeavors, as well as charitable events/donations. These include New Yorkers for Children, the Metropolitan Museum of Art MET Ball, and CancerCare, which helps the families of those fighting cancer. Additionally, Marianne runs the business of HRH Group Inc by managing and overseeing the collaborative efforts between the International Management Group (IMG), and the HRH Group team consisting of legal, accounting and public relations/publicity.

Marianne is a parishioner of Blessed Sacrament.

Maria Leonard Olsen, Director, earned a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, and a B.S. from Boston College. She grew up in the Washington area and graduated from Holy Redeemer School and The Academy of the Holy Cross. Maria began her career with the law firm of Dow Lohnes, where she practiced corporate and tax litigation, and earned the D.C. Bar’s Pro Bono Coordinator of the Year Award. During this time, she served on the board of the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Washington for six years. In 1993, she joined the Clinton Administration’s Justice Department, where she worked on civil justice issues, as well as the formulation of the government’s first pro bono policy and program. Since having two children, she has served on the Pastoral Council of the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, where she is a Eucharistic Minister and sodalist, and has led a Renew prayer group for the past eight years. Maria also led the first M.O.M.S. group in the parish, and remains active in that program. Currently, she and her husband serve as foster parents to newborn babies awaiting adoption via the Barker Foundation. She also volunteers in her children’s schools (Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart and St. Albans), writes for Bethesda Magazine and provides pro bono representation to victims of domestic violence via the D.C. Bar’s Volunteer Lawyers Project.

Lucy Nolan, Director, serves as the Board of Directors Liaison to the CCSE Professional Advisory Board. Mrs. Nolan is a.Pediatric Physical Therapist, holds a B.S. in Child Psychology and a B.S. in Physical Therapy. She is a graduate of the University of Florida. Ms. Nolan has over twenty five years experience in Physical Therapy. Her career began at Fairfax Hospital, she then worked in a private, physical therapist owned and run, practice and subsequently she was the Director of Therapy at a Rehabilitation Facility. For the past seventeen years she has worked for the Montgomery County Public Schools. She works with children who have all types of neurological and physical concerns. Ms. Nolan has consulted with both the Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Easter Seals Society in the past. Ms. Nolan is married, has three children and is an active member at Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Potomac.

Patricia Staros, Director