Meet Our Board of Directors

Robin Portman

Board Chair

Robin is a former CEO for a health-services firm, and retired as the Chief Growth Officer for Booz Allen Hamilton, a Fortune-500 company headquarters in Tysons Corner.   Robin is the current Chair for Belong!’s board of directors, where she has served since 2018. As chair, her efforts focus on strategy, partnerships, and development.  Her deep passion for inclusive communities where all of its members can live healthy, productive, and joyful lives has led her to become an active member of Vienna Presbyterian Church (VPC), serving as a Deacon and an Elder, and teaching adult English classes for VPC’s ESOL program.  Additionally, Robin serves on the Advisory Board for the Elizabeth Dole Foundation and until recently, served as Board Chair for Easterseals of MD, DC and VA. She has also served on the University of Maryland’s College Park Foundation Board, the Capital Hospice Board of Trustees, and the boards for Service Source and Psych Armor Institute.  A graduate of the University of Maryland (BS & MS), Robin lives in Vienna with her husband, her 91-year-old mother-in-law and their dog Creedence.  Robin enjoys all things outdoors—hiking, biking, swimming and skiing. 

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Robin Portman

Board Chair

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Jim M. Zinn

Treasurer

James M. (Jim) Zinn has served as a Belong! Board member and its Treasurer since 2018. He brings to this role years of experience in the finance industry, including CFO/Senior VP for CapitalOne Financial Corporation, Regional Partner for Ernst & Young and founder/consultant for a number of start-up technology companies. Prior to joining the Belong! Jim was treasurer and board director for 6 years at Kingsmill Community Services Association.  He also served on the board of directors/ chaired the audit committee for a publicly traded investment advisory/asset management firm and a publicly traded REIT.  Hailing from Ohio, Jim graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in Business Administration.  Jim lives with his wife and crazed 2-year old labradoodle in Northern Virginia and is an active member of Vienna Presbyterian Church and former Elder. In addition to golf and traveling, Jim enjoys spending time with his 3 adult kids and 6 grandchildren.

Jim M. Zinn

Treasurer

Board Chair

Treasurer

Board Chair

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Sue Hamblen

Sue has been part of Belong!’s board of directors since 2018. She has been an active member of Vienna Presbyterian Church since 1985, serving as an Elder, and most recently as the Mission Director overseeing 29 strategic partnerships and numerous Mission activities and events. The CARES Act partnership launched during the COVID-19 pandemic is dear to her heart as the program successfully provides groceries to 400 families and engages over 100 volunteers.  Sue has also been a special education teacher, Presbyterian Women’s moderator, PTA President at James Madison High School, Coordinator of America’s Youth Teen Outreach program, Founding Member and Past President of Vienna Teen Center Foundation, Girl Scout and Boy Scout troop and den leader, VPC small group leader, and leader and coordinator of several domestic and international Mission Trips. Sue and her husband have lived in Vienna since 1979. She is a graduate of James Madison University. 

Board Secretary

Sue Hamblen

Board Secretary

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Thomas C. Black

Head of Governance

Tom’s passion for serving others and deep interest in working with immigrants prompted him to become a member of Belong!’s Board of Directors.  As a long-time member of the Vienna Presbyterian Church (VPC), he has taught several courses in VPC’s ESOL programs and participated in VPC Summer Mission Projects in the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico. He was a strong supporter of VPC’s assistance to the Presbyterian Church in Colombia, including the “Land of Hope” project, which purchased land allowing an entire village to raise their own crops.  Tom worked for the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington DC as an Assistant U.S. Attorney and then as an Associate Director in the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs.  Tom and his family have lived in Vienna for over 42 years. He enjoys family life, playing golf, reading and working on his Spanish skills.

Thomas C. Black

Head of Governance

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Rod Nuñez

Board Member

Rod has served on the Belong! Board since 2018.  He is passionate about using our God given gifts and strengths in serving the people of our community and calling people to know Jesus Christ and to grow and walk in faith.  He serves on staff at Christ Church Vienna, an Anglican church in Vienna and works extensively through Student Ministry (Middle School, High School, College) and within the local Spanish speaking community. As a first generation American citizen, born in Santiago, Chile - first in his family to graduate from college (Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University in Civil Engineering) he knows first hand the challenges and victories possible to young men and women who are new in our community from Spanish speaking home countries. Rod lives in Vienna with his incredible wife and has two sons, that are away at college. 

Rod Nuñez

Board Member

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Bob Gambarelli

Bob is a long-time Vienna resident. He recently retired after a successful 40-year career in education. His keen passion for education and children led him to be counselor at James Madison High School for 30 years, and Director of Counseling for the last 15 years at the same school. Now that Bob is retired, his passion for helping and teaching others has been channeled towards the ESL program at St. Mark's Church and Food for Others. He has also served as a volunteer for Belong! and is excited to continue supporting Belong!’s mission. He enjoys traveling, photography and reading. 

Board Member

Bob Gambarelli

Board Member

Treasurer

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Hellen Cortez

Hellen has served on the Belong! Board since 2018. Born in Bolivia, she migrated at a young age to Mexico, where she studied Drama & Literature, before moving to the United States. Her early experiences as a young mother in a foreign country contributed to her relentless passion and conviction that all children are capable of learning, given the opportunity. In 2007, she joined Cunningham Park ES as a Parent Liaison, to serve multicultural families in Vienna, and help them navigate language and social-cultural barriers. Hellen helped co-found Bridges Harmony, a non-profit organization dedicated to further kids’ education through music enjoyment, and has collaborated with nonprofit and faith-based organizations to coordinate tutoring, mentoring, summer camps, academic enrichment programs, and community events. She has also volunteered for many years at the Probation House for Boys and Girls and served as an interpreter for the Fairfax County Juvenile and Family Court. Currently, she facilitates workshops with a focus to ingrain the love for education, compassion, and growth among newly arrived multicultural families to the USA. Hellen lives in Centreville with her husband and 93 old mother and adores her three independent boys.

She is excited about the future and believes that a free education is a right for everyone, because, as she always says: “Education is the force that transforms dreams in realities.”

Board Member

Hellen Cortez

Board Member

Treasurer

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Andrea Strahan

Andrea is the newest member of the Belong! Board of Directors. Andrea is passionate about collaborating with community groups, churches and local businesses to support vulnerable populations. A member of Vienna Presbyterian Church (VPC) for more than a decade, Andrea is a teacher for the Friendship Class, a Sunday School for adults with intellectual and physical differences. She supports other VPC ministries, including Fairfax County’s Hypothermia Prevention Program for individuals experiencing homelessness, the annual World Vision Global 6K for Water, and VPC's ministry partner, the  Community Coalition for Haiti. Andrea also volunteers at Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic School. A graduate of the University of Maryland’s College of Journalism, Andrea worked in communications at DISH Network, IBM, University of Texas in Galveston, and in agency and start-up settings before having children. She enjoys running, spending time in Colorado, and is an aspiring children’s author. Andrea and her husband Jamison live in Vienna with their two girls and dog Ruby Jane.

Board Member

Andrea Strahan

Board Member

Treasurer

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Barbara Benoit

Barbara is a patent attorney who has been involved with Belong! since its early community meetings in the summer of 2017 and the meal-packing project of May 2018.  She has a passion for the Vienna community and  the vision for Vienna as a loving and inclusive community where all belong and have equal opportunities for social, spiritual, educational, and economic success.  She has been a member of Vienna Presbyterian Church since 2003.  A graduate of The College of William and Mary (B.A.), George Mason University (M.S. and Ph.D.), and George Washington University Law School (J.D.), Barbara has lived in the Northern Virginia area most of her life and has resided in Vienna since 1994.  Having raised their two sons, Barbara and her husband now have time for their passions of hiking and backpacking, venturing to somewhere along the Appalachian Trail most weekends. 

Board Member

Barbara Benoit

Board Member

 

Meet Our Staff

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Karen Covell

Director of Programs and Engagement

Having a deep concern for social justice and community development, Karen helped to launch Belong! in 2017, and became Belong!’s Director of Programs and Engagement in February, 2020. Prior to Belong!, Karen managed educational programs for 200 children at Vienna Presbyterian Church (2010-2020). She has extensive experience developing programs, managing budgets, recruiting volunteers and overseeing systems and processes. She has held various volunteer positions, including Youth Group Leader, Deacon, Naomi Project Mentor, Girl Scout Leader, Childcare Coordinator for Moms of Preschoolers (MOPs), and PTA volunteer. Before coming to Vienna, Karen spent over 5 years in Honduras as a Peace Corps volunteer and as the Resource Coordinator for a local nonprofit, where she led planning and evaluation processes for 3 large integrated community development projects. Karen is fluent in Spanish, and has a M.A. in International and Community Development from the University of California at Davis. She enjoys hiking, sewing, playing games, and spending time with family. 

Karen Covell

Director of Programs and Engagement

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Katie Balberchak

Office Administrator

Starting as a committed volunteer with Belong!, Katie now serves as part-time Office Administrator. She has lived in/near Vienna her entire life, attending Vienna Presbyterian Church since childhood. Katie received her BBA in Information Technology from the College of William and Mary and previously worked as a web developer for a website design & management firm specializing in nonprofits. She is passionate about education and nutrition, and loves using data analysis and technology to find creative ways to enhance Belong! programs and improve administrative processes. In her free time, Katie enjoys cooking, walking, singing, and spending time with her husband, 3 children, parents, and friends.

Katie Balberchak

Office Administrator

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Laura Kolhoff

Education Program Manager

A former kindergarten teacher at a dual-language public school in DC, Laura loves working with children and figuring out how to best support English language learners. As Belong!’s Education Program Manager, she plans and oversees Belong!’s play-based, academic summer camp and after-school program. She enjoys collaborating with volunteers to create the best learning experiences possible. Laura speaks Spanish and German fluently, having lived in Costa Rica and Germany, and loves traveling and learning languages. She also enjoys reading, baking, drawing, swimming, and hanging out with her cat. She is passionate about immigrants’ rights and the need for educational equity in order to create a just society. She holds a BA in German and Latin American Studies from Oberlin College and an MAT from Trinity Washington University. She is delighted to be working with Belong!

Laura Kolhoff

Education Program Manager

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Angelica Friedman

Communication Manager

A native from Peru, Angy loves working with the immigrant and under-resourced community in Vienna. She was part of a team who worked to bring back a public bus service to her neighborhood and has been involved in the PTA to engage Hispanic parents in the school community, which inspired her to become part of Belong!. Angy is passionate about immigration, diversity, and serving the youth in Vienna. Angy provides support to Belong! as part-time Communications Manager bringing her enthusiasm for keeping the Hispanic community informed. She continues helping Belong! provide equity, empowerment and engagement through information and resources.  Angy has a BA from Connecticut College, a MA from The George Washington University, and previously worked as an international trade consultant earlier in her career. She enjoys being active in her kids’ life, and loves hiking and going for bike rides with her family.

Angelica Friedman

Communication Manager

 

Belong! also offers paid Summer Internships. It is an excellent opportunity to get hands-on experience working in a nonprofit. For more information please send us an email.