BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Suzie is the co-founder of the Ryan Bartel Foundation and mother of Ryan. She has 30+ years’ experience as a senior marketing and business executive, running her own design and marketing business in London and then working in senior marketing positions for private and public companies in the US after moving to Loudoun County in 1999.
After losing Ryan to suicide in the fall of 2014, Suzie felt the need to turn their tragedy into something positive by helping other teens and young adults from spiraling into depression and suicidal behavior when times get tough. In a short space of time, what started as a peer-led support group for teens at the high school Ryan went to, has now become a non-profit whose programs touch all corners of the Loudoun community.
Today Suzie juggles her professional life with advocating and working in her free time for the Foundation. She is an active speaker in the community and an advocate for mental health and youth suicide awareness and prevention through the empowerment of youth.
Tom Julia is a Loudoun County-based business consultant who has been involved in local community and governmental affairs for nearly 30 years. Tom’s volunteer work includes serving as Chairman of the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce, Chairman of the Loudoun County Government Reform Commission and President of the Lansdowne Office Park Owners Association. Prior to his current work, Tom spent two decades as an executive of the Composite Panel Association, a North American trade association for the building products industry, the last 13 as its President.
He earned a B.A. in Political Science from the Johns Hopkins University in 1977 and a J.D. from the George Washington University Law School in 1980. Tom also earned graduate certificates from Leadership Fairfax and the ASAE School of Association Management. He also served for many years as a youth lacrosse coach and was a league director in North Virginia.
Tom has had a longstanding interest in mental health and in promoting positive opportunities and role models. He has four children, two of whom graduated from Loudoun County public schools. His older son is one of them and is also the artist known as Lucidious, whose songs, music videos and self-help efforts are focused around combatting depression and feelings of hopelessness, and from whom Tom continues to gain a greater understanding of these issues and the challenges faced by those seeking to offer assistance and support.
Margaret L. Brown is a Strategic Communications & Public Relations consultant with more than three decades of experience in public relations and internal communications for a variety of B2C and B2B companies. She has extensive experience in the technology and channel sectors, as well as retail, nonprofit and finance. Her current clients include 100WomenStrong, Wize Solutions, InterGrid, SWaN & Legend, Hill Top House Hotel, Quidne Press and Altor Locks. She also subcontracts as a blog writer for Strategic Communications Group. Margaret is adept at elevating company reputations and driving website traffic through integrated thought-leadership campaigns that use a mix of interviews, media relations, press releases, blog posts, digital marketing and social media. She takes an in-depth approach to creating public relations and outreach efforts for clients to ensure that their unique messages are clear and resonate with their targeted audiences.
Every year, Margaret Brown chooses an area nonprofit organization to which she donates time and services. Over the past 13 years, she has supported All Ages Read Together with pro bono communications and public relations activities. She also served as Secretary of the organization’s Board of Directors. She also has provided pro bono PR, writing and advice and counsel to the Thomas Balch Library Black History Committee, the NAACP of Loudoun, Friends of Leesburg Public Art, Key Lyme and many others.
Until recently, Margaret served as the Board Chair for Loudoun Literacy Council and led the organization, as well as supported the organization by writing press releases, working with local media to generate positive publicity and through PR advice and counsel.
For 25 years Christina Croll has helped large and small companies in the media, education, tech, legal and healthcare industries with strategic communications projects. Croll’s clients and employers have included America Online, Gartner, The Walt Disney Company, Network Solutions, Qwest Communications, Total Document Solutions and several startups.
Most recently, Croll served on the Loudoun County School Board which governs one of the largest school divisions in the state of Virginia with an annual operating budget in excess of $1.3B. During her tenure on the Board, Croll played a leadership role in curtailing the seclusion and restraint of students, revamping division grading policies, ending discriminatory practices and developing communications policies.
In 2018, Croll founded the National Center for Gifted Services, a parent resource center for families with asynchronous children. This practice sprang out of a nonprofit she founded eight years ago, Loudoun County Parents of Gifted Students (LoCoPOGS), which today serves over 1,000 families.
Croll is a regular contributor to several publications, including LoudounNow newspaper, and she has been invited to speak at tech, education and nonprofit industry events around the globe.
Croll holds a Master of Professional Studies degree in Interactive Telecommunications (ITP) from New York University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications from Ithaca College. She lives in Leesburg, Virginia with her husband, two sons and a rescue puppy named Luna.
Co-founder of the Ryan Bartel Foundation and father of Ryan. Ben is a business entrepreneur, experienced in mergers and acquisitions, turnarounds and management both domestically and internationally. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from Ohio University and an MBA in finance from New York University. Ben started his career as an assistant vice president at First Union National Bank in Charlotte, North Carolina. In 1992 after the German reunification, he formed Kabelmedia Holdings, a cable TV company in Frankfurt, Germany, growing the customer base seven-fold to over 420,000 subscribers. Ben left the company in 1999 after its public offering and returned to the United States to become the CEO of AvCraft Aviation, an aircraft service firm with an international client base. In 2006, Ben Bartel founded V1 Leasing in Virginia, a company that acquires, finances, and leases aircraft. In 2010, he founded Flock Management LLC, a financial and management consulting company providing alternative financings to small, well managed businesses and alternative investments to private individuals. Flock Management also provides aircraft management and worldwide aircraft ferry services.
DR SUZANNE NIXON
Suzanne Nixon, EdD, LPC, LMFT, a licensed professional counselor and licensed marriage therapist, has been in the field of mental health for over 35 years. Dr. Suzanne, as her clients refer to her, specializes in working with teens and adults experiencing depression, anxiety, stress disorders, trauma, chronic illness and those recovering from mental, emotional, physical and sexual abuse. As a marriage therapist, she helps couples in conflict, experiencing relationship disharmony, and those moving through divorce. As a family therapist, she helps parents with parenting challenges and families in conflict.
Dr. Suzanne earned her Masters Degree in Education from Boston University (special education), 1977, and her Doctoral Degree from Virginia Tech, (counseling & human relations), 1992. Her professional career began as a special education teacher working in private and public schools with children having emotional challenges and learning disabilities. With a passion in the healing arts, she began studying body therapy, energy medicine and wellness (1981). In 2006 she completed professional training in meditation with Jon Kabat-Zinn, the director of the University of Massachusetts School’s Center for Mindfulness and the pioneer in the Mindfulness Meditation movement in the United States. Rounding out her studies, she attended Duke University’s Integrative Medicine Center and earned a professional certification in Integrative Health Coaching. Currently, she is enrolled in Sounds True’s two-year Professional Teacher Training in Mindfulness Meditation.
With her unique training in mental health, relationship therapy, somatic therapies and holistic health, Dr. Suzanne practices as an Integrative Mental Health Specialist, combining the best of conventional mental health theories with evidenced-based complementary and alternative therapies. Dr. Suzanne has presented at dozens of National and State Professional Conferences in Behavioral Health and Holistic Health, local and community organizations and has implemented programs in leadership and well-being with the Federal Government and business organizations.
A Loudoun County resident for 31 years, she has been dedicated to helping people in the Northern Virginia area achieve mental well-being, relationship well-being and family well-being. Dr. Suzanne is the proud mother of two adult children and the grandmother of three amazing granddaughters.
Tony began his career 30 years ago as a Financial Advisor in 1987. Over the years, Tony has provided Corporate Institutions, Foundations, Endowments and affluent families with investment strategy, asset allocation advice, asset liability models, investment policy creation and adoption, along with investment plan implementation. Throughout this time he has helped clients navigate some of the most difficult economic conditions and opportunistic market environments in history. In 2014, he joined the independent firm of Raymond James Financial because of their Wall Street “Independence,” business principles, strength, stability, and their ability to recognize clients' needs come first. As an experienced Advisor, Tony collaborates in the disciplined investment process, and manages a branch of experienced and credentialed investment professionals who provide a collaborative approach to planning and investments. Tony holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics with a concentration in Business Finance. He received his degree from the University of Maryland, College Park.
Tony is a Past President of the Rotary Club of Dulles International Airport; helped with our next generation to make an impact on America's future by mentoring local youth on the choices they make as they prepare for adulthood via his leadership in Cub and Boy Scout’s while overseeing his own son becoming an Eagle. Tony also is a designated Merit badge advisor in Scouting and teaches Scouts about economics, finance, and investment portfolio management. Tony acted as Treasurer in the inaugural campaign in 2010 to then newly elected 10th District Virginia House of Delegates, Randy Minchew. He lives in Leesburg, Virginia with his wife, Stephanie who is a CPA, and their two children, Kristen and Michael.
Denisha Johnson Hamilton
Denisha Johnson Hamilton is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She is an excellent therapist that can work with many issues, and is particularly skilled in working with teens and young adults. In 2016, she won Loudoun’s Best Counselor for Kids. In addition to providing individual and family counseling, Denisha also provides group counseling services for high school teens in the Ashburn area.
Denisha entered the world of entrepreneurship and opened a mental health private practice in 2017. Prior to that, she was the clinical director for Wellness Connection in Ashburn, VA. The 10 years before that, Denisha worked with Loudoun County Mental Health in a variety of positions. Starting as a residential counselor, she obtained her Masters in Social Work and her LCSW and transitioned to become an Outpatient Clinician specializing in adolescent treatment. In that role, she provided individual, group, and family therapy, as well as crisis intervention to children, adolescents, and adults. Denisha is well versed in dealing with issues of trauma, attachment disorder, anxiety and depression, as well as a variety of other issues that impact children, teenagers, and adults. Denisha also worked as a Student Assistance Liaison for several middle and high schools in Loudoun County, where she completed assessments and evaluations of children who came to the attention of their guidance counselor for assorted reasons. As an Outpatient Clinician, Denisha worked closely with school officials, probation officers, Department of Family Services, and numerous other agencies to coordinate services.
Denisha has worked with a variety of populations, including the homeless population in Loudoun County providing homeless outreach services, the intellectually disabled population in Washington, DC to ensure they were receiving appropriate and humane treatment, and children from the ages of 7-12 who had behavioral and mental health issues and were residing in a residential treatment center in Norfolk, VA. Denisha has attended numerous trainings regarding transgender and LGBTQ issues in teenagers and the impact those issues have on their education, families, and support system, as well as Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to guide survivors of trauma towards recovery and empowerment.
Denisha goes out of her way to create a comfortable and safe environment where children, adolescents, or adults feel supported in implementing change in their lives. Denisha considers herself to be a solution focused therapist but also utilizes acceptance and commitment therapy techniques, cognitive behavioral therapy, and most importantly, providing client focused treatment. Denisha’s philosophy to therapy: “Life is a journey and any impact I can have on helping a person through that journey is an honor and privilege. I aim to help people understand and accept themselves, and move towards the life they deserve.”
Wallace H Owings, CPA is currently managing principal of the firm Owings & Company PLLC. He became managing partner of the predecessor firm Patterson, Weeks and Graves in 2010 when the name changed to Owings, Weeks and Graves. Mr Owings first joined the firm in 2008.
Prior to public accounting, Mr Owings served in local government as an Assistant Town Manager, Assistant County Executive, and Administrator of Special Tax District. In addition, he served as the CEO of a not for profit and owned a printing and graphics company.
Mr Owings attended the University of Notre Dame where he played football and obtained a degree in Political Science at the University of South Carolina. He furthered his education with a masters degree in Public Administration at South Carolina and accounting courses at the University of Virginia.
Mr Owings has a long history of community involvement and has served on numerous boards and commissions. He is past President of the Committee for Dulles, Dulles Rotary, and the Virginia Jaycees. He was appointed by the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors to the Lououn Water Authority where he chaired the Finance Committee.
Mr Owings is a member of the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. He is a licensed CPA in Virgina.
Yolonda Earl-Thompson is the Director of Collective Impact at United Community in Fairfax County where she leads various collective impact initiatives that seek systemic change that addresses social and racial inequities along the Route 1 corridor. Her vast knowledge of community advocacy, development, and partnership, along with her strong interpersonal communication skills contributed to successful outcomes for these communities. In 2019, she was recognized by Fairfax County’s Neighborhood Community Services for these community efforts. Her ability to move from vision to inspiration that results into action has been highlighted on ABC7. Yolonda is also a sought out facilitator due to her unique approach to conduct interactive workshops and training that explore social and emotional awareness, community building, family development, and decision-making with a local and global perspective.
Yolonda has a B.A. in Communications from George Washington University, an M.A. in Family and Marriage Counseling from Liberty University and is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. With over 20 years of experience, she has evinced ability to strengthen communities socially, emotionally, economically, and academically. Yolonda seeks to “awaken the human concern of others to bring peace, unity, and world changing results to humanity - one person and one community at a time.”
Dominique Callins is the Family Law Section Leader for Simms Showers, LLP. She received a B.A. from Florida A&M University, and a J.D. from the College of William and Mary, Marshall-Wythe School of Law. She is a member of the Virginia State Bar. Prior to law school, she worked as a middle school drama teacher.
Ms. Callins began her legal career as a judicial law clerk, first for the Henrico County Circuit Court and later to the Honorable James W. Benton (Ret.) of the Court of Appeals of Virginia. For 13 years, Ms. Callins has assisted Northern Virginia clients in crafting creative and effective solutions to the challenge of family transition. A seasoned litigator, Ms. Callins is a passionate and powerful courtroom advocate. However, her dedication to practical solutions that preserve family relationships and assets makes Ms. Callins a strong proponent of mediation and other collaborative resolution alternatives.
Her practice areas include marital separation, contested divorce, spousal and child support, high net-worth asset division, domestic and international child custody and visitation, pre/post marital agreements, intra-family adoption and family/domestic assault matters.
Ms. Callins is an active member of Gateway Community Church in South Riding, Virginia, a women’s small group leader, a member of the George Mason University School of Business, Women in Business Initiative (WIBI) Board and supporter of The Leadership Center- a leadership school dedicated to developing future women leaders of Honduras. She previously served on the executive board of the Northern Virginia Black Attorneys Association. She is the author of “Focusing on the Things That Matter,” published in Stress-Free Divorce, Vol. 2. Ms. Callins has also been featured on radio and in other media outlets. She is the founder of NextBetterChapter.com, an online resource for information on separation, divorce and other family law matters.