Our Leadership

Laurie MacNamara, President

Involved in Democratic politics in the Northern Virginia region for the past twenty years, Laurie MacNamara is a vocal proponent of women in public service in Virginia, and is a founding board member and treasurer of Virginia’s List. Laurie has volunteered for several local campaigns and served as a precinct captain and as the vice chair for precinct operations – East for the Alexandria Democratic Committee. A thirty-year resident of Alexandria, business executive, and working mother, Laurie has held multiple community leadership positions focusing on social services, housing, the arts, and economic development. Most recently she served as the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce’s vice chair for government relations and on Alexandria’s Budget and Fiscal Affairs Advisory Committee (BFAAC), and currently serves on the boards of national- and local-level nonprofits including Compass, Rebuilding Together Alexandria, and First Night Alexandria.

Laurie is a principal and director with a leading management and technology consulting firm where she currently serves as a senior advisor for strategic business development for federal civilian clients. Prior to joining industry in 1993, she was appointed as a U.S. Government Presidential Management Fellow with the U.S. Department of Commerce. Laurie holds a BA in political science and Spanish from Muhlenberg College, a MA in international economics and finance from the Fletcher School, Tufts University, and is a 2016 graduate of the University of Virginia Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership’s Political Leaders Program. She received the Marguerite Payez Leadership Award for professional and community service achievements from the Alexandria Commission for Women in March 2017. Laurie and her family live in the Del Ray section of Alexandria.

Chris King, President- Elect

Chris King is an Assistant Vice President in the Capital Markets group at Walker & Dunlop (NYSE: WD), a national commercial real estate finance company based in Bethesda, MD. Chris is responsible for nationwide loan origination and has analyzed, underwritten, or sourced nearly $500 million of business since joining Walker & Dunlop in 2015. Funding sources include banks, life insurance companies, CMBS, debt funds and GSEs. Prior to joining the company, Chris was a senior analyst with Integra Realty Resources, where he appraised nearly 350 commercial properties throughout the Washington, DC, metro area. Valuations ranged from $1 million to $200 million. Chris’s property-level expertise includes multifamily, industrial, office, retail, self-storage, land, and mixed-use assets. Prior to moving to Virginia in 2005, he had a previous career in television news broadcasting, where he reported, anchored, hosted and edited at the ABC affiliate in Santa Barbara, CA.

Chris is a graduate of The University of California at Berkeley and holds the MAI designation from the Appraisal Institute. He is a Certified General Real Estate Appraiser in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia, and currently serves a four-year term on the Virginia Real Estate Appraiser Board. He lives in Alexandria.

Beverly Merchant, Treasurer

Beverly Merchant has spent more than 30 years in the commercial real estate as a consultant and principal specializing in investment and financing across all real estate asset classes. As a McEnearney Commercial associate broker, she represents tenants seeking retail, office and industrial space, owner-occupants and investors as well as sellers and landlords.

Since 2004, Beverly has provided advisory services to real estate companies through Davies Real Estate Investment Services, LLC. Consulting clients include Atlantic Realty Companies, CIM Group and WREP, LLC. Prior to Davies REIS she was a commercial mortgage lender with MetLife Real Estate Investment’s Washington office. She also established and ran the acquisitions group for Guardian Realty and worked in the financial services group of Cushman & Wakefield in Florida. She was instrumental in closing more than $750 million in transactions for properties ranging from mixed-use development in Washington, DC to a 500-unit apartment complex in Columbia, MD.

Julie Jakopic, Secretary

Julie is the President of  iLead Strategies, a consulting firm helping leaders ignite change, accelerate success and create workplaces where people want to work. Before launching iLead Strategies, Julie built and led successful teams in her work as vice president and human services practice leader at the Development Services Group and in executive positions at ICF International, The Finance Project and the National Association for State Community Services Programs (NASCSP). 

Julie spent much of her professional career working with communities across the country. That work led her to become an activist in her own community. She has lead the Alexandria Community Services Board, the Alexandria Economic Opportunities Commission, Sheltered Homes of Alexandria and Hopkins House Pre-School Academies. She also served as the Vice Chair for Finance and Administration of the Alexandria Democratic Committee and served on the Eighth Congressional District Committee. In 2015, after holding critical roles on numerous campaigns, she took on the challenge to run for Delegate. She ran in a five way primary in which she did well but did not win. She turned that experience into helping other women win by chairing Virginia’s List, a pac committed to increasing the number progressive women elected to state  level legislative and leadership roles.

She was awarded the Ann Kagie National Community Services award by the National Association for State Community Services Programs, the Legislative & Public Policy Award by the Alexandria Commission for Women, and the Life Time Achievement Award from Volunteer Alexandria. She holds an MA in sociology and a BA in communication from the University of Maryland. 

Candice Bennett, Director

Candice Bennett is the Director of Development & Communications for Good Shepherd Housing & Family Services, a non-profit affordable housing developer in Fairfax County.  She is also President of Candice Bennett & Associates, Inc., a consulting firm established in 2003 which provides strategic marketing and research services to corporations, political candidates and not–for–profit organizations. She started her career at Penn, Schoen and Berland and has worked with clients in a variety of industries over the years, including entertainment, technology, consumer electronics, healthcare, financial services, education, managed services, heavy industry, packaged food products, and hospitality.

Candice received her M.A. in Security Policy Studies and B.A. in International Affairs from The George Washington University. She was recently appointed by the Governor to Virginia’s Fair Housing Board. She is the current Vice Chair of Finance for the Fairfax County Democratic Committee and serves on the Board of Directors for the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association and the Lorton Station Community Association. She is a member of the Insights Association, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and Leadership Fairfax. In 2015, she ran for the Democratic nomination for the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors-Mount Vernon District. She is an alumna of the Sorenson Institute for Political Leadership’s Candidate Training Program (2015) and Emerge Virginia (2017).

Ken Biberaj, Director

With nearly 15 years of experience, commercial real estate veteran Ken Biberaj joined the Savills Studley Tysons office in Virginia in 2017. He focuses his practice on advising tenants and buyers in real estate matters, in addition to helping clients to proactively identify and leverage strategic partnerships and portfolio opportunities.

Prior to joining Savills Studley, Ken spent 12 years as an executive at Morgan Barrington Associates of NY, Inc., where he brokered retail leases and investment sales transactions; negotiated strategic partnerships; and advised businesses across New York City on real estate expansion needs. Notably, he oversaw the restoration and 2006 reopening of the iconic Russian Tea Room, which his family owns and operates.

Ken is an active member of his community. In 2014, he was appointed as Chairman of the Board for the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, where he advocated on behalf of more than 100,000 small and medium size businesses within the borough. Ken ran for New York City Council in 2013 and served on the board of directors for Hanover Community Bank on Long Island from 2009 to 2012. Ken also served as Policy Research Director in Florida for John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign.

Ken received his B.A. from American University in Washington, D.C., his JD from New York Law School and his MPP from the Harvard Kennedy School.  

Micheal Cook, Director

Michael Cook is a partner and co-chair of the Health Care Group at Liles Parker PLLC. Michael also serves as a Strategic Health Care Advisor to ImpactWear International LLP -- a start-up company that has developed a breakthrough product for the prevention of hip fractures in the elderly. Michael has more than 37 years’ experience representing health care related clients and previously chaired DC office health care practices of several national and international law firms. He began his legal career representing the federal regulators of the Medicare, Medicaid, and AFDC programs as an attorney at the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

Michael also has advised a number of political campaigns on health care issues in a voluntary capacity, including the recent campaign of Hillary Clinton for President, the campaigns of Governors Northam, Kaine and McAuliffe, and the campaigns of Senator Kaine and Congressman Beyer, and has served on the health care issues or transition teams for Governors-Elect Kaine, McAuliffe, and Northam. He was appointed by Governor McAuliffe to serve on the Board of the Department of Medical Assistance Services – the Department that administers Virginia’s Medicaid program at the State level, and was a member of a work group for Governor Kaine’s Health Reform Commission. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the National Osteoporosis Foundation and First Star Academies, on the Board of the Temple University Political Science Department, and as a member of the Executive Committee of the Advisory Board for the Center for Public Service and Scholarship at Shenandoah University.

Milan Dalal, Director

Milan Dalal is of counsel in the Government Relations department of Brownstein Hyatt Farber and Schrek, representing clients in the banking, securities, derivatives, trade, housing, fintech, technology and cybersecurity industries. Previously, Milan served as staff director of the U.S. Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Securities, Insurance, and Investment, which oversees the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the accounting and insurance industries. Milan also served concurrently as senior economic advisor to Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), serving as the senator’s counsel on financial services, housing finance, tax, trade and data security issues. In the Senate, Milan was also the executive director for the Senate India Caucus and staff director for the Senate Banking Subcommittee on National Security, International Trade and Finance. He previously worked for Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) as legislative director, where he advised Rep. Meeks -- a conferee for the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Prior to working in government, Milan practiced law in Boston, where he worked with entrepreneurs and companies in private equity and venture capital transactions. He is active in foreign affairs, as a member of the Atlantic Council and a Truman National Security Partner.

Carlos Del Toro, Director

Born in Havana, Cuba, Carlos Del Toro immigrated to the United States in 1962. Raised in the Hell’s Kitchen district of New York City, he attended New York City public schools and later received an appointment to the U. S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, where he earned a Bachelors of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering in1983. As a naval officer throughout numerous tours of duty at sea, he served aboard a frigate, destroyer, cruiser, and aircraft carrier deploying numerous times to the Mediterranean and Black Seas during the Cold War, to the Pacific, and to the Persian Gulf three times during Operation Desert Shield and Storm. His shore assignments in the Navy included tours as a program manager with the National Reconnaissance Office; as a student at the Naval Postgraduate School, the Naval War College, and the George Washington University; as Director of Training for the Aegis Training and Readiness Center; as a White House Fellow to the Honorable Jack Lew and Sylvia Mathews at OMB in the Executive Office of the President, and as the Senior Military Assistant to the Director for Defense Programs Analysis and Evaluation.

Today, Carlos Del Toro is CEO& President of SBG Technology Solutions, a quickly growing Engineering and Program Management Services Company that he founded in 2004. In 2010, he was recognized by the Small Business Administration as the Small Business Person of the Year in Region III (DC/VA/MD). He continues his public service as the elected President of the White House Fellows Foundation & Alumni Association, and as a Director on the US Chamber of Commerce’s Council on Small Business where he leads the Procurement Committee. He serves on the Board of Visitors of the University of Mary Washington and the Board of Visitors of George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate; and has served as a Director on the Rappahannock Goodwill Industries Board of Directors, as well as on numerous gubernatorial boards in Virginia.

Jim Dyke, Director

Jim Dyke is Senior Advisor, Virginia State Government Relations, for McGuireWoods Consulting. His broad practice covers corporate, legislative, education, governmental relations, and municipal law. He previously served as Virginia’s Secretary of Education under former Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, and as domestic policy advisor to former Vice President Walter Mondale. A former Virginia Secretary of Education, Jim has established a significant regional presence in the business, education and government arenas. Jim was included in Washingtonian magazine's list of "150 Most Powerful People" in the Washington region, the “Power 100” by the Washington Business Journal, and Virginia Business Magazine’s “50 Most Influential Virginians.” Jim has served as chair of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, Fairfax Chamber of Commerce, Northern Virginia Business Roundtable, and the Emerging Business Forum, an organization focused on enhancing minority and women entrepreneurs in business. He has served on various commissions and committees, including the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia (SCHEV), the Governor’s Commission on Economic Development and Job Creation (VA), the Commonwealth Transportation Board, and the WMATA (Metro) Board.

Rod Hall, Director

Rod Hall is a government affairs advisor in the Washington Office of K&L Gates, LLP. His practice focuses on transportation and infrastructure issues. Mr. Hall advises an array of corporate and municipal clients on legislative, political, and regulatory matters before both houses of Congress as well as the Executive Branch. Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Hall was appointed by President Obama to serve as the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) assistant administrator for Government Affairs.

For five years, Mr. Hall served as the principal advisor to two FAA administrators on matters concerning Congress, aviation industry groups, and other governmental organizations. Before joining the Obama Administration, Mr. Hall served as Deputy Chief of Staff to U.S. Representative Eddie Berncie Johnson (D-TX), former chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus. In 2015 Mr. Hall was appointed by Governor Terence R. McAuliffe as a member to the Virginia Aviation Board and subsequently elevated to Chairman in 2016. He also serves as a member of Governor-elect Ralph Northam’s Policy Council on Transportation. Mr. Hall is engaged with the Democratic Party at national, state, and local levels. In 2016 he was elected to serve as a Clinton delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, PA. A graduate of the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership, Mr. Hall resides in  Woodbridge, VA.

Debbie Hughes, Director

Debbie is an executive at the Business-Higher Education Forum (BHEF), a membership association of CEOs and university presidents that engages at the intersection of business and post-secondary education. Her work focuses on aligning the workforce needs of industry with developing talent in emerging fields and has resulted in a nationally recognized framework for building strategic partnerships between business and higher education. Over the past six years Debbie has worked closely with Virginia and the McAuliffe administration, helping define the Commonwealth’s labor market and talent needs around emerging fields such as cybersecurity, data science and analytics, and artificial intelligence and bringing executives from companies like Northrop Grumman and AWS, across different sectors, to invest in building workforce solutions. Debbie has many initiatives with Virginia’s Secretaries of Technology and Education resulting in key activities such as: developing the state’s plan around cybersecurity physical systems, high-profile workshops and conference, and is now tasked with leading the Governor’s Executive Working Group on Smart Communities. Debbie looks forward to bringing her leadership, expertise and get-it-done attitude, working with executives and national leaders to the Council to benefit Northern Virginia and the state.

Sue Langley, Director

Sue Langley served as a Supervisor at the USDA. In that capacity, she managed and motivated dozens of staff economists in a team environment. Sue retired from the Federal government in 2012. She currently owns a small online business. Sue Langley has served two terms (2014-2017) as the Fairfax County Democratic Committee’s Chair. She has been a member the DPVA Central Committee from the 11th Congressional District since 2005. She was elected as a National Delegate for Hillary Clinton in 2008 and for Barack Obama in 2012 and again for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Sue was appointed to Fairfax County’s Small Business Commission.

Education and Training

  • B.S. (Honors) in Economics, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
  • Diploma in National and International Development, Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, The Netherlands
  • M.S. in Economics, Chulalongkorn Univ., Bangkok, Thailand
  • Ph.D. in Economics, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa
  • International Executive Certificate Program in International Finance and Global Capital Markets, McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University.

Larry Roberts, Director

Larry Roberts is currently serving as Chief of Staff in the Office of Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax. Previously, he was a Partner in the Tysons office of the Venable LLP law firm, where he represented clients in areas such as land use, real estate, transportation, technology, communications, and government contracts. He has chaired five successful statewide campaigns in the Commonwealth of Virginia and served as Counselor to the Governor and Chief of Staff to the DNC Chairman. Larry is a long-time DemBiz Board member and officer. In addition, he has served on the Boards of organizations such as the Virginia Public Access Project, the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership, Virginia FREE, NOVABIZPAC, and the Minority Media Telecom & Internet Council. In 2017, Larry was recognized as a Virginia Leader in the Law by Virginia Law Weekly, Pro Bono Attorney of the Year by Venable LLP, and a Distinguished Service Award recipient by the Federal Communications Bar Association.

Bill Sudow, Director

BIll Sudow, founder and partner with Sudow Kohlhagen LLP, has over 35 years of experience representing clients in complex financial transactions, focusing on the representation of regional, national and international institutions in joint ventures and other national real estate transactions and financings, architectural and construction agreements, private equity investments and general business transactions.  He has substantial experience in structured real estate capital markets financing and in dealing with overseas investors, including European and Asian financial institutions, real estate companies, and financial intermediaries in joint ventures and other financial transactions. Bill also serves as the Chief Compliance Officer for Madison Marquette, an integrated real estate investment and operating company focused on infill retail and mixed-use real estate in major markets of the United States. Prior to forming Sudow Kohlhagen LLP, Bill was Head of the Washington Real Estate Practice of Sidley Austin LLP. Earlier in his career, he also served as Special Assistant and Counsel to the House Majority Whip, U.S. Congressman John Brademas. He is currently a member of the Board of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

Donte Tanner, Director

Donte Tanner is the President, CEO, and Founder of the Forward Innovation Group (FIG), LLC. He also serves on the Fairfax County Planning Commission as the Sully District Commissioner. An accomplished and highly motivated Program Manager with almost two decades of experience in Program, Project, and Portfolio Management, Mr. Tanner has a demonstrated proficiency in leading and directing teams in the public and private sector. He has a strong track record of completing projects on time, under budget, and on target both as an Air Force Captain and a Government Contractor. Under his leadership, project teams have applied the Lean Six Sigma approach to increase program efficiencies, reduce cycle delivery timelines, and improve overall communication and collaboration.

During his career, Donte has served as COO for several companies and on the Board of Directors of a Government Contracting firm, helping the company grow from a $5 million a year in revenue to over $140 million in just 6 years. In 2017, Donte was the Democratic nominee running for the Virginia House of Delegates for the 40th District.

Donte was a military brat but has always called Virginia home. He received his Bachelors and Commission as an Air Force Officer from the United States Air Force Academy and his MBA from the University of Phoenix.

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