Economic Opportunity and Prosperity Task Force Members
This 15-member task force will examine a range of topics including workforce support, economic development, education, housing, and transportation.
Leonardo McClarty (co-chair)
Leonardo McClarty is the President/CEO of the Howard County Chamber of Commerce where he is charged with the strategic direction and growth of the 700+ membership organization. His specific duties are largely centered in four distinct areas, organizational leadership and business development, program management, marketing and community relations, and fiscal management. Prior to coming to Howard County, McClarty was the Director of Economic and Community Development for the City of York, PA where he was responsible for promoting the city to the private sector in efforts to foster economic investment and neighborhood redevelopment. Within his purview were the Bureaus of Economic Development, Health, Housing, and Planning-Permits-Zoning. A native of the Atlanta area, McClarty served as the President/CEO of the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce for nearly 10 years. A career economic development professional, McClarty has also worked for the City of Roswell, GA, DeKalb County, GA, and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. He holds an undergraduate degree in Political Science from Furman University and a graduate degree in City and Regional Planning from Clemson University. He is a Certified Chamber of Commerce Executive (CCE) though the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE), Certified Economic Development Finance Professional through the National Development Council (NDC), and is a graduate of the US Chamber’s Institute for Organization Management. McClarty is married to Shaneka McClarty, his wife of 13 years and they have three daughters, Sage (9) and identical twins Sydney and Sarai (4).
Phyllis Madachy (co-chair)
Phyllis Madachy has lived in Howard County for over 40 years with a career focused on improving community services for older adults and their families. In Howard County Government, she has served as Administrator of the Office on Aging, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, and Director of the Department of Community Resources and Services. With The Coordinating Center, she was Vice President of Aging and Health. Currently, she serves on the boards of the Association of Community Services and Winter Growth Adult Day Care; on the Executive Committee of the Paul R. Willging Endowment at Howard Community College; and is active with Leadership Howard County. In her retirement, she is involved in workforce development efforts on a statewide basis to develop career pathways for direct care and paraprofessional workers wanting to serve older adults and persons with disabilities.
Ali Abidi has been a Howard County resident, student, and advocate for over 10 years. He has a Master of Science degree in Cybersecurity and is a Cybersecurity specialist at the Internal Revenue Service. He is also the current president of Howard County Muslim Council (HCMC) where he advocates for Inter and Intra religious unity, understanding, and cooperation. In the past, he had served as an executive for a start-up called Global Parcel Services in the technology and logistics space. He has also served as Youth Coordinator at his Mosque where he oversaw and participated in various community service programs throughout Maryland. Ali hopes to bring his passion for improving businesses and lives through technology as a member of this vital task force.
Ana Cisneros, is an Information and Referral Outreach Coordinator for FIRN. She has a good rapport with the immigrant community, working primarily with the Hispanic community as a trusted advocate. Ana is known by clients to treat them with respect and compassion and so they are willing to share their most guarded experiences, hardships, and traumas, that they don’t feel comfortable sharing with others. For that reason, she will be able to share invaluable information about the immigrant community in Howard County. Prior to working at FIRN, Ana worked in a Bethesda law firm as an advocate for Veterans in the USA and Puerto Rico, helping them get the benefits they deserved.
Anne Brinker has been a Howard County resident for 11 years and is the Vice President of Community Action Council of Howard County (CAC), Howard County’s designated anti-poverty organization. Prior to joining CAC, Anne served as the Director of Strategic Organizational Planning for the Columbia Association. Anne currently serves on the Board of Leadership Howard County. Before moving to Howard County, Anne worked with and advocated for low-income and at risk populations in New York City, Los Angeles, and El Paso, Texas. Anne brings strategic planning experience as well as knowledge of best practices and unique approaches to creating economic opportunity for households through system coordination and partnerships.
Betty Noble is the Associate Dean and Director of the Center for Entrepreneurial & Business Excellence Business Computer Systems Division of Howard Community College (HCC). Betty brings to the table 15 years of working in Howard County supporting innovation and business start-up through her work at HCC. She is also a practicing executive coach working with for profit and non-profit executives in the County and elsewhere. She hopes to bring her knowledge and experience in helping businesses start as well as her skills in working with people to support actionable conversations about economic opportunity for all citizens of the County.
Gopi Suri has been a Howard County resident for the past 12 years. His background is in information technology services and he has worked as Chief Information Officer/Chief Technology Officers for various small and midsize companies in a career spanning 20 years. He is an active member of Maryland Tech Council and Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO) of Maryland and has mentored several technology startup companies. He is a passionate community leader and entrepreneur, who founded an IT services company and a non-profit organization in Howard County to solve sanitation challenges in developing and under developed countries. He is also a cofounder of Indian Origin Network of Howard County and promotes cultural and political connect with Indian origin community. Gopi also volunteers in several professional associations and helps find job opportunities for University of Maryland graduates and undergraduate students. He lives with his wife and two children that go to middle and high schools in Ellicott City.
Jason Jannati is a Columbia native and an entrepreneur in the clean tech space. Jason's goal is to redevelop real estate to produce clean power and clean food. Jason currently works with Power52 Energy Solutions with a mission to provide workforce training and job opportunities to "at risk" populations by way of developing clean energy assets. He enjoys people to work in the communities where these projects reside. Jason currently lives in Columbia with his wife Carly and is proud to raise his children in this community.
Jay Parekh has been a Howard County resident for 24 years and has worked in the County for last 33 years. He is a professional engineer with a background in land development and is currently President of KloudData, Inc., a small business in information technology field. Jay has been member of the Board of Directors for Howard County Economic Development, a Rotarian, and volunteer with number of other organizations to make Howard County a place to live and do business.
Kim Flowers is an Ellicott City resident, wife and mother of two, realtor, and President & CEO of Flowers Public Engagement & Consulting, LLC. Kim's prior experience includes serving as the Deputy Director of Howard County's Department of Planning and Zoning and the Director of Recreation and Parks for Baltimore City and the District of Columbia. She is active in the Howard County community, serving as the Housing Chair for Howard County NAACP, delegate to the Howard County PTA Council, and member of the PTA at Northfield Elementary.
Larry Twele has been a resident of Elkridge for over 20 years and is CEO of the Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA) where he leads the team responsible for economic development, business growth, and innovation strategy for the County. Before joining the HCEDA, he was the Director of the Carroll County Department of Economic Development and held leadership positions in the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.
Larry has served as the President of the Maryland Economic Development Association and the MEDA Foundation and where his focus was on furthering the nexus between economic development and economic opportunity for the state’s residents. Larry holds a Master's Degree of Business Administration from Loyola University, Maryland and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management from the University of Maryland. He earned Certified Economic Developer credentials in March 2009.
Marianne Brackney has been a Howard County resident since 1992 and she is a well-known and highly regarded community advocate. Professionally, Marianne is an experienced federal employee and her expertise include Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) issues and limited English proficient communities. Marianne is very passionate about community service. As President of the Korean American Women’s Society, she motivates and mobilizes DMV area Korean/Asian American community leaders and members for civic engagement, ranging from citizenship drives, benefit education days, and career summit for college students and young professionals. She served as Vice Chair for the Maryland Governor’s Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs and currently serves as a Commissioner for the Maryland Commission for Women. Marianne hopes that her unique background and expertise will provide a balanced approach to include culturally and linguistically sensitive AAPI community.
Paul K. Casey has resided in Ellicott City since 1985. Paul retired from the law firm of Ballard Spahr LLP in 2015, where he was a partner for over 20 years and the Practice Co-Leader of the firm's Housing Group concentrating his practice in the area of mixed-finance affordable housing development. He was actively involved in hundreds of such transactions across the country, including representing the New York City Housing Authority in one of the largest public-private affordable housing partnerships ever undertaken resulting in the modernization of more than 14,000 public housing units. Mr. Casey served as a member of the HOPE VI Work Group, established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to advise HUD on the development of revised Total Development Cost Guidelines and the Cost Control and Safe Harbor Standards for Rental Mixed-Finance Development. Earlier in his legal career Paul was appointed Assistant Attorney General of Maryland and served as Counsel to the Maryland Community Development Administration and the Maryland Department of Economic and Community Development. During his years of practice, Paul served as a member of the Maryland Code Revision Commission, Housing Laws Subcommittee, on the board of the Maryland Affordable Housing Trust, and on the Howard County Community Development Board. He also helped to establish the Columbia Downtown Housing Corporation and has served as its President since 2012. Paul has a Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia School of Law, a Master's Degree in Government from the University of Virginia and a Bachelor of Arts Degree from St. Anselm College.
Maddy Halbach, PhD, NBCT
Dr. Maddy Halbach is the Academy of Finance instructor for the Howard County Public School System in Maryland. For the past 15 years, Dr. Halbach has taught economics, business, and finance courses to high school students. She is recognized as the Maryland Financial Literacy Teacher of the Year for 2016 and the 2017 Teacher of the Year for Howard County. Dr. Halbach has written and taught a synchronous video program on financial literacy, co-written an online financial literacy course for the State of Maryland, and trained teachers nationwide on financial literacy courses. She has been a guest speaker for financial literacy scholarship awards, economic council events, and has presented at several national and state conferences on financial literacy. She believes “financial literacy will reduce the achievement and socio-economic gaps for students”. Dr. Halbach’s students have competed and won state and national competitions in personal finance, and regional stock market games, and state investwrite. Helping high school students become aware of financial literacy and implementing these skills is a passion that drives Dr. Halbach to work in her community. She volunteers at various financial literacy events in the county, and works with non-profit organizations to increase outreach in the area of financial literacy.
Bio coming soon!