Staff and Board
Thrive DC Staff
Alicia Horton, Executive Director
Alicia joined Thrive DC in 2009. A recognized expert in community rehabilitation and social justice, Alicia has a JD from the Columbus School of Law at Catholic University and a MPH from Tulane University’s School of Public Health. She previously served as Director of Community Mobilization and National Constituencies for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and Executive Director of Health Education and Enrichment Resources, a youth services organization she founded in New Orleans. In 2006, Alicia was appointed to the Howard University Institution-Wide Review Board for the Protection of Human Subjects. She has received numerous honors throughout her career including the DC Chief of Police Special Award for Community Service and the Columbus School of Law “Extra Mile Award” for significant contributions to the community.
Terrence Brown, Executive Chef
Terrence joined Thrive DC in 2009. His illustrious career has included cooking for hotels, nursing homes, and other entities. For the last 10 years Terrence has operated his own catering business and in 1982, Terrence was named one of the top 75 chefs in Washington DC while working at the Marriot Wardman Park Hotel. Terrence has applied his culinary talents to the preparation of fine cuisine for a host of celebrities and dignitaries throughout the Washington Metropolitan area. At Thrive DC, Terrence oversees menu development, meals preparation, Emergency Pantry distribution and kitchen volunteer coordination.
Jessica Macleod, Director of Social Services
Jessica completed a BSW at Salisbury University, MD, after which she joined the Peace Corps and worked on health issues in Paraguay. Upon returning to the US she earned a MSW at Boston University, where she began working with homeless individuals as the manager of a family shelter program in a women’s shelter in Cambridge, MA. In Wilmington, DE, Jessica managed a drop-in center for the homeless and was a therapist in the Delaware Correctional System. Since moving to the DC area, Jessica has directed a homeless services program offering case management, housing, and health and mental health services. As Director of Social Services, Jessica gives direction to Thrive DC’s Social Services programming and provides clinical supervision to Thrive DC’s Social Services staff.
Jennifer Paul, Director of Development
Jennifer has spent her career of 20 years helping advance child welfare, conservation and social justice causes. After serving as the Director of Membership for the Ocean Conservancy where she oversaw membership and donor programs for 10 years, Jennifer started a non-profit consulting business specializing in annual fund planning, donor program development, direct marketing and strategic communications. She assisted clients ranging from start-ups to major national organizations. As Thrive DC’s Development Director, Jennifer works with Board Members, staff, donors, volunteers and partners to build a community that will sustain and grow our programs into the future.
Clinton Haughton, Sous Chef
Clinton brings over 20 years of experience working in a variety of culinary atmospheres. His expertise includes high-end catering, management and working for a number of different college and university culinary programs in the immediate area. Clinton’s broad knowledge of a variety of different ethnic foods and cuisines allows our clients to enjoy a range of healthy, well prepared meals from all over the world.
Michael Ocean, Administrative Assistant
Michael has served in administrative positions for more than 20 years working in the Air Force and many non-profit organizations. Prior to joining Thrive DC, Michael worked at an alternative high school in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Michael has lived in Washington, DC for 12 years and was drawn to the non-profit sector by a desire to give back to the community and serve in the public interest. At Thrive DC, Michael handles a wide range of administrative and office management responsibilities.
Trenett Smith, Evening Program Coordinator/Case Manager
Trenett joined Thrive DC in 2008. She has been in the mental health and social services fields for the past 11 years, specializing in homeless, mentally ill, physically disabled, and aging populations. Trenett also brings experience in crisis intervention, case management, housing, and group counseling. Most recently, she served as a Residential Counselor for Angel Watch Shelter of the Catholic Charities where she worked with homeless survivors of domestic violence. She has also gained clinical social work skills during her employment as a Social Worker’s Assistant with Bradford Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Clinton, Maryland.
Sean has been working with Thrive since 2012. A native of Washington, DC Sean brings over 15 years of security experience to Thrive DC. In addition to helping secure a safe and comfortable environment for all of our community members, Sean enjoys working with fellow staff to engage and support the various social services offered daily. When not at Thrive DC, Sean enjoys following all Washington sports teams and is a movie buff.
JemahlNixon, Employment Specialist/Case Manager
Jemahl joined Thrive DC in 2013. He has a solid background helping people with employment, having worked for a variety of companies assisting people in finding jobs and learning life skills. Jemahl enjoys being able to help individuals attain employment and personal goals, getting them from where they are to where they want to be. When he’s not at Thrive DC, Jemahl enjoys cooking as well as outdoor activities.
Herbert Brown, Morning Program Coordinator
Herbert joined the Thrive DC team in 2013. He graduated from the Art Institute of Washington and his work experience includes working at Martha’s Table as well as working free lance for several companies. He likes the environment of Thrive DC as well as the clients and his co-workers. Outside of Thrive DC, Herbert enjoys illustrating, painting, skateboarding, and cooking.
Nicole began at Thrive DC in 2014 and is originally from Detroit, Michigan. Following graduation she moved to Tennessee where she began work in the criminal justice field, with both juveniles and adults. During her time in Tennessee, Nicole developed a passion for empowering others to take control of their lives. Nicole brings a unique perspective to Thrive DC and she is now dedicated to helping those in need and providing guidance to formerly incarcerated women. In her spare time, Nicole enjoys reading, writing, cooking, eating, lots of laughter, and more eating.
Olga Skenderska, Development Associate
Olga initially started as a volunteer at Thrive DC, and after graduating from Argosy University with a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership, she joined Thrive DC Staff as the Development Associate. Olga is interested in Non-Profit management, and is passionate about serving others. She believes that working at Thrive DC would give her an opportunity to serve the most vulnerable people in our community.
Brenna Shanahan, Program Assistant
Originally from Plymouth, MA, Brenna joins Thrive DC with her B.A in Psychology from The Catholic University of America. In addition to her background in Psychology, she has acquired Spanish speaking abilities through her minor in Spanish studies as well as her study abroad program in Spain. She has experience in working with developmentally challenged adults through the Best Buddies chapter at her college in addition to a broad assortment of therapy practices through her internship at The Viva Center. All of her advising and mentoring experience allows her to communicate and connect well with our clients. She is really enjoying working at Thrive DC where she is taught meaningful lessons each day.
Greg Rockwell, Volunteer Coordinator
Greg completed a master of social work at University of South Carolina in 2012. For the past five years, he has worked in low income housing and coordinated thousands of volunteers. He gained a lot of experience including volunteer management, strategic planning, and program management etc. by working at different organizations. He also ran his own center named Whitefield Commons Community Center, which provides after school tutoring program, food distribution, and case management in Arlington, VA. As the sole staff, he cooperated with volunteers and oversaw four different programs serving over 300 community members. His results helped secure a three-year grant from Freddie Mac. His passion is ending poverty, so he is excited about his new journey with Thrive DC.
Louise Fix, AM/PM Program Associate
Louise has a major in Biology with a minor in Psychology and Music from Whitman College at Walla Walla, WA. She has diverse experience on education and researching in the fields of biomedical and biotechnology. She also worked at SOS Free Health Clinic to spread cancer prevention awareness. Ultimately, she is interested in pursuing a career in public health. In her spare time, she enjoys running, dancing and playing musical instruments. She is very happy to join at Thrive DC!
For the past 14 years Samantha has been working on and managing international development projects in Latin America. She is the Director of Business Development at DevTech, an international development firm based in Arlington, VA. Samantha has served as the Deputy Director of Policy Reform and Conflict Resolution programs in Colombia and Venezuela and has managed large multi-million dollar grants programs in a number of countries. She has worked throughout Latin America, Africa, Russia and Ukraine. She earned an MSc in Social Policy and Planning in Developing Countries, from the London School of Economics, and a B.A. in International Affairs and Economics from the George Washington University. In addition to a strong back ground fundraising and grant management, Samantha is fluent in Spanish.
Kate is head of communications and marketing for venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates (NEA), where she leads the development and execution of NEA’s global communications strategy and provides strategic counsel to many of the firm’s portfolio of technology and healthcare companies. She previously held communications and project management roles at MedImmune (acquired by AstraZeneca PLC), The Kroger Co., and The E. W. Scripps Company. Kate began her career as a correspondent for the Cincinnati Enquirer after earning her bachelor’s degree in English/Journalism at Miami University.
Jules is a corporate attorney with volunteer experience that includes work with The Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless and AARP Legal Counsel for the Elderly. Jules has held various positions in non-profit organizations, including as a clinical therapist and manager of a community mental health center and researcher for The Carter Center – Mental Health and Global Development Initiative programs. He received a BA in International Studies from Morehouse College, a MSW and MA in International Studies from the University of Denver, and a JD from the University of Connecticut. Jules resides in Washington, DC with his wife and two children.
Toya Carmichael, Secretary
Toya Carmichael is an attorney with the Department of Veterans Affairs. A graduate of Georgetown Law Center, Toya has has served the underrepresented in the areas of Civil Rights and Criminal Law. In the community, Toya works with teen mothers by coordinating parenting classes for YoungLives DC and as a missionary at her church. Her passion to serve the most vulnerable in our community and her young son’s compassion for the homeless led Toya to Thrive DC where she hopes to inspire other young professionals to lend their time, talent, and resources to assist homeless families in Washington, D.C.
As the founder and principal broker of Towne Residential, Kathleen brings nearly 15 years of real estate expertise and an extensive background in technology and finance to serve clients across the Washington, DC Metropolitan region. Kathleen is also a managing partner in Cityscape Development, a DC-based residential real estate developer. She holds bachelor’s degrees in Business Administration and Information Systems Management from the University of Maryland. In addition to working with Thrive DC, Kathleen is an active supporter of the Children’s National Medical Center, Whitman Walker Clinic and The Sitar Center. A long-time Washingtonian who has called many of the District’s neighborhoods home, she currently resides in Crestwood with her husband and two children.
Steven Groeninger is the Senior Director of Communications and Marketing for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. In this role, he is responsible for all communications functions including media outreach, public relations and advertising, and external messaging. He serves as the primary manager of the organization’s brands across all channels. Additionally, he is responsible for managing the organization’s public-facing marketing initiatives including multi-channel direct-response programs and retail operations. A seasoned veteran with over 20 years of experience in the communications and marketing fields, Mr. Groeninger has worked with many organizations, businesses and corporations helping them market causes and/or sell products or services. He has helped small organizations raise millions of dollars by building strong donor files and increased revenues, and his strategic approach has helped businesses and corporations promote products and services with extensive success. Mr. Groeninger brings a strong communications discipline to the Memorial Fund, helping the organization raise awareness for its mission through media outreach and management by placing hundreds of stories in print, television, radio, and online media outlets. He champions the Memorial Fund’s mission by guiding the organization’s burgeoning new media initiatives including event webcasts, social media, and overall management of the organization’s website. An active member of the Direct Marketing Association of Washington and a frequent presenter at the Direct Marketing Association’s Nonprofit Federation conferences, Mr. Groeninger is also active in local and national communications and marketing communities.
Sierra is the lead for Nonprofit and Association Industry Services business development at Aronson, LLC in Rockville, MD. Originally from Norfolk, VA, Sierra has been an active volunteer since childhood, beginning as a Girl Scout, through her commitment to service-based sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha and beyond. Sierra continues to work with nonprofit organizations both in the capacity of her current employment and as a part of her commitment to serve the community. She is excited to join Thrive DC and return to her roots as she began her career as an intern at the Virginia Organizing Project, a social welfare organization, during her undergraduate studies obtaining a B.S. in Commerce from The University of Virginia.
Dr. Clara B. Lee
Dr. Clara B. Lee began volunteering for Thrive DC in 2010, picking up fresh food from the Farmer’s Markets and serving meals during the dinner program. Her background includes over 25 years of experience consulting to the Department of Defense. After developing management expertise in Fortune 500 companies, Clara decided to follow her passion and founded C.B. Lee Consulting Group, LLC in 2012 to partner with minority women and small businesses. As a transformation consultant, Clara leverages career development and strategic planning techniques to help women and small businesses conceptualize and implement tactics to achieve high performance. Clara received a BS in Social Work from Jackson State University, a MSA/Public Administration from Central Michigan University, and a Doctor of Management in Organizational Leadership from the University of Phoenix. Clara also holds professional certifications in Project Management, Contract Management, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.
Camille Gratch Martone
Camille works part time as a kids’ yoga instructor at Circle Yoga in DC and at Janney Elementary School also in DC. She also volunteers in the Woodrow Wilson High School library and College and Career Center. Camille also sits on three other boards: the Circle Yoga board, where she is helping in their transition to a Cooperative organization, the Notebusters board, where she helps with community outreach for the after-school music program, and the Friends of the Tenley Library board, where she co-chairs the authors committee to find interesting local authors to speak at the library. Camille graduated from Catholic University with a BS in Architecture.
Laura Phelan Wilson, Treasurer
A 1996 Teach for America corps member in California, Laura brings 15 years of experience in the non-profit and governmental sectors. Laura is currently the Chief Operating Officer for the Flamboyan Foundation, a family foundation with the mission to improve public education in Washington DC and Puerto Rico. She has worked at the U.S. Agency for International Development, Department of State, U.S. House of Representatives, the Peace Corps, and in the Washington think tank community. Previously, Laura was a founding senior leader at Teach For All, where she helped create and implement foundational policies across the organization, ranging from human resources to budget to program. At Teach For All, Laura was responsible for managing a team of 25 across 18 countries, and, during her tenure, delivered the highest staff satisfaction rates across the organization. Teach For All was launched in 2007 to support social entrepreneurs around the world to adapt the Teach For America model to their local contexts. Laura holds a Masters in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a bachelor’s degree in Politics from Wake Forest University. She is the proud mother of twin three-year old girls, who test her management skills every day.
Nick Rosenbach, President
Nick began working with the homeless in 2003 as a volunteer at Miriam’s Kitchen & Charlie’s Place as one of their dining room coordinators. He joined the Thrive DC staff in 2010 as the Morning Program Coordinator, where he initiated Thrive’s first art therapy program. Although Nick left the staff in 2011, he maintains a constant presence at Thrive volunteering weekly. Nick has also been a longtime basic literacy advocate, working with the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia and with incarcerated adults in the city’s detention center as a reading and GED instructor.
Rochelle Sanchirico, Vice President
Rochelle is a marketing professional with a passion for developing successful communities. She is currently the Director of Digital Marketing for The Washington Post, and is responsible for all marketing activities for The Washington Post’s digital and mobile products. With a purview spanning B2C and B2B marketing, she drives visitors, engagement and revenue using various channel marketing strategies, including paid and organic search, online display, out-of-home, broadcast and social media. Rochelle brings an extensive marketing background from her time at Kaplan (a division of The Washington Post Company), where she held marketing roles in their corporate, K-12, and higher education divisions. Prior to this, she held international rights positions in the book publishing industry for several years. Rochelle received her MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and her BS in Geology and BA in English from the University of Michigan. Rochelle resides in Herndon, Virginia with her husband and daughter.
Cathy Harris, General Counsel
Cathy Harris is an attorney with the law firm of Kator, Parks & Weiser, PLLC, in Washington D.C. She has been practicing employment law since 1999, representing individuals in matters including sexual harassment, discrimination and other employment-related matters. Cathy is a co-manager and member of the firm. She previously worked as an Assistant District Attorney in New York. She obtained her law degree at the George Washington University Law School, and attended Brown University for undergraduate studies. Cathy currently serves as General Counsel to the Board of Directors.
Interns and Assistants
Jihyo You, Development Intern
Jihyo joined Thrive DC through her overseas internship program sponsored by the Korean government. Through her previous volunteering experience with NGOs, such as educating students on health and nutrition in Vietnam and guiding mental challenged youth, she had an interest in working for people in need. Her favorite saying is ‘A day without laughter is a day wasted’ by Charles Chaplin. She is always looking forward to the day when everyone in the world enjoys their lives and feels happy with a big smile.
Garrett Riou, Social Service Intern
Garrett was born and raised in Texas and he is finishing his Bachelor of Social Work from The University of Texas at Austin. He joined Thrive DC through his internship and academic fellowship program from his school. Garrett was engaged in variety of projects, which enabled him to deepen his major knowledge and horn his leadership skills. His work experience includes working at Center for American Progress, LGBT Department. By researching and writing about diverse issues affecting LGBT Americans, such as homelessness, voter ID laws, and school-to-prison pipeline, he got an interest in LGBT issues. He loves the city and the people of Washington, DC and is enjoying working for the clients at Thrive DC!
Cristian Perez, Social Service Intern
She was born and raised in Saltillo Coahuila, Mexico. She joined Thrive DC through her internship program at The Washington Center while she is working on a bachelor degree in marketing. She has always been interested in supporting services for her community, such as the crusade against hunger in Mexico, and has been a volunteer in several organizations in her country. Christian also loves the state of Texas, and she really enjoys exploring the capital of the United States.