Our board and staff

Biliana Borimetchkova
Founder and Executive Director

Biliana is a founder of Karina Association and created the executive leadership team in September, 2011. She leads the Board of Directors, designs the therapy program, develops fundraising strategy, organizes special events, recruits volunteers, and leads public relations efforts. She was born in Bulgaria and now lives in Baltimore, Maryland. Biliana has a Master's Degree in Fine Arts and Fashion Design from Bulgarian National Art Academy. In Bulgaria, she worked as a Costume Designer for the Bulgarian National Film Studio. Biliana came to the United States in 1991 to study at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts. She graduated with a major in Christian theology, and started a ministry with Slavic immigrants in the Baltimore-Washington metro area. Soon after, Biliana was affected deeply by the documentary, Bulgaria’s Abandoned Children created by BBC journalist, Kate Blewett. It moved her to start a children’s ministry in her native country to help abandoned and disabled children. She established the non-profit organization, Karina Association, in 2009, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization to make the public aware of the critical situation of the forgotten children in state institutions in Bulgaria. She helped move 25 of these children into small group homes there to give them a better future. Back in the USA, Biliana became a personal caregiver to a young 19 years old girl in Towson, Maryland. Her work with disabled young adults has inspired her to start a special program with Expressive Arts Therapy for families with disabled children here in the Baltimore area. Currently Karina's services are based in Baltimore County, Maryland where the program reaches children, youth and young adults with disabilities. These are individuals mostly from moderate to low income families and from single parent families. Karina is the only non-profit organization in Maryland that practices the multi-disciplinary Expressive Arts Therapy Model offering services of Art, Music, Dance/Movement, Drama/Theater, Poetry and Storytelling. 

Alan Stein, CPA

 Treasurer 

Alan is a Senior Manager at Gorfine, Schiller & Gardyn, P.A., a local public accounting firm, where he manages audits and other attest engagements, with a focus on the not-for-profit sector. He has a BS in Accounting from Yeshiva University’s Sy Syms School of Business and is a CPA. Alan and his wife, Shoshi, live in Pikesville and have four wonderful children. He joined Karina because he is looking for an opportunity to contribute to the growth of an Organization meeting an important need in our community.

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Joshua Heller
Board of Directors

Josh is a Senior Consultant at Clearview Group in Owings Mills. At Clearview, Josh specializes in internal audit, Sarbanes-Oxley Compliance and Consulting, IT Audit and internal control testing, risk management consulting, and internal control process implementation and improvement. Josh also has extensive external audit experience in financial statement audits, financial statement reviews, financial statement compilations, agreed-upon procedures, fraud investigation audits, and employee benefit plan audits. Josh graduated Cum Laude from Towson University with his BS in Accounting in 2012. Josh is also the Treasurer and a member of the Leadership Committee of the Red Shoe Crew of the Ronald McDonald House of Maryland. When not volunteering time at local not-for-profits or playing softball, Josh enjoys spending time with his son, Jaxson, and wife, Rumi.

William Rhodes
Co-Founder/Horticulturist,
IT Director and Direct Support Professional

William graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University with a BS Degree in Horticulture in 1979. After college Rhodes worked for the Virginia Dept of Agriculture for 4 years then worked as a Horticulturist for 4 years. In 1987 Will went to work for USDA for 10 years. In 1997 Will served as President of Global Solar and Electric where he worked for 10 years designing and installing Photo-voltaic solar systems throughout Maryland. More recently Rhodes spent 15 months in Afghanistan with the Foreign Agricultural Service. At this time Will holds a Secret level Security Clearance. He started as a volunteer in our organization because he has a passion for helping children with disabilities.

In Afghanistan he assisted children who needed medical aid with their physical disabilities. He also saw a real need for an intensive Master Gardening model that is one of the most effective methods in giving a child the maximum opportunity to make developmental, functional, and behavioral gains early in life. William strives to create real and lasting relationships with families affected by disabilities in our community and provide a network of support to all.

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Olivia Putnam
BOD and Advocate

Hi! I’m Olivia-- I like to be called Liv for short. I enjoy painting, DIYing, hiking, and writing poetry. I have autism, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), early childhood trauma, dissociative identity disorder (DID), dyslexia, and bipolar disorder. Because of what I go through with my mental illnesses, my poetry is often about spreading knowledge and awareness about mental illnesses and neurodiversity and my artwork promotes positive messages about peace, love, and unity. I often teach the participants at Karina painting techniques. I also help the participants at Karina by encouraging them and boosting their confidence so they can achieve their goals. Also, I like to advocate for them when they can’t do it themselves. During my time at Karina, I gained a family and a home and because of that, it’s important to me that all the participants know that I’m there for them and have their back!

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Azalia Hernandez,
Direct Support Professional

Azalia earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Family Science from the University of Maryland, College Park. She is currently working on obtaining a Doctorate of Occupational Therapy from Towson University, expected in May of 2022. She loves occupational therapy because it is all about helping people do the things that matter most to them so they can fully engage in daily life and live a meaningful life. Azalia is passionate about working with different cultural groups in the community. She hopes to do research and find ways to serve the needs of various cultural groups as an occupational therapist. She has experience working with adults on the autism spectrum through programs such as Itineris and the Hussman Center for Adults with Autism. Azalia is a Direct Support Professional for Karina Association and is excited to provide meaningful activities for participants. She enjoys going hiking, spending time at the beach, and eating tasty foods.

John Williams

President

John was a Vice President at T. Rowe Price, one of the world’s largest asset managers, where he was responsible for evaluating the firm’s investment opportunities in the Consumer Staples sector. Prior to T. Rowe Price, John worked at Legg Mason Capital Management and First Annapolis Consulting. He has a BS in Financial Economics from UMBC and an MBA with Honors from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. John and his wife, Carolyn, have two beautiful children, Nathan and Emily. He joined Karina because he is passionate about giving back to those in need and wants to use his business skills to help grow the organization.

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Mary Susan Donhauser

Board of Directors

Mary Susan Donhauser is Chief Human Resources Officer and Director of SC&H Group, an accounting and consulting firm located in Sparks, MD.  Mary Susan has been with the firm  for more than eight years and works to establish a supportive culture while recruiting and retaining talent. She is focused on creating volunteer opportunities and leads the firm’s training program, SC&H University, where employees develop their technical and professional development skills.  Prior to joining SC&H, Mary Susan was the Director of Professional Development for Legg Mason.  She received her Bachelor of Science degree from Towson University and an Associate of Arts degree from Villa Julie College (now Stevenson University).  Mary Susan resides in Timonium, MD with her husband Brian and son Luke.

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Ben Fertig
 
Board of Directors

Ben graduated from Brandeis University with a B.A. in Biology and then from University of Maryland with a Ph.D. in Marine, Estuarine and Environmental Science. This was followed by a postdoc position at Rutgers University, teaching at the Community College of Baltimore County and later affiliation with the Ronin Institute. His academic research focused on using plants and animals as indicators of and changes in overall ecosystem health in estuaries including Chesapeake Bay, Barnegat Bay-Little Egg Harbor, and Maryland’s Coastal Bays. He has taught Physical Geography at the Community College of Baltimore County and currently teaches Introduction to Biology, Geographic Information Systems, and Foundations of Service Learning at Stevenson University. The service-learning course blends academic learning and volunteerism. From 2018-2020 Ben was the Community Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator at Irvine Nature Center, a nonprofit committed to environmental education. In addition to serving on the Board at Karina Association, he is the 2020-2021 President of the Atlantic Estuarine Research Society and sits on the governing board of the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation and actively volunteers with a number of nonprofit organizations. Ben is particularly excited to be a part of the Karina Association because of his experiences interacting with students in the PSFALs and similar programs that volunteer(ed) at Irvine Nature Center. There, he expanded opportunities to increase diversity – including neurodiversity – in the volunteer pool and to expand the types of activities that volunteers could participate in as best suited their time, interest and talents. Ben lives in the Pikesville area with his wife, soon-to-be three children, and cat. He enjoys reading history and science fiction, hiking in all weather, and crosswords.

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Kelly Dempsey

Quality Assurance Chair and BOD

Kelly is Chief Executive Officer/President and Registered Nurse (RN) at Dimensional Health Care Associates, Inc (DHCA).  DHCA has provided nursing supports to people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in Maryland for 30 years.  Prior to becoming an RN, Kelly worked as a Direct Support Professional for adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, at both The Arc Carroll County and Target Community & Educational Services, Inc.  Throughout her childhood and currently, Kelly volunteers for community agencies supporting people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.  Kelly has a BSN in Nursing and two children, Devin and Courtney.  She joined Karina because she believes strongly in Karina’s mission and the advocacy of people with disabilities.

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Paz Leckie

Program Coordinator

Paz is the Program Coordinator at the Karina Association who has been working with children and adults with developmental and physical disabilities since the age of 17 with Intervention INK LLC, providing support for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. After being diagnosed with epilepsy while attending the University of Delaware on scholarship, Leckie became an advocate and volunteer for the Chesapeake Region’s Epilepsy Foundation, assisting with running events, attending conferences and speaking engagements with government and medical professionals, and providing resources and education to the community in regards to seizure first-aid and dismantling the stigmas that are associated with epilepsy. Leckie later obtained a position at Abilities Network through the Epilepsy Foundation where she continued her work in the disability community as a Community Support Professional, providing both community and employment supports. Through the Karina Association, Paz is passionate about continuing her work in further fostering the inclusion and acceptance of those with disabilities in the community, allowing them to live a fulfilled and successful life both socially and in the workplace.

 
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Tony Lawson
Advisory Board

After enlisting in the United States Marine Corp, Rev. Tony Lawson worked for the United States Government while attending Pennsylvania State University and earned his college degrees from United Christian Bible Seminary, Southern Baptist Seminary and in 2012 from Liberty University. Rev Lawson is a member of the Baltimore Alumni Chapter of Liberty University, member of The National Council on Independent Living, United States Delegate of WIN (World Independent Network), Commissioner for Baltimore County and former member of the Maryland State Rehabilitation Council. In August of 2015 Rev. Lawson was appointed by the Governor of the State of Maryland Lawrence J. Hogan Jr to the Maryland Statewide Independent Living Council where he served as the first African American chairman.  He currently holds the position of Chairman of The Veterans Committee (NCIL) in Washington, DC.  Rev. Lawson is responsible for every religion and denomination in Maryland for those who are living with disabilities. Rev. Lawson travels across Maryland, works with The White House, Annapolis State Senate and House of Representatives.