The University System of Maryland at Southern Maryland is pleased to announce its new Board of Advisors: Dr. Christine Bergmark, Dr. Bernard Jackson, Dr. Maria Navarro, Ms. Julie Oberg, Mr. Jason Szklany, Dr. Johnnie Taylor, and Dr. Andrae Townsel.
“We are thrilled to have these seven outstanding individuals join the board in leading and guiding the mission and work at USMSM,” said Dr. Eileen Abel, Executive Director. “They bring a wealth of knowledge and experience which will undoubtedly contribute to our continued growth.”
Dr. Christine Bergmark
Dr. Christine Bergmark has over 30 years of experience working in economic and business development, research, and education, both nationally and internationally. She currently is the CEO/President of the St. Mary’s County Chamber of Commerce. Through her consulting practice, she has provided strategic planning, legislative analysis and recommendations, and innovative solutions for economic, community, and leadership development. Additionally, she is an active mediator, trainer, and facilitator for institutions, non-profits, and individuals.
Previously, she spent 16 years as the Executive Director of the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission where she was responsible for developing and implementing the Maryland tobacco transition program for the State of Maryland. Prior to her work with SMADC, Dr. Bergmark was the Science Advisor for the United States Agency for International Development and a Peace Corps Volunteer.
Among other efforts, Dr. Bergmark is a co-founder of the Chesapeake Public Charter School, serves on the St. Mary’s County Arts Council and co-owns Even’ Star Organic Farm.
Dr. Bernard Jackson
Dr. Bernard Jackson brings more than 20 years of leadership experience to the USMSM Board of Advisors. He currently serves as President and CEO of Leading Edge Solutions, where his focus is leadership development, human capital management and process improvement. He also specializes in improving workforce diversification and expanding Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) outreach programs.
Previously, Dr. Jackson served as a Financial Planner for the Department of the Navy, where he provided financial guidance and developed resource planning strategies to meet acquisition program requirements. He also served as a General Associate for Strategic Insights, where he led a team of experts to streamline military operations and establish best practices for human capital management.
During his time with the US Navy, he served as Deputy Director of Military Plan and Policy, Chief of Naval Operations, and as Commanding Officer. He received many medals for meritorious service, commendation, distinguished service, and achievement.
Dr. Maria Navarro
Maria V. Navarro, Ed.D., is a veteran educator who has served in various teaching and leadership roles in Maryland, Delaware, and Washington, D.C. Prior to being appointed as superintendent of Charles County Public Schools, Navarro was an education consultant working to support school systems and government agencies to improve learning opportunities for young people. Dr. Navarro was the chief academic officer for Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) in Maryland for six years and was the acting Chief Academic Officer in Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS) for five years.
Prior to joining Baltimore City schools, Navarro worked as a senior-level administrator for the Christina School District in Delaware and as a teacher and administrator for the Cesar Chavez Public Charter High School in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Navarro holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware, a master’s degree in science education from Temple University, and a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy from George Washington University. Navarro is bilingual and speaks Spanish and English, and has intermediate proficiency in French and Portuguese.
Ms. Julie Oberg
Julie Oberg was appointed Economic Director for Calvert County in January 2022. Previously, she was with the State of Maryland for more than 18 years, most recently serving as the Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, managing the day-to-day operations of the agency to help ensure its programs continue to serve, promote and regulate the state’s agriculture industry. She served as communications director for the departments of Agriculture and Environment. Oberg served on the Critical Area Commission from 2019 to 2022. She was President of the Communications Officers of State Departments of Agriculture (COSDA) from 2016-2017. Ms. Oberg previously worked at Hill and Knowlton, an international public affairs firm, in Washington, DC, focusing on health and biotech clients. She also worked for the American Psychiatric Association handling communications for their Office of Government Relations.
Ms. Oberg is a member of the Maryland Economic Development Association (MEDA). She resides on a small farm in Calvert County with her husband and three children.
Mr. Jason Szklany
A current electrical engineering student at UMD-Clark School of Engineering, and with an extensive work history of leadership and technical skills, Mr. Jason Szklany is the first student appointed to the Board of Advisors. Mr. Szklany recently completed an Electrical Engineering Internship with the US Navy. He completed his Associate’s Degree at the College of Southern Maryland in 2021, receiving outstanding student awards in Physics and Engineering.
Prior to pursuing his Electrical Engineering Degrees, Mr. Szklany worked as a video producer, owned and operated a furniture building company, and served as the Director of a spa in Brea, California.
Dr. Johnnie Taylor
Dr. Johnny Taylor currently serves as Chief Operations Officer and Managing Director, Contracts, of Neany, Inc. He has extensive experience in leading corporations and agencies in the effective application of world-class quality business processes. His experiences include providing quality-based strategic planning to federal, for-profit, commercial, and non-profit businesses/agencies. Additionally, he is a decorated US Air Force Veteran.
Dr. Taylor has several degrees, including a Doctorate of Business Administration in Quality Systems Management, a Master of Science in Quality Systems Management, a Doctorate of Religious Education, a Master of Education in Counseling, a Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Science, and an Associate of Science in Electronic Technology.
Dr. Andrae Townsel
As the Superintendent of Calvert County Public Schools, Dr. Andrae Townsel brings a wealth of educational and leadership experience to our school system.
Dr. Townsel holds a master’s degree in educational administration and policy, and a doctoral degree in educational leadership and policy studies from Howard University in Washington D.C. As an innovative leader, his service as Superintendent of Benton Harbor Area Schools (MI) led to fiscal stability after a decade of budget deficits and pay freezes. His dedication and drive for success propelled him to be nominated for Michigan’s 2021 Superintendent of the Year.