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Movers & Shakers – 2/17/12: Highsmith Vernick to lead foundation

Highsmith Vernick to lead foundation

Nicolette Highsmith Vernick

Nicolette Highsmith Vernick has been named president and CEO of the Horizon Foundation, where she will begin March 1. She will replace founding President and CEO Richard M. Krieg, who is retiring after 13 years. Highsmith Vernick had been serving as senior vice president for program at the Center for Health Care Strategies, in Hamilton, N.J. She began her career working on health care reform in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Office of Management and Budget before working at Massachusetts’ Medicaid agency. The Horizon Foundation is an independent, not-for-profit public charity dedicated to promoting and enhancing health and wellness in Howard County.

Nicolette (Nikki) Highsmith Vernick


Master’s, public administration, American University; bachelor’s, history, University of Texas.

Resides in:

Ellicott City (as of Feb. 15)

Recent vacation:

Racing down the slopes after my 5- and 4-year-olds.


Running, reading, traveling, skiing, and hiking. (I once took a 10-state hiking, backpacking and rock-climbing trip with my father and best friend.)

Favorite book:

“The House of Spirits” by Isabelle Allende.

Most recently read:

“The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite” by David Kessler.

Favorite food:

Shrimp and Grits (I grew up in a Southern family.)

Favorite quotation:

“Have a tolerance for ambiguity and change.” — my former boss


The Carl M. Freeman Foundation has awarded $50,000 to Montgomery County nonprofit organizations through its Freeman Assists Communities with Extra Support annual program: the Court Appointed Special Advocate Program of Montgomery County; Eastern Montgomery Emergency Assistance Network; Hospice Caring; Mid-County United Ministries; Operation Fly; Rainbow Community Development Center; Rockville Presbyterian Church; Stepping Stones Shelter; Sunflower Bakery; Senior Connection of Montgomery County; and the Upper Montgomery Assistance Network.

Health Care

Larry Moore has been named director of critical care and emergency services at St. Joseph Medical Center, in Towson. Most recently Moore was interim manager of the Central Cardiac Operating Room; before that he was the nurse manager of the Cardiac Surgery Unit and Inpatient Dialysis. He has worked as a nurse at Franklin Square Hospital in eastern Baltimore County, with the U.S. Air National Guard in Baltimore, and at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C.


Embrace Home Loans has added to its staff in Maryland: Scott Jacobs, who has nearly 25 years of experience in the mortgage industry, and Chad Freeman and Mitch Jacobs, both of whom previously worked for Wells Fargo, are now senior loan officers in the Rockville office. Charlene Johnson, who most recently was a senior loan officer with M&T Bank, and David McBride, who previously worked at Primary Residential Mortgage and Benchmark Mortgage, are loan officers in the Frederick office.


GKV, of Baltimore, has promoted three staff members: Ashlene Larson was promoted to PR senior account executive from her former position of PR account executive. Before joining the firm in 2010, Larson was an internal communications specialist for the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto, and a media and communications coordinator for the Royal Bank of Canada. Kristin Schields was promoted to senior account executive from her former role as account executive. Schields joined GKV in 2009 after having been an associate with BBDO New York. Lindsay Wilson was promoted to public relations senior account executive from her former position of PR account executive. She joined GKV in 2009 after serving as an account manager at PR Newswire.


Kate Hendrickson has been hired as media relations manager of the National Aquarium, of Baltimore. She previously was a social influence specialist for Planit. Hendrickson spent three years at the Port Discovery Museum, serving as the public relations and marketing coordinator and, more recently, as the public relations and events specialist. She has been a Volunteer Baltimore Certified Tourism Ambassador since 2009, and a Baltimore Tourism Association member and a Visit Baltimore GLBT Tourism Advisory Committee member.

Glenn E. Dorris Jr. has been appointed administrative and operations director of Baltimore Reads. Dorris most recently was director of sales and administration for America Works of Maryland. He has also served as operations manager of Staffmark; customer service advocate at MBNA; sales representative for Copyworld Business Systems; and as operations manager for two restaurants—Phillips and UNOs. Dorris has a bachelor’s degree from Towson University.

Nellie Power has been named assistant executive director of family and children services at The Arc Baltimore. She most recently was program director of the Baltimore Child and Adolescent Crises Response System for Catholic Charities. Before that, Power was assistant director of Catholic Charities’ Department of Community Resources. She has also been a clinical supervisor and senior mental health therapist in child and adolescent psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, and an adjunct professor at Towson University. Power is an advisory board member of Grandparent Family Connections and a founding member of the Baltimore City DSS Mobile Crisis Stabilization Steering Committee.

Cassandra “Cassi” Champion has joined the Baltimore Community ToolBank, the third affiliate of the nationwide ToolBank network, as executive director. Champion has 20 years of experience with nonprofit and public sector organizations in and around Baltimore, working in communications and relationship development. ToolBank USA is the national nonprofit network of ToolBanks, which lend construction hand and power tools to charitable organizations and their volunteers.

Susan D. Devlin has been named executive director of Habitat for Humanity Maryland. Devlin, who previously was executive director at Habitat Choptank, has seven years of Habitat management experience.


Zyngenia, a biopharmaceutical company in Gaithersburg that is developing the next generation of antibody-based drugs called Zybodies, recently promoted David M. Hilbert to chief scientific officer and appointed Daniel L. Menichella as chief business officer. Hilbert joined Zyngenia in 2009 as vice president, research and development. From 2006 to 2009, he was a consultant assisting startup biotechnology companies. From 2004 to 2005, he was vice president of research at Cellective Therapeutics. Previously, Hilbert spent eight years at Human Genome Sciences, most recently as vice president, research. Before that, he was a staff fellow in the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health. Before joining Zyngenia, Menichella was senior vice president of corporate development and strategy at Talecris Biotherapeutics. He has served in capacities related to business development, strategic planning and alliance management at Merck KGaA, including as a vice president. Before that he was president of MorphoSys USA and senior vice president of MorphoSys AG.

Public Relations

Marianne Ortiz has been promoted from account manager to senior account manager by Profiles, of Baltimore. Ortiz is responsible for generating and obtaining media coverage through special events, advertising programs and press materials. She started her career at Edelman, in Washington, D.C., and has held positions as an account executive at technology public relations agency Merritt Group and as account manager at Abel Communications. Ortiz is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park.

Real Estate

Victor D. Lopatka has joined Glen Burnie-based Craftsmen Developers as project manager of the firm’s Oliver Street project in downtown Baltimore. Lopatka, who has 30 years of experience in construction project management, was previously with Beazer Homes and Gilligan Development. He is a graduate of Frostburg State University.


Benjamin Lambert has been named executive chef and Chris Ford the pastry chef of Wit & Wisdom at the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore. Lambert has worked at several major restaurants, including as a chef de cuisine at Restaurant Nora, in Washington, D.C.; in 2010, Star Chefs named him a “Rising Star Chef” in the Washington area. In 2011, he opened Bread & Tulips in New York. Ford’s experience includes being sous chef at New York’s ChikaLicious dessert bar and then pastry chef at Trummer’s on Main in Clifton, Va. He too was named one of Star Chef’s Rising Stars in the D.C. area.


Todd C. Hughes has been appointed chief technology officer of Next Century Corp., a technology solutions company specializing in the U.S. Department of Defense and Intelligence Community. Hughes is responsible for overall technology leadership and execution of strategic technical initiatives. Before joining the Columbia company he was a program manager with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. He has also held management and technical positions at Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Laboratories and Cycorp Inc.


Roadnet Technologies, a Baltimore-based vehicle routing, scheduling and fleet management technology company, won in the Technology category in the Association for Corporate Growth–Maryland Chapter’s 2011 Deal of the Year competition. Roadnet’s fleet management applications and logistics software provide territory and street-level route plans, multi-stop vehicle routing and scheduling, wireless dispatch, vehicle telematics, fuel management, and real-time vehicle GPS tracking.