Staff and Board

The following staff, officers and board members of Side by Side, representing various churches in the Laurel community and beyond, believe Jesus has called us together to work on behalf of children, families and schools.


Executive Director: Joe Murchison

Joe graduated from Princeton University and earned a master’s in English literature from the University of Virginia. He taught in public and private high schools in North Carolina and Virginia before becoming a journalist. He ended his 29-year journalism career with a 17-year stint as editor of the Laurel Leader, winning numerous press awards. In 2007 Joe became principal founder of Side by Side. He has been chosen to participate in two nonprofit leadership programs: the Nonprofit Incubator Program of Nonprofit Prince George’s, and the LEAD program of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region (now Greater Washington Community Foundation).

Assistant Director: Danielle Allen

Danielle majored in education at Towson University and taught grades K-6 in elementary schools for 21 years, 17 of those at Scotchtown Hills Elementary School in Laurel.  She also spent four years at John H. Bayne Elementary in Capitol Heights. Aside from teaching, she enjoys reading poetry, watching movies and cheering on both of her sons’ baseball teams. “I am thrilled to be able to bring my knowledge of the classroom and the dynamics of educating children to the Side by Side organization. I am excited to learn about the inner workings of a successful nonprofit while providing the needed academic support that so many of our area families need.”


President: Linda Engstrom

Linda attended the University of Maryland to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education and obtained a Master of Education degree from Johns Hopkins. She taught in the elementary grades in Baltimore County. She then worked with three nonprofits on small business development and teen and adult employment opportunities. She subsequently was an executive director with the New Mexico Governor’s Office, focusing on teen employment and services for families visiting the state prison. Her work for the state also included acting as community liaison on conservation for the state Energy Department.  She continued to participate in early elementary education through part-time small-group and individual tutoring. Side by Side, with its goal of empowering parents through education and mentoring, was a perfect fit for her retirement involvement. She treasures seeing children’s skills and confidence grow and parents’ eyes light up as they develop “home style” teaching habits and begin to embrace their role in their children’s school success.

Vice President: Elda Molina


Treasurer: Bob Mignon

Robert “Bob” Mignon graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 1972 with a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Advertising. The Mignon family has lived in the Laurel community since 1992.  Bob’s business career began in 1972 with General Foods Corp., spending nine years in various capacities. He then went to work for Kraft Food Service, rising to the position of general manager of distribution centers in Florida and Seattle, Wash. In 1994 Bob implemented his lifelong dream of owning his own business and purchased a Minuteman Press franchise in Beltsville.  In 2003 he opened a second Minuteman Press on Main Street in Laurel. In 2017 Bob sold his Minuteman Press franchise and is now retired and spending more time with his grandchildren. Bob is currently president of the Laurel Board of Trade, and board member of the Laurel Lions Club, Laurel Historical Society and Side by Side.

Secretary: Rachel Clark-Afina

Other directors:

Grace Catchings

Grace has retired from 35 years as an elementary teacher in Prince George’s County Public Schools. She spent her last 11 years teaching 4th to 6th grades at Bond Mill Elementary in Laurel. She earned a B.A. in Sociology from Wayne State University and a Maryland teaching certificate from Bowie State University. She has held a number of leadership positions at her church, St. Mark’s United Methodist in Laurel. “Since I have been retired, my passion has been to assist parents and their children with problems involving school activities and learning,” she says of serving with Side by Side.

Renee Garraway

Susan Marshall

Sue Marshall grew up in Laurel, and graduated from Laurel High School. After earning a BS in mathematics at the University of Maryland, she worked several years in the computer field, until her husband Art’s Air Force career took them on an exciting, never-boring 20 years of tours in Texas, Maryland, Italy, England, Japan and Germany. In 1991, she earned a BS in computer science, then worked 20 years as a Department of Defense contractor (not as as exciting as the overseas adventures, but it paid well! ).  Now that both Art & Sue are happily retired, she has time to pursue many interests: reading, arts and crafts, and church work. She serves in leadership positions in her church, Our Savior Lutheran; at the Via de Cristo ministry; and in prison ministry.




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