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 is a real estate investor and a former teacher. She was one of the founding directors of Side by Side.


Vice President: Elda Molina


Treasurer: Bob Mignon

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.

Susan Marshall





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