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). He is chairman of the city of Laurel Education Advisory Committee.

Program 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. She is currently participating in an intensive three-year nonprofit mentoring and consulting program led by Venture Philanthropy Partners and Fair Chance. 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.”

Program Assistant: Virginia Burke

Virginia earned a B.A. degree in sociology from Morgan State University, and has pursued graduate studies at Wesley Theological Seminary and the University of Southern California. She was executive director of the Family Day Care Career Program for the city of New York, which trained parents to be home day-care providers. She later worked at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s Training Center, where she trained federal employees. She then started her own consulting company, System Services and Training, where she designed and carried out training of government and private-sector employees. She is a member of First United Methodist Church of Laurel, where she is head of the nursery program. She also performs with the Burke Family Gospel Singers, comprised of members of her extended family. “The thing attracts me to this work of Side by Side is making a positive difference in the lives of people I meet and work with.”


President: Elda Molina

Elda is administrative secretary to the supervisor of the Transition Services Unit in Montgomery County Public Schools. She has worked for the school system for 11 years. She graduated from Huntington Park High School in California and earned more than 200 credits at California State University Los Angeles. Her introduction to Side by Side through her pastor was “love at first sight,” as she always has had a passion to help families and community. Elda was a leader in creating “La Guía para Padres” at Laurel Elementary School with a group of Hispanic moms. Also, she has been emcee of Side by Side’s former Family Academy, provided translation during parent-teacher conference night at some schools, and did some home visits as a follow-up to Great Start workshop evenings. She loves the fact that Side by Side is a powerful tool to change the lives of young students and their parents.

Vice 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.

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: Renee Garraway

Renee’s credentials include an Ed.D., MA, MSW and LCSW-C. She has over 25 years of work experience in clinical social work, special education and school-based administration. She successfully defended her Ph.D. dissertation in March 2019 at Bowie State University. Her research interest is on the experiences of culturally and linguistically diverse children with disabilities and her work has been accepted for presentations at national and international conferences as well as several book and journal publications. Renee serves on the editorial board of a peer-reviewed journal, The Qualitative Review; peer review panel for the Council for Exceptional Children; and many other local and national boards and committees focused on education, social justice, and cultural competence. Renee is committed to ensuring that all students, regardless of race, socioeconomic status or exceptional abilities, receive rigorous, engaging and relevant instruction in a safe and nurturing learning environment. She enjoys spending time with family, especially her two boys who attend their neighborhood elementary school in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

Other directors:

Renee Cort-Sutton

Renee is a professional school counselor and department chair at Scotchtown Hills Elementary School in Laurel. She has been an educator in Prince George’s County Public Schools for 28 years. She is a graduate of Lincoln University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education and a minor in Fine Arts and History. Her master’s in Guidance and Counseling was from Bowie State University. She also has supervised an after-school program sponsored by Southern Management and an English-as-a-Second-Language summer school program after earning an Administration certification from McDaniel College. Additionally, she has done individual counseling for county high school students. She is a mother of two daughters and is a widow.

Ann Koshnick

Ann is a retired Radiology Technologist and Clinical Instructor. She was employed by Prince George’s Community College and taught at several local hospitals. She also worked as a school nurse at several local elementary schools. She currently is a volunteer at Laurel Regional Hospital and served two terms as president of the Hospital Auxiliary. In addition, she served on the hospital Board of Directors. She graduated from Mercy Hospital School of Radiology in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Ann has two children, a daughter who is a high school teacher, and a son who is an attorney. She also has two grandsons. She has lived in Laurel for more than 40 years.

Nancy Rico Uribe

Nancy was born in Mexico. She earned a college degree in administration, with a certification in teaching English, at the University of Morelia in Mexico. She moved to the United States in 2009 to pursue opportunities for herself and her daughter, Michelle. Nancy currently works as a dispatcher for a construction company, and is a volleyball coach in a Howard County youth league. She attended Side by Side workshops when Michelle was attending Laurel Elementary School, and joined a team of parents that we assembled to write a “Hispanic Parents’ Guide.” She was elected to Side by Side’s Board of Directors in 2012 and is now its president. She plays a particularly crucial role in Side by Side’s work with Spanish-speaking families.

William F. Williams

Bill is a retired member of the Federal Senior Executive Service. Prior to retirement, he was associate director, FEMA, Emergency Operations. He has extensive community serve volunteering at Laurel Regional Hospital, the Maryland Association of Hospital Auxiliaries, Community Health Charities of Maryland, and Hospice of the Chesapeake. Bill was also active in the community as a member of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission Advisory Board, chief election judge, Laurel Boys and Girls Club coach and certified literacy tutor. He attended the University of Maryland with a major in business and pre-law. Bill has four children and 11 grandchildren.

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