24 MARCH/APRIL2016 | BETHESDAMAGAZINE.COM
Editor-in-Chief & Publisher
to our readers
WHEN I FIRST MOVED to the
Washington area in 1989, I lived for
a year in Friendship Heights, D.C.
I loved the hustle and bustle of the
neighborhood, and the two-block walk
to the Metro station.
I spent the next 12 years in Chevy
Chase Section 5, where I was drawn to
the neighborliness and community spirit.
My two sons and I marched every year
in the Fourth of July parade that winds
its way up and down the few streets
in the neighborhood—and ends with
participants singing patriotic songs.
Twelve years ago I moved to the
Rollingwood section of Chevy Chase,
where our house overlooks Rock Creek
Park—and where I feel like I’m living
far from the hustle and bustle. Most
nights I hear an owl hooting in the
trees behind us.
I loved all three neighborhoods
for different reasons, at different
times in my life. It was because of
my experiences that I decided to
organize our cover story on great
neighborhoods based on the elements
people are looking for when they’re
deciding where to live. Our story
presents desirable neighborhoods
in 10 categories, including “Big
Yards,” “Access to the Outdoors” and
The story begins on page 180.
ONE OF THE THINGS that makes
life interesting and exciting (and
sometimes scary) is that you never
know when something is going to
happen that will change the course
of your life, for good or bad. In 2013,
something very good happened to me.
That fall I started mentoring
Nichole Land, who was a senior at the
time in the University of Maryland’s
communications program at The
Universities at Shady Grove (USG).
I am a member of the USG Board of
Advisors, and we are encouraged to
mentor a scholarship student each year.
I thought I would be able to help
Nichole figure out a career path and
make some contacts. Little did I know
how much Nichole would inspire me.
In our first meeting, Nichole told me
her story. She was the second oldest
of nine kids. Her family didn’t have
much while she was growing up, so
they relied on government assistance
and the generosity of nonprofit groups
in Montgomery County. At one point,
Nichole lived with 11 other members
of her family in a two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment in public housing
in Silver Spring.
Her twin brothers are autistic, and
other brothers got in trouble with the law.
For much of her life, Nichole was like the
second mother to her younger siblings.
Nichole worked her way through
Montgomery College (it took her
eight years) and was able to get her
bachelor’s degree at USG thanks to a
full scholarship from the USG Kendall
During our first meeting, she told
me that she had two goals: to give back
to the community that had provided so
much to her family, and to get her own
apartment. Nichole’s first job after USG
for Interfaith Works, from which she
and her family had received much of
their clothing when she was growing
up. She now works at Montgomery
College. She moved into her apartment
in Rockville last June.
Nichole was appointed recently to
the USG Board of Advisors, and she
is a member of the alumni association
board of governors at Montgomery
College. She is invited often to tell her
story to potential donors, students and
Nichole’s determination, compassion
and optimism have inspired me since
the day I met her. I thought her story
would inspire our readers, as well. Our
profile of Nichole begins on page 140.
My experience with Nichole
convinced me of the transformative
power of mentoring (both for the mentee
and the mentor). With that in mind,
I recently co-founded MentorPrize,
a nonprofit that matches people who
are interested in mentoring with area
nonprofits that are looking for mentors.
To learn more about MentorPrize, go to
I hope you enjoy this issue of