The University System of Maryland in Southern Maryland is pleased to announce its new Advisory Council: Dr. Christine Bergmark, Dr. Bernard Jackson, Dr. Maria Navarro, Ms. Julie Oberg, Mr. Jason Szklany, Dr. Johnnie Taylor, and Dr. Andrae Townsel.

“We are thrilled to have these seven exceptional individuals join the Board of Trustees to lead and guide the mission and work at USMSM,” said Dr. Eileen Abel, Executive Director. “They bring a wealth of knowledge and experience that will no doubt contribute to our continued growth.”

Dr Christine Bergmark Credit: The University System of Maryland in Southern Maryland

Dr Christine Bergmark

Dr. Christine Bergmark has over 30 years of experience in economic and business development, research and education, both nationally and internationally. She is currently President and CEO of the St. Mary’s County Chamber of Commerce. Through her consulting practice, she has provided strategic planning, legislative analysis and recommendations, as well as innovative solutions for economic, community and leadership development. In addition, she is an active mediator, trainer and facilitator for institutions, non-profit organizations and individuals.

Previously, she spent 16 years as Executive Director of the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission, where she was responsible for developing and implementing Maryland’s tobacco transition program for the state of Maryland. Prior to working with SMADC, Dr. Bergmark was a science advisor for the United States Agency for International Development and a Peace Corps volunteer.

Among other endeavors, Dr. Bergmark is a co-founder of the Chesapeake Public Charter School, serves on the St. Mary’s County Arts Council, and is a co-owner of Even’ Star Organic Farm.

Dr. Bernard Jackson Credit: The University System of Maryland in Southern Maryland

Dr. Bernard Jackson

Dr. Bernard Jackson brings over 20 years of leadership experience to the USMSM Advisory Board. He is currently President and CEO of Leading Edge Solutions, where he focuses on leadership development, human capital management and process improvement. He also specializes in improving workforce diversity and expanding science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) outreach programs.

Previously, Dr. Jackson served as a financial planner for the Department of the Navy, where he provided financial advice and developed resource planning strategies to meet acquisition program requirements. He was also a general partner for Strategic Insights, where he led a team of experts to streamline military operations and establish best practices for human capital management.

During his time with the United States Navy, he served as Deputy Director of Military Planning and Policy, Chief of Naval Operations, and Commander. He received numerous medals for meritorious service, commendations, distinguished service and achievement.

Maria V. Navarro, Ed.D., Credit: The University System of Maryland in Southern Maryland

Dr. Maria Navarro

Maria V. Navarro, Ed.D., is a veteran educator who held various teaching and leadership positions in Maryland, Delaware, and Washington, D.C. Prior to being appointed Superintendent of Public Schools for Charles County, Navarro was an education consultant working to support school systems and government agencies to improve learning opportunities for young people. Dr. Navarro served as Academic Director of Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) in Maryland for six years and Acting Academic Director of Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS) for five years.

Prior to joining Baltimore City Schools, Navarro worked as a high-level administrator for the Christina School District in Delaware and as a teacher and administrator for Cesar Chavez Public Charter High School in Washington, DC.

Dr. Navarro holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware, a master’s degree in science education from Temple University, and a doctorate in educational leadership and policy from George Washington University. Navarro is bilingual and speaks Spanish and English, and has an intermediate command of French and Portuguese.

Julie Oberg Credit: The University System of Maryland in Southern Maryland

Ms Julie Oberg

Julie Oberg was appointed Calvert County Economic Director in January 2022. Previously, she worked for the State of Maryland for more than 18 years, most recently as Assistant Secretary of Agriculture, managing the day-to-day operations of the agency to help ensure its programs continue to serve, promote and regulate the state’s agricultural industry. She has served as Director of Communications for the Ministries of Agriculture and Environment. Oberg served on the Critical Area Commission from 2019 to 2022. She was chair of the State Departments of Agriculture (COSDA) Communications Officers from 2016 to 2017. Ms. Oberg previously worked at Hill and Knowlton, a company Public Affairs International, in Washington, DC, focusing on healthcare and biotech clients. She has also worked for the American Psychiatric Association, handling communications for their government relations office.

Ms. Oberg is a member of the Maryland Economic Development Association (MEDA). She resides on a small farm in Calvert County with her husband and three children.

Mr. Jason Szklany Credit: The University System of Maryland in Southern Maryland

Mr. Jason Szklany

Currently studying electrical engineering at the UMD-Clark School of Engineering, and with a long professional track record in leadership and technical skills, Mr. Jason Szklany is the first student named to the advisory board. Mr. Szklany recently completed an electrical engineering internship with the United States Navy. He graduated from the College of Southern Maryland with an associate degree in 2021, receiving outstanding student awards in physics and engineering.

Prior to pursuing his studies in electrical engineering, Mr. Szklany worked as a video producer, owned and operated a furniture manufacturing company, and was a spa manager in Brea, California.

Dr Johnnie Taylor Credit: The University System of Maryland in Southern Maryland

Dr Johnnie Taylor

Dr. Johnny Taylor is currently Chief Operating Officer and Managing Director, Contracts, of Neany, Inc. He has extensive experience at leading corporations and agencies in effectively applying world-class quality business processes. His experiences include providing quality-based strategic planning to federal, for-profit, commercial, and non-profit corporations/agencies. Additionally, he is a decorated veteran of the United States Air Force.

Dr. Taylor holds several degrees, including a Doctor of Business Administration in Quality Systems Management, Master of Science in Quality Systems Management, Doctor of Religious Education, Master of Education in Counseling, Bachelor of Science in behavioral sciences and an Associate of Science in Electronic Technology.

Dr Andrae Townsel Credit: The University System of Maryland in Southern Maryland

Dr Andrae Townsel

As Calvert County Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Andrae Townsel brings a wealth of education and leadership experience to our school system.

Dr. Townsel holds a Masters in Educational Administration and Policy and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Howard University in Washington D.C. As an innovative leader, his service as Superintendent of Schools in the Benton Harbor (MI) area has led to fiscal stability after a decade of budget deficits and wage freezes. His dedication and drive to succeed propelled him to be nominated for Michigan’s 2021 Superintendent of the Year.