Board of Directors
Brigitta Toruño, Chair
CEO and Founder, UNO Translations and Communications, LLC
Brigitta Toruño’s love of her native language, Spanish, fueled her desire to work with languages and launch UNO Translations and Communications, LLC (UNO). As she has said “For me, translation is a passion, it’s a humanitarian service.” This inspired her interest to join the Loudoun Literacy Council Board of Directors in 2019. In 2020, Brigitta was elected to serve as Board Chair.
UNO considers itself a linguistic partner to companies, consulting with companies in international cultural business issues as well as offering translation services in more than 200 languages. Brigitta’s personal experience seeing her parents struggle to learn another language and culture gives her a true passion for her work and has formed the basis for her company’s philosophy and mission.
Brigitta and her daughter also offer mother/daughter entrepreneur workshops to organizations such as the Girl Scout’s Encuentro de Chicas Latinas. Brigitta, a bilingual native of the Washington, DC area, is the daughter of an Argentine father and Ecuadorian mother.
Brigitta is honored to serve on the board of 100WomenStrong. She is a past board member of the George Mason University Women in Business Initiative, Devotion to Children, Mobile Hope, Loudoun Hunger Relief, and Leadership Loudoun. In 2019, she was awarded the Enterprising Women of the Year Award and received the Top 100 MBE award from the Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council (CRMSDC). For the past four years, Brigitta has been named to Loudoun Business Journal’s Top 100 Women Who Mean Business. Brigitta is a member of the American Translator’s Association (ATA) and the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce. Her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration is from Averett College. She also completed the Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business Minority Business Executive Program and University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business.
Sonia Ballinger, Vice Chair
Community Organizer and Literacy Advocate
Sonia Ballinger’s desire for the Loudoun Literacy Council is for the organization to be a beacon of hope for those wanting to learn the English language. She joined the Loudoun Literacy Council Board in 2019, now serving as its Vice Chair, because she sees the struggles of many immigrants who are coming to the U.S. and also has seen the struggles her mother experienced learning English.
She brings a deep understanding of the challenges of coming to this country and learning the English language based on her mother coming to America as a teenager from Guatemala to care for three young girls in Maryland. Her inspiring family story includes her mother working in the hotel industry as a Garmin Chef, receiving many awards while being married and raising three children. With all these demands, her mother still worked hard to earn United States citizenship in 1994.
Sonia has worn many hats and brings much experience to the Loudoun Literacy Council. She recently served on the board of the Loudoun NAACP and is currently Vice Chair of the Prince William Crochet Guild and Secretary of her community Homeowners Association (HOA). For five years, she has been a pattern tester for Crochet designers and has volunteered with both Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. In addition, she has cared for her granddaughter for the last three years.
Parvez Khan, Secretary
Owner, Sage Consulting Services
Parvez Khan is a business and personal coach with a decade of experience empowering and fostering change in nonprofit organizations. Loudoun Literacy Council benefits considerably from his interest in applying this knowledge to the important literacy work in Loudoun County. In 2019, Parvez joined Loudoun Literacy Council, now serving as Board of Directors Secretary.
Parvez considers it an honor to pay forward his family’s benefit as a Loudoun Literacy Council director. He remembers as a young man helping his mother learn English by reading her children’s books or listening to her read them. It took her years to achieve a proficiency level to converse with people. Parvez understands the struggle for an adult to learn in a new land. He has sympathy and great respect for individuals looking to better themselves and their families by becoming language proficient.
As a business coach, Parvez brings numerous skills to Loudoun Literacy Council. He seeks to re-position a nonprofit’s leadership to operate their organization as a 21st century nonprofit. As a personal coach, he facilitates removing barriers, empowering individuals to achieve their greatest goals.
He brings experience with organizations worldwide in the nonprofit, faith-based, for-profit, Information Technology, healthcare and civil rights industries. He contributes a broad understanding of organizational challenges facing us today.
Parvez holds MS in Organization Development, from The American University in Washington, DC and BS in Information Technology degrees. He is a Licensed Human Element Practitioner (LHEP™), a holistic approach to human issues in organizations.
Clint Thomas, Treasurer
Owner, Rubin Koehmstedt and Nadler, Public Accounting Firm
Clint Thomas believes that “Literacy Opens Doors”. Based on that belief, he joined the Loudoun Literacy Council Board in January 2019 as Treasurer. As a CPA, he felt that his talents would be best used as Treasurer. Also, he loves knowing his service is helping people in Loudoun who are working so hard to improve their lives through literacy.
Professionally, Clint leads a team of CPA’s at Rubin, Koehmstedt & Nadler (RKN) with over 150 years of combined experience helping individuals and business owners keep money in their pockets through creative tax strategy and accounting services. RKN has a rich 40-year history of guiding their clients forward. As owner, Clint has over 25 years experience serving a wide variety of clients. He is also a Certified Valuation Analyst (CVA).
This vast experience is extremely valuable to Loudoun Literacy Council. It’s well known that he loves helping those in need. Clint enjoys serving in his local Loudoun community as Treasurer for organizations such as the Loudoun Literacy Council, Tres Dias of Northern VA, and his daughter’s travel soccer team. He serves in his local Free Life Church in Leesburg, Va., is an avid reader and also a musician.
Renss Greene, Director
Deputy Editor, Loudoun Now
Renss Greene is the deputy editor and county government reporter for Loudoun Now, the paper of record in Loudoun County. He joined the Loudoun Literacy Council Board in 2018. His connection to the Loudoun Literacy Council began by helping the organization with fundraising, hosting Buzzed at the Bee, a series of spelling bees and trivia nights, which he still organizes and hosts. He also serves as emcee for the annual NOT Your Kid’s Spelling Bee and enjoys helping to share Loudoun Literacy Council’s story across the county.
Professionally, he oversees Loudoun Now’s newsroom and contributes a great deal to the Loudoun community. He is a regular speaker and participant at community and human services organizations in Loudoun, as well as the moderator of a series of community conversations on difficult, divisive topics of the day at the Sterling branch of the Loudoun County Public Library.
A graduate of Emory & Henry College, he has worked in both radio and print news, earning several awards for his reporting and photography.
Margaret L. Brown, Director
Owner, MLB Communications
After finding how many area residents did not read or speak English well, Margaret Brown was inspired to join the Loudoun Literacy Council as a teacher of adult English for Speakers of Other Languages classes. She joined the Loudoun Literacy Council Board of Directors in 2017, served as the Vice Chair from 2018-2019 and served as the Chair of the Board from 2019-2020.
In addition to teaching adults with the Loudoun Literacy Council from 2017–2019, Margaret became a Sweet Dreams volunteer in 2019. Loudoun Literacy Council’s Sweet Dreams Program models reading aloud for children and provides literacy activities for families residing in the homeless shelter.
Margaret is a Strategic Communications & Public Relations consultant with more than three decades of experience in public relations and internal communications for a variety of B2C and B2B companies. She applies an in-depth communications approach to ensure that each unique message is clear and resonates with its targeted audience. She helped the Loudoun Literacy Council with public relations and outreach efforts during her early years as a volunteer. Her experience and expertise have been tremendously valuable to the organization.
Kamal Gill, Director
CEO, The Zone
Kamal Gill is CEO of The Zone, in Ashburn, Virginia. The Zone is invested in the success of the entire Loudoun County community. They partner with many Loudoun County nonprofits to promote and provide a better quality of life to its residents. As a Loudoun Chamber of Commerce member, The Zone supports local businesses to ensure that the area economy flourishes and thrives. Loudoun Literacy Council is one of The Zone’s valued partners. Kamal was pleased to rejoin the Loudoun Literacy Board of Directors in 2019.
The Zone was honored to win the Loudoun Chamber’s 2020 Community Leadership Award for its Community Support efforts, after receiving the 2015 Tourism and Entertainment Business of the Year.
The Zone regularly partners with local nonprofits to award a local child/family a complimentary VIP party package. This provides a fun and happy experience for those in need, committed to making their experience both enjoyable and memorable.
Kamal is well known as a Loudoun community champion, including being recognized in recent years as a Loudoun Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneur of the Year finalist. He wholeheartedly endorses his company’s view that our children are the future of our community. The Zone is a strong supporter of the Loudoun County education system. The company is dedicated to providing an educational venue to teach and inspire STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) programs, encouraging students to be critical and creative thinkers.
Pilar Lorca, Director
President and CEO, Fitness4Everybody
Pilar Lorca is the President and CEO of Fitness4EveryBody and is well known in the Loudoun Community. She joined the Loudoun Literacy Council Board of Directors in 2020.
Literacy is very important to Pilar because, as an immigrant, she personally knows how important it is to learn the language, not only to be able to communicate, but to better our lives in this country or in any country we live, for that matter. This understanding and passion is of great value to the literacy work of Loudoun Literacy Council. Pilar views it as an honor to serve on the Loudoun Literacy Council board to help others since she has walked the rough road of learning a new language.
She was born and raised in Colombia, South America. With English as a second language, she came to the U.S. more than 26 years ago and after becoming a single mother of two very young children, she embarked on a new career in health and fitness.
In 2003 Pilar founded her own company; Fitness4EveryBody. Over the past 17+ years she has proven her ability to develop and grow a successful business through her passion for helping others and establishing powerful connections as well as drawing on her networking ability.
Pilar attended Cambridge University, UK and earned a Bachelor Degree in Languages.
Beatriz McNelly, Director
President and CEO, Be Logic, LLC
Philanthropy, particularly for education, is very important to Beatriz McNelly, inspired by her coming to this country at age 11, speaking Spanish, when no one in the area spoke her native language.
Beatriz feels a Loudoun Literacy Council connection and was honored to join the Board of Directors in 2020. She truly understands the need for, and is deeply committed to, the services Loudoun Literacy Council offers many people.
Being an entrepreneur may well be in her blood. She was born in Argentina; her father was a mechanical engineer and her mother a seamstress. Once in this country, they started their own company, Lu-el Draperies. Beatriz has been quite successful working for United Airlines, opening their South American offices, opening FiberGate, Inc., a dark fiber networking company and then starting Be Logic LLC, helping entrepreneurs and small companies get their back office in order.
Beatriz has a long history of giving back to her community. Her first love is her three children and five grandchildren. She considers herself blessed working with The ARC of Loudoun, serving on their board and helping SAY (Stuttering Association for the Young). She’s worked in Resourceful Woman Thrift Store run by Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter; AWS second hand store; and Halcyon House, a nonprofit incubation program helping young entrepreneurs build companies for the betterment of mankind. She’s involved with the Northern Virginia Community Foundation, the Business Women’s Giving Circle and Latino Education Fund.
Dee Shupe, Director
Founder and Owner, Deirdre
Dee Shupe is a well-known entrepreneur and community activist. Her experience, skills and passion are tremendously valuable to Loudoun Literacy Council, where she joined the Board of Directors in 2020.
Dee, founder of Deirdre, a start-up clothing company, is passionate about helping women over 40 feel confident and happy through fashion, age positivity and connection. Her substantial digital marketing efforts are helpful experience for Loudoun Literacy Council.
She was co-founder of Expressette, a Purcellville embroidery and uniform/spirit wear shop, which provided creations for Blue Ridge Middle School, Catoctin Basketball, Woodgrove Volleyball and Dance teams clients, among others.
Her extensive corporate experience includes serving as an ATT software engineer, Trecom Business Systems Consultant and Mobil Oil Project Manager, Project Leader, Systems Analyst and Programmer.
Dee’s volunteer role over many years further demonstrates her community commitment. She started a Women’s Circle to increase community connection among older women. She’s worked with schools at all levels, sports teams, theater groups and the Boy and Girl Scouts. Dee has especially enjoyed creating school programs. She is active personally with stock market options trading, tennis and a book club.
Dee received a Fashion Design Certificate, Parsons School of Design; an MBA, Darden School of Business, University of Virginia; an International Specialization of the MBA program, George Washington University and an MS in Commerce from McIntire School of Commerce, University of Virginia.