Who we Are

Our national Board

Armando de Castro
Senior Vice President, Corporate FP&A Discovery Communications

As Senior Vice President of Corporate Financial Planning and Analysis activity across the company, Armando is responsible for leading the review and analysis of operating performance, development of budgets and long range plans, producing board-level updates and working closely with CFOs to achieve financial targets. Prior to this role, he served as Vice President of Finance for Discovery Networks International, leading financial planning and analysis activities.

Before joining Discovery, Armando was Director, Business Development at Belo Corp., where he led corporate development projects and investments for television, newspaper and interactive businesses. Armando joined Belo Corp from Viacom Inc., serving in a number of management roles in Dallas and New York including Director, Strategic Planning at Blockbuster Inc. and Finance Manager at Nickelodeon and MTV in New York. He began his career working for JPMorgan Chase in Internal Audit.

Armando holds a Masters of Business Administration from Texas A&M University-Commerce and a Bachelor of Science with a concentration in Finance from Providence College.

Karen Dielman
Portfolio Manager, The Jenesis Group

Karen Dielman is a Portfolio Manager for The Jenesis Group foundation, focused on assisting non-profit clients with meeting their strategic goals and building a sustainable organization. Her passion and career focus is to blend her business experience and public sector background in order to partner with social entrepreneurs to improve their businesses.

For the 12 years prior to joining the Jenesis staff, Karen worked for Sabre Inc, a global fortune 500 company. Her desire to lead entrepreneurial initiatives at the growing technology company provided Karen with tremendous leadership experiences and learning opportunities. Key leadership experiences include developing and implementing a global call center business, creating and managing Sabre’s consulting organization’s marketing strategy department, executing the company’s HR business process re-engineering effort, and managing the development, launch and growth strategy for several technology products and services.

Prior non-profit experience includes supporting disadvantaged families while working at Tarrant County Family Services and Tarrant County MHMR. She has also sat on a local non-profit Board and participated in numerous long and short term volunteer programs. Karen holds an MBA from Texas Christian University and a B.S. from The Pennsylvania State University.

Hank Harris
President, Human Capital Enterprises

Hank is the Founder and President of Human Capital Enterprises, providing consulting services and HR thought-leadership to school district Superintendents and Boards across the United States. Formerly a teacher, principal, and school district leader, Hank is a well-respected speaker and thought-leader in the area of school district human capital. He currently also serves as the Executive Director of the Virginia Association of School Personnel Administrators.

Prior to relocating to Washington, DC, Hank served at the helm of three school district HR offices in the Pacific Northwest including Portland Public in Oregon and Bellingham in Washington State. He also served as Interim Executive Director of the American Association of School Personnel Administrators. 

Jeanne McCarty, Board Secretary
CEO, REAL School Gardens

Prior to leading REAL School Gardens in its national expansion, Jeanne spent eight years as vice president and director of the Jane Goodall Institute’s Roots & Shoots, a global youth service program focused on conservation. With more than 17 years experience in education and program management, she has also served as the director of Undergraduate Programs for the Department of African American Studies and the assistant director of the Upward Bound program, both at the University of Maryland.  

Jeanne is active in national and international initiatives to connect children and families to nature and to promote youth leadership in conservation. She serves on the Global Leadership Committee for the Nature Action Collaborative for Children and is on the National Advisory Board Member for The Gloria Barron Prize for Youth Heroes and the Advisory Council of the Environmental Leadership Center at Warren Wilson College. She holds a Master of Arts in American Studies from the University of Maryland and a Bachelor of Arts in American Studies, Summa Cum Laude, from the University of Southern Mississippi.

Julie Neimat, Board Chair
Senior Vice President, Global Talent and Human Resource Management,
Discovery Communications LLC

Julie is an innovative human resources leader with expertise supporting business growth in a variety of fast paced domestic and international environments. As SVP Global Talent and HR Management at Discovery Communications, she serves dual functions, leading the organization’s talent acquisition initiatives and delivering HR solutions to Discovery's global corporate operations - partnering with the business to shape strategic initiatives for commercial growth, workforce evolution, and ROI. 

Before her work at Discovery, Julie led HR and Operations at Wind-Up Entertainment, a New York-based record label and music publishing company. She also served as an HR Business Partner for DoubleClick, a global Internet Advertising Solutions company, in their New York, Dublin and London offices where she oversaw HR for the Pan-European businesses. Here, she supported significant business growth including opening new offices and driving several major acquisitions and joint venture conversions. Julie holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in Journalism and English Literature from Michigan State University.  

Dr. Ernie J. Smith, Finance Chair
Principal/Owner, Locus Advisors, LLC

Ernie is a Principal with the boutique consulting group Locus Advisors. Locus focuses on consulting and advisory services in the grocery, convenience, and drug retail and distribution markets, as well as foodservice, food production and food manufacturing. Smith in his career has completed numerous merger and acquisition transactions with total acquired volume in excess of $20 billion.Ernie has spent his career in the food industry, holding a number of executive positions and serving as an advisor to a number of large public and private companies. 

He is currently a director of Alex Lee, Inc., the holding company for Merchants Distributors and Lowes Foods. In addition, Ernie most notably served as the former Executive President, Chief Financial and Administrative Officer for Ahold USA, one of the nation’s largest food retailers. During Ernie’s tenure, Ahold flourished and obtained sales in excess of $34 billion in the US.Ernie has a Doctorate from The George Washington University, Masters of Business Administration from Virginia Commonwealth University and Bachelors from Old Dominion University. He is a certified public accountant. He has been a member of multiple boards for profit and not for profit. He has been an adjunct professor for Old Dominion University.

Shally Stanley
Managing Director, Global Services, Acumen Solutions

Shally is Managing Director of Acumen Solutions’ Global Services and is responsible for developing and delivering the company’s enterprise cloud transformation solutions to its customers. She has 20 years of experience as a management consultant focusing on achieving better business outcomes using innovative information technologies and practices. 

Prior to her current role, Shally served as Chief Technology Officer of Greenwich Technology Partners. Before that, Shally cofounded NetGain LLC ‐ a highly successful network consulting business which grew to over $5 million in revenue within three years. Shally began her career at McKinsey & Company. She has been regularly quoted as a subject matter expert in leading publications and has been a speaker at leading industry conferences. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dale Stewart 
Partner, LandDesign

Dale Stewart is a Partner, Civil Engineer, and immediate past president at LandDesign. He understands not only the opportunities and challenges of today’s engineering projects, but the important role and impact these projects play in the development of a larger region.

This expertise has made him a valuable member of a number of community organizations, appointed committees and task forces concerned with water quality protection and effective infrastructure. Dale earned a Master of Science and Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from North Carolina State University and is a registered professional engineer in North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Maryland, Virginia, and Georgia. Previously, Dale was the President of the Green Teacher Network where he worked to advance academics, health, and sustainability through school gardens and outdoor learning. He is also a member of several professional organizations, including the American Water Works Association, Water Environmental Federation, American Society of Civil Engineers, Water Environment Federation, and American Water Works Association.

Fred Thompson
Principal, The Communications Collaborative, LLC

Following a successful career path leading communications firms like Burson-Marsteller and Manning Selvage and Lee, Fred tired of commercial persuasion and sought to make a difference. He began as CEO of the Jane Goodall Institute, where he not only helped with the Roots & Shoots program but also forged strong partnerships with major governmental policy and funding entities, including the United Nations, the World Bank, the European Union, and the U.S. Department of State.

Following that Fred became CEO of the American Liver Foundation and most recently, Fred re-joined Creative Partners, LLC, a marketing communications company he co-founded as a silent partner in 2001. With offices in Stamford, Conn., and Los Angeles, Calif., the firm represents a combination of commercial and non-profit organizations including Health Net, Citibank, MBIA, Harvard University, Whirlpool Corporation and Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Fred is also Chairman of The Center for Non-profit Growth. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Michigan State University and is a frequent lecturer before professional and academic groups on topics related to brand-building, organizational positioning and donor acquisition strategies.

Carolyn Walsh
Partner, Steptoe & Johnson, LLP

Carolyn Walsh brings her legal background and financial know-how to the REAL School Gardens board to assist with national expansion. Her skills of consensus-building, educating others, and problem solving that have helped her shine in this corner of the financial industry, and will continue to serve her well with REAL School Gardens. Professionally, Carolyn Walsh advises clients on a wide range financial regulatory and legislative issues and all aspects of capital markets regulations in US and foreign jurisdictions. She has significant experience representing clients before Congress, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), the Treasury Department, and other regulatory agencies that implement financial reform regulation. 

Prior to returning to private practice, Carolyn served as vice president and senior counsel for the American Bankers Association (ABA) and was deputy general counsel for the ABA Securities Association. Before that, Carolyn served as the senior associate general counsel for the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB), where she effectively implemented regulatory policy and industry initiatives. Early in her career, Walsh investigated financial fraud and insider trading for the SEC. 

Carolyn joined the REAL School Board because she wanted to work with an organization that takes an innovative approach to improving education, and felt that REAL School Gardens had great potential to engage students and the community in a growing and learning environment. Carolyn attended the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University and Stanford University School of Law.  

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