Greg Cockerham Elected Chair of CSM Foundation


Foundation Welcomes Newest Directors

As the College of Southern Maryland Foundation approaches its 40th year of supporting the college during 2010, its newly elected chair is looking forward to making a difference by providing support to the college and its students through the funding of scholarships, technology and arts, health/wellness and educational opportunities. “Higher education is the key to keeping the region competitive in the current economy,” said Foundation Chair Greg Cockerham, a 1974 graduate of the college who succeeds Donald Parsons Jr. of Huntingtown as foundation chair.

 “The foundation is the fundraising and friend-raising arm of the college, with a board composed of volunteers, ranging from CEOs to educators and the like from our three counties who come together to find ways to raise money, resources, equipment and most importantly friends and supporters of CSM,” said Cockerham, who is the executive vice president of Community Bank of Tri-County and who has served on the CSM Foundation since 2006. “As you are well aware, when you are a friend and supporter of CSM you understand the importance of this college to the regional workforce and the economic vitality of the region. As the foundation anticipates 40 years of supporting this college, it’s important to acknowledge those who have supported the foundation’s efforts. Without this support, it would have been impossible to provide the support that our students so desperately need and have received.”

In addition to Cockerham, others serving on the board are CSM Trustee Representative MacArthur Jones, First Vice Chair Rick Tepel, Second Vice Chair Candice Quinn Kelly, Mary Sue Greisman, Glen Ives, Rosemary Keffler, Al Leandre, 1975 alum Jay Lilly, Elfreda Mathis, Rhodessa “Rhokey” Millham, 1966 alum J. Harry “Chip” Norris, Scott Pfister, Steve Proctor, Robinette Ross, Casey Smith, 2002 alum Carol Sprague, St. Clair “Clair” Tweedie, Thomas Watts, Ray Wernecke, 1988 alum Suzanne Wible and Andrew “Andy” Ziencik Jr. Newest members of the CSM Foundation are Greisman, Leandre, Mathis, Pfister, Ross and Ziencik.

“These are high-energy people who really care about the future of our college and region. We are excited they have chosen to serve on our board and are willing to help the college ensure that everyone has access to higher education,” said Michelle Goodwin, CSM’s vice president of advancement.


Mary Sue Greisman

Mary Sue Greisman of Chesapeake Beach is the lead attorney and owner of The Law Offices of Mary Sue Greisman in Waldorf. Previously with the Law Offices of Greisman & Carroll, PC, Greisman has also worked as an assistant public defender for Charles County and with various law firms in Baltimore City and County.

With regard to her role with CSM’s Foundation, Greisman sees the need to develop infrastructure and educational opportunities in this challenging economy, and urges students to develop their skills to enhance their employability. “Try to become like a ‘Renaissance’ person: indulge in the classics, appreciate art and listen to classical music. This type of education will make a well-rounded individual who will stand out from other applicants,” she said.

“It is important to keep up with the latest technology but it is just as important to teach students how to engage in critical thinking,” she said.

Greisman received a bachelor’s degree from Goucher College, Towson; a master’s in architecture from Columbia University, New York, NY, and her JD from University of Baltimore School of Law. She is a founding member of Southern Maryland Womens’ League and SMWL Foundation, Inc., and serves on the SMWL board. She is also a past member of Zonta of Charles County.


Al Leandre

Tenacity, imagination and a desire to learn – three skills every student needs to succeed, according to Al Leandre, president and CEO of Vyalex Management Solutions, Inc. Joining the CSM Foundation is the latest step in his commitment to supporting local, sustainable educational opportunities. His previous efforts have included creating the Southern Maryland Youth Technology Summit which introduces students to local career and mentorship opportunities available in the technology, health and science fields. “I am passionate about the enthusiasm and talent of our youth and their future role in technology. My primary role on the board will be to connect students with STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) related opportunities in our community,” he said.

“Not every region is as predisposed as Southern Maryland is to contribute to the STEM career pool. We have two outstanding Navy research and development centers located in our region and both of them are poised for growth. We can play an important role in helping these organizations and the numerous local businesses that support them remain vital and sustainable,” Leandre said. “I am excited to partner with CSM, as a business owner and new board member, because the College of Southern Maryland links all three counties, their students and businesses with both the degreed and industry sides of workforce development.”

Leandre is a graduate of the University of Michigan, Ross School of Business where he earned a master of business administration degree. He holds a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Syracuse University and studied combat engineering as a Maryland Army National Guard Officer while serving at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. He later served as a combat engineer officer with the 121st Engineer Battalion in La Plata and Prince Frederick. Leandre attended business and leadership classes at CSM while participating in the incubator program. His company, Vyalex, provides engineering and management consulting services to NAVAIR at Patuxent River and the Indian Head divisions of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) and other Department of Defense agencies throughout the region.


Elfreda Mathis

Lifelong Southern Maryland educator Elfreda Mathis of Valley Lee has spent 34 years serving St. Mary’s County Public Schools, first as a teacher and then as the principal of Ridge Elementary School and of Lexington Park Elementary School. Though retired, Mathis continues to support and assist in the development of educational opportunities and community programs in Southern Maryland.

“We are very fortunate that the College of Southern Maryland has grown to meet the needs of the community and develops programs in accordance, especially in the area of workforce development,” said Mathis, who hopes to help the foundation develop connections, whether it is through program development or community outreach.

Mathis believes that developing a college is similar to developing an elementary school. “You have to communicate with the students, parents and the community about opportunities and challenges that are faced while attaining educational goals. You must be a good listener and very analytical when trying to understand the differences and similarities that people share,” said Mathis. “Education changes your income level, the opportunities you have, your engagement within your community, your outlook and confidence. It keeps your perspective on giving back to the community. I want all students to know the love of learning. If I hadn’t been afforded the opportunity to extend my education, oh my, how my life would have been different.”

Mathis holds a master’s degree in elementary education from George Washington University and attended graduate studies programs at the University of Maryland, Temple University, Penn State University and Nova Southeastern University. She holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Morgan State College and was valedictorian at Washington Carver High School in 1963.

She is involved with numerous organizations including the Retired Teachers’ Association, Morgan State Alumni Association, Southern Maryland Chain Chapter of the Links, Incorporated, Southern Maryland Higher Education Center Board of Directors, Education Committee – NACCP, Lexington Park Volunteer Rescue Squad Board of Directors, Commission on Aging, Unified Committee for Afro-American Contributions and the Development Review Forum. She lives in Valley Lee with her husband of nearly 40 years, Walter. They have four children and four grandchildren.


Scott Pfister

Scott Pfister of Solomons is a program manager at Precise Systems in Lexington Park which provides engineering and programmatic support to Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR). Pfister said he and fellow director Leandre will bring extensive military and technology experience to the board as it seeks to expand business and community support for its STEM initiative throughout Southern Maryland.

“Our involvement will enable us to assist the college in developing a support network to help students who may have an interest in careers in engineering, the military, NAVAIR or the defense acquisition community,” said Pfister.

Pfister is a graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and holds a bachelor of science degree in professional aeronautics. Prior to working for Precise Systems, Pfister served in the United States Marine Corp for 11 years. He is president of the SYB Optimist Club, which governs youth athletic programs in the community. Since 2002, Pfister has been coaching the Solomon Panthers and Steelers youth football and has served as manager of the Solomon Panthers baseball program for nine years.


Robinette Ross

Robinette Ross ran business operations for “The Chronicle of Higher Education” and “The Chronicle of Philanthropy” for 30 years before retiring to Newburg three years ago. From her start as assistant to the editor, to associate publisher, vice president corporate secretary, to her ultimate 15-year tenure as publisher, Ross’ innovative and intuitive approaches to her business led to her success in building the vitality of these two business publications.

She brings these strengths to the CSM Foundation. “We need to meet the employment needs of the businesses and government organizations we are trying to attract into our region. Educating our youth and preparing them for the challenges of the future have to be a primary goal,” she said.

Ross said that Southern Maryland needs to reach out to “politicians and our local and national government to assure that we are at the top of the list for jobs, funding, and research and development. We also need to form strategic alliances with private industry seeking qualified workers.”

While long-term (15-plus years) employment is rare in today’s workplace, according to Ross, students should seek out “organizations that believe in hiring and promoting from within and are entrepreneurial in nature. Being a lifelong learner ensures you will bring in new ideas and energy which makes you a valuable asset in any organization,” she said.


Andrew Ziencik Jr.

Andrew Ziencik Jr. of Lusby has more than 20 years of business experience and currently serves as the chief financial officer for Miller and Arney Antiques, Inc. Previously he was owner of Joe and Andy’s Café Beignet in Washington, D.C.

“The economy is a challenge, everyone is tightening their budgets but it is more important than ever that the college be able get the donations they need in order to develop and enhance local resources, develop the college, their programs and create a positive environment of partnership with the community,” Ziencik said.

He notes that being flexible when it comes to where you are willing to live and work is important. “I left Indiana in order to go to D.C. Now the jobs are apparently in North Dakota. Sometimes you may have to move for a period of time but the experience is important and you can bring the lessons you learn back with you when you return home,” said Ziencik.

Prior to his business career, he taught general and advanced biology for 14 years in Montgomery County Public Schools where he also served as senior class advisor and tennis coach.

Noting that important job skills are often learned in grade school, Ziencik said, “Listen. Listening helps you understand what is going on. When you make a mistake, admit it, correct it and move on. Don’t try to cover it up, lie or place the blame on someone else.”

CSM, founded in 1958, is the fifth largest community college in Maryland. In its 50-year history, the college has grown to be the centerpiece of Southern Maryland, becoming an integral part of the community it serves with campuses in Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties.

The CSM Foundation promotes academic excellence, growth, progress and the general welfare of the college by raising and managing funds, and by providing support to strengthen and develop the college and its objectives. For information on the CSM Foundation call 301-934-7649 or 301-870-2309, 240-725-5499 or 443-550-6199, Ext. 7649 or visit