Honorees

Mark Bergel

Mark Bergel

Founder and President, A Wider Circle

Dr. Mark Bergel is the Founder and President of A Wider Circle, a nonprofit organization founded in 2001. The mission of A Wider Circle is to end poverty by inspiring, fostering, and measuring individual and community level change. Dr. Bergel has led the organization’s growth from its early years to its current status as a primary source of support for more than 25,000 individuals per year and hundreds of government, social service, and nonprofit agencies in the nation’s capital region. A Wider Circle helps individuals by providing both long-term support and basic need items, and fosters community level change through comprehensive neighborhood programming and advocacy. All of A Wider Circle’s programs are replicable and exportable to low-income communities throughout the country.

Biography
In 2001, Dr. Mark Bergel, then teaching at American University, volunteered along with his students to deliver food to families living in need in our nation’s capital region. He found himself in apartment after apartment where there were no beds, dressers, tables, or other furniture – and where families were living with little or no access to the information, resources, and support readily available to others throughout our communities.

As a result, Dr. Bergel’s life changed profoundly. With no seed money, but a strong conviction that we could do better for those living in poverty, he converted his living room into a nonprofit office and founded A Wider Circle. To date, the organization has served more than 200,000 children and adults and currently hosts more than 30,000 volunteers every year.

Dr. Bergel is a nationally acclaimed speaker and has been a featured guest on numerous television and radio programs. His efforts to end poverty have led to his selection as a CNN Hero, Washingtonian of the Year, and as one of PEOPLE Magazine’s “All-Stars Among Us.” He has also received the Roscoe R. Nix Distinguished Community Leadership Award, the Cyrus A. Ansary Medal, the Dr. Augustus White III Award for Civic Engagement and Service, the American University Alumni Recognition Award, the Greater DC Cares’ Essence of Leadership Award, the Community Foundation for the National Capital Area’s Linowes Leadership Award, the Jac. J. Lehrman-George M. Pikser Award, the Smart CEO Cornerstone Award, and the Andrea Jolly President’s Award.

Dr. Bergel earned a Bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University and went on to receive both Masters and Doctoral degrees from American University.

Michelle D. Freeman

Michele D. Freeman

Owner and CEO, Carl M. Freeman Companies

Michelle DiFebo Freeman is the owner and CEO of the Carl M. Freeman Companies, a real estate company established in 1947, that specializes in land acquisition, land planning, development and redevelopment, and the management of award-winning, amenity-rich residential communities, neighborhood shopping centers and commercial properties. Freeman Companies also owns and operates three golf courses including, Bayside, an 18-hole, award-winning Jack Nicklaus Signature Course in Fenwick Island, DE.

Michelle is President and Chairman of the Carl M. Freeman Foundation, which has been giving grants to organizations where Freeman employees live, work and play since 1960. She is the founding Chair of the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation, which honors her late husband Joshua Freeman by providing arts and arts education to create opportunities to elevate the human spirit. She was the visionary of the Foundation’s first program: The Freeman Stage at Bayside, Delaware. Among the numerous awards for business and philanthropic leadership, Michelle received the 2014 Irene and Abe Pollin Humanitarian Award on behalf of the Carl M. Freeman Foundation, Coastal Style Magazine’s Business Woman of the Year for 2015, 2016, and 2017.

A founding member of Venture Philanthropy Partners, Michelle serves on the Board of Halcyon Foundation of Georgetown and Georgetown University Entrepreneurship Advisory Group at The McDonough School of Business. For several years she has chaired AfterDark@THEARC in SouthEast D.C., receiving their 2017 Bridge Builder Award. In 2018 delivered a TEDx talk on The Power of Service in Healing a Broken Heart.

Michelle is a minority partner in Monumental Sports and Entertainment which owns Capital One Arena, the Washington Capitals, Wizards, Mystics and Valor Football. In 2013, Elle Magazine named her as one of the 10 Most Influential Women in Washington, D.C. Michelle is an active member of the Young President Organization. She co-produced the documentary The Other City with her business partner Sheila Johnson and is currently producing two full length documentaries. Michelle is most proud of her three children: Nicholas, Benjamin and Juliana Freeman.

Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee

President & CEO, Lee Development Group, Inc.

Bruce was born and raised in New York City. In 1986 he moved to Maryland to be one of LDG’s property managers. In July 2005, Bruce took over as the company’s President and in 2015 added the role of CEO. Bruce is currently serving on the EagleBank (EGBN) Board of Directors, is a member of the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce (MCCC) Board of Directors, serving as the Co-Chair of the Economic Development Committee. From 2012 To 2016 Bruce served as the ICSC Washington DC/Maryland/N. Virginia State Alliance Private Sector Co-Chair.

Bruce was educated at Tabor Academy and Eckerd College and received his Executive MBA Certificate from the American University Kogod School of Business. He is a graduate of the inaugural class of Leadership Montgomery in 1990, was the Charter President of the Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce in 1993, served again as Chamber President in 1998 and was Chair of the Silver Spring Urban District Advisory Committee from 1991-1993.

He has served on the Montgomery County Economic Advisory Council and the Mount Airy Economic Development Commission. Bruce is a licensed real estate broker in the state of Maryland, accredited Real Property Administrator through the Building Owners Managers Institute International and has many years of experience in development, construction, property management, financing, leasing, sales and other aspects of commercial real estate in Montgomery, Frederick and Howard Counties. He is presently staking out future development opportunities and continuing the company’s high profile in the community.

Bruce is the Chairman of Driven To Cure, a 501-c3 started by his son Andrew to raise the awareness of and monies for research into rare cancers such as HLRCC.

Jorge Restrepo

Jorge Restrepo

Founder and CEO, EurekaFacts, LLC

Jorge Restrepo is founder and CEO of EurekaFacts, a growing market and social science research firm located in Rockville, Maryland. Leading a team of research experts, he focuses on delivering breakthrough insights on every project, for every client.

Since founding EurekaFacts from his townhome basement in 2003, he has built a forward-thinking organization that focuses on the value of research participants and the insights they bring to help decision-makers shape a better, safer, healthier world. His research has given a voice to a wide range of demographic groups in both nationally and internationally. Current initiatives have data collection operations throughout the United States, in Central America, and a growing Artificial Intelligence unit in Medellín, Colombia. The company, the first and only Latino-owned firm to attain International Standards Organization certification for market research (ISO20252), serves many of the world’s most respected nonprofit, private sector, and government organizations.

Jorge grew up in Medellín and arrived in Maryland in 1989 as a recent college graduate. He worked at call centers, retail stores, and insurance sales, progressing to become and Market Research Director at Youth for Understanding International Exchange and Chief Marketing Officer at Association for International Practical Training.

A strong advocate for small business and entrepreneurship as a critical upward mobility avenue, Jorge is deeply involved in the community. He serves on several local boards and has chaired the Hispanic Business Foundation of Maryland, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Montgomery County, Maryland Hispanic Business Conference, and Mid Atlantic Market Research Association. He has served on the Montgomery County Ethnic Affairs Committee, Latin American Advisory Council, American Youth Philharmonic Orchestras, the Governor’s Commission on Small Business, Montgomery Community Media, Montgomery County Small Business Committee, Maryland SBDC Small Business Advisory Board, and Montgomery County Career Transitions (Workforce Solutions).

Jorge holds a Scaling Up Excellence Certificate from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, a Master’s degree in General Administration with a concentration in marketing from the University of Maryland University College School of Management and Technology, and a Bachelor of Science degree in business with minors in economics and finance from EAFIT University in Medellin, Colombia. He is fully bilingual in English and Spanish. Jorge and his wife Maria Cristina live in Gaithersburg, Maryland and have two daughters Paula and Alexandra.