Kambiz Rahnavardy, Co-President
Kambiz Rahnavardy '10SEAS is a principal engineer at Federated Wireless, pioneering the spectrum-sensing cognitive radio and commercialization of Shared Spectrum. He has previously worked for Toshiba America and Bell Labs. He was the treasurer of ColumbiaDC from 2013 to 2017. Through his past and his current role as the President, Rahnavardy has played an integral part in creating an efficient and lean organizational structure with low operating cost, high resilience, and strong community outreach. He has another MS degree from Virginia Tech in Electrical Engineering. He resides in Vienna, Virginia.
Natasha Lebedeva, Co-President
Lobsang Salaka (SIPA'18) is a U.S. Army veteran and Program Specialist at the Office of Retail Operations and Compliance in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Before joining the Department of Agriculture, Lobsang has worked with the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Census Bureau, and New York State Department of Labor.
Lobsang served in the Army for nine years with three combat tours to Afghanistan. During his service, he held leadership positions as Non-Commissioned Officer-In-Charge of Afghanistan Humanitarian Relief Project, Logistical Support Operation, and Afghanistan Retrograde Operation. He also completed Congressional Fellowships on veterans' issues with Students Veterans of America, Veterans in Foreign Wars, HillVets, and Mission Continues. Lobsang served as the Columbia University SIPA Veterans Association's Communication Chair for the 2017/2018 term.
Currently, Lobsang is a Doctoral of Law and Policy candidate at Northeastern University and keeps himself active by engaging in community activities and non-profit organizations in D.C and New York. His hobbies are hiking, biking, and golfing.
Ashrit Bagali, Secretary
Ashrit Bagali (SEAS '17) is originally from the Northern Virginia area and currently works as an analyst at Capital One's US Card Division. While at Columbia, Ashrit received a B.S. in Operations Research and minored in Computer Science. In his spare time, Ashrit enjoys supporting the Washington Nationals, skiing, and trying out new bars/restaurants in the DC area.
Laura Biederman is a 1993 graduate of Columbia College, where she majored in Art History and was Captain of the Women's Varsity Archery Team. Following several happy years living in Manhattan, she earned her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center in 1998, where she served as an editor of the Immigration Law Journal. After practicing law for several years, Laura branched out to explore the more creative aspects of her personality and worked as a professional photographer, finally settling on a career in real estate in 2006. Focusing exclusively on residential sales and working with real estate investors, Laura was Long & Foster Realtor's Rookie of the Year in 2007 and has been named as one of Washingtonian Magazine's top agents for the last six years.
Although hailing from Boston, Massachusetts, Laura spent part of her childhood in Maryland and has resided in the DC area since 1995, so she considers herself a "local." In between working and driving her daughter from one place to another, Laura is an avid reader, a belly dancer and mom to an adorable pet rabbit. She is passionate about community service, social justice, political action, theoretical physics and all forms of chocolate.
Rhonda Colvin is a 2013 Graduate of Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism. There, she earned her M.A. degree, specialized in political reporting.
Colvin is an Emmy Award winning multimedia journalist with a background in both print and television reporting and currently works for The Washington Post. She has also reported for The Wall Street Journal as well as news organizations in Alabama, and her home state of Ohio.
In addition to her involvement as a board member of Columbia D.C., Colvin also sits on Columbia Journalism School's Board of Alumni.
Frances Onyimba, MD is a gastroenterologist at the University of Maryland Medical Center with a focus in esophageal diseases and GI motility disorders. She completed medical school at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons prior to completing her internal medicine residency and a fellowship in GI motility and Neurogastroenterology at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. She subsequently completed her general GI fellowship at University of California San Diego, where she served as a chief fellow. In 2019, she was selected into the Young Physician Leadership Scholars Program by the American College of Gastroenterology for leadership development and physician advocacy. Her interests include health communications and innovative programs and practices within healthcare. While at Columbia, she co- founded the CU Arts initiative backed P&S Dance club (now known as Dance Haven) and remains an avid supporter of the performing arts.
Joseph C. Feuer (Columbia College ’87; SIPA ’91) has just concluded two terms as ColumbiaDC President. He is Executive Director of the Corporate Leadership practice at The Conference Board, a business membership and research association working in the public interest. Previously, Mr. Feuer served for five years as executive director of the Washington D.C. Chapter of the Society for International Development, a membership-based professional association for international development practitioners, Other prior positions include country director for two international development NGOs: Pact, in Ukraine and Belarus, and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, in the Republic of Georgia.
Mr. Feuer has also served as Program Manager for European Affairs, and Economies in Transition at the U.S. Council for International Business in New York. In the years just after the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, he worked as a political adviser to the leading Czech political party and as a public relations consultant to companies invested in Eastern Europe. He also started the first walking tour company in post-communist Czechoslovakia. Earlier, Mr. Feuer worked as a legislative and campaign aide for Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II. He holds a B.A. in political science from Columbia College and an M.I.A. from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University.
Jennifer Holm (GEMBA '14) is Founder and CEO of a boutique marketing agency, BoBella Brands located in Bethesda, MD. Jennifer is an accomplished entrepreneur with an extensive marketing background and specific expertise in brand management. Prior to staring BoBella, Jennifer worked as a Senior Portfolio Marketing Manager at Momentum Worldwide an Interpublic Group agency. Jennifer has helped establish several start-up companies where she developed strong insights in identifying and capturing evolving markets through both digital and experiential marketing strategies. As a marketing and branding expert she has gained wide-ranging capabilities in the areas of strategic planning, digital marketing, and brand positioning. Driven by vision, passion, and teamwork, she has an unrelenting focus for seeking out opportunities that challenge the entrepreneurial spirit. Jennifer holds MBAs from both Columbia University and London Business School, as well as a Bachelor of Business Administration focusing on International Business and Marketing from The George Washington University in DC.
Mike Byerly (CBS '18) is currently working in Federal Business Development, and has a total of 10+ years of sales and business development experience spanning both commercial and federal markets working for companies including Deloitte Consulting, CEB (now Gartner), Bloomberg Government, and Censeo Consulting Group. When he's not working, Mike plays the saxophone and produces his own music. He and his wife both went to undergrad in Washington, DC (Mike at Georgetown, Sarah at GW), and they currently live in DuPont Circle.
Tisha is a previous ColumbiaDC President and present Board member. Currently, she is True Bearing Diagnostics, CEO and St. Laurent Institute, EVP. With over 15 years experience developing successful start-up companies, Jepson brings with her, a leadership and board level perspective from both the private and public sector. Most recently, Jepson worked as Director of Corporate Strategy, Sales, and Marketing for SeqLL, Inc. with the goal of improving world healthcare through improved diagnostics using true single molecule sequencing (tSMS) and focusing on the the Systems Biology of non-coding RNAs and their influence on chronic disease. She holds degrees from Columbia University’s Barnard College (BA), from American University (MA), and will complete her second Master's degree in the Spring of 2018 from Johns Hopkins University.
Alex Liebowitz (CC’61) majored in history and rowed on the lightweight crew while at the College. After graduate work in history, including a year as a Fulbright scholar in Paris, and a year as a history instructor at Ohio State, he entered the Foreign Service in 1967. Alex spent most of his Foreign Service career working on European and political-military affairs -- in particular, disarmament. After 27 years in the Foreign Service, Alex moved over to the Civil Service, where he spent another 17 years working on arms control and nonproliferation issues.
Since his retirement in 2012, Alex has been keeping active by studying the piano, taking a range of courses for retirees, and engaging in Columbia alumni groups in the DC area, including a book club that is re-engaging with the Core Curriculum reading list. He continues to enjoy skiing, including an annual trip to join a classmate on the slopes of Colorado and last year joined another classmate in sailing up and down the east coast to deliver the classmate’s boat to New England.
Alex is interested in bringing diverse programming to the Columbia Alumni Club on DC, and welcomes inputs from members on events they would like to see the club sponsor.
Scott L. Sellars is currently a Systems Integration Engineer at the University of California, San Diego’s Qualcomm Institute and a Visiting Fellow with the American Meteorological Society’s Policy Program in Washington DC. Before these positions, Scott was a Science and Technology Policy Fellow with the National Science Foundation's Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure, sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Scott received a Bachelor of Science degree in Meteorology from the University of Utah in 2005, a Master of Arts degree in Climate and Society from Columbia University in 2009 and a Master of Science (2012) and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from the University of California, Irvine in 2014. Scott was a 2014-2015 Science and Technology Policy Fellow in the California State Legislature, sponsored by the California Council on Science and Technology. During his one year fellowship, he was placed in the office of California State Assembly Member Bill Quirk providing support to the member in several areas, including staffing California Assembly Appropriations Committee and managed five legislative bills. Two of the Assembly member’s energy related bills Scott staffed were signed by California Governor Jerry Brown in October of 2015. Scott is particularly interested in providing our policy makers and leaders with the most current and top quality scientific information, engineering solutions, knowledge, and technology available so that their decisions will have the highest likelihood for success.
Dale Chakarian Turza is the Senior Vice President and General Counsel of SAP National Security Services, Inc.® (SAP NS2®). Prior to joining SAP NS2, Dale was a Partner in the White Collar Defense and Complex Litigation Group of the New York law firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, LLP, and, prior to that, she was a Partner in the global law firm, Clifford Chance Rogers & Wells, LLP. With over three decades of experience, Dale is a nationally recognized expert in issues relating to national security, corruption, commercial and arms exports, boycotts and economic sanctions. In private practice, she represented many U.S. and foreign defense contractors, industrial companies, financial institutions, and news organizations, among others, and she handled numerous enforcement actions, internal investigations and compliance matters over the years. Dale received her B.A. degree summa cum laude from Connecticut College for Women, where she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She obtained her M.A. degree from Columbia University and a J.D. degree from the Georgetown University Law Center where she was editor of the Journal of Law and Policy in International Business.
Miyako is a 2012 graduate of Columbia College with a BA in History. She then got her masters at the LBJ school at the University of Texas, Austin and now works as a Geopolitical Risk Analyst specializing in the Americas region at Ankura Consulting.
Our durable bon vivant and world traveler, Lew Mendelson, C’55, Law ’58, is the closest thing to a historic anachronism. He began participating in Columbia DC events in the early ’60s and was its president in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. In 1991, he was awarded an Alumni Medal for his leadership of the club. He has also served as President of the Columbia Law School Association of Washington DC. In earlier lives Lew worked as a teamster, a merchant seaman, and a Spanish Sportswriter. As a member of Salem, Oregon’s Pentacle Players, among other roles, he was “Jim O’Connor, the Gentleman Caller” in Tennessee William’s “The Glass Menagerie.” After service in the Army National Guard, he was named Law Clerk to the Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court (1959-60). Thereafter, for 31 years, he worked as an SEC lawyer rising to Assistant Director in its Division of Investment Management and Senior Counsel in its Division of Enforce! ment. In “retirement,” from 1993 -2015, as a consultant with PriceWaterhouse, PWC, IBM and the Aries Group, he developed capital markets in 18 countries as disparate as Kyrgyzstan (1993-96), India (1996-2007), Egypt (2008), Bangladesh (2006, 2012-2014) and Bhutan (2013-15). In 2007, he again became active in Columbia DC, overseeing the restructuring of its Board, serving on its Nominating Committee and helping to write event and other promos. In 2017, he became Chair of RESET, a non-profit organization of volunteer scientists that provides hands-on learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to pre-school, elementary and middle school students in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia.