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Our Team


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Laura Pickard

Executive Director

Laura Pickard is an experienced school administrator with a proven track record of improving quality of care, productivity, and compliance. She moved to Charleston in 2016 after completing seven years as a school principal at a non-public special education day school serving roughly 125 children and adolescents with emotional and behavioral disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, and related special needs. She has her undergraduate degree in Special Education from the College of Charleston and her Masters degree in Special Education from Trinity University.  Ms. Pickard has worked in a variety of public and private school settings as an educator.  Her experiences locally are complemented with her accomplishments globally.  Laura spent time in Kenya, where she worked as an educational volunteer with Global Volunteer Network. Ms. Pickard has a significant amount of experience in the food and beverage industry.  Her first job in high school was working in a dessert and coffee shop in Marietta, Georgia.  She then went on to waitress in a number of fine dining restaurants in South Carolina, Martha’s Vineyard, and Washington, DC.

Alexis George

Board Member

Alexis George is a Financial Advisor for UBS in Washington, DC and is Series 7 and Series 66 licensed. Prior to joining UBS, Alexis worked in business development for Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management. Prior to the financial services industry, her career focused on Project Management Consulting. Ms. George is a Certified International Configuration Manager (CICM), as well as, a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and has consulted for Lockheed Martin, Entergy Nuclear, and the College Board. Ms. George graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English from Georgetown University where she also played goalkeeper on the women’s soccer team. In 2007 she went on to also receive an MBA from the University of Maryland University College. She currently resides in Washington, DC with her husband, Wesley, and their rescue dog, Cayman.

Nisha Sachdev

Board Member

Nisha Sachdev has been involved in research and evaluation for 8 years.  Currently, Nisha is the  Research and Evaluation Manager at the DC Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation. Here she is responsible for developing, implementing, and managing evaluations and monitoring citywide and organizational initiatives.  Previously, as Executive Director at Coaching for College, Ms. Sachdev was responsible for creating and implementing annual strategic plans, managing program operations, and developing program evaluation, tracking, and reporting systems. Prior to this, she worked as a Consultant at UNICEF and the Ministry of Health of Trinidad and Tobago where she was responsible for developing a draft adolescent health policy and also evaluating a regional program promoting anti-violence.  Ms. Sachdev currently serves as the Founder of Breaking the Cycle, which is an organization that provides support for at-risk youth to positively develop.  Ms. Sachdev is a member of Delta Omega Honors Society and a Board Member of Coaching for College.  She earned a DrPh in Health Behavior from the George Washington University, and is pursuing a Doctorate of Psychology at the George Washington University focusing on Child and Adolescent Psychology.

Alan Noskow

Advisory Committee

Alan Noskow is a partner at the law firm King & Spalding.  Alan’s practice focuses primarily on business law and transactional work for non-profit and for-profit companies of all sizes.  Throughout his career, Alan has had a strong commitment to pro bono work and giving back to the community.  He has both served on and acted as outside legal counsel to several boards of directors of non-profit entities.  In addition to Independent Grounds, Alan serves on the board of Breaking the Cycle, an organization that provides support for at-risk youth to positively develop.  Alan received his BA from the University of Rochester and his JD from the University of Miami.  He lives in Bethesda with his wife and three children.

David Zaidain

Advisory Committee

David Zaidain is a professional city planner with over 12 years of professional experience. While also working in Cincinnati, Ohio and Chicago, Illinois- Mr. Zaidain worked for 10 years for the National Capital Planning Commission in Washington, DC, where he was the lead planner on several high profile federal urban design, development, and infrastructure related projects. He joined Amtrak in July 2013 as the Project Director for the Washington Union Station Master Plan, which is a $7 billion, 15 year project to expand Union Station and build 3.0 million square feet of development in air rights over the station's rail yard. He holds a Masters in city planning, as well as, a Masters in real estate development. Mr. Zaidain is also a filmmaker and musician whose latest short film "The Plumbers" will be screened in December 2014 and whose band, Devils Walk As Saints, released a full length record in December 2013. He resides in the Shaw neighborhood of Washington, DC.


Seamus Kraft

Advisory Committee

Seamus Kraft loves America, technology and helping people participate in their communities. He simultaneously launched the nonprofit organization, OpenGov, in 2011 while working as Director of Digital Strategy and press secretary for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Leading a plucky team of digital ninjas from 2009 to 2013, he built the committee’s influential digital presence from scratch and lived to tell the tale. When not working on OpenGov, you can probably find him reading, in the woods looking for lost golf balls or following Phish around the United States. A native of Marblehead, MA, Mr. Kraft graduated from Georgetown University in 2007 with a degree in classical political philosophy. He is a recent recipient of a year-long fellowship from the Shuttleworth Foundation. 

Lorna Baldwin

Advisory Committee

Lorna Baldwin is a television news producer with more than 14 years of experience in the industry. For the past 7 years, she has been the Deputy Senior Producer for News at the Emmy award-winning PBS NewsHour (formerly the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer). Ms. Baldwin writes on a wide range of editorial subjects, from international conflicts to economics, politics to arts. She's field produced a number of high-profile interviews with foreign ministers, Nobel Prize winners, authors and musicians. Ms. Baldwin is a frequent contributor to the NewsHour's website and has been involved in its political convention coverage for the past 3 presidential elections. She's also served as an Emmy judge for 6 years. Ms. Baldwin studied International Relations at Kalamazoo College and Syracuse University.

Chris Eacho

Advisory Committee

Chris Eacho has worked in the field of special education for 20 years, serving as a special education teacher and as a school administrator.  He has a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Maryland, College Park, a Master of Arts in Teaching from Trinity University, a Master of Science in School Administration from Johns Hopkins University, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Special Education from the University of Maryland, College Park.  He has work experience in public and private schools, has taught at the university level, and has supervised teacher candidates completing their Master's Degrees.  Dr. Eacho also has 10 years of experience in the food service industry.

Sebastian Zutant

Advisory Committee

In April 2013, Sebastian opened The Red Hen with partners Mike Friedman and Mike O'Malley. The 50-seat, Italian-influenced American restaurant is located in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of DC and is designed by Zutant's wife, Lauren Winter of Edit.  

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