Larry Ottinger - Board Chair
Larry Ottinger is a long-time civil rights and social change lawyer, advocate, and funder. Currently, he is a philanthropy adviser on democracy and economic justice issues. In addition, he founded and chairs progressive civic engagement efforts in Maryland. Previously, he served as President of the Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest; Director of Policy and Leadership Development at the Fannie Mae Foundation; Senior Counsel at Advancement Project and People For the American Way on voting and constitutional rights; and Associate at the civil rights law firm of Bernabei & Katz. He was a member of the 2007 class of Leadership Maryland and has served on several nonprofit boards. After graduating from Stanford Law School, he clerked for U.S. District Judge Walter E. Black, Jr. in Baltimore.
Karen N. Darkes graduated with honors from Morgan State University in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. While at Morgan, she served in various leadership positions, including as the student member of the Board of Regents. Karen worked on the Brown-Ulman 2014 Maryland gubernatorial campaign, and currently does national political fundraising at the firm Campaign Finance Consultants. Outside of the office, Karen is the co-founder of Political Brew which is a platform that engages young people and people of color in politics. She is also a political contributor and has been featured on Tula Talks Entertainment and as a contributing writer for Speaking of Everything Magazine. Karen is a member of Black Girls Vote Incorporated, and recently served as the chairperson for the First Annual Black Girls Vote Ball.
Sheila F. Maith is an executive coach and consultant. Her individual clients include executives in the NeighborWorks® Achieving Excellence Program. Her organizational clients include the Federal Home Loan Banks’ Community Investment Officers, United Way Worldwide, and the National Urban League. Prior to becoming a consultant, she spent twenty years in the non-profit, government and quasi-government sectors. She served as Senior Advisor and Community Affairs Officer for the Federal Reserve Board of Governors; as Managing Director for Leadership and Policy Development at the Fannie Mae Foundation; as Managing Director for Leadership and Policy Development at the Fannie Mae Foundation. She received a J.D. degree cum laude from Harvard Law School and a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government. She also received an A.B. degree in public policy magna cum laude from Duke University.
former board members.
Rashad Staton is a 27-year-old Baltimore native, entrepreneur, and community organizer. As the youth engagement specialist for the Baltimore City Schools Office of Engagement, Rashad works to expand the district’s reach in the community in support of youth advocacy and leadership. Prior to this role, he worked for the Family League of Baltimore as a youth and community engagement specialist. Rashad is the co-founder of two businesses—BeMore Consulting, LLC (The BeMore Group), an organization that provides consultation on subjects such as youth development, community engagement, and financial literacy, and It Takes One Inc., a scholarship award and mentoring program for first generation graduating seniors in Baltimore City Public Schools that are entering college. He has served as the vice chair of the Baltimore City Youth Commission and furthered his passion for public service and civic engagement in 2016 when he campaigned as one of Baltimore City’s youngest democratic candidates for Baltimore City Council for the 12th District. Rashad also volunteers with #BaltimoreVotes. Rashad is a Fellow for the Campaign for Black Male Achievement’s Building Beloved Community Leadership Fellowship (BBCLF) and is a 2017 recipient of Community Law in Action’s (CLIA) Inspiring Voices award. He graduated top of his class from Paul Laurence Dunbar High School and holds a BA in Political Science from Morgan State University. Currently, he is pursuing a Masters of Public Administration with a specialization in Non-Profit Management at the University of Baltimore.
Mike Pretl was a native Baltimorean and former Catholic seminarian who graduated from Georgetown University Law Center in 1969. After beginning practice with Smith, Somerville and Case in Baltimore, he founded the firm of Pretl & Erwin in 1981, developing a successful international plaintiffs’ practice in mass pharmaceutical litigation. He then served for 16 years as general counsel to American Urological Association headquartered in the Baltimore area. He had been active in progressive politics since the 1970s, first in Baltimore and now on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. He created pro bono more than 100 tax-exempt organizations, has taught environmental law at Salisbury University, and currently serves on a dozen varied nonprofit boards. He lectured on climate change and renewable energy policy, and as president of the Nanticoke Watershed Alliance, sought to find common ground with the local agricultural community.