Officers

John Yochelson

President

John Yochelson, president, brings to his leadership position a wide range of high-level policy experience including the presidency of the U.S. Council on Competitiveness, an appointment to the President’s Export Council, and membership on the management team of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Mr. Yochelson has been responsible for the development of BEST’s virtual business model, the core team selection, the national search for effective STEM programs, the interface with DoD management and leadership, and the management of relationships with national non-profit partners and other stakeholders. Mr. Yochelson continues to provide oversight in the areas of development and execution of STEM program activities; promotion of the K-16 STEM education and outreach efforts to encourage maximum participation; and the development of metrics and analysis methodologies.

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Karen Harper

Vice President

Karen Harper, vice president, has operational responsibilities along with leading the community engagement portfolio. She has 34 years of federal government experience in human capital management, workforce planning, and project planning and execution. Ms. Harper developed the DoD STEM Diversity Campaign framework launched in 2013 and was principally responsible for the creation of the Greater DC STEM Pilot designed to engage historically underserved K-12 student populations. Ms. Harper built the community engagement portfolio to include local and national collaborative partnerships that advance STEM awareness, build skills, and create career pathways. Ms. Harper’s steady leadership style yields results in building relationships with school districts, non-profits, government organizations and other stakeholders.

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Diane Peluso

Financial Advisor

Diane Peluso, financial advisor, is the founder of DMP Consulting with expertise in providing all aspects of accounting, finance, auditing, bid & proposal, administration and contracting services to Government and commercial contractors. She has over 35 years of direct experience in managing personnel and programs responsible for government contracts, grants and accounting compliance. Ms. Peluso possesses in-depth understanding of government job cost accounting, indirect rate computations, and bid & proposal efforts and has been directly involved in all types of proposal submissions, negotiations and awards. She is also a professor at San Diego State University teaches Government Financial Management. Ms. Peluso has managed the financial portfolio for BEST since 2003 and has provided unparalleled experience in all aspects of accounting, finance, and auditing.

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Carlos Rodriquez, Ph.D.

Senior Advisor

Dr. Carlos Rodriquez, senior advisor and nationally recognized for his STEM evaluation and research expertise focused on formal/informal, federal and private initiatives, and programs to accelerate, motivate, and improve the success of students in STEM education. Dr. Rodriguez is an expert and chief research scientist with more than 25 years’ experience in the evaluation of programs that provide students with exposure to STEM careers in the United States technical and educational workforce. Additionally, Dr. Rodriguez has expertise in the development of analyses, methodologies, and metrics to assess the effectiveness and impact of student and teacher centered educational STEM activities tailored to individual types of STEM activities that enable continuous improvement and further development of future STEM activities.

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Brenda Sullivan

Communications Director

Brenda Sullivan, director of communications, has more than 25 years experience directing and managing marketing communications. Sullivan has been responsible for managing all aspects of communications including market research, campaign development; editorial writing, editing and proofing; graphic design and production, photography management; film and video production and editing; website design, development and updates; event planning; and internal and external communications. Sullivan has managed BEST’s communications efforts on behalf of the DoD since 2007.

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Stephanie Peluso

Accounting Consultant

Stephanie Peluso, accounting consultant with DMP Consulting, provides clients with the necessary operational, accounting, auditing and contractual expertise to enable them to successfully conduct their business with the Federal Government. Stephanie manages administrative details for a non-profit multi-million-dollar government grant. Responsibilities also include audit preparation, government vouchers, indirect rate computation, assisting on incurred cost poposal submissions, and contract management.

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Margaret Smith-Pope

Outreach Coordinator

Margaret Smith-Pope, outreach coordinator, and retired from the federal government with 25 years of logistics planning and coordination experience. She spent 12 years at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) preparing operational plans and procedures for special events and dignitaries and was responsible for organizing and leading teams in guest operations planning and in developing strategies for developing major agency programs of national scope and impact. Since 2014, Ms. Smith has managed, coordinated and executed logistics requirements for all BEST student and teacher outreach events reaching over 4000 students, and nearly 500 educators.

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