Our Team

Carola Mandelbaum

Executive Director

Carola is the Executive Director of Smart City Works and Project Director for the Northern Virginia Smart Region Initiative. She a highly effective leader with a strong ability to translate vision and strategy into execution. She has cemented her experience in nonprofit management including establishing strategic partnerships, administration of staff and programs, financial systems, operations, and business development. Carola has more than 18 years of experience managing development grants/contracts funded by multiple donors including US Government, corporations, foundations, foreign governments, and high net worth donors. She has extensive experience administering management programs that develop the capacity of civil society organizations in complex domestic and international environments.

Monika Merk

GOVA Program Manager

Monika is joining us as our GOVA Program Manager. As such, she will support the implementation of the GOVA grant and help us strengthen our NOVA Smart Region Initiative and expand the regional ecosystem.

Monika received her Master of Public Policy from the University of Virginia in May 2019 and her Bachelor of Arts, with a Political Science focus, in 2014. She has experience working with federal, state, and local governments and most recently held the position of Program Analyst within the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services. Monika also worked with Virginia Supportive Housing – where she learned firsthand about the importance of effective program implementation and analysis.

Monika brings deep experience in coordinating across sectors to approach problem-solving with a holistic and equitable lens. She remains an active advocate for marginalized populations and supports inclusive community development.

Board Members

David Heyman


Thought leader, strategist, software engineer, and recognized expert in national security and international affairs with two decades of executive experience in government, and 15 years in the private sector. David has served in senior positions at the White House, US Department of Energy, and US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and founded two ventures in the private sector. Most recently, he was Assistant Secretary for Policy at DHS, where he designed and led global efforts and Presidential initiatives in counterterrorism, cybersecurity, building community resilience, and critical-infrastructure protection. David will lead the Regional Innovation Leadership Council, the Business Acceleration Program, and the Living Labs Program.

Ric Fleisher

Board Member

Ric Fleisher has more than 30 years of experience in business development, sales and technology. He has been involved with 9 start-ups. These ventures have included real estate, two sided marketplaces, mobile, location based services, ID verification, networking hardware, speech, streaming video, collaboration, intelligent agents and RFID. He has helped build early stage technology companies in Software, Hardware and Service areas. His current start-up is Manor Financial. Manor helps consumers understand, maintain and grow the value of their home. Prior to Manor, he was the co-founder of Urgent.ly. Urgent.ly is the global digital roadside assistance platform. Originally created as a platform for all urgent needs including those for homes.

Greg Sauter

Board Member

National Infrastructure technology leader working at the crossroads of emerging tech and its application to create real and lasting business outcomes. WGI is a national design and professional services firm leading in technology-based solutions. Former C-Suite at Fortune 200 infrastructure firm, Adjunct Professor at Columbia University, Past President and Board Chairman of Engineers Without Borders.

Avi Halpert

Board Member

Avi oversees the global Corporate Real Estate Department for United Therapeutics. He directed the development of Unither’s downtown headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland. The multi-block campus includes several LEED Gold projects, including the adaptive upgrades and expansions of facilities to meet corporate energy goals. Unither’s new net-zero facility called the Unisphere, was constructed under the direction of Avi’s team. This building features computational labs, offices and a new plaza for community use. On Unither’s North Carolina campus, Avi and his team are responsible for an extensive solar array, property acquisitions, site development and adaptive uses of an existing historical buildings.

Robert Mazer

Board Member

Passionate and seasoned entrepreneur and attorney with multi-decade experience in developing creative and innovative strategies to obtain value from emerging market opportunities. Bob was instrumental in the conception and founding of iBiquity Digital (terrestrial digital radio), iXnet (Global VPN), Ondas Media (European satellite radio), Assure Space, LLC (insurance underwriter), and most recently Apio Systems, Inc. (telematics). Bob was an Equity Partner at the international law firm of Vinson and Elkins. At the law firm, he established and grew the Telecommunications Practice and represented numerous clients developing and implementing innovative telecommunications technologies. Bob will be an Accelerator Lead Mentor and responsible for grant management and fundraising for the Initiative. He will also support ecosystem partnership development.

Jane Chmielinski

Board Member

Jane A. Chmielinksi is retired COO and president, Americas, of AECOM Technology Corporation. She is credited, among many accomplishments, with the launch of the company brand, its safety program, and its global performance-management system.

She is a graduate of UMass Boston. Jane previously was president of DMJM Harris, which was acquired by AECOM in 2008. She transitioned from Harris to serve as AECOM group chief executive, corporate development, and was responsible for communications, human resources, IT, and several other activities.

She is personally involved in a number of professional associations, including the American Public Transportation Association and the Women’s Transportation Seminar. Jane serves on the board of directors of the March of Dimes, the New York chapter of the Women’s Forum, and the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation. She received the ACE Mentor Program Legacy Award, the Women’s Development Forum Vision and Leadership Award, and the March of Dimes Service Humanity Award.

Jane has been married to Paul for 33 years, and they enjoy traveling, sailing, paddle boarding, and visiting Jane’s family near Boston.