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About Us

Karina Association, founded in March 2009, is a non-profit organization headquartered in Timonium, Maryland.  Karina serves families in Baltimore City and surrounding counties. A vital role of Karina is building acceptance and inclusion for those who are disabled in a society where most people take inclusion for granted. K.A.R.I.N.A. stands for Knowledge, Awareness, Recognition, Inclusion, Nurturance and Acceptance. Each of these factors plays an important part in our strategy to raise the conscience of society to integrate people with disabilities into the community.

Our Board and Staff

Biliana Borimetchkova
Founder and Executive Director

Biliana is a founder of Karina Association and created the executive leadership team in September, 2011. She reports to the Board of Directors, directs the Day program, develops fundraising strategy, oversee the budget, organizes special events, recruits employees and volunteers, and leads public relations efforts. She was born in Bulgaria and now lives in Baltimore, Maryland. Biliana has a Master's Degree in Fine Arts and Fashion Design from Bulgarian National Art Academy. In Bulgaria, she worked as a Costume Designer for the Bulgarian National Film Studio. Biliana came to the United States in 1991 to study at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts. She graduated with a major in Christian theology, and she established the non-profit organization, Karina Association, in 2009, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. Her work with disabled young adults has inspired her to start a special program with Expressive Arts Therapy for families with disabled children here in the Baltimore area. Currently Karina's services are based in Baltimore County, Maryland where the program reaches adults with disabilities.

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Joshua Heller
President

Josh is a Senior Consultant at Clearview Group in Owings Mills. At Clearview, Josh specializes in internal audit, Sarbanes-Oxley Compliance and Consulting, IT Audit and internal control testing, risk management consulting, and internal control process implementation and improvement. Josh also has extensive external audit experience in financial statement audits, financial statement reviews, financial statement compilations, agreed-upon procedures, fraud investigation audits, and employee benefit plan audits. Josh graduated Cum Laude from Towson University with his BS in Accounting in 2012. Josh is also the Treasurer and a member of the Leadership Committee of the Red Shoe Crew of the Ronald McDonald House of Maryland. When not volunteering time at local not-for-profits or playing softball, Josh enjoys spending time with his son, Jaxson, and wife, Rumi.

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Dina El Mahdy
Vice President

Dina El Mahdy is an associate professor of accounting at Morgan State University. She received her Ph.D. in Accounting in 2011 from Virginia Commonwealth University. Her publications have appeared in Accounting and Finance, Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting, International Journal of Accounting and Information Management, Journal of Accounting and Finance, and others. She taught at Georgetown University, American University, Cairo University, and Virginia Commonwealth University. She is on the Editorial Advisory Board of Journal of Forensic & Investigative Accounting (JFIA) and Corporate Governance and Sustainability Review (CGSR) Journal. Her intellectual work was featured/cited by Bloomberg, WalletHub, Credit Card Insiders, Columbia Law School, and the Global Financial Markets Center at Duke Law School. She is a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) and Certified Advanced Tax Preparer and Reviewer. El Mahdy received numerous competitive research grants, including a pilot NIH grant. She is currently volunteering with the CASH Campaign of Maryland. El Mahdy is a public speaker, locally and internationally, on topics related to Gender Equality, Cyber Violence, and the Advancement of Women’s Rights in the Digital Age.

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Deepak Kulkarni
Secretary

Deepak is part of the Exelon Utilities IT team and one of the senior managers responsible for large Customer programs. Immigrant from India, he has many years of software development and IT application architecture experience. He is passionate about talent development and enjoys working on complex projects. He has a BS in Engineering from India. Deepak resides in Ellicott City, MD with his wife Sarita and son Arnav. He joined Karina because it gives him a sense of purpose, giving back to community gives him fulfilling feeling and he is eager to help utilizing his technical skills in any which way possible.

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Olivia Putnam
BOD and Advocate

Hi! I’m Olivia-- I like to be called Liv for short. I enjoy painting, DIYing, hiking, and writing poetry. I have autism, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), early childhood trauma, dissociative identity disorder (DID), dyslexia, and bipolar disorder. Because of what I go through with my mental illnesses, my poetry is often about spreading knowledge and awareness about mental illnesses and neurodiversity and my artwork promotes positive messages about peace, love, and unity. I often teach the participants at Karina painting techniques. I also help the participants at Karina by encouraging them and boosting their confidence so they can achieve their goals. Also, I like to advocate for them when they can’t do it themselves. During my time at Karina, I gained a family and a home and because of that, it’s important to me that all the participants know that I’m there for them and have their back!

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Denis Gracanin, BOD
 

Dr. Denis Gracanin is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science at Virginia Tech.

He is also a steering committee member of the  Virginia Tech Center for Autism Research and its Technology Core area director.

His research interests include efforts to effectively integrate neurotechnology, devices and applications within an ASD and neurodiverse specific framework. 

His overall research includes human-computer interaction, extended reality, cybersecurity and smart environments.

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Betelhem Mekonnen
Program Manager

Betelhem, known to most as Betty, currently serves as the Program Manager at Karina Association. She graduated from Georgetown University in May 2024 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Biology. In addition, she minored in Disability Studies, reflecting her deep commitment to understanding and advocating for individuals with disabilities. Throughout her academic journey, she consistently demonstrated a remarkable commitment to excellence, leadership, and a profound motivation to help others. Betty's academic achievements are indeed impressive, but what truly sets her apart is her unwavering dedication to community service. Her numerous awards, including the High School Honor Roll, JROTC Knockout First Place Award, JROTC National Academics Award, and the Latino Student Fund Scholars Award, are a testament to her academic prowess. However, it's her 1,032 service hours, which earned her the prestigious DCPS Community Service Award, that truly reflect her values and work ethic, inspiring others to follow her lead. Her professional experience is equally distinguished. As a Developmental Client Coach at Positive Development, Betty utilized evidence-based ABA techniques to create personalized intervention plans for children with autism, significantly enhancing their communication, social interaction, and adaptive behavior skills. At Illoomunis, she gained valuable experience as a Marketing Intern, assisting in the development and execution of digital marketing campaigns and conducting in-depth market research. Furthermore, she served as a Medical Scribe at Johns Hopkins Medicine/Suburban Hospital, a Team Leader at SW Design, an Intern at the Bioethics Center at MedStar Health, and a Certified Pharmacy Technician at CVS Pharmacy.

Betty's extracurricular activities further underscore her leadership and commitment to community service. As a representative and Vice President of the Eritrean Ethiopian Student Association, she played a crucial role in organizational meetings and fundraisers, demonstrating her dedication and impact. Her leadership was also evident in her role as the battalion commander in JROTC, a position that instilled confidence in her peers and inspired them to excel. Additionally, she held leadership positions in the Robotics Team, Key Club, and Recycling Club at Calvin Coolidge High School, showcasing her ability to lead, mentor, and advocate for positive change. Overall, Betty Mekonnen is a sophisticated, educated, and experienced individual with a passion for making a positive impact in both her professional and personal endeavors. Her diverse experiences and unwavering dedication to excellence make her a standout leader and advocate in any setting.

Waldie Jolie Diabate
Program Director

Walde Jolie currently serves as the Program Manager of Karina Association and joined the company February 2023. She studied Special Education at The City College of New York and took a few classes at Howard University in 2017. She has worked with many non-profit organizations from New York, Washington DC and Maryland where she played management roles. Walde is an advocate for undocumented immigrants and has worked with The City College of New York professors and students to published a short documentary in 2012, titled “Living Undocumented: High School, College and Beyond”. In 2012, Walde was given an opportunity to run an afterschool girls’ groups at Bronx International and International Community High Schools in New York City, where she provided sexual and reproductive education to groups of young Muslim West African women. She later received grants from Columbia University and partnered with doctoral students to conduct research on Force and Early Marriage in New York City in African Communities. The research led to the publication of “Speaking Up, Reaching Out: The Sexual and Reproductive Health Needs of Immigrant Youth in New York City. Walde began training medical providers, school counselors, worship groups, etc. to breaking the taboos around sexual and reproductive conversations with the youth and be culturally sensitive.

In 2015 moving from NYC to Maryland, Walde developed a strong passion for people with disabilities and began working with autism children and adults. She is trained on Maryland Developmental Disabilities Administration and Office of Health Care Quality policies and regulations. She has worked with several DDA providers and service coordinators in order to developed person-centered services to the supported individuals.

Walde speaks Mandingo, Bambara, French, some Arabic and English. She is family oriented, and she anticipates starting a family of her own. She is an animal lover who currently owns a cat named Alexeea that she absolutely adores. Walde is excited to join Karina Association family.

Her favorite quote from Audre Lorde, “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences."

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Ashtin Price, LCSW-C
Social Worker Consultant

Ashtin Price is a licensed certified social worker-clinical (LCSW-C). Ashtin received a master’s degree in clinical social work at the University of Maryland School of Social Work. Ashtin has worked with individuals with disabilities for over a decade. She has cared for family members with disabilities and has experience working with individuals with behavioral issues at the Neurobehavioral Unit at Kennedy Krieger. She has had training in Applied Behavioral Analysis and case management services. 

Ashtin has been involved with the Karina Association since 2012. She started as a volunteer and has held several different positions over the years. Ashtin currently works with Karina Association as a consultant. In this role she oversees that participant’s PCPs and behavioral plans are implemented accurately and effectively. Ashtin believes that when working with individuals with disabilities it is important that support is given to all those involved in the individual’s care. Ashtin is available to offer staff, participants and their families support. Ashtin also serves as the chair of the quality assurance committee for Karina Association.

When not working with Karina Association Ashtin, provides individual therapy to individuals across the lifespan. She is most passionate about working with adolescents and young adults that have been exposed to trauma as well as those experiencing depression or anxiety. It is very important that self-determination is promoted in all people.

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Kimberly Moore
Program Assistant Manager

"I am a Program Assistant Manager at Karina Association with over five years of experience in management. I am deeply passionate and compassionate about my work, and this field is my calling and desire. I take great pleasure in ensuring that the lives of others are improved and enriched.

My expertise lies in management leadership, driving me to excel in my role. I also specialize in employment services, where I work closely with others to ensure job quality and correctness. I have a profound passion for my work, and I genuinely love what I do."

William Rhodes
Co-Founder/Horticulturist IT Director

William graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University with a BS Degree in Horticulture in 1979. After college Rhodes worked for the Virginia Dept of Agriculture for 4 years then worked as a Horticulturist for 4 years. In 1987 Will went to work for USDA for 10 years. In 1997 Will served as President of Global Solar and Electric where he worked for 10 years designing and installing Photo-voltaic solar systems throughout Maryland. More recently Rhodes spent 15 months in Afghanistan with the Foreign Agricultural Service. At this time Will holds a Secret level Security Clearance. He started as a volunteer in our organization because he has a passion for helping children with disabilities.

In Afghanistan he assisted children who needed medical aid with their physical disabilities. He also saw a real need for an intensive Master Gardening model that is one of the most effective methods in giving a child the maximum opportunity to make developmental, functional, and behavioral gains early in life. William strives to create real and lasting relationships with families affected by disabilities in our community and provide a network of support to all.

Karina Association Inc Audited Financial Statements and Independent Auditor's Repots

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