AOEA Board of Directors

The Arlington Outdoor Education Association (AOEA) is managed by a Board of Directors that is made up of parents, educators, scientists and administrators that are dedicated to providing the students of Arlington County a place where they can engage in outdoor studies. 

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Current Board Members

Michael Maleski, President

Michael Maleski is a 20 plus year resident of Arlington and was elected President in 2021. Mike lives in the Leeway neighborhood with his wife JoAnne Carter and their children Charlotte and Gabriel who attend(ed) Tuckahoe Elementary, Swanson Middle, Yorktown High and Washington-Liberty High schools.  Mike is a business and technology consultant for small businesses and non-profits. He is a former Teach for America Corps Member who as an 8th grade science teacher saw first hand the benefits of outdoor learning for his students.

Scott Kovarovics, Vice President

Scott was elected Vice President of the AOEA in 2021.  He spent his career working to conserve natural resources first in government and then in successfully senior positions in nonprofit organizations. His first experience with the Outdoor Lab began like so many other parents of students in Arlington Public Schools – listening to his kids talk with wonder about their first field trip to “the Lab.” Scott got more involved with the Lab as a volunteer, and then as a Board member. Scott is excited to work with other Board members, parents and students, and APS to ensure more of our students can learn skills of the future and experience the natural world at the Outdoor Lab.

Ann Thomson, Treasurer

Ann Thomson joined the Board as Treasurer in 2019.  She and her husband Blaine moved to Arlington in 1998 and immediately knew they’d found a place where they wanted to put down roots.  Her three children attended Taylor Elementary and are now at Dorothy Hamm Middle School and Yorktown High School. They all have a love for the Outdoor Lab cultivated through many field trips, overnights, and summer camps.

Sarah Jensen, Secretary

Sarah was elected Secretary of the AOEA in 2018. She is a natural resources attorney and federal environmental program administrator who works to preserve natural spaces as a gift and a responsibility to our children and those in our community and nation. She has worked for the protection of endangered species and biodiversity, and has hiked, biked and talked about the natural world, pushing her children outside in all manner of weather. When she visited the Outdoor Lab as a volunteer, she understood immediately that it was sacred space as a learning environment for children, and wanted to be part of it.

Todd Parker, Recent Past President

Todd Parker has lived in Arlington for over 20 years and served as AOEA President from 2017-2021. He experienced the Lab “first hand” by attending a 5th grade overnight and numerous open houses with his children Holly and Devon. Todd works for the Department of the Navy and has been the Comptroller of the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Bethesda since 1996.

Anita Knipling Scott

Anita K. Scott has seen the Outdoor Lab grow from its infancy and has many memories to share. As one of Phoebe’s 5 children, she grew up with a great love of and appreciation for nature and the out-of-doors. After graduating from Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, she earned her BA in English from Westhampton College, taught for more than 30 years in Arlington (mostly at Williamsburg Middle School) and in 1988 received her MA in Humanities from Marymount University.

The Scotts’ 4 children all attended Arlington Public Schools, and they now have four teenage grandchildren in nearby McLean. Anita enjoys reading, the theater, bridge and has remained active in many local organizations since her retirement in 2000. The AOEA is her absolute favorite pastime. It is very exciting for her to see the second and even third generations of Arlington students come out to the Lab, especially since it is increasingly important in our digital world for our children to spend time learning outside.

Cristina Brayton-Lewis

Cristina grew up in Arlington, attending Abingdon Elementary and H-B Woodlawn. Cristina adored Outdoor Lab field trips growing up, attended Outdoor Lab camp in middle school, and later volunteered as a camp counselor at the Outdoor Lab in high school. She has since returned to Arlington to settle down with her family and now has two sons at Abingdon Elementary. Cristina is a partner at the law firm White & Case LLP, where she focuses on international trade issues relating to economic sanctions and export controls. Cristina and her family are enthusiastic about the outdoors, and enjoy camping and hiking (and are currently chipping away at sections of the Appalachian Trail). Cristina joined the AOEA Board in 2021.

Heather Spence

Heather is an alumna of APS school system, having graduated from HB Woodlawn. She now lives with her family in Arlington and was appointed to the AOEA Board this spring. Heather is also an alum of the Outdoor Lab summer camp and is excited to return to working with the Outdoor Lab. At work, Heather is a marine biologist, musician and composer. Heather joined the AOEA Board in 2022.

Maria Soukup

Maria is a high school student in APS and joined the Board in 2021 as its inaugural Junior Board Member. She was raised in Arlington and grew up visiting the Outdoor Lab on school field trips and attending summer camp. In high school, Maria became a junior staff member at summer camp and began volunteering for the Lab at open houses, trail maintenance events, fundraisers, and more. She is currently planning to pursue a STEM path in college, inspired by her experience at the Lab with outdoor education.

Mary Ann Penning

Mary Ann Penning is a retired, 27-year teaching veteran of Arlington Public Schools and enjoyed taking her fifth graders to the Outdoor Lab for more than 20 years.  She joined the AOEA Board in 2007 and has served on the Outreach Committee and was Board Secretary for a few years. Along with her husband Nick, the Outdoor Lab is one of their favorite places to visit. Their four daughters have enjoyed the benefits of the Lab, too, when they were students in Arlington Public Schools.

Paul Diehl

Paul Diehl has lived Arlington since 1967 and has children who attended Arlington schools.  He is a retired Arlington Public Schools bus driver who drove students to the Outdoor Lab for many years.  Paul is also a master beekeeper and helps others learn the art (including former APS Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy) Paul tends helps with outreach for the Outdoor Lab.

Former Boards of Directors