Bruce Baker

Executive Director

Bruce L. Baker is co- founder and Executive Director of Community Health and Empowerment through Education and Research (CHEER). Bruce has led CHEER’s efforts to facilitate a community strategic plan, conduct research on community housing and health conditions, and facilitate community improvement actions to address community priorities through collaborations and partnerships.  He is also a co-founder of the Takoma Foundation, a local community foundation that raises money and funds local initiatives that strengthen community and improve quality of life in Takoma Park and the surrounding neighborhoods.  Bruce has lived in Takoma Park for 25 years and frequents Sligo Creek Park as a runner, hiker, and occasional biker to appreciate the beauty of the flora, fauna, and friends he finds there.  He shares his home by the creek with his wife Mary Lee and enjoys adventures of the mind, body, and spirit with her and close friends.

Before co-founding CHEER, Bruce was an independent consultant with broad public policy experience in public finance, housing, and community development. He reported on state fiscal policy issues, contributed to the development of legislation and regulations on workforce housing and inclusionary zoning, assisted nonprofit and community based groups in developing affordable housing, designed and conducted quality assurance reviews of child support enforcement programs for the State of Maryland, and provided research and analysis to assist neighborhood revitalization projects.


He is a former evaluator and policy analyst for the U.S. Government Accountability Office where he advised the U.S. Congress on fiscal and economic policy issues.  At GAO he developed a framework for analyzing public investment programs, and led a team to advise Congress on this issue.  He also participated in a Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board task force on accounting for human capital, research and development in the Federal budget, and wrote a report on capital budgeting in the federal budget that influenced federal budgeting policy. 

Lucia Zegarra

Community Programs Director, Health

Peruvian native, Lucia Zegarra, has been involved in community development projects from a very young age. From leading youth and environmental groups in Peru to developing and facilitating bilingual support groups for the homeless in DC, Lucia has become a strong advocate for peer support as a sustainable complement of formal health care services and prevention of disease.


After working as a quality control manager at a Microsoft call center in California, she arrived in the DC area to pursue her passion for science. Here, she obtained a B.S. in Biological Sciences at UMBC while working at the phylogenetics lab in the university. Hoping to make a difference in women's lives, Lucia had become a certified domestic violence counselor in Los Angeles and later a certified breastfeeding counselor in DC, using the latter as a way to help minority populations achieve healthier lives.

Vanesa Pinto

Community Programs Director, Long Branch Education

Vanesa is the organizer of all CHEER programming involving community building and networks of support in Long Branch. Before finding her passion in community organizing, Vanesa was an accountant in Bolivia. She is proud to have been that in profession and equally proud to have left it behind as she credits her initial career path as the trigger motivating her to leave Bolivia and find her passion in the United States.

Very grateful for the skills she already acquired and eager to continue learning, she volunteered in different community organizations and elementary schools in Silver Spring advocating for the school community. She has also been teaching Literacy in Spanish to adults for the last 4 years (YMCA Program-LTL).


She proudly can say now that her mission in life is to instill hope and desire for a better quality of life in a conscious and participative community that strives for the common good.

Ray Nosbaum

Volunteer Coordinator

Ray is a CHEER volunteer.  He has been instrumental in designing and implementing the LBHFAP food delivery system that ensures that all the program participants get their weekly food distributions. Ray is also working on CHEER's volunteer development.  Ray retired from a career with the US Department of Agriculture and is the former operator of local farmers markets.

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8545 Piney Branch Road, Suite H
Silver Spring, MD 20901

Phone: 301.589.3633

Fax: 240.670.7417

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