VASO Board of Directors

Karen Emmons - State Director

Karen Emmons first became involved with Science Olympiad in Pittsford, New York in 2001 when her eldest child began middle school and came home one day telling her about this "cool" after-activity she wanted to join. After three years of involvement in NY SO mentoring students in building events, Ms. Emmons and her family moved to Fairfax where she co-founded the Lake Braddock Middle School SO team in 2005 and founded the White Oaks Elementary School SO team in 2009, as well as writing and running events for VASO. Her husband, Ian, has been an active coach and event supervisor for the building and physics events and their children have all coached, mentored, and judged events, as well.

Early in her career, Ms. Emmons worked as an actuary for Fireman's Fund Insurance, where she focussed on large claim worker's compensation, reinsurance reserves, and entertainment insurance pricing. More recently, Ms. Emmons has worked in an ecclesiastic setting, where overseeing communications, project planning and volunteer management were among her many duties.

Ms. Emmons has a B.A. in math and psychology from the University of Rochester and an M.Div. from the Pacific School of Religion. She has been State Director of Virginia Science Olympiad since the fall of 2012.

Emily Owens - Assistant State Director

Emily Owens has been coaching the high school Science Olympiad team at Lake Braddock Secondary School since 2012. Ms. Owens has taught high school chemistry since 2011 and currently teaches at Lake Braddock during the school year and Thomas Jefferson High School of Science and Technology over the summer. She has also served as a mentor to new teachers in Fairfax County Public Schools.

In her spare time, Ms. Owens enjoys kickboxing, playing board games, and taking her Newfoundland "Cece" to the dog park with her husband.

Ms. Owens received a B.A. in Chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an M.Ed. in Science Curriculum and Instruction K-12 from George Mason University.

Jeff Anderson - Chair of the Board

Jeff Anderson, VASO Coordinator of Corporate Outreach, has been volunteering for Science Olympiad since 2010 covering a variety of building events, notably "Sounds of Music" and "It's About Time."

Mr. Anderson is the corporate strategy and business development director for Noblis, a science and technology non-profit serving the federal government. He oversees the corporate marketing and creative communications teams as well. Prior to joining Noblis, he worked at the State Department, Arlington County, EDS and General Dynamics.

Mr. Anderson thinks it's important to have fun with science, mixing art into it whenever possible. On some weekends you will find him in colonial garb at Claude Moore Farm's Market Fair, selling dry goods and other curios. Other times he rebuilds computers and tablets from spare parts to give away. He is also constantly learning French.

Mr. Anderson has a B.A. from the University of Missouri Columbia in History.

Faranak Naghavi

Faranak Naghavi, VASO Board Treasurer, has been involved with Science Olympiad for the past nine years in a number of capacities including serving as a parent volunteer, helping coach various teams and assisting in running various events at regional and state competitions. She has served as a board member and the Treasurer of the Virginia Science Olympiad for the past six years.

Ms. Naghavi is Ernst & Young LLP's National Director of Sales and Use Tax Services. She oversees a network of 150 transaction tax professionals located in the North American tax practice of Ernst & Young LLP and 50 compliance professionals at the Ernst & Young Global Talent Hub in Bangalore, India. She has advised a wide range of companies on sales/use, income/franchise, and process improvement matters.

Ms. Naghavi holds a B.S. and an M.S. in Accounting from Louisiana State University.

Dan Tam Nguyen

Dan Tam Nguyen grew up in Austin, Texas. She began her involvement with Science Olympiad in 1997 as a competitor, culminating in her high school team winning the state title and getting to go to the National tournament her senior year. Following her high school graduation, she returned to the same team as an assistant coach and helped them win two more state titles. For the last three years, Ms. Nguyen has been writing tests and running events for VASO.

Ms. Nguyen very much enjoys the friends-and-family environment of the Science Olympiad team members, coaches, judges, and other participants and looks forward to building long-lasting relationships with folks that share her passion for this program. She is ready to help expand the VASO program and is raising her two young daughters to be future Science Olympians.

Ms. Nguyen received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Texas and an M.S. in Environmental Engineering from Virginia Tech. She works for an environmental consulting company in Chantilly.

Leah Puhlick

Leah Puhlick has been a volunteer with Virginia Science Olympiad since the program started in Virginia in 2001. At that time, Virginia Science Olympiad consisted of one state tournament run by the science supervisors for Fairfax County Public Schools and she coached a team at Langley High School. When Fairfax County was no longer willing to run any more tournaments, she helped found VASO and has been a board member, regional tournament director, and coach for her high school team ever since.

Ms. Puhlick is currently in her 21st year of teaching high school chemistry. Eighteen of those years have been at Langley High School in Fairfax County. She not only started and currently coaches the Science Olympiad Team at Langley, but she also started and currently coaches both the Science Bowl and the It's Academic teams.

In her spare time, Ms. Puhlick enjoys traveling, playing volleyball, and competing in triathlons.

Ms. Puhlick earned a B.A. and M.T. from the University of Virginia.

Anita Sahai

Anita Sahai is a 6th Grade Advanced Academics Teacher at Louise Archer Elementary School in Vienna and a Regional Director of VASO. Her involvement with Science Olympiad dates back to 2007 when she started the program at Louise Archer for 5th and 6th grade students in an effort to expose students to a hands-on and inquiry based science experience. Apart from mentoring numerous students through Science Olympiad at the elementary school level, Ms. Sahai has been an active board member with VASO since 2010 and has assisted with the planning and organization of tournaments.

Ms. Sahai likes to work on jigsaw puzzles, travel, and spend time with her family. She currently resides in Mclean with her husband and two daughters.

Andrew Skinner

Andrew Skinner has been involved with Virginia Science Olympiad since 2011. He has acted as an event supervisor, event writer, EaGLe and has also coached as part of his daughter's school team. He created and wrote the VASO’s BioSphere trial event that tests a team’s knowledge of scientists and current scientific news event.

Dr. Skinner currently is a project manager at CALIBRE Systems where he leads a team designing and building information technology solutions at the National Institutes of Health. He previously worked as a contractor at the Naval Research Laboratory and was a research fellow at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Dr. Skinner plays the tuba in two concert bands, plays the piano, drags his family up and down lighthouses and tries not to blink during Doctor Who episodes. He lives in Vienna, Virginia, with his wife and daughter.

Dr. Skinner has a B.Sc. in Mathematics and a Ph.D. in computational solid state physics, both from Imperial College, London.

Sam Tennison

Sam Tennison, VASO Board Secretary, is a wearer of many Science Olympiad hats. He participated in Science Olympiad in high school. After college graduation, he began volunteering for in various roles, including event writer, supervisor, coach and scoreroom coordinator. He is a teacher at Lanier Middle School and has coached their team since 2013.

Mr. Tennison graduated from the College of William & Mary with a BS in Biology. He has also received an MFS in Forensic Molecular Biology from George Washington University.