Our Staff & Leadership
Sophia Key West
Volunteer Chief of Staff
Board Vice President
Sophia Key West (Lady Sophia): Volunteer Chief of Staff & Museum Curator, A.K.A.–“Snow White Queen of the Good Knights”
Sophia West is the mother of three children. She has an educational and professional background in traditional andholistic medicine. She began volunteering 15-20 hours per week for the charity in 1994. In 2001 she became a full time volunteer Chief of Staff giving 40-80 hours+ per week. Among her duties she is one of the Chief Program Presenters, magician, lecturer, member of the emergency response dispatch team and media liaison. Sophia founded the “Mothers In Action” (formally Mothers Against Predators) grassroots awareness initiative in 2004 in an effort to educate parents and children with the knowledge needed to stay safe and secure.
Sophia dedicated herself to the Good Knight Deception Awareness Program to help children and parents attain this knowledge due to a personal history of trauma. At that point Sophia felt that she not only had to safeguard her children, entire family and friends from any other predators, but also empower all children with the knowledge and awareness for self-protection. “I honor my children by protecting all children worldwide in their name and in the names of the children everywhere whose innocence was robbed. To this I vow,” says Sophia.
Toward these goals, she founded Mothers In Action, (M.I.A.), an initiative dedicated to making all citizens aware of the behavior patterns of bullies and criminal predators predators. She played a central role in having the program’s literature and videos translated into Spanish, strengthening the organization’s multicultural outreach, and uniting communities to protect their most vulnerable members: children. With these translations, the Good Knight program has reached an additional eight million individuals, bringing the total readership and viewers to eighteen million worldwide.
Sophia West is a child-abuse survivor, a caring mother, and a hero. She has committed her life to saving the lives of as many children as possible, preventing them from what she and her child endured — and saving parents from the nightmare and heartache of having their child suffer. From her base at the Good Knight Magic Castle in Beltsville, MD, Sophia travels throughout the nation, lecturing and presenting the Good Knight Program at schools, festivals, and conventions. In working to protect children everywhere, Sophia West is a true Good Knight.
For her years of service to the children of her community and the world, Sophia received the Volvo for Life Hometown Hero Award two years in a row, the Volunteer of the Year Award from the Governor of Maryland and the Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award from President George Bush. Through her tireless efforts, Sophia has claimed victory for the forces of good.
Leonard "Doc" Malinowski, (Sir Doc), Board President
Mr. Malinowski began volunteering with the charity in 2000. He is the National Coordinator of the Good Knight Homeland Security Youth Mentoring Coalition and head of the Association of Retired Police Officers Division maintaining liasion with all law enforcement nationwide. He is a Senior Program Presenter and trainer. He is a Karuna Holy Fire Reiki Master, a certified Craniosacral therapist and a certified Hypnotherapist
Mr. Malinowski served for four years in the United States Air Force then became a Baltimore County Police Officer. He retired with the rank of Major after 20 years of service. He has an educational background in psychology with a Bachelor’s Degree in Police Science. His professional experience includes being an instructor at the Commander Training Academy, Director of Budget Operations, Commander of Internal Affairs, Commander of Personnel Division, Project Management, Community Relations, Undercover Intelligence Officer and Detective (burglary).
Mr. Malinowski applies his management and coordination skills as President of the charity and an assistant with all programs and grants as well as a presenter of the Good Knight Programs.
Maria Casio (Lady Mary), Board Chairwoman
Maria Cascio is a native Italian who immigrated to the US as a young child. She is the among the first generation in her family to earn a college degree and graduated from New York University with a degree in Politics and minor in French. She began her career as a paralegal, working for several prestigious law firms serving multinational clients in various areas of practice to include litigation, environmental law, and corporate finance. She then worked for Micrografix and Corel Corporation, assisting the technical graphics and sales/marketing teams with CAD software expansion.
She began working with the network as a volunteer in her early twenties, supporting any and all youth on and off-site programs. She served as a program presenter for the Network’s safety programs and magic shows for children and has assisted with program development, grant writing/administration and community outreach, speaking before various groups to expand programs and locate fundraising opportunities. She has served as Chairwoman of the organization for over twenty years and has provided administration and management of budgetary decisions; development of efficient office systems; management of summer programs and on site project support.
After years of paralegal work and technical graphics sales and marketing, she decided to remain at home, working part-time while raising her two children. She is currently an office manager and business director of a health and wellness clinic. She also serves as President of the Power Hawks Robotics Club, another non-profit, which focuses on expansion of FIRST robotics principles and STEM ideals. She also serves as the registration administrator for the Crofton Athletic Council, which provides recreational sports opportunities (ranging from basketball to volleyball and lacrosse), to several thousand youth in her community. She is passionate about all projects related to youth empowerment, awareness and character development.
Leah Robinson (Lady Leah), Board Vice President
Leah Robinson’s educational background is in law and education. She has volunteered with the charity for 30 years. She has also worked in local non-profit organizations, taught in the Maryland public schools, and taught English language arts overseas in the Yuzyil Isil high school in Istanbul. She is a founding member
of the BatalaWashington percussion band and has played with them since 2007.
Her responsibilities in the charity have varied from being a United Way liaison, grantwriter, media outreach coordinator, program presenter and camp counselor.
June Sevillia (Lady July), Board Treasurer
(June Sevilla is President/CEO of Q-Makeda, Inc, a consulting firm specializing in Proposal
Management (gov’t and commercial) for Engineering, Telecommunications, Life Sciences,Technical Writing, and engagement as an experienced performer in TV shows and
commercials, theater, and industrial films. A seasoned professional technical writer, she also enjoys creative writing and is a published poet and playwright.
She blends science and technology with her passion for art, world travel,history/mythology/cultural expeditions and environmental advocacy in her daily life and in volunteer work with The Good Knight Child Empowerment Network (GKCEN). She creates her own costumes for GKCEN activities that has brought to life for children and families, hero characters to emulate. She has assisted with program development, grant writing, fund raising, and community outreach. A passionate youth empowerment advocate since the 1990’s, she has presented GKCEN programs on and off-site. She has dedicated her time and effort in the arena
of crime prevention education and empowerment of children of all ages and as an environmental activist. For this effort, Verizon awarded her the Chairman’s Award for Community Involvement. A Master in Karuna Holy Fire Reiki, her love of adventure, world travel, culture immersions and Nature explorations led her to better understanding of the laws of Nature, our relationship to environment, society, other cultures, and creatures of the earth.
She holds a B.S. Chemical Engineering degree, graduating with honors and is the recipient of numerous awards for excellence and achievements. Her education, training, and corporate management experience include Telecommunications Operations and Engineering, Research and New Product Development, Information Technology, Business Process Reengineering,
Knowledge Database creation and management, and practical applications of Artificial Intelligence. A seasoned researcher, she has found that cutting edge studies in Quantum Physics, coupled with experiments in human psychology, provide support that mind over matter and positive reasoning expands the human potential for the betterment of one’s self and our
positive impact to society.
Jane DeVane (Lady Jayne), Director
Ms. DeVane has been a volunteer with the Network since 2001. She co-ordinates all volunteer activity at the Good Knight Museum and oversees the planting and maintenance of the gardens, labyrinth and waterfalls. She is a senior program presenter, accomplished magician and actress.
Thirty years of experience in health-related fields combined with traveling has gifted her interaction with people from all walks of life, backgrounds, and cultures. Now a grandmother, her career span has included Integrative/Functional Medicine approaches to nutritional management of chronic/acute conditions, in/out patient diabetes management, clinics/private practice counseling, program development, college Adjunct Professor of Nutrition, and corporate health promotion. Earlier careers included Secondary Level teaching, real estate sales, performer/dance troupes. *Doctor of Naturopathy*ADA Registered Dietitian*MS in Exercise Physiology* Diabetes Educator*Holy Fire III Karuna Reiki Master/Cranial Sacral Practitioner*Certified Yoga Instructor.
"For me, the Gift of Life means caring for body, mind, soul and spirit; being a Good Knight volunteer has added another key ingredient for balanced health: PURPOSE!."
Jacqui Cooper (Lady Jacqui), Board Secretary
(OLD COPY) Ms. Cooper has been a volunteer with the charity since 1987. She has served in both positions of Vice President Treasurer of the organization since 1990. She is a senior program coordinator, lecturer and actress at the Good Knight Museum. Ms. Cooper has held a variety of positions within the organization to include In-kind Procurement Manager, Program Development Director, Educational Outreach Specialist and Grant Writer. Ms. Cooper has been awarded a number of distinctions throughout her career to include the J.C. Penny Golden Rule Award and being awarded with a Volunteer of the Year Award.
Robert Vrbensky (Sir Robert), Director
I first had contact with the Good Knights back in 1992 when I visited from Michigan. It was an amazing visit as I got to draw the sword Excalibur from the stone at the Good Knight Head Quarters in Landover, MD. I have been volunteering ever since then. For the past 25 years I have focused my efforts with the charity to develop the and teach the Good Knight program and to build the Good Knight castle in Beltsville, MD. I have also held a position on the Board of Directors for the Good Knight Child Empowerment Network for the past 20 plus years.
When not working at the castle I spend my time working as a licensed Massage Therapist and Reiki Master. I have been practicing for 30 years and also hold a Bachelors degree in Psychology and a minor in Sports Medicine.
It has been my focus to provide strong leadership and a safe place for all who come to the Good Knight Castle and will continue to provide this support for all the children that partake in this program.
Karin Shuey (Lady Sky), Director
Ms. Shuey has been a volunteer with the charity since 2000. She is a retired U.S. Navy officer with the rank of Commander after 22 years of active duty service. She holds Master’s degrees in national security affairs and counseling psychology. Her volunteer work here includes Good Knight programs,
grounds maintenance, and camp counselor. She is developing a program to teach our older children about government and advocacy.
Amy Marotz, (Lady Amy), Educational Consultant
Amy is the founder and director of Awakening Spirit School in Stillwater, MN. The school helps highly sensitive students to reawaken their love of learning in just three months. In its seventh year of operation, Amy’s microschool expanded to a farm space in fall 2020 to offer students more opportunities for self-directed, experiential, outdoor learning. In 2019 she visited the Good Knight Castle as part of a Microschool Builders Gathering for school owners. She has returned to Beltsville with her students, staff and parents for summer camp ever since.
Amy graduated with honors from St. Olaf College in 2002 with a double major in English and Studio Art and obtained a teaching certification and a Masters of Education from Bethel University in 2004. Her formative teaching years were spent instructing 5th-8th grade English at Minneapolis Academy (a college prep school for predominantly low income families) for three years. During these summers she taught Art for K-5th grades with the St. Paul Academy summer art program.
Mara Linaberger, (Lady Tec), Educational Consultant
Dr. Mara Linaberger believes that each of us has chosen to be here at this moment in time for a specific reason – that we are each on a mission that we chose for ourselves. And that figuring out what we love, what we’re good at, and how we can be of service, is the engine we need to fuel a lifetime of joyful learning. Mara also believes that school often slows down or stifles that excitement for students. So she is on a mission to create a global network of 100 micro-schools in the next 20 years – to harness education toward helping amazing children to develop their highest potentials, while making learning fun again!
Mara is a life-long educator, author, technologist, artist, ballroom dancer and musician, having spent 25 years in service as a public school educator, teacher trainer, and administrator. Completing a doctorate in Instructional Technology, she went on to earn a Superintendent’s Letter of Eligibility in Pennsylvania. Launching “Mindful Technology Consultants” in 2013, she continues to train teachers at the masters level on the use of digital portfolios as alternative assessments, and on bringing mindfulness practices into the classroom.
Mara is the author of HELP! My Child Hates School and The Micro-School Builder’s Handbook. Mara currently lives in Harmony, PA with her husband Michael, while she travels far and wide, directly supporting clients in her global Microschool Builders programs. Mara has been offering education and technology supports to GKCEN since the spring of 2017.
Michaela West, (Princess Michaela), Student Representative
Michaela West has been volunteering at the Good Knight Castle from the day she was born, alongside her parents. She is a recent graduate of St. Joseph's Regional Catholic School and will be attending Elizabeth Seton High School in the fall of 2020.
Michaela has delivered supplies to the homeless and needy in one way or another since she was three years old. When her 3rd grade class took over a Christmas Eve Box tradition she decided to found Bundles of Love Club which delivers survival supplies to people living on the street. The club went from 8 members the first year to 44 members in 2020. Michaeeela have served as President on the board for two years as well. Bundles of Love now has 15 national chapters and 3 international chapters.
Michaela has been a member of the National Junior Honor Society since 2017, serving as the secretary for two years. She recently was awarded the National Junior Honor Society's Outstanding Achievement Scholarship.
Her school related activities include: the Lego Robotics Club, Yearbook, Concert band (clarinet and Bass clarinet), Safety Patrol, Drama Club, Green Club, and Chorus.
Her afterschool interests include: gymnastics, swimming, dance, basketball, track, and horseback riding. She has also played soccer with a club level travel team for the past five years.