The NoVA Team
Fairfax FSS RepresentativeShow Bio
Sonya Breehey is the Northern Virginia Advocacy Manager for the Coalition for Smarter Growth where she works promoting walkable, bikeable, inclusive, and transit-oriented communities as the most equitable and sustainable way for our region to grow.
Sonya is a dedicated and passionate professional with over fourteen years’ experience promoting active transportation, recreational access, and environmental sustainability through public policy, grassroots advocacy, and program management.
She serves on the board of the Fairfax Families for Safe Streets and is an active member of the Alliance for Better Bicycling where she served two years as President. Her prior experience includes working at the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, the New York State Senate, and the Adirondack Council. Sonya holds a master’s degree in Public Policy with a focus on environmental policy and smart growth from Rockefeller College of Public Affairs, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts.
Sonya maintains a car-light household enjoying the flexibility of biking, walking and taking public transit to get around her community and region. In her free time, Sonya enjoys gardening, listening to live music and getting outdoors for a hike or bike ride.
Arlington FSS RepresentativeShow Bio
Michelle Brydges is a 25+ year resident of Arlington, Virginia, and her appreciation of her walkable neighborhood of Clarendon is one of many reasons she is working to complete a MPS in Sustainable Urban Planning at George Washington University. Michelle believes improving opportunities for safe, active transportation in all communities is essential for saving lives, moving the needle on climate change, and addressing a range of physical and mental health challenges.
A volunteer since 2018, Michelle currently serves as a board member for the Arlington chapter as well as the regional scale NoVa Families for Safe Streets, a community-based volunteer organization that advocates for improved street safety programs, legislation, and infrastructure for vulnerable road users, with a focus on pedestrian safety.
After starting her career in management consulting, Michelle has spent the majority of the last two decades working primarily in nonprofit leadership roles and raising a family. Her interest in urban planning topics first took root in her 20s, during an “around the world” backpacking trip, and was reignited after wrapping up more than 12 years at environmental nonprofit Conservation International, to provide interim support to her father’s commercial real estate finance business.
Michelle is currently balancing her graduate work with consulting projects. Previously, she was executive director of a small non-profit working to help older Arlington residents “age in place.”
Michelle holds a Bachelor of Science in Commerce from the University of Virginia, with concentrations in Management Information Systems, and Finance. She spends her free time with family and friends, ideally on foot around her neighborhood, or exploring far-flung cities.
Founding Member & PresidentShow Bio
Mike is a crash survivor after the driver of an SUV crashed into Mike as he was walking in a crosswalk. Six months after being released from the hospital he founded Alexandria Families for Safe Streets (AFSS) in 2017, Arlington Families for Safe Street (Arl FSS – 2019) and Fairfax Families for Safe Streets (Ffx FSS – 2020). In 2022 the Northern Virginia Families for Safe Streets (NoVA FSS) entity was established as the not-for-profit 501.c3 umbrella organization for all three NoVA FSS chapters. All three chapters are dedicated to building an awareness of, and support for, safe streets in our community where all people can walk, cycle, and drive safely and seek to eliminate traffic-related pedestrian fatalities and injuries on our streets.
Mike initiated the concept of a “Near Miss” survey application for people to report near miss incidents where they were almost crashed into by a driver of a vehicle and/or report a dangerous location on our streets. With the stories of crash survivors or families who lost a loved one to a crash combined with the crowd sourcing Near Miss data, NoVA FSS advocates for policymakers to invest in vulnerable road users’ safety on our roads.
Mike is an investment banker by trade. He worked at JP Morgan; Charterhouse, Inc. and BHF Bank in Frankfurt Germany. He started his own firm, Novahill Advisors, in 2002 and provides M&A advisory services to Digital Health technologies companies across the U.S. In addition, he is a member of the Housing Affordability Advisory Committee in Alexandria, Virginia. Mike graduated from Villanova University with a B.S. degree and received an MBA from New York University’s Stern Graduate School of Business.
Norman S. Lisy
Treasurer & Alexandria FSS RepresentativeShow Bio
Norman S. Lisy is Secretary/Treasurer of Alexandria Families for Safe Streets (AFSS).
Norm has worked across a wide spectrum of businesses and community services: for
12 years he served a parish clergyman and hospital chaplain establishing a hospital
chaplaincy at a major Chicago suburban hospital. He has also served as an elected
school board member of the second largest school district in Illinois and a chaplain to
the police department (Elgin, IL). As an industrial psychology professional at AT&T he
worked with software organizations to improve productivity, quality, and organizational
performance. For much of his career with AT&T, he was Financial and Operations
Manager for Telecommunication Relay Services which contracted with states under the
provisions of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) to provide translation services
between deaf as well as disabled and hearing persons.
A decade ago Norm was hit by a car a few blocks from his home in Old Town
Alexandria. After a period of hospitalization, it took nine months of rehab for him to
recover from his injuries. Within a few years of his crash, his wife and adult daughter
were also struck by automobiles in separate incidents. All crashes occurred near home
in Old Town while the individuals were in the crosswalks or had the right of way.
Norm and his family are involved in working within the community and as members of
AFSS to promote safe streets. Safe, well-designed streets benefit everyone:
pedestrians who are on the bottom rungs of street hierarchy, cyclists who are subject
to the same laws and rules of the road as vehicles, and drivers, who do not want the
trauma of crashes and who are often pedestrians as well.
Vice President & Alexandria FSS RepresentativeShow Bio
Brian Shankman lives in Old Town Alexandria. Brian spent most of his career in travel-related industries, has walked in all 50 US states and dozens of countries. Prior to moving to Alexandria, he resided in pedestrian-friendly cities, such as London, as well as several car-friendly cities in Texas. He is an avid walker.
Brian holds a masters degree in mathematics from the University of Texas and an MBA from the University of Dallas. He enjoys playing and teaching piano along with traveling the world.