Vincent Smith, Lori and Paul Friedman, Boyd Walker, and Laura Mandala

Safer Country Board 2019-2024

Our Leadership

Executive Director

Paul Friedman is the founder and Executive Director of Safer Country, a gun violence prevention non-profit focused on keeping guns out of unsafe hands. He is inspired by the memory of his great aunt, Elizabeth Shulkin, who was shot and killed in her hotel room on December 1, 1981 while on vacation in Florida.

Prior to Safer Country, Paul served as Executive Director of the Virginia Tech Victims (VTV) Family Outreach Foundation, during which time he worked with the City of Alexandria and Virginia Tech’s local graduate schools to create a tree grove in Chinquapin Park to honor the victims and survivors of the April 16, 2007 massacre.

Paul graduated with a B.A. in Politics from Brandeis University and a J.D. from New York Law School.  In 1987, Paul moved to Washington, DC, worked on Capitol Hill.  In 1988, he was a Field Organizer in Iowa for Paul Simon for President (where he had the privilege of informing Sen. Simon that he had received the Des Moines Register endorsement for the Democratic nomination) and an Advance Man for the Dukakis/Bentsen campaign.

In 1990, upon returning to Washington, DC, he was elected Chair of the Ward 6 Democrats and became the PAC Director for Environmental Action, where he wrote that year’s Dirty Dozen.  On August 25, 1991, Paul married his brilliant and lovely wife, Lori, a CPA, and moved to Alexandria, Virginia.

In 1992, Paul successfully managed a state representative campaign in Orlando, Florida and, later, a City Council race in Alexandria.  Paul went on to work as a liaison to the Legal and Financial Community in the DMV for the Development Corporation for Israel and the Director of Development for Save A Child’s Heart, Neediest Kids and Every Child Matters.  While with Every Child Matters, he led the Voe Kids Action Fund, a federal PAC that supported candidates in close races that supported expanded funding for the needs of children.

Alexandria Activities
Paul has served for over 20 years as a member of the Alexandria Democratic Committee and a large portion of that time as a Precinct Captain.  He served six years on Alexandria’s Budget and Fiscal Affairs Advisory Committee and six years on the board of Agenda: Alexandria, a nonpartisan group that holds forums about local issues.  Paul also served as Mark Levine’s political consultant in his first victorious Democratic primary campaign for Delegate in Virginia’s 45th District.

More recently, in 2020, Paul was elected to serve as the Alternate Delegate from Virginia’s 8th Congressional District for Joe Biden for President to the Democratic National Convention, which would have been held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin but for the covid crisis.

Further, in January 2022, Paul became the Vice President of WEBA, the West End Business Association.  In February 2022, Paul became the political adviser to the TFAA, the Torpedo Factory Artists Association.  In January of 2023, Paul shifted from Vice President to Director of Government Relations for WEBA.

Board of Directors

Paul Friedman

Interim President

Laura Mandala

Vice President

As head of Mandala Research, one the world’s leading travel and tourism research firms, Laura evaluates emerging developments in the industry and her firm has pioneered policy changes in the industry, including minority inclusion.

Named one of the 14 Most Influential Women in Group Travel, Laura’s firm has pioneered the “firsts” of many niche studies in the industry.

As well, she has served as an appointee to the State Council on Women by Governor’s Warner and Kaine and as a Board member to the U.S. Department of Commerce Travel and Tourism Advisory Board under Secretary Penny Pritzker.

Additionally, Laura is founder of Women in Travel and Tourism International, an organization committed to the promotion, support, and advocacy for women’s leadership in the travel industry.  Laura is also a former candidate for State Delegate in Virginia’s 45th District and has served two Virginia Governor’s on the State Council on Women.

Vincent Smith


A graduate of Bryan College and Washington & Lee University School of Law, Vincent is a reentry attorney in Northern Virginia.  He works with individuals who have criminal convictions and/or charges, helping them overcome the collateral consequences that they face due to their record such as employment challenges, court fines, driver’s license suspensions, etc…

Vincent has a deep appreciation for how the justice system works and the need to ensure that the rights of all individuals are protected.  In that light, he wants to ensure that the reporting of convictions of violent crime and domestic violence prohibits individuals from owning, purchasing and possessing firearms while not increasing unnecessary barriers to non-violent individuals seeking to return to and play a positive role in the community.

Lori Friedman


Lori is a Certified Public Accountant with extensive experience in public and private accounting. Since 2009, she has operated her own firm in Alexandria, Virginia.

When Lori isn’t grappling with accounting principles or the Internal Revenue Code, she enjoys life with her husband, Paul, the Executive Director of Safer Country, and the couple’s dog, Sadie.

Andrew Goddard

Board Member

Andrew Goddard is the Legislative Director for Virginia Center for Public Safety.  Andrew’s son, Colin, was seriously wounded during the Virginia Tech mass shooting on April 16, 2007 and had to undergo multiple operations. Colin is doing well today and has a beautiful family. Andrew was moved by that incident to become one of Virginia’s leading gun safety advocates and is an invaluable source of information to everyone interested in legislation impacting the subject.

Advisory Committee

Richard Aborn

President, Crime Commission of NYC; Managing Partner, Constantine Cannon; Former President,Brady Campaign

Ara Bagdasarian

Founder, Zero Now,
Member, Leesburg Town Council,
Former CEO and Co-Founder, Omnilert

Pete Brodnitz

Expedition Strategies

Leslie Byrne

Former Congresswoman (VA)

John Capozzi

Former U.S. Statehood Representative (WDC)

Sean Casey

Sheriff, City of Alexandria

Charlotte Cohn

Actor, Director, Producer

Ken Cummins

President Emeritus,
Capitol Inquiry

Steve Descano

Commonwealth’s Attorney, Fairfax County

Mark D. Friedman

Global Real Estate Advisor and Actor

Mike Gelb

Former White House Correspondent,
Reuters News Agency

Tim Gleeson

Undersheriff, Sheriff’s Office. City of Alexandria

Michael “Misha” Gill


Anthony Guglielmi

Chief of Communications, United States Secret Service

Chris Harris

Alexandria Branch,

Mike Jason

U.S. Army Colonel (retired), Defense Consultant, Pentagon

Mark Jones

Former ATF Supervisory Special Agent, Firearms Policy and Regulatory Expert

Rod Kuckro

President, Agenda: Alexandria, Former President, Del Ray Citizens’ Association

Dana Lawhorne

Former Sheriff, City of Alexandria

Mark Levine

Former Member, Virginia House of Delegates

Carmen Lodato

Gun Violence Prevention Advocate

Norm Lodato

Gun Violence Widower

David Lord

Senior Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney, City of Alexandria

Ericka Miller

President and CEO, Isaacson, Miller

Rabbi Jack Moline

Alexandria, Virginia

McArthur Myers

Civil Rights History Activist, Alexandria Living Legend

Rob Nagle

Actor, Teacher, Director

Allison Silberberg

Former Mayor, City of Alexandria

Greg Parks

Clerk of the Circuit Court, City of Alexandria

Bryan Porter

Commonwealth’s Attorney, City of Alexandria

Kate Ranta

Gun Violence Survivor/Author/Activist

Brian Siebel

Siebel Homes at Compass
Former Senior Attorney at the Brady Center

Donnie Simpson

Simpson Development Company

Terron Sims II

Doug Pollard, LLC

Gordon Sumner, PhD

Retired Army Colonel

Shannon Taylor

Commonwealth’s Attorney, Henrico County

Mary Wadland

The Zebra Press

Boyd Walker

Past President

Amanda Wilcox

Legislative & Policy Chair, California Chapters, Brady United Against Gun Violence

Jason Odell Williams

Playwright/Television Producer