Meet Our Staff

Executive Team

Maria Wojtczak

Co-founder, COO

Maria is a graduate of the University of Michigan. She is responsible for managing the administration and operation of DrivingMBA. Maria brings her expertise of more than 20 years of organization development along with her experience in large systems change and organization learning principles to her leadership role at DrivingMBA. Her extensive experience in the field of adult learning and in the design and facilitation of adult learning experiences and interventions has been instrumental in developing the research and evidence-based approach to driver training at DrivingMBA.

Richard Wojtczak

Co-founder, CEO

Richard has over 30 years of diversified information systems experience and over 20 years of management experience within the automotive industry. His experience in Information Technology provides him with a solid appreciation of the possibilities for application of high technology tools. He brings a solid business background and possesses an MBA. Richard has training and practical experience in Organization Development and has consulted with diverse companies in the general area of organization development, including strategic planning, executive and team development, and skill building. Richard is highly skilled in problem analysis and change implementation. He is responsible for the emphasis on utilizing high end simulation as a tool to produce safer, better equipped drivers to make our roads safer for all users.

Charles Sobczak


Charles has a diverse background ranging from a traffic agent responsible for weight and balance of aircraft to hazardous material coordinator, customer service supervisor as well as sales for Flying Tigers in Detroit Michigan. From 1993 to 2003 Charles was in charge of certification and on-going training of sales personnel in automotive retail. Charles has significant experience in customer interaction, both from his time in automotive sales and from his efforts in conjunction with his wife in the restaurant business. He is particularly adept at developing strong working relationships with a wide variety of contacts. Charlie and his wife Laura came to DrivingMBA as investor/partners in August 2005.

Laura Sobczak

Partner, Scottsdale Site Manager

Laura's responsibilities include office management and book keeping for DrivingMBA. She also handles various administrative functions. Laura has a diverse background of experience ranging from being the first female traffic agent for Flying Tigers in Detroit Michigan to real estate and property management while living in Arizona. From 1992 until 2004 Laura managed the accounting and administrative aspects of her family's restaurants.


Keely Abu-Sara

Enrollment Counselor and Marketing

Keely is originally from rural Minnesota. After having had enough of living in a metaphorical North Pole, she moved to Arizona. She graduated with a degree in Mind-Body Psychology, and holds a private practice as a Wellness Coach, with a focus on Eastern Medicine. She is a Clinical Hypnotherapist and Yoga Instructor, which absorbs most of her free time. For fun, Keely enjoys going to the gym and watching Will Ferrell movies. Keely is passionate about creating positive habits through action, and loves seeing parents and students excited about taking comprehensive steps to create safe and confident drivers.

Heather Penwell

Front Desk Administrator

Heather has 4 children and 4 dogs that are her world. Her children are all in their 20’s and her dogs are 4 years and younger. Heather has lived in Arizona for 24 years. Heather’s father was in the military and traveled quite a bit. Eventually they ended up settling in Arizona and Heather followed. Heather was in the Security field for 20 years and she decided to go back to school about 7 years ago. She completed the Medical Assistance program and also has her Bachelors in the Medical Administration field. Heather joined DrivingMBA 4 years ago, she left for a brief couple of months in 2019 when she was offered a position in her field, but she decided she wasn’t happy there and came back to DrivingMBA. Heather loves what she does and we’re glad to have her back!

Mary Albanese

Front Desk Administrator, Enrollment Back-up, and Marketing Consultant

Mary has an extensive background in building and shaping professional brands for over 30 years. She’s recently launched a Marketing Resource company and is continuing to work with companies on a freelance basis. While building her business, Mary wanted a part-time job to provide her with a new challenge and opportunity to grow outside the main industry she’s worked in for many years. It was important to her that it was something she could believe in and be passionate about. She came upon DrivingMBA during her search and was intrigued with the concept. What DrivingMBA offers is personal for Mary who lost a 20 year old stepson as a passenger in an accident in 2005. She is working with DrivingMBA in administration, enrollment and will also utilize her marketing experience to help gain more exposure for the DrivingMBA brand and spread the mission of the company.

Instructors and Trainers

Kathleen Ryan

Director of Curriculum & Instruction

(MVD Certified)
Kathleen has 12 years of experience working with children and adolescents in a variety of settings including seven years in the public school system. She has experience in special education as well as working with cross categorical special needs students. Her goal is to individualize instruction to meet and support all students. She places a high emphasis on establishing rapport with students by creating a safe learning environment that facilitates the students’ learning process. Kathleen has been with DrivingMBA since it’s inception. She has been instrumental in developing programs and adaptations to programs to meet the needs of students and she is particularly adept at working with students with special needs.

Dawn Ramirez

Beginner, On-Road, and Defensive Driving Programs Trainer

(MVD Certified)
Dawn is a former preschool and kindergarten teacher and also worked part-time as a substitute teacher. Dawn graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. She genuinely enjoys working with kids and teens of all ages, and watching as they learn new skills. Dawn’s passion for education, combined with her love of driving, means she thoroughly enjoys getting behind the wheel with her students and teaching them to be safe and responsible drivers. She is a native of chilly Brookfield, Wisconsin and she moved to Arizona in 1992. When she is not working, Dawn loves spending time with her kids, who are now grown and both pursuing careers in the medical field. Dawn can also often be found on a sunny hiking trail, enjoying the beautiful weather with her lab, Kodi.

Nevar Frank

Defensive Driving and On-Road Programs Trainer And Technical Support

(MVD Certified)
Nevar has a BA in Sociology and International studies, an MA in criminal Justice and is currently working on PHD in Criminal Justice. She has been in corrections supervising emergency procedures and supervising the safe transportation of offenders for 8 years. Nevar also has 10 years of teaching and training experience. She grew up in North Dakota and has lived in West Africa, North Carolina, California, Kansas, and Colorado before moving to Scottsdale, Arizona.

Shawn Venegas

Defensive Driving and On-Road Programs Trainer

(MVD Certified)
Shawn comes with a very diverse background and grew up here in the east valley. He is a USMC veteran and also has experience in law enforcement, private security contracting (Executive Protection), dispatching, corrections, account management, and private teaching in the tactical community. He started as a driving instructor approximately 3 years ago for another local company. Shawn has been through extensive driving courses in the military, law enforcement and also the private sector. He comes with a lot of training and real world experience throughout the world, driving in different countries in all conditions both good and bad. He strives to stay humble and really enjoys sharing his driving knowledge to anyone willing to learn.

Art Eckstat

Defensive Driving Program Trainer

(MVD Certified)
Art is a retired automotive and aerospace engineer with multiple engineering and business degrees including an earned doctorate. Art has been teaching defensive driving classes for over 8 years in Arizona with the goal of making our roads safer for everyone. He joined DrivingMBA for the opportunity to further this goal by teaching and evaluating defensive driving techniques to both new and experienced drivers utilizing our state-of-the-art simulators. Art also serves as a consultant and expert witness in engineering, business, and product liability matters. He was honored as a Contributor to Aviation History at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum in 1997.

Linda Hulverson

Classroom Trainer

(MVD & Dept. of Ed Certified)
Linda was born in Wisconsin and moved to Arizona after graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Stout in 1985, with a Bachelor’s of Business Degree in Business Administration. While attending Arizona State University for her Post Baccalaureate degree in Elementary Education she worked in the pool industry. In 1995, she received her Post Bac degree and has been teaching in the public school system in Arizona for 16 years. She received her master’s degree in Elementary Education in 1999 from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. She is also a certified CPR and First Aid training instructor as well as a swimming instructor. Linda has one son, Matthew, who has just entered the navy.

Devrae Rowan

Lead TrainerBeginner, On-Road and Classroom Programs Trainer & Specialist

(MVD and Dept. of Ed Certified)
Dev was born and raised here in Scottsdale, AZ, and absolutely loves it. She graduated from Saguaro high school in 2008. After high school, she went on to college for her degree in special education. In 2013, she graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in Elementary and Special Education. Once out of college, she started working for a middle school in Scottsdale Unified School district, as a Special Education teacher for students with Autism. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering with a non-profit charity group that promotes children’s literacy through cosplay. She really loves working with students and helping them develop skills that will ensure that they are safe and responsible people.

Tina Nowling

Beginner and On-Road Programs Trainer

(MVD Certified)
Tina moved to the valley from the twin cities in 2006. She attended the University of Minnesota and has a degree in Art History. Tina has been working with young kids and teens for 20 years. Her experience as an educator includes over ten years as a preschool teacher in Arizona as well as summer camp counselor for school age children. She has coached high school soccer and grew up playing many different sports. Tina loves being outdoors. She has two children, a son who is a sophomore at Higley and daughter in 5th grade.

Zach Benn

Beginner and On-Road Programs Trainer

(MVD Certified)
Zach (aka Benn) was born in Southern California, lived in Northern Nevada for 5 years until finally calling Arizona home with his family in 2008. Zach graduated from Highland High School in 2014 and continues his education in Criminology/Criminal Justice. Zach completed the Driving MBA program in 2011. He is extremely proud of his impeccable driving record and credits the Driving MBA program for his driving success. Zach enjoys target practice, road trips, gaming, camping and is a diehard Green Bay Packers fan.

Nola Reynolds

Beginner and On-Road Programs Trainer

(MVD Certified)
Nola has been an Arizona resident for thirty years. She has two children. A twenty year old daughter, currently attending Grand Canyon University and a fourteen year old son enrolled in a private school. She is passionate about supporting local business' and giving back to her community. She has experience working with individuals with autism and sensory integration. She has a daily practice of meditation and gratitude. Her hobbies are art, traveling and backpacking.

Ed Cardona

Defensive Driving and On-Road Programs Trainer

(MVD Certified)
Ed moved to Arizona after a 21-year career in the United States Air Force, and has now been in Arizona for 23 years. He has an Associates degree in communications and has worked as a code and building inspector for the city of Glendale prior to joining DrivingMBA. Ed has two daughters, one a graduate of A.S.U. and the other a graduate of U of A. He enjoys golfing on his time off.

Richard Starr

Beginner, On-Road, Defensive Driving and Classroom Programs Trainer

(MVD & Dept. of Ed Certified)
Richard has taught in the public school system since 1999, including 10 years teaching English in Gilbert and 5 years teaching computer skills in Escondido, CA, his home town. He is married and has three adult children, a son living in California and a son and daughter attending Northern Arizona University. He is a fan of the Diamondbacks and the Padres and enjoys camping and movies in his free time. He loves teaching and driving and is grateful for the opportunity to help his students develop skills to make them safer behind the wheel.