Our Driving Team

Dedicated To One Mission

Saving Teen Lives

Our Leadership Team

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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.

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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.

Enrollment and Administration

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Mary Albanese

Director of Marketing, Enrollment and Administration

What started out as a part-time job in January 2019, has now turned into a full-time, management position with DrivingMBA. In her new role, Mary manages the office and administration team, participates in sales and enrollment, and also will be utilizing her 30+ years of marketing experience to help gain more exposure for the DrivingMBA brand and spread the mission of the company. What DrivingMBA offers is personal for Mary who lost a 20-year-old stepson as a passenger in an accident in 2005. Her passion for being part of a program that’s sole goal is to create safe, competent drivers come through in everything she does for DrivingMBA.

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Heather Penwell

Lead Administrator

Heather has 4 children and 4 dogs that are her world. Her children are all in their 20s 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!

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Phillip Cruz

Administration and Enrollment

Phillip was born in California, spent some time in Dallas, and settled in Arizona just a couple of years ago. Phillip has worked for Marriott International in various capacities, including accounting, loss prevention, and the front desk. His background in customer service makes him a great addition to the DrivingMBA team. Phillip is kind and enjoys helping others. He loves chatting with students and parents when they come into our office. Phillip is the front desk Administrator for the Glendale location, and also supports the Scottsdale team when needed… He also loves dogs and currently has two furbabies.

DrivingMBA Trainers

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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.

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Nevar Frank

Driving Fundamentals, On-Road and Defensive Driving Program

(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.

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Zach Benn

Driving Fundamentals, On-Road and Defensive Driving Programs

(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.

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Dawn Ramirez

Driving Fundamentals, On-Road and Defensive Driving Programs

(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.

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Ed Cardona

Defensive Driving and On-Road Programs

(MVD Certified)
Ed moved to Arizona after a 21-year career in the United States Air Force and has now been in Arizona for 26 years. Ed started with DrivingMBA in 2017 and left in 2020 to go back to Hawaii. After 9 months he decided to come back and is now back with DrivingMBA. He has an Associates’s 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 quiet time and golfing on his time off. Ed finds this job to be the most interesting of any he’s had.

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Ricci Riccomini

Driving Fundamentals and On-Road Programs

(MVD Certified)
Dawn (Ricci) Riccomini is originally from the Midwest, Illinois, and Michigan. She moved to Arizona to be closer to her mom after her father passed away. Her father had been a paraplegic ever since Dawn was a young girl, because of a drunk driver. Dawn has two adult children that live in Michigan. Dawn worked in retail, and assembly production for over 20 years. She was also a bus driver for the Deer Valley School District for 10 years. For the last five years, she worked for the United States Postal Service and was an on-the-job trainer. Dawn attended Glendale Community College, obtaining credits in criminal justice and business. She also attended Baker College in Michigan for accounting. Dawn has a passion for training, working with students and loves seeing them succeed. Her goal is to make sure students understand the fundamentals of driving with a focus on saving lives through vehicle safety.

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Geno Varela

Driving Fundamentals and On-Road Programs

(MVD Certified)
Genaro Varela Jr, is from the west side of Chicago, he moved to Arizona in 2003. Geno went to Northeastern Illinois University for 1 year and then transferred to Northern Arizona University for 2 years and graduated from College of America with an Associate’s degree in Occupational Medical Specialties (CNA, Phlebotomy, and Healthcare Administrator). Geno has a daughter who graduated from Arizona State University. Geno’s hobbies are outdoor activities, he loves to cook, travel, and play the piano. He also has a passion for community service.

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Rachel Pennington

Driving Fundamentals and On-Road Programs

(MVD Certified)
Rachel was born in California and moved to Wasilla Alaska after her father died due to falling asleep behind the wheel. Rachel spent her summers in California with her paternal grandmother, who taught her compassion and understanding. When Rachel turned 18, she moved to Las Vegas, Nevada to be with her half-sister and her children. Rachel moved back to Alaska in 2015 to spend time and be closer to her mother. Rachel became a Teaching Assistant and worked with kids with special needs for 6 years. She enjoyed helping kids overcome diversity and see their importance. In October of 2021, she moved to Arizona with her little sister and 3 nephews to start a new chapter. Rachel enjoys spending time with her family, her dog Roxy, her cat Prissy, and she loves going for walks.

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Joshua Ashinoff

Driving Fundamentals and On-Road Programs

(MVD Certified)
Joshua is from Phoenix Arizona and attended Northern Arizona University for his Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. He has taught in the Washington Elementary School District, the Peoria Unified School District and taught music for a non-profit organization. He enjoys working for DrivingMBA because he understands the vital importance of safety and awareness while driving on Arizona roads. Some of Joshua’s hobbies include hiking, reading and playing guitar.

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Thomas Deming

Driving Fundamentals and On-Road Programs

(MVD Certified)
Thomas grew up in the Redwoods of Northern California. He served in the U.S. Navy as a jet mechanic on two aircraft carriers. He graduated from Grand Canyon University with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. Since then he continues to serve as a 7th Grade Social Studies teacher for over 20 years in the Deer Valley Unified School District. He enjoys coaching basketball and working with students to grow into excellent citizens. He has a wife and two teenage sons that love to go on road trips and hike on trails to enjoy nature. Thomas comes to the DrivingMBA knowing this premier program will help his children and society as a whole to become safe and competent drivers.

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Kenneth Hack

Defensive Driving and On-Road Programs

(MVD Certified)
Ken grew up in Westchester County, New York, and graduated from the State University of New York at Syracuse with a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science. After college, he moved to Phoenix and met his wife. They raised two sons who are both ASU graduates. Ken’s career has been in Risk Management and Insurance and he owned an independent agency for several years. At one time he considered a career change and earned 20 credits from Ottawa University in Education. Ken enjoys working with youth and has volunteered with Junior Achievement, Special Olympics, coached T-Ball, and taught Sunday School. He has also worked as a substitute teacher. In his spare time, Ken enjoys reading, hiking, swimming, gardening, and taking care of home repairs.

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Art Eckstat

Defensive Driving Program

(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 20 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.

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Linda Hulverson


(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.