Vehicles for Change Team Members

Martin Schwartz – President

Martin started Vehicles for Change (VFC) in April 1999 with $30,000 in personal funds invested by senior management of Precision CertiPro Warehouse, an auto parts distributor. Martin has directed an expansion that included Maryland, most of Virginia, Washington DC and Detroit, Michigan. 

VFC was selected as a “best practice” organization in a national study completed by the “National Economic Development and Law Center” and generally recognized as one of the premiere low-income car ownership programs in the country.

In 2005 Martin started Freedom Wheels, a retail used-car business that is a subsidiary of VFC. He was selected as the University of Baltimore 2007 Social Entrepreneur of the Year and the Baltimore Visitors and Convention Bureaus “Sales Person of the Year” award. In 2011, Martin was recognized as an “Influential Marylander” by the Daily Record and Vehicles for Change received the MassMutual Citizenship Award for its private-public partnership developed with Precision Tune Auto Care. Martin co-authored a book on Social Enterprise titled Effective Social Enterprise: Practical Advice and Best Practices from Leaders in the Field and serves on the Baltimore Workforce Investment Board and the local Board of the Social Enterprise Alliance.

Melissa McKenna - Assistant Director, VA State Coordinator

Melissa McKenna has managed all operations related to VFC's Richmond, VA location for the past 10 years. She brings a wide range of experience to VFC, having managed and owned numerous small businesses over the last 30 years (including wood and gas stove stores, a bicycle store and a screen printing machine manufacturer). Melissa is also a skilled auto mechanic and has rebuilt engines, replaced transmissions and made repairs on a wide variety of vehicles, including her very own school bus. She is a licensed VA car dealer.

Teresa McFadden - Director of Operations, Detroit 

Teresa has been with VFC for 6 years with over 9 years experience in the non-profit industry; working previously with Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake with accounts receivable and retail management. In 2000, Teresa started her career at Baltimore City Public Schools system in the Individualized Education Program for students with special needs. She studied business management and is also well versed in automotive repairs, parts, and maintenance. She brings her own automotive repair experience and knowledge gained while working alongside mechanics in her own family. She previously held the position of service writer and Shop Manager for Vehicles for Change in 2013. Having succeeded in many roles with VFC from accounting and award coordinator to service manager and licensed car saleswoman, Teresa quickly gained a vast knowledge of the VFC program operations from start to finish. Teresa is the Director of Operations for our first VFC expansion project in Detroit, MI.    

Nikki Zaahir - National Director of Workforce Development & Training

Nikki Zaahir joined Vehicles for Change as Director of Full Circle Service Center and Reentry Automotive Internship Opportunities in 2015 and has since been named the National Director of Workforce Development & Training. Previously, Nikki worked as a Quality Management Officer for the National Security Agency and a Corporate Representative Department Manager at America Works. In her role at America Works, she began working with ex-offenders as well as welfare-to-work clientele to facilitate their transferable life skills and assist them in maintaining employment. Nikki has had a passion for the prison reentry industry and has worked faithfully to further the opportunities for ex-offenders for almost 10 years.