Meet Mike

Name: Michael A. Sesma

Council Member, City of Gaithersburg, elected in 2005.

Council Vice President in 2009, 2013, 2016

Major initiatives as a member of the city council:

  • Affordable Housing Policy and Ordinances
  • Home Ownership Assistance Programs
  • Displaced Renter Assistance and Compensation program
  • Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance
  • Green Building Ordinances and Policies for Municipal, Residential and Commercial Building
  • Economic Development Fund

Nominated by the Maryland Municipal League and appointed by the National League of Cities President and Board to serve on the Energy, Environment and Natural Resources (EENR) Policy and Advocacy Committee in 2006 and to the EENR Steering Committee in 2007, Steering Committee Vice Chair in 2011, Steering Committee Chair in 2012. Elected to twice for two year terms on the National League of Cities Board of Directors in 2012 and 2014. Appointed to the NLC Advisory Council, 2016. Maryland Municipal League Board of Directors 2012-1016

Family: married since 1976 to Joan with three adult daughters: Jennifer; Amelia; Elena

Jennifer and Amelia are Quince Orchard High School graduates and Elena is a graduate of the Global Ecology Science Magnet program at Poolesville High School.

Family Pet: Santana is a rescued 15-year-old Labrador retriever mix

Neighborhood: My family lives in the West Riding community, a neighborhood of more than 300 single family homes built from 1969-1972 on the west side of Gaithersburg near NIST. It is adjacent to Diamond Farm Park and Diamond Elementary School is located in the middle of the community. We have been residents since February 1995 and moved here from the City of Pasadena Hills in St. Louis County, Missouri.

Occupation: I am a scientist and educator working now in research administration. I have been at NIH since 1994, working first at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) as a Scientific Review Administrator and a Program Director in the Division of Genetics and Developmental Biology, responsible for a research portfolio in neurogenetics and the genetics of behavior. I moved to the National Institute of Mental Health in 2002 to develop the Research Scientist Development Program in the NIMH-OSP. As Chief of the Research Scientist Development Program in the NIMH Office for Special Populations (OSP) my responsibilities included coordination of initiatives and programs for the development of research scientists in mental health who are from underrepresented groups. At NIMH I also served as a program director for training and career development programs for researchers in developmental translational research in mental health.  In 2012 I returned to the NIGMS as the Chief for Postdoctoral Training in the Division of Training, Workforce Development and Diversity and as the program director responsible for the research portfolio in neurogenetics and the genetics of behavior.

Prior to arriving at NIH, from 1985 to 1994 I was a faculty member in the School of Optometry at the University of Missouri, St. Louis where my research focused on the functional organization and development in the visual system. In 1990, I became a visiting faculty member in the Department of Psychiatry at Washington University Medical School, where my research focused on the role of glutamate and glutamate receptors in normal and neurodegenerative processes in the brain that may underlie neurological and psychiatric illnesses.

I have served on a variety of academic and NIH committees including the Society for Neuroscience Committee for Neuroscience Literacy, the NIH Staff Training in Extramural Programs (STEP) Committee, which I chaired, the Hispanic Employment Advisory Committee for the NIH Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Management, and am past treasurer for the HHS and NIH Hispanic Employee Organizations.

Birthplace: I was born in a US Army hospital in Fukuoka Japan, the first child of Ramon A. and Yoshie Sesma.

Education: I grew up a Navy brat in San Diego, California and attended public elementary schools and the University of San Diego High School.

I attended the University of California, San Diego, where I received my BA in 1976 with a double major in biology and psychology. I attended graduate school in psychology at the University of California, Riverside, and received my Ph.D. in 1981, specializing in neuroscience.

I am the first in my family to graduate from college.

Community Service and Activities: While living in St. Louis County, Missouri I was active in our local community, the City of Pasadena Hills (a small city of about 1200), serving as an Alderman and also on the Board of Trustees. As a parishioner of St. Ann of Normandy Church I was president of the St. Ann Men’s Club, a service organization and sponsor of Catholic Youth athletic programs. I also served on the St. Ann Parish School Board. At the University of Missouri-St. Louis I was a founding member of the Hispanic Latino Association established to advance the interests of Hispanic American faculty, students and employees.

After moving to Gaithersburg in early 1995 I became active in both the Diamond Elementary School and Quince Orchard High School PTAs, serving first with my wife as PTSA newsletter editors for the QOHS Cougar Crier. My community involvement increased with the boundary process for what became Northwest High School and Kingsview Middle School and the Northwest Cluster. I served as Quince Orchard Cluster Representative for Diamond ES and then Kingsview MS. From 2001-2003 I was Kingsview MS PTSA president and from 2003-2007 I was an active member of the Poolesville HS PTSA.

The Sesma’s are Parishioners at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, where I have been active in several parish ministries, including the long-standing Christmas Tree Committee.

Along with my friend and colleague, Jud Ashman, I was a founding member of the Citizens for Smarter Growth, a civic organization dedicated to protecting Quality of Life in Gaithersburg. We ran as a slate for the Gaithersburg City Council in 2005.

Heroes and Role models: The list is numerous but here are the several.

Charles Darwin, Thomas Jefferson; George Washington Carver; Abraham Lincoln; Jackie Robinson; JFK; Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter; Cesar Chavez; Dolores Huerta; Martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall; Barbara Jordan; John Lennon; Muhammad Ali; Barack and Michelle Obama, Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Favorite city events: Election Day; Labor Day Parade; July 4th Concert & Fireworks; Olde Town Day (Celebrate Gaithersburg); Oktoberfest; The Gaithersburg Book Festival; Kentlands/Lakelands 5K.

Favorite city restaurants: Too numerous to pick just one. Tell me what you like, I’ll give you some suggestions.