Board and Staff
The Humanities Council is governed by a diverse board of directors representing every Ward in the city. The board typically consists of 23 members, 18 of whom are elected by incumbent board members, and 5 who are appointed by the mayor. They bring a wide array of talents to their role as stewards and guides of the organization including: humanities scholarship, communications and marketing, fundraising and development, advocacy and public programming. The board of directors also serves as the grants review committee for the Major Grant, and the Who’s a Washingtonian? grant.
The work of the Council is carried out by a dedicated staff of six led by Executive Director, Joy Ford Austin. Jump to Staff Profiles.
The board and staff work together to bring engaging and enlightening humanities programming to the people of Washington, DC.
Bob Bremner – Ward 3 – Chair
Bremner has been a Humanities Council Board Member since 2006 with only a brief hiatus in 2012. Bremner received his education from Yale and Harvard, and has worked in finance for over 20 years. A true supporter of the humanities, Bremner has served on the board of the Dayton Contemporary Art Gallery and the Associate Board of the Dayton Art Institute. He has written two published books and is currently working on his third.
Linda Berkeley, Ph.D – Ward 3
Bio coming soon!
Michele N-K Collison – Ward 5
Ms. Collison is a freelance writer published in both the New York Times and The Washington Post. She’s the author of the bestselling book, “It’s all Good Hair,” published by Harper Collins Books. Former Assistant Editor for the Chronicle of Higher Education where she wrote news and feature stories for the nation’s popular national education newspaper. Ms. Collison’s work has been applauded by both national and international audience, having covered Nelson Mandela’s visit to Morehouse College, the late renowned scholar Manning Marable and the declining number of African -American young men attending college. She has traveled extensively throughout the country to attend academic conferences to cover tenure and faculty research issues.
Courtney P. Davis, PhD. – Ward 8 – Chair, Activities Committee
Courtney Davis authored A is for Anacostia, the popular children’s book endorsed by Mayor Gray. She is an administrator for D.C. Public Schools, where she runs the special education program at Dunbar Senior High School. She is also a co-founder of the Historic Anacostia Block Association. Dr. Davis earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Special Education from the University of Illinois, and Ph.D. in Special Education from the University of Virginia.
Marla M. Dean, Ed.D – Ward 7
Marla M. Dean is a native Detroiter. She moved to the DC metro area in 2007. She attended The University of Michigan for both her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and her Master of Arts in Teaching and Learning. She completed her doctorate work at University of Pennsylvania in Educational Leadership and Organizational Theory and she believes in the potential of all children. With over 25 years of teaching and 15 years of leadership experience, Marla has served in the capacity of assistant principal in Port Huron, Michigan and Montgomery County, Maryland; executive associate principal at TC Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia; turnaround principal in Prince George’s County, Maryland and high school principal in Baltimore County, Maryland. Formerly, the Executive Director of Schools at Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools in Washington, DC, she is now the Executive Director/CEO of Bright Beginnings, Inc., a non-profit organization that operates schools for children experiencing homelessness and supports their families in moving out of their homeless status. Marla is a proud Ward 7 resident where she lives with her husband and son, who is a sophomore at Morehouse College and where she serves as the Education Chair of the PennBranch Community Civic Association in southeast DC.
Eric T. Fingerhut – Ward 3
Eric Fingerhut leads his law firm’s trademark practice by day but when he is not billing hours he is painting, telling jokes or riding a bicycle. Eric discovered painting 4 years ago on a bicycle trip to Lucca, Italy and it has become his passion. Eric’s paintings have been displayed at the “Hang the Lawyers” and “Frame the Lawyers” Exhibits sponsored by the Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts and Washington Art Works He has lived in the District for the past 26 years with his wife and their three children here. A lover of arts, music and history, he is thrilled to be part of Humanities DC and looks forward to bringing his creativity, sense of humor and relationships to support Humanitites DC and its mission.
Antoinette Ford – Ward 7
A native of Philadelphia, PA, Antoinette holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Chestnut Hill College and an MBA from Harvard Business School. She was the first African-American woman appointed to become a White House Fellow, and in 1981, she was nominated to become the Administrator of the Agency for International Development, Near East Bureau, and served as the highest-ranking African-American woman in the Reagan administration’s diplomatic corps. Between 1985 and 2002, Ms. Ford worked in science technology, building her own large firm and conducting work for NASA. In 2006, she turned her attention to the arts and established the Double Nickels Theatre Company to encourage seniors to remain active and to stay involved within their communities. Antoinette has continued to be a leader in her community and received various accolades for her work, among them an honorary doctorate from her alma mater, Chestnut Hills College, a lifetime distinguished achievement award, induction into the Pierians, Incorporated, and a nomination as one of the region’s Top 100 Minority Business Executives.
Christopher Galloway – Ward 4
Mr. Galloway is a bank regulator at the Federal Housing Finance Agency, and has held diverse positions in the public and private financial sectors. Galloway graduated from the University of Virginia and received a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Finance and International Business. Galloway’s expertise is in risk management, securitization, due diligence, corporate finance, treasury, capital markets, and auditing.
Rae K. Grad – Ward 3
Rae Grad recently retired from her position as the Federal Lobbyist for the University of Maryland. Starting her career as a registered nurse, Rae spent many years working on federal policy for maternal and child health, serving as the Director of the National Commission to Prevent Infant Mortality, a bipartisan congressional commission under the leadership of the late Senator from Florida, Lawon Chiles. She helped plan the Presidents’ Summit for America’s Future which evolved into America’s Promise where she worked under the leadership of Secretary Colin Powell. That work led to her running a foundation, PowerUP: Bridging the Digital Divide which assisted underserved children to gain access to computers and connectivity. Rae received her BSN from Cornell University, her MA from New York University and her PhD from University of Maryland. Rae has three children and four grandchildren.
Tania Jackson – Ward 1
Ms. Jackson is the owner of Create Communitas Consulting an works variously with local government, community-development nonprofits and socially responsible for-profit entities. Ms. Jackson has years of real estate development experience in Washington DC, serving as an Outreach and Compliance Officer for Capitol City Associates and the External Affairs Director of Jair Lynch Development Partners.
Terry N. Kush – Ward 4
Ms. Kush is the managing director of the National Consumer League, a renowned consumer advocacy and workers’ rights organization. She is a graduate of Howard University and American University, where she received a Master of International Service in 2005.
Marie Carolyn Long – Ward 4
Marie Long currently serves as Assistant Vice President of Federal Relations at AT&T, Inc. In this capacity, Ms. Long is responsible for representing AT&T’s legislative interests before the United States Congress. She earlier served as President of the AT&T Foundation, as the Executive Director of the Citizenship Education Fund’s Public Policy Institute, and in various roles at the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and EMILY’s List. She has also served on several boards and advisory committees, including the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the League of United Latino American Citizens, and the Women Presidents’ Organization. Ms. Long has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia and a law degree from Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law. She is a native Washingtonian and currently lives in Ward 4.
June Carter Perry – Ward 4
Ms. Perry is a Retired Foreign Service Offers with the U.S. Department of State. June Carter Perry spent 26 years as a career State Department diplomat including Ambassador to Sierra Leone and to Lesotho. She was the Cyrus Vance Visiting Professor of International Affairs at Mount Holyoke College (South Hadley, MA) from September 2011-December 2012, making her the first African American and the second woman to hold this prestigious post. She has also worked as a lecturer at the University of Maryland and an Instructor at North Carolina A&T University as a National Teaching Fellow.
Robert G. Perry
Bio coming soon!
Rosemary Reed – Ward 2
In the 29 years of running woman-owned Double R Productions (Double R), Rosemary Reed has built Double R into a creative communications and video production firm. Having served satisfied clients ranging from major publications, Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, associations and non-profit organizations; she has earned the right to her slogan, “Best Brand in the Business.” Reed is far more than a for-profit leader. She donates her time and talent by giving back to worthy organizations such as Veterans Moving Forward, Culture Capital, Miriam’s Kitchen and the Homeless Children’s Playtime Project, to name just a few. In addition, Double R Productions has run a successful internship program since 1989. Having received DC’s Women in Film & Video “Woman of Vision” award in 2002, as well as serving as a President of WIFV, she is currently serving as a board member of Culture Capital and on the WIFV Advisory Board for WIFV. She’s also a member of Writer’s Guild East.
Monica Scott – Ward 3
Ms. Scott is a retired corporate analyst of BF Saul Company. She is a graduate of the District of Columbia’s Trinity College, and has provided unwavering support to many arts and humanities organizations within our city; The Phillips Collection, WPAS, and Sitar Arts Center, among others. She has held executive and leadership positions in both the non-profit and for-profit sectors. Further, she has extensive finance and accounting experience.
Marjan Shallal – Ward 1 – Co-Chair, Development and PR and Marketing
Ms. Shallal is a political activist and wife of local businessman Andy Shallal, with whom she owns the Busboys & Poets restaurants in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. A critic of U.S. and Iranian policy she recently traveled to Iran where she and her husband met with government officials, and human rights and women’s rights activists.
Christine M. Warnke – Ward 2
Dr. Warnke represents clients on legislative and regulatory matters before the United States Congress, the White House, and various departments and independent agencies of the executive branch in the United States. She also represents national and multinational corporations, trade associations, and coalitions. Warnke has spearheaded several initiatives that have both domestic and international implications, particularly in the areas of health, human rights, and women’s issues. In 1998 the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation recognized Warnke as one of Washington D.C.’s finest professionals.
Donna L. Woolf – Ward 1
Ms. Woolf is an International Communications Strategist with the U.S. Department of State. She has strong management skills and extensive media and public diplomacy experience in Europe and the Middle East. In addition, Ms. Woolf is a documentary producer/director with experience leading creative teams to produce over 15 award-winning audio and video programs for national and international audiences. She’s also fluent in French, Arabic and Spanish.
Tyler Pietruszka – a Senior Consultant at Management Strategies – has supported clients and project teams through the successful delivery of program management, business process improvement, change management, communications, and business and financial analysis services. Mr. Pietruszka’s previous clients include the U.S. Departments of Interior, Defense, and Veterans Affairs and he is currently engaged with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. He has strong interpersonal skills and is a highly effective communicator, writer, and presenter with experience at all audience levels. He holds a B.A. in Economics from Wake Forest University.
Aaron is a Senior Legislative Assistant for a California Member of Congress, a Professional Staff Member of the House Committee on Administration and is the founder and current President of the Foreign Affairs Congressional Staff Association. Prior to his current positions, he has worked for the California State Senate, the Chula Vista City Council, the San Diego World Affairs Council, the International Rescue Committee and the National Conflict Resolution Center. Born and raised in San Diego, California, Aaron attended the University of California, Berkeley and graduated in 2009 with degrees in History and Political Science. He has also completed coursework with the Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation, the U.S. Army War College, the Air Command and Staff College, the U.S. Naval War College Fleet Seminar and the United States Institute of Peace. He has also completed fellowship programs with the Woodrow Wilson Center, the Partnership for a Secure America, the Truman Congressional Security Scholars, and the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center. He has served as a board member for the San Diego World Affairs Council, the United States Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission’s Citizen Forum and was the Co-Chair and Institute Director for the New Leaders Council’s Washington, D.C. Chapter.
Joy Ford Austin, Executive Director – Austin is a former President and Executive Director of the African American Museums Association. Joy Ford Austin has consulted with many institutions on cultural programs and policy including the Presidential Commission planning for the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Telesis Corporation, and the Chicago Housing Authority, the Center for Arts and Culture, and the Kellogg Foundation. She was the Principal of Austin Ford Associates, an education consulting firm. Since 2000, she has served as Executive Director of the Humanities Council of Washington, DC. She holds a Master of Science in Administration from Trinity College, Washington, D.C. and a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada.
Jasper Collier, Deputy Director – Jasper Collier oversees the Humanities Council’s extensive collection of grant and program-produced artifacts and educational resources. Jasper has previously worked in curatorial and collections management departments at the Dittrick Medical History Center in Cleveland, OH and President Lincoln’s Cottage in Washington, DC. He has also held positions at the National Building Museum, and the Western Reserve Historical Society, and has worked as a historical research consultant. Jasper earned a B.A. in History from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and an M.A. in Public History from American University.
Laura Bloomquist Site Administrator, CultureCapital.com – Most recently, Laura Bloomquist held this position for 6+ years at CultureCapital, where she was initially hired as web content coordinator. She received her BS in Marketing from the GMU School of Business. From 1982 – 1999 Bloomquist was a professional dancer with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. She rose through the ranks from Corps de Ballet to Principal Dancer, dancing all the major classical ballets in the company’s repertoire.
Louis Hicks, Jr, Director of Grants and Special Projects – Louis Charles Hicks, Jr. has worked in the museum field for more than 35 years. He is the former Alexandria Black History Museum Director (ABHM) in Alexandria, Virginia. He served as the Museum’s director for 13 years until his retirement in 2012. Immediately following his retirement, he began working as an independent exhibition and cultural programs consultant. Mr. Hicks holds two degrees from the University of Texas (a B.A. in Psychology–1975 and a B.F.A. in Studio Art—1978). He also holds a M.A. in African Art History (1992) from Howard University, Washington, D.C. From 2007- 2012 he served as an Executive Council member for the Association for the Study of African American History and Culture (ASALH). During his tenure on the Council, he also served as the ASALH Black History Luncheon Chairman. The luncheon is one of the Association’s two annual fund-raising activities; the other activity is the national convention. From 2014- 2015 Mr. Hicks served as one of two ASALH Black History Luncheon event planners.
Eileen Rappoport, Digital Manager, CultureCapital.com and the HumanitiesDC Job Bank – Eileen Rappoport serves as Digital Manager, CultureCapital.com and the HumantiesDC Job Bank. She comes to HumanitiesDC from CultureCapital where she served as Vice President, Operations. During her tenure, she launched the popular site and job bank. Rappoport has over eighteen years experience in nonprofit arts administration including Deputy Director of Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington responsible for membership, Arts Management Workshops and publications and as Program Director of Business Volunteers for the Arts. Prior to entering the nonprofit landscape, Rappoport spent twenty two years working throughout the country for independent telephone directory publishers specializing in strategic planning, partnerships and alliances and new media.
Stephanie Scott, Executive Assistant – Stephanie Scott serves as executive assistant at the Humanities Council. She brings over 20 years of administrative experience to her work at the Council, as well as expertise in the fields of marketing, development and construction. Stephanie served as the Executive Administrator for AVSmoot LLC, a DC based Historic Restoration and Painting company responsible for preserving such sites as the Tivoli Theatre and President Lincoln’s Cottage. Prior to that, Stephanie was a consultant for the Humanities Council where she performed a host of administrative duties.
Agatha A. Tomasik, Director of Fundraising and Marketing – A 16 year resident, Agatha came to the District of Columbia to study Philosophy and Law and Society at The American University. She fell in love with her city from a local, national, and international perspective. She brings nearly a decade of nonprofit experience, leading development at organizations that enrich the community through the arts, provide services for homeless families and children, create opportunity through economic development, celebrate our shared green spaces, promote transparency in government, and empower young people through education. She holds Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) and Board Source Certificate of Nonprofit Board Education. In her spare time, Agatha volunteers with the Junior League of Washington on its Strategic Planning Committee and supporting the century-old organization’s city-wide literacy initiatives. She resides in Ward 2.
Maggie Lemere, DC Oral History Collaborative
Jerome Paige, DC Living Heritage Network Facilitator
Caldwell & Company, accountants