Board and Staff

HumanitiesDC is governed by a diverse board of directors, including four Mayoral appointees. 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.

The work of HumanitiesDC is carried out by a dedicated staff 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.


Linda Earley Chastang – Ward 4, Mayoral Appointee
Linda Chastang has served as Special Advisor to the Chairman of the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and as Chief of Staff and Counsel to Congressman John Lewis. Linda was a member of the founding faculty of the School of Law at Georgia State University; she was Staff Director for the Joint Federal Relations Committee for the New Jersey Legislature; and she served as Executive Director of the D.C. Judicial Nominations Commission. A member of the bar in the District of Columbia, Florida and Georgia, Linda earned a Bachelor of Arts from Sarah Lawrence College, a Juris Doctorate from Howard University and a Master of Laws (Taxation) from Emory University. She has served on the Board of Directors for the New Jersey Opera and the Board of Directors for South Orange Performing Arts Center.

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.

Rafi Aliya Crockett – Ward 5
Rafi is a life-long student and patron of the humanities. Holding an advanced degree in anthropology with work in performance studies, Rafi embraces the arts and affirms that it is through the humanities that we create and sustain vibrant communities. Serving on the Board of Directors of the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) in Brooklyn, NY for four years, Rafi understands the need to engage the rich variety of cultures across our city. As a native Washingtonian and D.C. resident, Rafi seeks to expand the ways in which local creatives, scholars and narratives are nurtured and shaped. 

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 four 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 HumanitiesDC and looks forward to bringing his creativity, sense of humor and relationships to support HumanitiesDC and its mission.

Antoinette Ford – Ward 7, Mayoral Appointee
A native of Philadelphia, PA, Antoinette Ford 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 Hill 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. She recently completed a term as a Commissioner on the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.

Tania Jackson – Ward 1, Secretary
Ms. Jackson is the owner of Create Communitas Consulting and 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.

Brendan Kelly – Ward 6, Treasurer
As a proven leader and decorated strategist, Brendan Kelly best exhibits his expertise in marketing and business administration. Receiving a Masters in Business Administration and Business Leadership at Notre Dame after serving as a US naval officer for seven years, Kelly has thrived in project management, working with Andaman Capital Partners. Brendan Kelly is currently a Strategy and Operations Consultant at Deloitte Consulting, LLC.  

Lee Murphy – Ward 4, Chair
Lee Murphy has a passion for helping people achieve their dreams. Her mission to assist her clients to navigate their path to homeownership has driven her to become a premiere realtor in Washington, DC. As featured in the Wall Street Journal, Lee Murphy has consistently been ranked in the Top 20 in Individual Sales Volume since 2014 for the Washington, DC area. Lee received her undergraduate degree in International Studies and French from Austin College and the American University in Cairo. 

Tyler Pietruszka – Board Fellow
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.

Rosemary Reed – Ward 2
In the 32 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.

Maceo Thomas – Ward 7
Maceo Thomas is an advocate in the local creative community with over 10 years of experience in programming and event planning. Receiving his Masters in Public Health at the University of North Carolina, Thomas has applied his instincts for public service to creating opportunities for artists in Washington, DC. Working with musicians and painters alike, Maceo has created various programs including a monthly art exhibit and music festival, garnering the recognition of The Community Foundation with the Linowes Award in 2011. Maceo Thomas is currently a real estate sales associate and independent property manager in the DC and Maryland area.

Christine M. Warnke – Ward 2, Mayoral Appointee
Dr. Warnke has served as a Member of HumanitiesDC’ s Board by appointment of three Mayors. Dr. Warnke currently serves as Senior Vice President of Capitol Hill Consulting Group. She 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 addition to her experience with the U.S. government, she has worked in international public sectors for several decades. Dr. Warnke has spearheaded numerous domestic and international initiatives in the areas of economic/investment, finance, banking, defense/military, energy, medical research and device development. In 1998 the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation recognized Dr. Warnke as one of Washington D.C.’s finest professionals.

Joyce Wellman – Ward 1, Vice Chair, Mayoral Appointee
Ms. Wellman began her artistic journey in the early seventies in various printmaking studios in New York City. By 1981, she had relocated to Washington DC. Throughout her career Wellman’s concern has been discovering a means by which to create an art vocabulary and grammar that included vibrant colors, cryptic marks, shapes and symbols that referenced mathematics, anthropomorphic forms, even text and personal experiences and references to her growing up in a household where “the numbers” were played. Wellman, during the mid-1980’s through the early 1990’s, had the honor to serve as the artist in residence in public and non-profit organizations. She developed, taught in and coordinated arts education programs, serving the DC public schools, youth at risk, and adult and senior citizen programs.

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.


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.

La’Tasha Banks, Grants Manager

Jasper Collier, Deputy Director, Programs – 

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.

Andrea McNeil, Grants Manager –

Andrea McNeil oversees a grants portfolio supporting HumanitiesDC’s humanities based cultural and educational programming and projects. She brings a wealth of knowledge from numerous sectors within the nonprofit industry including grants management, program development and implementation, community outreach, corporate relations and volunteer management.  She previously served as a Program Manager at Goodwill Industries International. Andrea earned a Master of Science in Administration with a concentration in Public and Community Health from Trinity Washington University, a Non-Profit Management Certificate from Wayne State University and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Howard University. Andrea currently resides in Washington, DC

Eileen Rappoport, Digital Manager, and the HumanitiesDC Job Bank

Eileen Rappoport serves as Digital Manager, 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 22 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.

Carol Winston, Deputy Director, Operations


Maggie Lemere, DC Oral History Collaborative

Jana Nelhybel, Special Assistant to the Executive Director

Jerome Paige, DC Living Heritage Network Facilitator

Caldwell & Company, accountants

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