Meet Our Board Members
Daniel Assefa is a seasoned professional with more than thirty years of experience in customer relations. His industry experience includes the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, independent contractor for aviation fuel, among others.
Trained as a political scientist, with a BA from the American University, Washington, DC. Daniel is active in international relations with a special focus on Ethiopian economic and political affairs. He is one of the founding members of the foundation and has been serving as President since 2019.
Lucy Gebre-Egziabher is an award-winning, independent filmmaker and a Fulbright Scholar who lives in Falls Church, VA. She earned an MFA degree in Film from Howard University and a BS degree in Communications & International Relations from Wilson College.
Lucy produced & directed narrative films as well as organizational videos under Teret Productions, a production company she founded in 1999. She is a Professor of Cinema at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), Alexandria Campus, in the Visual, Performing & Media Arts AFA program. For more information on Lucy visit her faculty blog.
Shannon Spence is a Professional Engineer and is the Acting Director at the H.L. Mooney Advanced Water Reclamation Facility in Woodbridge, Virginia. Shannon has extensive musical training having studied classical viola for over 10 years.
She graduated from the High School of Music and Art (now the LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts) in New York City and also attended the Mannes Conservatory of Music. Shannon keeps up with music by singing in two choirs and continuing to play viola Shannon Spence serves on the Board as the Director of Finance and Music Programs.
Nicolas L. Gaffney
Nicholas L. Gaffney is the Director of the Center for African American Studies (CAAS) at the University of South Carolina Upstate, and is an Assistant Professor of History. In his role as CAAS director he oversees the university’s African American Studies curriculum and Minor in African American Studies, and develops African American Studies related co-curricular and extra-curricular programming and research for the campus and community at large. His teaching and research interests center on exploring the intersections between black music and black socio-political activism. His work has been published in a variety of academic outlets and has presented numerous papers before academic and public audiences.
Prior to joining USC Upstate Gaffney served as Associate Dean for the Humanities and Social Sciences, and Assistant Dean of History, Philosophy, and Religion at Northern Virginia Community College, Alexandria (VA), where he also taught history. Prior to beginning his career in academia Gaffney worked in the financial services industry as an analyst for the American Express Company. Gaffney holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, a M.A. in African and African American Studies from Ohio State University, and a B.A. in English from Morehouse College, in Atlanta, Georgia.
Natalie worked in the nonprofit sector for over a decade before transitioning to independent contractor work. She currently serves as the Digital Organizer for the Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions, the Director of the ELCA Metro D.C. Synod's Gifts of Hope program, and a Senior Project Manager for O.R. Talent and Table Mountain Consulting Group. She is an alumnus of the Center for Creative Leadership’s Leadership Fundamentals and Maximizing Your Leadership Potential programs.
She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology from North Carolina State University.
Natalie grew up playing piano, playing handbells, singing in school and church choirs, and attending Music Week at Lutheridge for seven summers. She believes people thrive at the intersection of their passions and talents.
Thomas (Tom) Zutic
Tom Zutic is a partner at the global law firm DLA Piper where he focuses on all aspects of trademark, copyright, and media work. Tom has in-depth experience in intellectual property licensing and he works with clients to acquire, develop, enforce, and exploit intellectual property assets. Tom is an active supporter of the arts, and he serves on the Boards of the Olney Theatre (Olney, MD) and the Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts (WALA). He also regularly assists and represents members of the artistic community with respect to various pro bono legal needs. Tom is also active in DLA Piper’s diversity and inclusion and pro bono efforts
Dan Hanner is an Economist who specializes in Antitrust and Labor. Dan earned his PhD from the University of Illinois in 2005. In addition to his work as an economist, Dan also spent several years writing about college athletics. He was an occasional contributor to both Sports Illustrated and ESPN the Magazine.