Who We Are

The DC Fund was initiated in 2010 by a number of volunteer community activists and donors to support projects in communities of color in the District of Columbia.  We are led by an all-volunteer Board of Instigators. Our founding Board of Instigators was inaugurated in July 2011 and in 2019, we welcomed our first staff member.

Staff

Rubie Coles

Rubie Coles
Program Director

Before joining the Diverse City Fund staff, Rubie served as Deputy Director of the Moriah Fund in Washington, DC. She was responsible for directing and managing the foundation’s economic justice and reproductive justice grantmaking nationally and in the DC region. More.

Prior to joining Moriah in 1999, Rubie served as Co-Director of Women Work!, a national women’s workforce development organization. Rubie received a Master in Public Administration degree from American University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Oberlin College. She is a founding member of both the Black Philanthropic Alliance and Black Benefactors. Rubie is also a former DC Fund Board of Instigators member.


Tia Watkins
Operations Manager

Tia serves as Diverse City Fund’s first Operations Manager. Tia is a DC native, who studied on the West Coast and returned home to work in education and community engagement. More.

With a long-standing passion for education, community, and the environment, Tia (she/her) has previously held positions in DC Public Schools, EL Haynes PCS, and the North American Association for Environmental Education. She has supported educators through operations and administration work, and served as a classroom teacher herself. Tia earned her undergraduate degree in Human Biology from Stanford University where she concentrated in Urban Environmental Education, and a Master’s Degree in Education Policy from American University. Tia grew up in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of DC, but decided to journey across the reservoir and has called Park View home since 2016.

Board of Instigators

Brigette Rouson

Brigette Rouson
Instigator since 2011

Brigette Rouson brings over 25 years of experience building nonprofit effectiveness toward a just society. Her practice advances systems change through facilitation/training, leadership development, action research and speaking. More.

She serves the public interest sector (nonprofits and government) working independently and with RoadMap (www.roadmapconsulting.org), the premier network of social justice consultants – serving on its core team and racial justice action team. Using an intersectional lens to support power-sharing, she directed a $4 million collaborative at Ms. Foundation for Women, co-authored Embracing Cultural Competency and created the Cultural Competency Institute to promote equity. She played a key role in forming Diverse City Fund, and Train the Movement (offering training/facilitation to strengthen racial justice activism). Brigette has taught at universities in Philadelphia and DC, worked as a journalist covering Capitol Hill, and done public policy advocacy as an attorney for a national association. Brigette is a graduate of Howard University (B.A.), Georgetown University (J.D.), and University of Pennsylvania (Ph.D. studies). She continually cultivates skill and enriches perspective through communities of practice such as Art of Transformational Consulting, Gestalt Center for Organization Systems Development, and Shannon Leadership Institute.

Cathy MealsCathy Meals
Instigator since 2011

Cathy Meals has been a donor to the Diverse City Fund and a member of its Board of Instigators since the Fund’s inception in 2011. Cathy is the Reference & Assessment Librarian at the University of the District of Columbia. More.

Before receiving her Master of Library & Information Science degree from the University of Maryland, she was a researcher in the labor movement for nearly ten years, supporting strategic organizing campaigns in the healthcare and retail industries. She got her start in social justice organizing by working on the living wage campaign at Swarthmore College, from which she graduated in 2004. Cathy grew up in Fairfax County, Virginia and has lived in DC since 2006.

Diana E. Alonzo Watkins
Instigator since 2020

Diana E. Alonzo Watkins is successful cause-driven institutional fundraiser and social justice advocate within the areas of international human/labor rights and the Latinx/Hispanic community locally. More.

Diana most recently fundraised on behalf of disenfranchised migrant and women workers from Mexico, Honduras, Uzbekistan, and China. Currently, she is committed to helping address the income disparity for DC Latinas and advancing the voice and position of women of color within the philanthropic and non-profit world. She currently serves as an Advisory Member to the Non-Profit Worker’s Union and as American University’s Latinx Alumni Alliance Co-Chair.

Farah FosseFarah Fosse
Instigator since 2017

Since moving to the District in 2000, Farah Fosse has focused on supporting community efforts to ensure that DC can be a diverse, inclusive, and just place to live. More.

For 10 years, Farah directed the tenant organizing program at the Latino Economic Development Center, where she led affordable housing campaigns, supported tenant associations to preserve their housing, and became a local tenant rights and affordable housing nerd and champion. Farah is a Licensed Graduate Social Worker, with a focus on trauma-informed community building. She is currently working as a consultant supporting local social justice organizations and can regularly be found at playgrounds and story times (with her toddler), writing on big pieces of paper, and teaching empowerment self-defense.


Jane ThompsonJane Thompson
Instigator since 2017

Jane E. Thompson helps nonprofit organizations achieve their goals by working with management during times of change to implement practical solutions. More.

Jane’s 30+ years of experience includes leadership positions in the nonprofit and for-profit private sectors and the government public sector.  As an independent consultant, she helps organizations make sense of their financial information, guiding them to use the information to drive strategic decisions. Since 2009, she has consulting on a wide variety of projects, including strategic business plans, interim CFO and CEO, review of financial management systems and implementation of changes, endowment tracking and planning, and sustainability and alternative revenue proposals. Before starting her own consulting business, Jane served as the Chief Operating Officer for the District of Columbia Primary Care Association (DCPCA). In the private sector, she served as CEO of a DC and Maryland based health insurance organization focused exclusively on enrolling low income Medicaid recipients. In the government sector, she started the managed care program for DC Government’s Medicaid program in the mid-90s. She is a former adjunct faculty at Georgetown University teaching Strategic Planning and Health Promotion to Health Management and Administration undergraduates.


Jordan Curry Carter
Instigator since 2020

Jordan Curry Carter (he/him) is a Senior Program Specialist for Race, Equity, And Leadership at the National League of Cities (NLC). He is responsible for managing a national Boys and Young Men of Color technical assistance portfolio and facilitating racial equity trainings with local elected officials. More.

Prior to joining NLC in 2019, Jordan worked at the junction of racial equity, public health, and food policy at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, DC Greens, and DC Central Kitchen. He grew up in California and has had the privilege of calling DC home since 2016. Jordan holds a Bachelor’s in Kinesiology from Whittier College, and a Master’s in Public Health Nutrition from George Washington University. He is a life longer learner committed to changing institutional policies, practices, and procedures with a truly intersectional equity lens (race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, age) that allows individuals, families, and communities to thrive.


Mark RobinsonMark Robinson
Instigator since 2017

Mark Robinson has over 35 years of experience in community organizing, community development, conflict transformation, nonprofit leadership and coaching. More.

Included in his diverse work history have been stints as Director of the DC Mediation Service, Senior Manager for Curriculum and Training at NeighborWorks America, Head Track and Field Coach at Catholic University, Lead Community Organizer for PACT US, and a founding member of the Spiritual Warrior Society. As a lifelong resident of the Last Colony (Washington, DC), he is extremely interested in and committed to helping grassroots organizations fulfill their mission and goals for the betterment of the city. In addition to his professional experience, he also had the opportunity to travel internationally in his youth as a track and field athlete, which opened up his desire to experience and learn from other cultures. Continuing to both be a lifelong learner and teacher is his major life goal.


Nicole Newman
Instigator since 2017

Nicole Newman has spent her professional career working at non-profit organizations getting hands on experience in providing services, building coalitions, coordinating volunteers, working in development and community organizing. More.

She trains and facilitates conversations for non profits and groups around racial equity and inclusion; community organizing and client engagement; advocacy; strategic growth and planning and navigating change and conflict. Nicole is a proud graduate of Trinity University (Washington DC) with a degree in Political Science. She is an AmeriCorps Vista Alum. She is a poet and believes in the power of the arts to transform lives and communities.


Nkechi Feaster
Instigator since 2020

Nkechi Feaster has been advocating in Washington, DC since the Recession landed her in a shelter with her son in 2011. After seeing how the government, services, and even non-profits she applied for kept her on a perpetual cycle of poverty rather than assisted her in gaining self-sufficiency, she began to speak out. More.

Her experiences receiving services, understanding her positions in society, as well as respecting her human rights have added to her passion in advocacy. Her work with communities, non-profits, designing trainings, and facilitating have all been around centering the humanity of and telling the true narrative of poor and communities of color. She currently serves positions on the Service to Justice Team, Street Sense Media as their Advocacy & Community Engagement Specialist, serves on the Board of Directors of the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, and is a trainer with Jobs With Justice.


Rebecca EnnenRebecca Ennen
Instigator since 2017

Rebecca Ennen is a veteran grassroots fundraiser, political communicator, and expert trainer and facilitator. She works primarily in the local and domestic Jewish social justice movement, organizing a proudly progressive community to fight for a world where resources and power are distributed fairly and where historical and systematic oppression is ended. More.

She has been with Jews United for Justice since 2010. Before then, she worked in dialogue and education on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict both in the US and Israel/Palestine, studied in yeshiva in New York, and worked as a professional theater artist, teacher, and community organizer in Hong Kong and Philadelphia. She studied theater and education at Swarthmore College and was a Fulbright Fellow in Sri Lanka. Rebecca lives in Petworth with her partner and child, and spends a lot of time building radical religious community.


Richael Faithful
Instigator since 2020

Richael (they/them) is a multi/inter-disciplinary folk healer, facilitator, creative, and lawyer raised in Virginia and DC. Richael is a skilled space-holder, wisdom-keeper and strategist for movement groups, locally and nationally. More.

Richael brings to the Board of Instigators over a decade within the healing justice movement as a former organizer, and has been shaped by queer Black feminist lineages. They commit their time in the healing arts as a folk healing practitioner within the conjure tradition, healing culture facilitator and consultant, writer and essayist, performance artist, radical lawyer, among other roles. They are eager to deepen conversations on themes of reparative justice and other futurist lens around resources and where they go.


Sapna Pandya
Instigator since 2020

Sapna Pandya most recently served for 9 years as Executive Director of a local DC non-profit immigrant justice organization, Many Languages One Voice, prior to joining the Board of Instigators. More.

She strives to bring an intersectional and multi-method approach to community-led organizing. Sapna is particularly passionate about creating spaces for marginalized communities voices to be heard, to build more equitable workplaces, systems of health and education. She has served on the Board of the DC-based South Asian LGBTQ organization, KhushDC, and continues to remain connected to queer organizing in India and Pakistan. Sapna is a 2nd generation South Asian immigrant. She lives in the cozy neighborhood of Mt Pleasant with her wife and their rambunctious toddler.


Sheri Brady
Instigator since 2015

Sheri Brady is Director for Strategic Partners at Aspen Forum for Community Solutions, whose mission is to support community collaboration that enables communities to effectively address their most pressing challenges. More.

She leads work on field building around collective impact, place based investment, community engagement and equity. Her strong commitment to social and economic justice that is reflected in her work. The major theme of her career has been advocating for policies that increase opportunities for communities, children, and families to thrive while securing the existing safety net. This has taken many forms including managing campaigns with child advocates to increase investments in vital programs; helping state legislators develop effective anti-poverty policies; and building the capacity of the nonprofits to engage in advocacy.

She also serves on the boards of the Paul J. Aicher Foundation/Everyday Democracy, which works to advance deliberative democracy and improve the quality of public life in the United States; and Women’s Equity Center and Action Network with the mission to provide women of color with tools and resources to facilitate their engagement in the policymaking that affects their daily lives.


Sujata BhatSujata Bhat
Instigator since 2017

Sujata Bhat is the Senior Manager for Public Engagement grantmaking at Education Forward DC. More.

Prior to joining Ed Forward, she was the founding Executive Director of My School DC, the common application and lottery system for district and public charter schools in Washington, DC. She grew up in Ohio and has lived in Chicago and Bangalore, but has been proud to call DC home since 2009. Sujata holds a Bachelor’s degree in Human Development from the University of Chicago and a Master’s degree in Public Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.
 


Instigators Emeritus: Alicia Sanchez Gill, Andrew Willis Garcés, Ayize Sabater, Burke Stansbury, Caitlin Duffy, David Krakow, David Mariner, Dominic Moulden, Elizabeth Falcon, Jess Champagne, Jessica Solomon, Jordana Fraider, Julia Howell Barros, Kristi Matthews, Kristina Gray-Akpa, Sylvia Robinson, and Tiffany FitzGerald

Please see our list of grantees to see members of our Grantmaking Teams for each grant round.