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"A problem is a chance for you to do your best."

- Duke Ellington

Desepe de Vargas - Head of School
Desepe de Vargas


Desepe de Vargas - Head of School
Desepe de Vargas
Harriette Ecton - Chief Development Officer
Harriette Ecton

Harriette has an extensive background in fundraising, event management, and cause-related marketing and is the President of The Events Management Group, formed in 1990. She is an experienced manager with excellent communication skills and possesses the ability to lead, motivate, and engage with others in a professional manner.

Harriette has an established track record of successfully developing and directing the execution of fundraising strategies and has worked with some of the country’s most respected and recognizable non-profit organizations and corporations, including the United Negro College Fund, Howard University, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Bethune – Cookman University, National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), Little Rock Nine Foundation, YWCA of the USA, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the Department of Energy International Division, Anheuser-Busch Companies, Coca- Cola, Goya Foods, and others. She is also an active member of both the Reston chapter of the Links, Inc. and The Girl Friends, Inc.

Donna Hollis - Director of Student Affairs
Tracie Jade Jenkins - Director of Arts
Tracie Jade Jenkins
Sandi Logan - Director of School Administrative Operations
Sandi Logan

Sandi Logan is the Director of Academic Operations at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts (DESA).  In this role, Ms. Logan leads operational coordination, implementation, and management of student data tracking and reporting.  As the senior liaison to for DESA to D.C. Public School System, she ensures the organizational alignment with and implementation of local and federal standards and policies.  She also leads the Special Education, SST/504 and Guidance Counseling Department in providing student support services.

Prior to joining Ellington, Ms. Logan proudly served as a Special Education Chair within the Montgomery County Public School System (MCPS) in Maryland.  In this capacity, she served on the front lines of identifying students with special needs such learning disabilities, autism spectrum, and emotional disturbances.  With a passion for supporting the educational and emotional development of our young people, she led a team a team of education professionals in teaching children with emotional disturbances at the Positive Education Program in Cleveland, Ohio.  In this role, she implemented such forward thinking programs as art therapy as an effective support mechanism for enabling troubled youth to express themselves in a positive and constructive manner.

As a native of Cleveland, OH, she attended The Ohio State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with a concentration on U.S. and Pan-African History.  She earned a Master’s of Education (M.Ed) from Cleveland State University, and holds an Education Administrator Certification from the George Washington University.

Ronald Lee Newman - Director of Operations and Collaborative Programming
Savannah Overton - Director of Admissions
Savannah Overton

Savannah Overton is a media literacy advocate, media studies scholar and diversity consultant who is deeply passionate about diversity, human rights, urban studies and all things sociological. Savannah was born and raised in Los Angeles, California but has made the east coast her home. Prior to joining the Duke Ellington School of the Arts as the Director of Admissions, she worked for several companies and non-profits in the Los Angeles, Boston and DC areas conducting research, managing community projects and social media outlets. She is also an adjunct professor who teaches courses on school violence, race, gender & class.

Savannah earned two Bachelor’s degrees from Pepperdine University in Intercultural Communication and Sociology. After college, she spent several years in reality television at Fox Broadcasting Company working as a liaison between production companies and the network on shows such as: American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance, The NAACP Image Awards, The Emmy Awards, among others.

In 2012 she completed her Master’s degree in Media Studies from Syracuse University. Her work there took her back to her roots working with incarcerated persons. Her published thesis, Hard-Knock Life: Exploring Prisoner Perceptions of Media’s Influence on Society and Crime through In-Depth Interviews and Q-Methodology was accepted at an international conference in Budapest, Hungary in 2013.

In addition to teaching and consulting, Savannah loves to volunteer with youth organizations and is an avid arts and sports enthusiast.

Dr Cameron Van Patterson - Director of Academic Curriculum and Instruction
Dr Cameron Van Patterson

Dr. Cameron Van Patterson is the Director of Academic Instruction at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts (DESA). He leads the implementation of academic initiatives aimed at raising student achievement outcomes. Dr. Patterson also oversees student academic assessment, programming, instruction, and interdisciplinary curriculum development. His responsibilities include improving teacher effectiveness through continuous, performance-based evaluation and professional development training.

Prior to joining DESA, Dr. Patterson served as National Director of the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools program. He also taught as a college professor at Clark Atlanta University and lectures at various universities across the country on the construction of visual narratives and the complex relationship between artistic practices and social discourses of difference throughout the African Diaspora. Dr. Patterson’s scholarly research examines the historical impact of racial inequality in western culture and his most recent publication entitled “(Re)Considering Race in the Desegregation of Higher Education,” appears in the Spring 2012 edition of the University of Georgia Law Review. In addition to his academic interests, Dr. Patterson is passionate about creative writing and youth leadership development.

Born and raised in Long Beach, CA, Dr. Patterson has been recognized for numerous achievements in education and is a two-time recipient of the Pedro Noguera Volunteer of the Year Award. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California at Berkeley, and holds a Ph.D. in African and African American Studies with an emphasis in the History of Art and Architecture from Harvard University.


Sylvester Barnes - Student Safety and Security Coordinator
Melissa Bethea - Library Media Specialist
Aaron Cain - IT Coordinator
Larry Davis - Educational Counselor
LeNae Franklin - Registrar & Records Coordinator
Delphenia James - School Nurse
Shanta James - Cafeteria Manger
Traci Johnson - DC-CAP (College Access Program) Coordinator
Angela Jones - Attendance Counselor
Lisa Jones - Instructional Coach
Brenda Nishimuna - School Psychologist
Suwana Reavis - School Counselor
Noemy Rivera-Gutierrez - Main Office Manager - Garnet Patterson Campus
Brittany Robertson - Assistant Director of Arts
Maxine Stone - Executive Administrative Support Manager
Tedra Williams - School Counselor