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DESAP Partners

"It is not only one person's work, it's really a partnership and collaboration during all these years."

- Christo

About Duke Ellington School of the Arts Project (DESAP)

In 1999, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The George Washington University, and The Ellington Fund, formalized their long-time collaboration into the Duke Ellington School of the Arts Project (DESAP), a non-profit organization. Shortly thereafter, in recognition of the leading role in arts education that Duke Ellington School of the Arts (Ellington) has traditionally played and the importance of a fully integrated academic and arts curriculum, DC Public Schools (DCPS) entered into an agreement with DESAP. This agreement determined that it was in the best interests of DCPS, Ellington’s students, and the community served by Ellington for DESAP to manage and operate Ellington in a unique partnership with DCPS. Today, the goal of DESAP continues to be providing high school students with an educational experience that includes college preparatory academics, pre-professional artistic training, and access to the cultural and intellectual resources of the District of Columbia.

The DESAP Board of Directors consists of representatives from each of the three partners,  the school, and the Ellington Community (i.e., current parents or alumni). Ex officio members include the DCPS Superintendent, the SHADE President, and Ellington’s Principal. See the Board of Directors roster and descriptions of the partners below. 

DESAP Board of Directors


Amber Golden, Ph.D., President
Ari Q. Fitzgerald, Esq., Vice President  |  Ellington Fund 
Gregory Squires, Esq., Treasurer | George Washington University
Kay Twomey, Secretary | Community Representative

At-Large Members

Aristide J. Collins, Jr., George Washington University Representative 
Robin Y. Harris, Alumni and Faculty Representative
Jeanette S. McCune, Kennedy Center Representative
Stephanie Phillips, Esq., Ellington Fund Representative 
Edrick D. Rhodes, Kennedy Center Representative 
Sylvia Davis White, Ellington Fund Representative

Ex-Officio Members

Sandi M. Logan, Principal & Head of School  
Katitia Batiste, SHADE Parent Group Co-President

DESAP Partner Organizations

DCPS is largely responsible for providing 70-80% of the operating budget for Duke Ellington School of the Arts. Our academic curriculum follows the DCPS standards of learning and many of our staff are committed veterans of the DCPS system. Upon graduation, Ellington students receive a standard DCPS diploma and an arts certificate. With this partnership, we benefit financially and through the provision of both professional development and current teaching methods and resources. See Ellington’s DCPS report here.

The Kennedy Center is an influential partner for Ellington, providing much needed resources in performance space, opportunities for performance, production assistance and annually funding a series of master classes, professional development lectures, and other educational opportunities to enhance the teaching and curriculum offered at Duke Ellington. Ellington students regularly attend and are often sought after to perform at the Kennedy Center, with multiple appearances at Millennium Stage, the Performance Series of Legends, and various other shows. Faculty have also produced shows at the Kennedy Center and attended various clinics and workshops. Many renowned artists that perform at the Kennedy Center often share their talent by working with Ellington students in clinics/master classes/workshops (funded by the Education department at the Kennedy Center). As part of the partnership, three Kennedy Center representatives serve on the DESAP board. Find out more.

GWU provides collaborations with different departments, sponsors Ellington events, and provides counsel on governance.  The programmatic resources and opportunities provided for our students supports our mission and ensures the success of our students. Like the Kennedy Center, three GWU representatives serve on the DESAP board. Visit GWU’s website.

The Ellington Fund is a 501(c)(3) organization established in 1979 to serve as the charitable arm of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. Learn more about the Ellington Fund here.

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