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Letter from New DESAP President Jeanette McCune

Letter from New DESAP President Jeanette McCune

Feb. 1, 2021

Dear DESA Community,

It is my honor to have been elected to serve as President of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts Partnership (DESAP) Board effective January 2021.  DESAP, comprised of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, George Washington University, the Ellington Fund, and DCPS, serve as Ellington’s managing partners.  I follow in the footsteps of the remarkable Charles Barber who resigned in December 2020 after many years of dedicated service.  I have been on the DESAP Board since 2011 and served as the Treasurer for the past several years. 

While my role as DESAP President is new, my relationship with Ellington is not.  I began working with the school 21 years ago, managing a partnership between the Vocal Music department and the Choral Arts Society of Washington, where I was the Director of Community and Education Programs.  In 2001, I joined the Education Division of the Kennedy Center, serving first as manager, then assistant director and then director of our local programs with DC public and public charter schools and the community.  In September 2017, I became Director of School and Community Programs leading our K-12 local and national arts education partnerships in school and community settings.  For the past 19 years, I have directed the Kennedy Center’s partnership with Ellington, supporting curriculum enhancing programs across all eight majors.  I worked with the Ellington team on the Legends concerts at the Kennedy Center – including collaborations with Stevie Wonder, Patti LaBelle, Earth Wind & Fire, and Smokey Robinson – and worked with the school to engage students in performances and collaborations with John Legend, Common, and Kendrick Lamar.

It is my privilege to work with my fellow DESAP board members to serve the school.  We have exceptional community leaders on the board with expertise across critical industries. Our full board membership includes:

  • Jeanette McCune, President (John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts)
  • Ari Fitzgerald, Vice President (President, Ellington Fund)
  • Gregory Squires, Treasurer (George Washington University)
  • Kay Twomey, Secretary (Community Representative, Ward 2 Resident)
  • Sandi Logan (Ellington Head of School and Principal)
  • Aristide Collins (George Washington University)
  • Sylvia Davis White (Ellington Fund)
  • Amber Golden (SHADE President, LSAT Member)
  • Robin Harris (Ellington Faculty Representative)
  • Brenda Morris (Ellington Fund)
  • Edrick Rhodes (John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts)

We look forward to continuing to work closely with the Ellington community to strengthen and support the school and ensure the continuation of its legacy of excellence in artistic and educational development of our students.


DESAP President Jeanette McCune