Executive Committee

Brady Birdsong, Chair
Brady is a Senior Consultant at Berry Dunn – Assurance, Tax and Consulting. Previously, Brady worked as the Chief Information Officer for the District of Columbia’s Department of Behavioral Health from 2016 to 2018. Prior to that, he worked for more than 15 years with DC’s Child and Family Services Agency, serving in several roles within the IT department. Brady has a BA in Psychology from the University of Oklahoma and a MS in Health Administration and Policy from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

 

Conrad Woody, Vice Chair
Conrad is a Partner and Head of Odgers Berndtson’s U.S. Corporate and Government Affairs Practice in Washington. His portfolio of search work includes advising clients on government affairs, corporate communications/public affairs, economic development, trade association CEO and leadership roles. Prior to joining Odgers Berndtson, he was a Principal at Korn Ferry and a key member of the firm’s Government Affairs Practice. Before this, he was with Goldman Sachs, where he was a member of the campus and diversity recruiting teams. He began his career as a staffer on Capitol Hill. Conrad has a degree in political science from Howard University.

 

Ran Borgersen, Treasurer
Ran is the Senior Director, Head of Multifamily Marketing for Freddie Mac. He is an accomplished business leader with expertise in marketing for large, complex B2B enterprises. With complementary experience in information technology and strategy consulting, Ran specializes in transforming marketing organizations by selectively applying the latest methods, technologies and insightful analytics to create value—and driving cultural change to sharpen brand. Prior to joining Freddie Mac in 2003, he worked for Accenture, Fannie Mae and CGI. Ran graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic University with a BS in Computer and Systems Engineering and a Master of Engineering. He also holds an MBA from University of Pennsylvania’s The Wharton School.

Natasha Watkins, Secretary
Natasha Watkins received a B.B.A. in Finance from Howard University, an M.B.A from Marymount University and an M.S.W from Catholic University. Natasha Watkins has been a management consultant for over 25 years working with both commercial and government clients. Mrs. Watkins also has a company, Your Life Onward, that allows her to work with 1:1 with clients to achieve their best personally, mentally and emotionally. Natasha and her family live in Chevy Chase, DC. She is an active member of the Washington DC Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc and the Washington DC Chapter of Jack and Jill of America. She also serves on the Selection Committee for the Williams-Franklin Scholarship Foundation.

 

C. Brian Williams, Founder and Executive Director
Brian is a graduate of Howard University and a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Beta Chapter. After living in Africa, he began to research stepping, exploring the many sides of this exciting, yet under-recognized American art form and founded Step Afrika! in 1994. Williams has performed, lectured and taught in Europe, South and Central America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, the Caribbean and throughout the United States. He is a founder of the historic Step Afrika! International Cultural Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Under Brian’s leadership, stepping has evolved into one of America’s newest cultural exports and inspired the designation of Step Afrika! as Washington, DC’s official Cultural Ambassador. Brian has been cited as a “Civic/Community Visionary” by NV Magazine and “Nation Builder” by the National Black Caucus of State Legislators. He is featured in Soulstepping, the first book to document the history of stepping, and several documentaries discussing the art form. Brian is also a recipient of numerous awards including the Mayor’s Art Award for Innovation in the Arts and the Pola Nirenska Award for Contemporary Achievement in Dance.

 

Board of Directors

Lamont Akins
Lamont is the Senior Manager for Strategic Initiatives and External Affairs Affairs for Pepco.
He most recently served as Director of DC Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Office of Community Affairs. Lamont was responsible for ensuring the needs of D.C. residents were met and that resident trust and engagement with D.C. Government increased. Lamont managed and advised on the intersectional needs of building community by leading 13 constituent and community offices, and 12 boards and commissions. Prior to the Bowser Administration, Lamont served as Director of Constituent Services and Community Outreach for At-Large D.C. Councilmember Anita Bonds. He was responsible for external community engagement and connecting residents to services offered by D.C. Government agencies. An Arkansan native, Lamont earned his Bachelor’s in Political Science from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and holds a Master’s in Community Development from Delta State University. Lamont is a lifetime member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

 

Marc Battle
Marc Battle is Executive Vice President & General Counsel of the District of Columbia Water & Sewer Authority (DC Water). Marc leads DC Water’s legal department and serves as chief legal advisor to its board of directors. A 1999 graduate of the University of the District of Columbia, and 2002 graduate of the Howard University School of Law, Marc practiced law initially in the federal and local government, serving as Senior Counsel and Communications Director to Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, and later as Counsel to the Committee on Government Operations for the Council of the District of Columbia. Marc is admitted to practice law in D.C., Maryland and New York. He serves as a board member of the Greater Washington Urban League, Ingenuity Prep Public Charter School and After School All-Stars DC as well as Chairs the Board of Step Afrika! Marc is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and is a life member of the University of the District of Columbia Alumni Association.

 

Ann Belkov
Ann is the retired Superintendent of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island Museum. She had a 25-year career with the National Park Service that also included her positions as Superintendent of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve in Louisiana and Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Park and Russell Cave National Monument in Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. A D.C. native, she also worked for the D.C. Department of Recreation for nine years. Ann took a civilian assignment with the U.S. Air Force in the Far East during the Vietnam conflict. She is the recipient of the Freedom Foundation Award and the Department of Interior Superior Performance Award. She retired in 1996 and has since been active in the D.C. arts and nonprofit scene, as an active board member of both Step Afrika! and the Atlas Performing Arts Center. Ann also serves on the Board of the U.S. Park Police Foundation.

 

Dyonicia “Dy” Brown
Dy is a Nonprofit Executive and Connector, who received an MSA in Organizational Development from Trinity University and BBA in Marketing from Howard University. Her background is embedded in a commitment to civic engagement, philanthropy, celebrating the arts and encouraging purposeful travel. She currently serves on Krewe of Pyros, Coalition for the Homeless, Step Afrika! and Walker’s Legacy Board of Directors and is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and the International Fraternity of Delta Sigma Pi. Dy originally hails from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and continues to keep strong ties with that community.

 

Beverly Burke
Beverly is an experienced Board Member with a demonstrated history of working in the performing arts industry. As a Board Member, she brings a depth of experience in nonprofit organizations, public speaking, trials, civil litigation and corporate governance. She is a currently on the Boards of Step Afrika! and the University of the District of Columbia. From 1992 to 2011, Beverly worked for Washington Gas in various roles including Vice President and General Counsel. Before joining Washington Gas, she was a Division Head in the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia for 10 years. She received a BA in American Civilization from Brown University and a JD from the George Washington School of Law.

 

David Canada
David is the Sr. Manager, Merger & Acquisition (M&A) Integration Strategy within the Information Technology & Data Analytics division at The Boeing Company. In this role, he leverages relationships with corporate development, enterprise functions, and IT to lead the strategy development in support of deal planning, due-diligence, and integration for targeted merger and acquisition activity. He joined The Boeing Company in 2007 after working in the automotive industry. While at Boeing, David has worked in various roles including Chief of Staff to the Vice President of BDS IT Business Partners, Project Management, Program Management, Finance, Category Strategy and Sourcing, and Supplier Management. He holds multiple academic degrees including a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Howard University and Master’s degrees in Business Administration, Mechanical Engineering, and Project Management. Active in community service, David serves on the Board of Directors for Wearable Tech Ventures, The Life Enrichment Group, Whine & Cheese, and Step Afrika! David is also passionate about STEM education and increasing the number of minorities in technology fields. He serves as an active corporate representative for the Black Engineer of the Year Awards as well as the National Society of Black Engineers.

 

John W. Hill
John is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of J Hill Group, a professional services practice that helps clients improve their management operations. Prior to starting his consulting practice, from 2004 to 2012, John served as CEO of Federal City Council, a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to improving the Nation’s Capital. He serves as a Trustee of Chesapeake Lodging Trust, a publicly traded REIT. Previously, John served as a member of the audit committees of various public companies, including Highland Hospitality Inc., and various private entities, including Prestwick Pharmaceuticals, Inc. He also serves as President on the DC Public Library Board of Trustees, as Treasurer on the Shakespeare Theatre Company Board of Trustees, and as Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Minority AIDS Council. John received a BS in Accounting from the University of Maryland, passed the CPA exam and became a Certified Public Accountant in 1977.

 

Jeffery D. Kennerly
Jeffery is a Financial Advisor with Morgan Stanley’s Wealth Management in Tysons Corner. For more than a decade, Jeffery has held leadership roles in advising business clients, managing various aspects of their operations as well as providing risk management consultation on behalf of industry leading corporations. Prior to joining Morgan Stanley, Jeffery was a Director with Management Resources at Robert Half International. He holds a BS in Accounting and MBA from the University of New Haven.

Janel Merritt
Janel serves as the Chief Operating Officer and the strategic planning advisor to the CEO of Digidoc d.b.a. Public Sector Solutions Group (PS2G). PS2G is a world-class technical consulting firm that solves the government’s problems through software implementations, professional services, and staffing. Janel is a 2019 recipient of the Leadership Award from Women in Technology (WIT). Having a passion for mentorship, she enjoys guest lecturing for her Alma Mater, Howard University’s School of Business. She also shares the company’s philanthropic and investment vision, creating mentorship programs for girls and local schools to provide STEM support. Janel holds a board seat with Women Energy Network (WEN). She has been a Metropolitan Baptist Church member for over two decades, serving in the music ministry. Janel graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Howard University and is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. A mom of two, she currently lives in Alexandria, Virginia, with her husband Lindsey and their dog, Bison.

Kymber Lovett-Menkiti
Kymber is the Regional Director for the Maryland/D.C. region for Keller Williams Realty International and President of Sales for The Menkiti Group. Kymber directs growth for 19 Market Center offices and is the first African American woman to hold as high a position in the company. Washingtonian Magazine named Kymber a Top Real Estate Agent multiple years. In 2015, she was recognized by Washington SmartCEO as a 2015 Brava award winner for distinguished achievement as a member of Greater Washington’s top women business leaders. Kymber is a charter member and Board Chair of the CPMG Foundation, which supports housing, education and entrepreneurship needs in the D.C. area. Kymber is also a founding member of the Board for DC WISE, (Women in Solidarity for Empowerment). Kymber holds two Master’s degrees in Social Work, and Law and Social Policy from Bryn Mawr College. 

Christopher Montgomery
Christopher has more than 20 years of management and industry experience as an organizational effectiveness professional and is currently a Director in KPMG’s Transformation Delivery Practice. Throughout his career, he has been an avid supporter of creative, cultural, and community organizations. He has provided strategic consulting and financial support to Jazz at Lincoln Center (NYC), The Laundromat Project (former Board member), the Bedford-Stuyvesant YMCA (Board member), and The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (Advisor). Christopher also served on the cultural institution investment review team at the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone in Harlem. Christopher is a graduate of Cornell University and Columbia Business School and a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. A native Washingtonian, he currently resides in 16th Street Heights.

 

Allen Orr
Allen is an immigration attorney and the founder of Orr Immigration Law Firm PC, a minority-owned law firm based in D.C., focusing on U.S. corporate compliance as well as global corporate representation and assistance on immigration issues. He previously assisted in building one of the leading global immigration practices at a large global law firm, where he developed an international network of immigration practitioners, government officials and business leaders. The recipient of the 2009 Joseph Minsky Young Lawyer Award for contributions made in the immigration law field from AILA, Allen is listed in The International Who’s Who of Corporate Immigration Lawyers and The International Who’s Who of Business Lawyers. He has served as the Immigration Section Chair for the National Bar Association and as an elected member of the AILA Board of Governors. He is a Senior Editor of the Immigration and Nationality Law Handbook and an Associate Editor of AILA’s Global Immigration Guide: A Country-by-Country Survey, April 2005. Allen received a BA in Philosophy from Morehouse College and a JD from Howard University’s School of Law. He is an active member of the D.C., Virginia and National Bar Associations.

Latrena Owens
Latrena is the Executive Director of the St. Elizabeths East Redevelopment for the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED), which assists the Mayor in the coordination, planning, supervision, and execution of economic development efforts in the District of Columbia to create and preserve affordable housing, creating jobs, and increasing tax revenue. Before working with the DMPED, Latrena served as the Chief of Staff for the District’s Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and the Department of General Services (DGS). Latrena holds a Master’s degree in Adult Education from Virginia Commonwealth University and an Executive Certificate in Public Leadership from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She serves as the secretary of the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) DC Alumni Council and is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

 

Troy Patterson
Troy is a real estate agent with TTR Sotheby’s International Realty. He came to Washington in 1987, when he was stationed in the U.S. Coast Guard. He graduated from the University of North Carolina and American University, which led to extensive work fundraising in the nonprofit sector. He raised funds for Studio Theatre, Georgetown University, The National Building Museum and The National Association of Home Builders. Troy continues this work through his support of such organizations as The Victory Fund, The Human Rights Campaign, Step Afrika!, The Young Playwrights Theatre and the United Methodist Church. His diverse career in non-profit fundraising and management led to a love of real estate, which he has been successfully practicing for the last 14 years.

 

Kebharu Smith
Kebharu Smith is the Director of Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit (CCU), an international team of lawyers, investigators, and analysts whose mission is to disrupt and dismantle counterfeit organizations by targeting them through external enforcement efforts. Before joining CCU, Kebharu served as Senior Corporate Counsel with the DOJ’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS). Before that role, he served as an Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) and Assistant District Attorney (ADA) in Houston. Kebharu is a Life Member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., an alumnus of Thurgood Marshall School of Law (at Texas Southern University), and a member of the National Bar Association and the National Black Prosecutor’s Association. Kebharu and his wife, Mignon Smith, enjoy traveling, sailing, original art, and theatre and serve as Ambassadors for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture.

Kym Taylor
A native Washingtonian, Kym is a 1982 graduate of Duke Ellington School of the Arts as a Theater major and a 1986 graduate of the George Washington University, where she completed a degree in Business Information Systems. In 1988, Kym graduated from Atlanta University with an MBA in Information Systems and Finance. Kym and her husband, Steve, founded Family Choice Healthcare in 1998 – a home healthcare company that has assisted the elderly and disabled for more than 23 years in Maryland, D.C., Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. With over 500 employees and 600 clients throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, Kym currently serves as the Vice President – Marketing and Strategic Solutions for the Lanham, MD-based home care agency. Kym is a charter member of the National Harbor Chapter of Jack and Jill of America. Initiated into the Mu Delta chapter at the George Washington University, Kym has been a loyal member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. for 36 years. She has held numerous offices, chaired various committees (local and regional), and has countless hours of community service from her undergraduate and graduate tenures.

Administrative Staff

C. Brian Williams

C. Brian Williams

Founder and Executive Director

Brian is a native of Houston, Texas, and graduate of Howard University. He first learned to step as a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. – Beta Chapter, in the Spring of 1989. While living in Southern Africa, he began to research the percussive dance tradition of stepping, exploring the many sides of this exciting, yet under-recognized American art form and founded Step Afrika! in 1994. Williams has performed, lectured and taught in Europe, Central and South America, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, the Caribbean and throughout the United States. He is the founder of the monumental Step Afrika! International Cultural Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Through Williams’ leadership, stepping has evolved into one of America’s newest cultural exports and inspired the designation of Step Afrika! as Washington, D.C.’s official “Cultural Ambassador.” Williams has been cited as a “civic/community visionary” by NV Magazine, a “nation builder” by the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, and a “minority business leader” by the Washington Business Journal. He is the recipient of numerous Artist Fellowships; the Distinguished Arts Award from the Coalition for African-Americans in the Performing Arts; the Pola Nirenska Award for Contemporary Achievement in Dance. He is also featured in Soulstepping, the first book to document the history of stepping. He also earned the 2008 Mayor’s Art Award for Innovation in the Arts and has led the company to multiple Metro DC Dance Awards for “Outstanding New Work”, “Excellence in Stage Design/Multimedia” and “Outstanding Group Performance.” In 2018, Williams received the Mayor’s Arts Award for Visionary Leadership from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.

Lamar Lovelace

Deputy Executive Director

As Deputy Executive Director for Step Afrika!, Lamar Lovelace is responsible for external and internal management of the organization’s board relationships, communications and marketing strategy, fundraising and financial operations. Previously, he was the Director of Public Programs and Events for Columbia University’s Office of University Life, producing large-scale, humanities-based programming opportunities to engage students, faculty, and staff. Prior to that, Lamar created arts-based social justice programs and exhibitions at Broward College in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and managed community-based partnerships and special events for Columbia University’s Office of Government and Community Affairs. He holds Master’s degrees in Arts Management and Oral History from Carnegie Mellon and Columbia, respectively, and a BA in Speech and Hearing Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Connie L. Perez

Director of Institutional Relations and Research

Connie L. Perez is Step Afrika!’s Director of Institutional Relations. In this role, Connie secures grant funding from foundations and government agencies, conducts prospect research, and manages the Company’s database. Connie has more than 20 years of experience working in the nonprofit sector, writing grants and securing funding for a variety of missions from the arts to human services to the environment. Before joining Step Afrika! in December 2018, she wrote grants for two major Washington, D.C.-area cultural institutions, Shakespeare Theatre Company (2007-2013) and Folger Shakespeare Library (2013-2017). She holds a BA in Journalism and Psychology from the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida. Connie is a member of the Grants Professionals Association.

Miracle Lewis

Finance Manager

Joe Murchison

Arts Education and Special Projects Manager

Kristen L. Taylor has more than a decade of performing arts management experience that includes international tours, and performances at The Kennedy Center and The White House. As Step Afrika!’s Company Manager, Kristen coordinates logistics with national and international presenting organizations, manages artists’ travel, and supports the Company with other special events. She is a member of the Washington Performing Arts Junior Board and the Washington DC Gospel Music Heritage Committee. She is a Howard University alumna with a Bachelor’s degree in History.

Step Afrika!
c/o Atlas Performing Arts Center
1333 H Street, NE
Washington, DC  20002

Phone: 202-399-7993 ext. 111
Fax: 202-399-6761
Email: info@stepafrika.org