About HumanitiesDC

HumanitiesDC believes that we can transform our lives through the power of art, music, architecture, literature, history and culture. These are the humanities – the things that shape us as individuals and bind us as a community.

Special thanks to Double R Productions for the production of this video.

Our Mission

Founded in 1980, the Humanities Council of Washington, DC (HumanitiesDC) aims to enrich the quality of life, foster intellectual stimulation, and promote cross-cultural understanding and appreciation of local history in all neighborhoods of the District through humanities programs and grants.

Our Vision

Our vision is to transform the District of Columbia through the power of the humanities. The humanities are our human ties – the processes and documentation of our human experience. The humanities provide our sense of identity, place, and community. The humanities encourage us to think creatively and critically, to reason, and to ask questions. The humanities help us to know our past, make sense of our present, and envision our future. Incorporating the humanities disciplines into our lives will strengthen our civic engagement, unite us during times of triumph and tragedy, provide us with new insights, and make District of Columbia neighborhoods better places to live.

Who We Are

Our Impact

Grants Given

Since HumanitiesDC’s birth, more than 2,000 funding opportunities have been awarded to members of our community.

Neighborhoods & Communities

The DC Community Heritage Project grants have impacted more than 50 neighborhoods and communities by preserving local history.

Programs & Partnerships

HumanitiesDC is proud to offer a range of programs providing rich experiences.

Preserved Stories

Thanks to our long-standing partnership with the DC Historic Preservation Office, over 600 stories are accessible to anyone in DC and beyond.

Curricula Developed for Students

Since HumanitiesDC’s birth, more than 2,000 funding opportunities have been awarded to members of our community.

Humanitini Events

Our monthly Humanitini program has brought over 70 engaging panels of humanists into DC bars and restaurants to discuss our great city’s history and future.


Events and Job Listings on CultureCapital

CultureCapital cultivates public participation in the arts, and creates partnerships between Washington’s artistic and business communities. We provide a public resource for the best of DC, Maryland and Virginia performances, museums, galleries, classes in The Arts, and more. In addition, our Job Bank is Metro DC’s source for recruiting and finding arts administration jobs.

Our Leadership


HumanitiesDC is staffed by a dedicated team who commit their talents to preserving DC’s unique and valuable cultural history. Our team members work together to bring engaging and enlightening humanities programming to the people of Washington, DC.

Rebecca Lemos Otero is a native Washingtonian who has served her community as an executive leader in the non-profit sector for more than two decades. Rebecca grounds her work in social justice and community driven programming. Formerly, Rebecca co-founded and served as Executive Director for City Blooms. Born out of her love of nature, she was led by her strong desire to foster community well-being through providing safe, accessible kid-driven green spaces throughout the city. Ms. Lemos Otero is a graduate of Fordham University, received an M.F.A from the Maryland Institute College of Arts and holds a certificate in Nonprofit Management from Georgetown University.

240-266-8453 ext. 803

Jasper Collier manages all aspects of the DC Oral History Collaborative program. Jasper has previously worked in curatorial and collections management at the Dittrick Medical History Center and President Lincoln’s Cottage. He has also held positions with the National Building Museum and the Western Reserve Historical Society and has worked as an independent consultant in historical research. Jasper holds a Master of Arts in Public History from American University and a Bachelor of Arts in History from Case Western Reserve University.

240-266-8453 ext. 804

Lois Nembhard brings twenty+ years of experience in the nonprofit and government sectors including management positions with AmeriCorps and the Social Innovation Fund. Her expertise includes program design and implementation, program operations, nonprofit capacity building and all phases of grantmaking. Most recently she has been a nonprofit consultant, providing capacity building support. She looks forward to being part of HumanitiesDC’s efforts to document, strengthen and amplify DC’s history, culture and arts through its residents.

240-266-8453 ext. 807

Karen Oliver believes that numbers help tell stories and that solid systems can allow HumanitiesDC’s community to thrive and grow. As Director of Operations her responsibilities include finance and accounting, human resources, operations and administration, and supporting a strategy to build a stable internal structure to support the growth of our programs. Karen’s diverse experience includes more than 10 years in nonprofit management, as well as a short stints in local politics, education board service, management consulting, and technical marketing. She holds a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Finance from UCLA and a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Swarthmore College.

240-266-8453 ext. 805

Eli Yussuf oversees HumanitiesDC’s grants portfolio supporting cultural and educational programming and projects. Eli has previously served as the lead of grantmaking for United Way of the Bluegrass in Lexington, KY, annually managing a $1.2 million portfolio and supporting a total of over 100 social service agencies for nearly four years. Eli has significant experience with grants management, grant writing, partner relations, program development and implementation. Eli holds a Master in Public Administration from the University of Kentucky and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Medicine, Health, & Society from Vanderbilt University.

240-266-8453 ext. 809

Jimmy was born and raised in Southeast Washington D.C.’s Ward 8 and has spent the past eight years working for and supporting local nonprofits. A graduate of Bates College, Jimmy obtained his bachelor’s degree in English before completing a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Georgetown University. Most recently, Jimmy served on the Board of Directors for Words Beats & Life, taught playwriting at the Young Playwright’s Theater, and joined the Black Swan Academy as their administrative assistant. In his spare time, Jimmy enjoys writing music, exercising, and raising his cat, Ghost, who he secretly thinks is his direwolf.

240-266-8453 ext. 806

Michael Yarnell has been a resident of Washington, DC for more than twenty years. Formerly, he worked as the Director of Marketing for a prominent DC Real Estate Sales firm. Throughout his career, Michael has worked alongside local non-profit organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign and “Beats for Boobs”, a breast cancer awareness organization developed in San Francisco. Michael is a native Kentuckian with a degree in Marketing and Communications from the University of Kentucky. He also holds a certificate in Marketing and Finance from Georgetown University and is a founding member of the Student Advisory Board of Real Estate (SABRE).

240-266-8453 ext. 808

Dana is an early career journalist and a Washington, DC native. She studied history at the Claremont Colleges in California where she developed a lasting interest in oral history while interviewing members of her own family as part of her honors thesis. Her oral history experience sparked an interest in investigative journalism, a field in which she earned a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Dana was part of a team in 2021 that was awarded the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for an investigative series on the misuse of police dogs. Now that she has returned to her hometown, she’s eager to learn and preserve the stories of DC residents and the history of the city.


HumanitiesDC is governed by a diverse Board of Directors, including four Mayoral appointees. They bring a wide array of talents to their role as stewards and guides of the organization including: humanities scholarship, communications and marketing, fundraising and development, advocacy and public programming.

Bio coming soon.

Cole Fiala is a connector of people and dots with expertise in cross-cultural collaboration, relationship building, and project management. He is currently looking toward 2026 and the 250th anniversary of the founding of the United States while cultivating federal and international partnerships for the America250 Foundation. His previous work spans more than 50 countries, first with U.S. Department of State public diplomacy programs at Meridian International Center and, more recently, with National Geographic traveling exhibitions. On the local level, he enjoys serving on the Board of HumanitiesDC and volunteering with the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.

Cole earned his MA in Museum Studies from Marist College and the Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici and his BA in Art History and International Studies from Loyola University Chicago. He can often be found taking his dog on long walks, trying new recipes in the kitchen, and traveling with his husband to destinations near and far.


Bio coming soon.

Bio coming soon.

Lee Murphy has a passion for helping people achieve their dreams. Her mission to assist her clients to navigate their path to home ownership has driven her to become a premiere realtor in Washington, DC. As featured in the Wall Street Journal, Ms. Murphy has consistently been ranked in the Top 20 in Individual Sales Volume since 2014 for the Washington, DC area. She received her undergraduate degree in International Studies and French from Austin College and the American University in Cairo.

Evelyn Boyd Simmons is a senior executive with broad and varied experience with Fortune 100 companies, federal and civic governments, nonprofits and entrepreneurial ventures. A committed civic leader, Ms. Simmons has been an active parent and community leader on education and school issues. She is a past President of the Logan Circle Community Association, having previously been awarded the organization’s Community Improvement Award. Ms. Simmons is a graduate of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. She is a certified Partnership Broker and Parent Leadership Training Institute Facilitator and an alum of the International Women’s Forum Leadership Foundation Fellow program at Harvard Business School and Institut Européen d’Administration des Affaires (INSEAD).

Maceo Thomas is an advocate in the local creative community with over 10 years of experience in programming and event planning. Receiving his Masters in Public Health at the University of North Carolina, Thomas has applied his instincts for public service to creating opportunities for artists in Washington, DC. Working with musicians and painters alike, Mr. Thomas has created various programs including a monthly art exhibit and music festival, garnering the recognition of The Community Foundation with the Linowes Award in 2011. He is is currently a real estate sales associate and independent property manager in the DC and Maryland area.


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