The Board of Directors of HumanitiesDC (HDC) is pleased to announce the selection of Rebecca Lemos-Otero as its next Executive Director. Lemos-Otero begins her new role in early September.

“I am delighted to welcome Rebecca to HumanitiesDC as our new Executive Director,” said Lee Murphy, Chair of HDC’s Board of Directors. “Rebecca’s vision, integrity, and extensive record as a nonprofit executive director made her an impressive candidate. Pairing these qualities with her perspective as a native Washingtonian and her deep commitment to our local community, it was clear that Rebecca is an ideal choice to lead HumanitiesDC into its next chapter. As we prepare for new leadership, I would like to extend my sincerest appreciation to my colleagues on the Search Committee for their thoughtfulness and commitment to this process. I am also grateful to Valerie Graff, who has served as HDC’s Interim Executive Director since April 2020 to assure a smooth leadership transition.”

Lemos-Otero will lead HDC as it continues to help support humanities organizations in the District to navigate the unprecedented challenges presented by COVID-19. In the face of these challenges, HDC will be accepting applications for the Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan (SHARP) grant program and begin planning new ways to connect with DC residents through original community-driven programming. SHARP funding will support humanities-based organizations and programs that have suffered significant economic losses due to COVID. Under Lemos-Otero’s leadership, HDC will plan a return to in-person programs as it is safe to do so, while continuing to maintain a strong online presence.

“As someone who proudly calls DC home, I am honored and excited to join Humanities DC,” said Lemos-Otero’s appointment concludes an extensive nationwide search led by Carlyn Madden of Good Insight, a Washington, DC-based executive search firm that serves the nonprofit sector. Michele Collison, Vice Chair of the Board of Directors, chaired a search committee comprised of current and recent past members of HumanitiesDC’s Board of Directors.

About Rebecca Lemos Otero

Rebecca Lemos Otero is a nonprofit executive, artist, and community builder who has dedicated her career to serving her hometown of Washington, DC.

She is the co-founder and former Executive Director of City Blossoms, which cultivates community well-being through creative kid-driven gardens that serve Latino, African American, and immigrant children in neighborhoods lacking free, safe green spaces. Under Lemos-Otero’s leadership, City Blossoms grew from a volunteer gardening program in Columbia Heights to an award-winning, million-dollar organization rooted in communities across the city, receiving recognition from the DC Mayor’s Sustainability Award, and the Center for Nonprofit Advancement’s Board Leadership Award. She brings significant experience building local and national collaborations, including with the DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education, the DC Department of Parks and Recreation, the U.S. Botanic Garden, and the Nature Conservancy.

A leader with over two decades of experience as a nonprofit entrepreneur, Lemos-Otero grounds her work in social justice and community-driven programming. As an artist, she is known for her unique approaches and creative perspective to solving challenges. She is a past member of the Board of Instigators of the Diverse City Fund, bringing significant expertise in designing and awarding grants to community-focused initiatives.

Lemos-Otero received much of her initial education and training from a fierce and diverse collective of social justice activist mentors, which was accompanied by a B.A. from Fordham University, an M.F.A from the Maryland Institute College of Arts and a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Georgetown University. She is a Ward 4 resident living in DC’s Petworth neighborhood.

About HumanitiesDC

Founded in 1980, HumanitiesDC is the state humanities council for Washington, DC with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the DC Council and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. HumanitiesDC’s mission 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. HDC supports local historians, educators, filmmakers, and humanists to document and interpret life in DC through grants, programs, and special partnerships. To learn more, visit