ADA VILLATORO is the owner of El Golfo Restaurant in Silver Spring, considered by many to be one of the most prominent and important community centers, hosting countless civic and business meetings, fundraisers for non-profits and community leaders, and other special events. Not to mention one of THE most popular places to enjoy Salvadoran and Mexican food. Ada grew up on a farm in El Salvador where her parents taught their 11 children the importance of service to others. They shared the family farmland with those in need, providing access to fresh vegetables and other foods. “My mother would always give the best of what she had to people,” Villatoro said. “If she had something that was not good, she would not give it away.” That spirit of giving stayed with Villatoro when she moved to the United States in 1985. Ada represents for so many area residents the epitome of generosity of spirit and expansive vision in supporting our diverse business and non-profit communities. Through her active involvement in the Long Branch Business League, Ada has worked wonders in establishing the neighborhood as a destination point for great food and family-friendly entertainment. In 2014 Ada received, along with other Long Branch Business League members, the Impact Silver Spring Momentum Award for “creating social, economic, and civic momentum." Ada and El Golfo have hosted Carpe Diem Arts' Jump Start with the Arts Family Fun Night Out performance series since 2012, along with numerous fundraising events in support of Carpe Diem Arts.
LaMar Davis has dedicated his professional career to working with children, youth and families. He has served with The Choice Program at UMBC since 1998, beginning as an AmeriCorps member and now as the program’s Director. LaMar holds a BA in Anthropology from University of California, Santa Cruz and a MA in Arts Administration from Goucher College. LaMar fundamentally believes in our community’s resilience and has witnessed the impact that the Choice’s Community Service-Learning Fellows can have in helping youth transform their lives. As a 2016 Community Law in Action (CLIA) Inspiring Voice award-winner, Davis was featured in a compelling video produced by CLIA about The Choice Program, a nationally recognized model for community-based intervention that has served more than 25,000 youth and their families from Maryland’s highest risk communities. LaMar also served for many years on the Board of Class Acts Arts (now Artivate) and continues to partner with Claire Schwadron and Project Youth ArtReach in bringing the arts to at-risk youth. LaMar loves to travel with his wife Marla and learn about the mysteries of the world. He also skydives, rides bikes, hikes and plays disc golf when he is not bragging about his children Ariana and Isaiah.
E. STEWART HICKMAN is an executive coach and HR professional. He has provided organization and management development services to government, non-profit and corporate clients for twenty-seven years, seeking to bring a holistic approach to helping organizations become more productive and satisfying places to work. His recent clients have been in the fields of healthcare, international development, environmental preservation and education reform. As an international consultant and trainer, he has worked with organizations, teams and individuals in over 65 organizations in the U.S. and in 15 countries in Asia, South America, Africa and Europe. Stew’s specialties have been in the areas of appreciative inquiry, team effectiveness, organizational culture, and how the way we talk influences the way we work. He has been an HR director, a manager of staff development and a business owner, and is currently a senior organization development consultant for EnCompass LLC in Washington, DC.
Arts-wise, and in his spare time, Stew writes poetry, plays hammer dulcimer, and is a drummer with the Brighton BlackJacks band. He also enjoys singing, cairn-building and photography, drawing and dancing (Morris, Sword, and Salty Dog Rag!) -- and he occasionally has a small role in a Lumina Studio Theatre production of Shakespeare or Dickens. Inspired by NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), Stew wrote a first novel back in another November past.
Sebastian Johnson is a Senior Associate with Freedman Consulting, LLC and a passionate believer in the role public policy can play in bettering lives. He currently helps drive strategic research and planning for firm clients and has experience working for public officials, research organizations, and students. His academic background is in economics, political science, history and public policy. In 2016, Mr. Johnson was a candidate for a seat on the Board of Education in Montgomery County, Maryland.
From 2014 to 2016 Mr. Johnson was the state policy fellow at the Institution on Taxation and Economic Policy. He also served as a policy analyst for Governor Martin O’Malley and a number of local officials in Maryland. Sebastian is a 2010 TFA Corps Member, and taught third grade in Lawrence, MA. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Politics. He has always appreciated the value of arts in celebrating diversity, strengthening education and building community.
JEFF GREEN is a partner with the Stone Door Media Lab, a four-year-old Monterey, California-based company that helps firms increase revenue through consumer market research, data analysis, industry reports and related business intelligence. Jeff has worked in the media industry for 38 years, including long-time executive posts at the Country Music Association, Country Aircheck, Americana Music Association, Radio & Records, Film House and Music & Media in Amsterdam. A Certified Radio Marketing Consultant from the Radio Advertising Bureau. Jeff holds a B.A. in Radio/Television from San Francisco State University and an MBA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is a graduate of the Disney Leadership Institute in Orlando and Leadership Music in Nashville. Jeff is also the mastermind behind the No.1 bestseller reference,The Green Book of Songs by Subject: The Thematic Guide To Popular Music.
JOHN SIMSON currently serves as Program Director for the Business and Entertainment Program Department of Management at American University. He has been in the music industry since his signing in 1971 as a recording artist and songwriter. Simson's career has included stints as a manager, handling the career of 5X Grammy winner, Mary-Chapin Carpenter, special advisor to Harry Belafonte for music and television projects, and a 30-year career as an entertainment lawyer advising clients on copyright and business issues in film, television, music and the visual arts. He most recently served as the Executive Director of SoundExchange from 2001-2010, an organization he helped launch in 2001. SoundExchange collects royalties from internet and satellite radio services on behalf of recording artists and record labels. The organization is now responsible for distributions greater than Two Billion Dollars since inception. Simson received an Emmy nomination for his music supervision of the PBS series, "American Roots Music" and was named the Outstanding Volunteer Lawyer by Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts on their 10th Anniversary celebration. Simson was at the forefront of the battle for artists’ rights and their ability to be paid for their work online and has been featured on NBC Nightly News, The New York Times, WSJ, Marketplace, CNN and many other news outlets. He is a frequent lecturer on music industry and copyright issues and currently serves as the Chairman of the Board of the National Recording Preservation Board of the Library of Congress, is Chairman of the D.C. Bar's Art, Entertainment, Media & Sports Law Committee, is a Board member of CINE, the Musicianship and the Music Manager's Forum. He is a 1994 Alumni of Nashville's Leadership Music Program and is a past President of the Washington, D.C. Chapter of the Grammy organization. Simson previously taught Entertainment Law at Washington College of Law and Georgetown University Law Center.
Born and raised in Silver Spring, Maryland, William. C. Smith, Jr. was the first in his family to earn a college degree. He graduated from The College of William & Mary and went on to earn a masters from Johns Hopkins University, and a law degree from William & Mary. His parents were young adults during the height of the civil rights movement. Their struggle and sacrifice opened the doors of opportunity for Will, inspiring him to devote his life to finding ways to give back to others. He worked as an Americorps volunteer and community engagement leader for IMPACT Silver Spring, and went on to receive a commission as an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve in the years following 9/11. He founded the Youth Achieve Scholarship Fund, raising money to help qualified students pay for college. At the ACLU and at a civil rights law firm Will handled employment discrimination cases. He also served in President Obama’s administration as a Director at the Department of Homeland Security, and on Montgomery County’s Nighttime Economy Task Force as chair of the Public Safety Committee. In 2010, he coordinated the successful reelection campaign of the District 20 legislators. Smith was elected to the Maryland General Assembly in 2014. As a member of the Judiciary Committee of the General Assembly, Smith advocated for robust criminal justice reform and gun control measures, while also expanding economic and educational opportunities for Maryland's most vulnerable. During his tenure in the House of Delegates, Smith served on the Justice Reinvestment, Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights, and Death with Dignity workgroups, and as a member of the Legislative Black Caucus. He is one of the first men ever invited to join the Women's Caucus. In 2016, Smith was elected Senator for Maryland's District 20, taking the place of his close friend and colleague, now Congressman Jamie Raskin. Will has earned a stellar reputation for his progressive leadership and vision for a brighter future, with a special focus on education, the arts, juvenile justice and prison reform, while also addressing the challenges of transportation, public safety, and civil rights.
PHILIP B. ZIPIN
Phil has lived in the District of Columbia area since 1979 and in Silver Spring since 1987. Following his graduation from Haverford College, he attended George Washington University Law School, graduating with honors in 1982. After practicing law in the District of Columbia and Rockville, he has maintained his office in Silver Spring since 1996. Phil has focused on employment law for more than twenty years, representing many hundreds of clients in wrongful discharge, breach of contract, discrimination, and other employment-related matters. He has achieved particular success in wage & hour and overtime cases. In addition, he has counseled numerous small and start-up companies about their employment practices and assisted with their corporate needs. Phil has received the Martindale-Hubbell AV Rating (the highest rating given) for high ethical standards and professional excellence. Phil has been recognized by his peers in both the Washington, DC and Maryland Super Lawyer magazines. He is a member of the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA), the Metropolitan Washington Employment Lawyers Association (MWELA), and the Maryland Employment Lawyers Association (MELA). He is licensed to practice in the District of Columbia and Maryland and regularly appears in both Federal and State Courts and administrative forums. He has offered numerous workshops for non-profit organizations in the DC area, including the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County. For seven years, Phil was President of the Board of Arts on the Block, a Montgomery County-based youth arts organization.
HAWAH KASAT is an artist, author, educator, community organizer, and yogi. He is co-founder and executive director of One Common Unity (OCU), a non-profit that supports a movement for peace education and the building of a non-violent culture through music and art. OCU runs dynamic programming in 24 schools throughout Washington, D.C. and serves over 3,500 youth and families a year. Under Hawah's leadership, OCU received the prestigious Mayor's Arts Award for Excellence in the Humanities. In 2019, Hawah was honored to receive Georgetown University's "Legacy Of A Dream" Award which is presented annually to an inspirational emerging leader whose work embodies the values and spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
In the years prior, Hawah worked as an Americorps community organizer and mentor in D.C.’s most under-resourced neighborhood. After graduating from American University, he was awarded a fellowship with the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Foundation to work as a special representative to the United Nations and the World Conference Against Racism. For 4 years, he also directed the Peaceable Schools Program in D.C.’s largest public high school—and today, continues to lead training for teachers and students in conflict transformation, trauma-informed care, positive youth development, anti-racism, mindfulness, social-emotional literacy, and arts empowerment. Hawah has authored 4 books, produced 3 documentary films, and released 2 music albums. He is the creator/ editor of “The Poetry of Yoga” book anthology (published by White Cloud Press) that features Grammy award-winning musicians and master yoga teachers. His latest collaborative documentary film project, “Fly By Light,” has received wide acclaim and awards, while touring international film festivals. Find him online: www.Hawah.Us and IG @hawahkasat