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Two young students pose for photo in classroom



About Duke Ellington School of the Arts Project (DESAP)

The Partnership

In 1999, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The George Washington University, and The Ellington Fund, formalized their long-time collaboration into the Duke Ellington School of the Arts Project (DESAP), a non-profit organization. Shortly thereafter, in recognition of the leading role in arts education that Duke Ellington School of the Arts has traditionally played and the importance of a fully integrated academic and arts curriculum, DC Public Schools entered into an agreement with DESAP to manage and operate the school in a unique partnership with DCPS.

The Mission

DESAP manages, operates, and oversees The Duke Ellington School for the Arts, develops and implements creative and innovative academic and artistic programs of education, and works to improve and enhance the educational experience of public school students in the District of Columbia and enrich the communities served by the District of Columbia public schools.

The Goal

The goal of DESAP is to provide high school students with an educational experience that includes college preparatory academics, pre-professional artistic training, and access to the cultural and intellectual resources of the District of Columbia.

The Board

The DESAP Board of Directors consists of representatives from each of the three partners,  the school, and the Ellington Community (i.e., current parents or alumni). Ex officio members include the DCPS Superintendent, the SHADE President, and Ellington’s Principal. 

DESAP Board of Directors


Amber Golden, Ph.D.


Ari Q. Fitzgerald, Esq.

Vice President

Ellington Fund Representative


Jeanette S. McCune, M.B.A.

Kennedy Center Representative

Kay Twomey


Community Representative


Zach Cafritz

Ellingtn Fund Representative


Penny Hollis, CAMP Chair

Faculty Representative

Sabrina Minor

George Washington University

Renee McPhatter, Esq.
George Washington University

Lauren Onkey, Ph.D.

George Washington University

Stephanie Phillips, Esq.

Ellington Fund Representative

Edrick D. Rhodes

Kennedy Center Representative


Jessica Wodatch
Community Representative


Sandi M. Logan, M.Ed.

Principal & Head of School

Quinta Jackson, Esq.

SHADE Parent Group Co-President

DESAP Partner Organizations

Logo: District of Columbia Public Schools

DCPS is largely responsible for providing 70-80% of the operating budget for Duke Ellington School of the Arts. Our academic curriculum follows the DCPS standards of learning and many of our staff are committed veterans of the DCPS system. Upon graduation, Ellington students receive a standard DCPS diploma and an arts certificate. With this partnership, we benefit financially and through the provision of both professional development and current teaching methods and resources.

Logo: The Kennedy Center

The Kennedy Center is an influential partner for Ellington, providing much needed resources in performance space, opportunities for performance, production assistance and annually funding a series of master classes, professional development lectures, and other educational opportunities to enhance the teaching and curriculum offered at Duke Ellington. Ellington students regularly attend and are often sought after to perform at the Kennedy Center, with multiple appearances at Millennium Stage, the Performance Series of Legends, and various other shows. Faculty have also produced shows at the Kennedy Center and attended various clinics and workshops. Many renowned artists that perform at the Kennedy Center often share their talent by working with Ellington students in clinics/master classes/workshops (funded by the Education department at the Kennedy Center). As part of the partnership, three Kennedy Center representatives serve on the DESAP board.

Logo: The George Washington University

GWU provides collaborations with different departments, sponsors Ellington events, and provides counsel on governance.  The programmatic resources and opportunities provided for our students supports our mission and ensures the success of our students. Like the Kennedy Center, three GWU representatives serve on the DESAP board.

Logo: The Ellington Fund

The Ellington Fund is a 501(c)(3) organization established in 1979 to serve as the charitable arm of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. 

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