top of page

DC Jazz Festival Appoints a New Chairman and Welcomes New Slate of Directors

The DC Jazz Festival® (DCJF) is proud to announce the appointment of its new Chairman and confirmation of seven new Board members. The expanded, 24-member DCJF Board of Directors represents a broad range of DC stakeholders as well as artists and leading representatives from the corporate sector. This dedicated, influential and highly diverse body will lead the organization into its next phase of expanding the annual DC JazzFest, one of DC’s premier cultural destinations; and advance its mission to support the future of jazz, while challenging the public to reimagine jazz across disciplines. Chairman Peter Gillon, succeeds Conrad Kenley, who completed a successful two terms.

“I am honored to be appointed Chairman to the DC Jazz Festival Board of Directors,” said DCJF Chairman Peter Gillon. “The new set of directors helps us ensure that we have the broadest skills and perspectives around the table as we set the course for the next phase of the festival’s growth."

Established in 2004, the DC Jazz Festival is one of the most important jazz institutions on the global stage. “This illustrious class of arts, sports, public policy and entertainment leaders joins a stellar group of jazz and cultural champions. I look forward to working with these dedicated leaders to develop a new strategic plan that expands DCJF’s reach across the District, the nation and the world,” said DCJF President and CEO Sunny Sumter.

New leadership, all jazz and cultural enthusiasts, confirmed to join the DCJF Board roster include:

Ron Carter is among the most original, prolific and influential bassists in music. The recipient of two GRAMMY Awards, Carter has recorded on over 2,200 albums across multiple genres and has a Guinness world record to prove it! A member of Miles Davis’ famed Second Great Quintet from 1963-1968, he participated in such milestone Davis recordings as ESP, Nefertiti, Miles in the Sky, Miles Smiles, and Filles de Kilimanjaro,among others. His prolific 50-year career has found him in the recording studio with an incredible range of musicians, from Roberta Flack and Aretha Franklin to A.J. Croce and A Tribe Called Quest, with a Hall of Fame list of jazz artists in between. A graduate of the Eastman School of Music, Carter has received six honorary doctorates, including from the New England Conservatory and The Juilliard School. Carter has taught at the Manhattan School of Music and has scored films including A Gathering of Old Men and Blind Faith. In 2021, her was honored by the French Minister of Culture with the medallion and title of Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters. In 1998, Carter was named an NEA Jazz Master. In 2021 the Japanese government awarded him The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette for his contributions to Japan-US relations in the field of music.

The Honorable William Lacy Clay Jr. served as the U.S. Representative from Missouri’s 1st Congressional district from 2001 to 2021. Currently, he serves as an senior advisor for Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman. As a Member of Congress, Clay served on the Financial Services, Natural Resources, and Oversight and Reform Committees. He also chaired the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions, the Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development, and Insurance, and the Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census, and National Archives of the Oversight and Reform Committee. Congressman Clay was a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the U.S. Congressional International Conservation Caucus, and the Congressional Arts Caucus. He currently serves as a board member of the National Democratic Club.

Felix Contreras is the co-creator and host of Alt.Latino, National Public Radio’s pioneering radio show and podcast celebrating Latin music and culture since 2010. Contreras also programs music from the Latin diaspora for the acclaimed NPR Tiny Desk concerts and hosts a weekly Instagram interview show with a wide-ranging sphere of guests. A knowledgeable international ambassador for Latino heritage and arts, he travels extensively to uncover new talent and music capturing the important and often little-known legacy of artists in the jazz and Latin genres. Contreras’ original post at NPR in 2001 was as a Producer/Reporter for the NPR News Arts Desk. He brings extensive knowledge and expertise at the vibrant intersections of Latin music and jazz. Contreras is also a percussionist-bandleader who performs around the DC region with his Latin music Beatles cover band, Los Day Trippers.

Jennifer Currie is Director of Programming for The Wharf, a $2.5 billion dollar re-development of Washington, DC’s Southwest Waterfront averaging over three million visitors annually. In this role, she develops and executes community and regional events ranging from 50-person yoga classes to a 40,000+ person Mardi Gras festival. Her areas of expertise include driving revenue through sponsorships, advertising sales, site licenses and private event rentals, as well as the full range of event management and operations. Prior to her role at The Wharf, Currie was owner and managing partner of Five O’Clock Publishing, LLC, a multi-media publishing and events production company. A graduate of Cornell University, she holds an MBA from Boston University, with a specialization in small business and entrepreneurship. When she is not at The Wharf or at her residence in Southwest, Currie and her husband spend time at their farm in Delaplane, Virginia, where she pursues her other passion, riding horses.

Kevin Eubanks is a member of a creative musical family and one of modern music’s most productive and original guitar voices. The former Music Director of the Tonight Show band during Jay Leno’s tenure, he appeared on the show nightly for 18 years, from 1992 to 2010. After attending the Berklee College of Music, Eubanks moved to New York and began playing with such jazz greats as Art Blakey, Slide Hampton, McCoy Tyner, Sam Rivers, Roy Haynes, Ron Carter and Dave Holland. His own bands have toured the globe and have included U.S. State Department tours to Jordan, Pakistan, India and Kuwait. Eubanks has written scores for television and full-length independent feature films. As an educator, he served as Artistic Director of the Jazz in the Classroom program for the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, working with musicians in the Los Angeles public schools. His 2010 release Zen Food debuted in the Top Five of the Billboard Jazz Chart and his recording The Messenger was honored with a NAACP Image Award nomination for “Outstanding Jazz Album.” In addition to his touring activities, Eubanks facilitates and lectures at conferences across the country, not only as a musician but also as a motivational speaker.

D’Qwell Jackson is a retired 11-year NFL veteran, where he was a Pro Bowl linebacker for the Cleveland Browns and the Indianapolis Colts. He served his teammates as a team captain and as a player labor activist as union representative for the National Football Players Association. A University of Maryland graduate, Jackson has been inducted into the Cleveland Browns Legends circle and the University of Maryland Hall of Fame. He has worked as a media personality with NBC Sports Washington covering the Washington Commanders and the Baltimore Ravens, and made appearances on other national broadcasts as a guest analyst. Jackson currently hosts the podcast @AthletesUnplugged, covering post-playing life challenges, among other vital issues. As an entrepreneur, Jackson participates in an investment fund, Drive By DraftKings, investing in the intersection of sports and technology, and other startups. The Florida-born Jackson now resides in the Washington, DC community with his family.

Karen Marangi serves as Director of Federal Government Affairs for RELX, the parent company of LexisNexis and Elsevier. Marangi oversees RELX’s U.S. copyright policy work and advocates for strong intellectual property protections in U.S. trade agreements. Prior to joining RELX, she was a consultant and represented a range of clients before Congress and the White House and was Of Counsel at Patton Boggs in Washington, DC. She also advised two U.S. Senators on a range of matters, including technology, immigration, and criminal justice issues. A graduate of Stanford University and Stanford Law School, Marangi began her legal career in San Francisco as an associate at Orrick, Herrington, and Sutcliffe. She currently serves on the Board of the Copyright Alliance and on the Advisory Committee to the Center for Intellectual Property x Innovation Policy at the Scalia Law School at George Mason University. A DC-area resident, Marangi is a longtime supporter of the DC JazzFest.

The seven new Directors will join:

Peter M. Gillon, Chairman, Partner, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, LLP

Roger Schagrin, Vice Chair/Treasurer, President, Schagrin Associates

Harriet Sanford, Secretary, Former President & CEO, The NEA Foundation

Ronald D. Abramson, Shareholder, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC

Claude Bailey, Partner, Venable, LLP

Elliott Ferguson, President and CEO, Destination DC

Charles Fishman, Founder & Honorary Life Chairman, DC Jazz Festival

David Gorodetski, Founder and CEO, Sage Communications

William A. Kirk, Partner, K&L Gates

R. Reynolds Marshall, Senior VP, National Small Business Development, Wells Fargo

Derrick B. Mashore, Senior Vice President, CBRE Inc.

Erik A. Moses, President, NASCAR Superspeedway

Greg O’Dell, President and CEO, Events DC

Thomas Silverstein, Principal, The Leonard and Elaine Silverstein Foundation

Sunny Sumter, ex officio, President and CEO, DC Jazz Festival

Deborah Veney, VP, Communications and Marketing, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

Leslie Whipkey, Sr. Vice President - Wealth Management, Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner, & Smith Inc.

Carmencita Whonder, Founder and CEO, OF WHONDER

A full list of the DC Jazz Festival Board of Directors and their bios can be found here: Organization | DCJF (

Learn more about the DC Jazz Festival and the full range of programs by visiting


bottom of page