Board of Trustees

Donald E. Wright is a Personal Financial Representative with AllState in Greater Washington, D.C. offering life insurance, annuities, retirement and college savings. He has held senior positions at BNY Mellon, PNC Financial, Chevy Chase Financial, SunTrust Investment Services, and Merrill Lynch. Don resides in Reston, Virginia, and has two adult sons with similar passions in their career, artistic, and recreational endeavors. Don is a painter, both in water color and oil, and is an avid tennis player. He is a devoted supporter of the Fairfax Symphony, and plays in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles tennis activities as member of the Reston Association. Don’s community involvement includes stints as Corporate Team Lead for the National Heart Walk and United Way of the National Capitol Area. He has served on the board of his neighborhood citizen’s association and local tennis club. He also has been a long time coach in the Montgomery County Department of Recreation, and assistant coach for the Hubert Blake High School tennis team.

Michelle Baker has more than 25 years of healthcare communications and public affairs experience. She is currently an Executive Vice President at the Signal Group where she works with health systems, nonprofits, government agencies and pharmaceutical companies on communications strategies and campaigns. Michelle’s expertise includes many of today’s most pressing health issues, including social determinants of health, cancer, addiction and mental health, cardiovascular disease, maternal, infant and child health, telehealth and medtech.  She has helped to forge alliances between nontraditional partners in healthcare, community and business to help address healthcare disparities and engage at-risk patient populations in new ways.  Prior to joining SIGNAL, Michelle led the health practice at Weber Shandwick/Powell Tate, worked at Inventiv/Chandler Chicco Agency and Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, and was an independent consultant.  A Tulane University graduate with a Master’s degree in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin, Michelle has provided pro bono work to promote disability-inclusive work environments, support hurricane disaster communications and reduce food insecurity.  As a family caregiver, Michelle has first-hand experience with the challenges of dementia and heart disease. She is proud to support AFTA’s great work in honor of her mother who relied on painting and music for artistic expression throughout her health challenges.

Ambassador Donald T. Bliss (Retired) joined the AFTA Board in 1989, and as Co-chair of the Board in 2014-15. He is recipient of the 2013 Lolo Sarnoff Founder’s Award for distinguished service, humanitarianism and lifelong engagement in the arts. In 2007, he was unanimously confirmed by the Senate as U.S. Ambassador to the International Civil Aviation Organization in Montreal, Canada.  Don was a partner of the law firm O’Melveny & Myers LLP for more than 25 years and served in the government as a Peace Corps Volunteer, Executive Secretary to the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (under Elliot Richardson) and Acting General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Transportation (under William T. Coleman, Jr.). He also served in the Environmental Protection Agency and the Agency for International Development. Don is President of the Boards of the United Nations Association for the National Capital Area and serves on the Board of Directors of American Ambassadors. He is the author of Airline Customer Relations, co-author of Counsel for the Situation, Mark Twain’s Tale of Today, and a play, The Return of Halley’s Comet.

Gabriela I. Coman, Esq. is Partner and Co-Chair of Rubin and Rudman’s Intellectual Property Practice.  She concentrates on medical, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, chemical, semiconductors, and design patents.  Ms. Coman began her legal career as an intern for the Honorable Raymond J. Dearie, Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, from June 1997 to August 1997.  She was a summer associate with the Firm in 1998.  From September 1998 to August 1999, she was a law clerk with the Firm’s New York office.  Before entering law school, she attended two years of medical school. Ms. Coman is admitted to practice in New York (2000) and the District of Columbia (2001), and before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.  Ms. Coman is a member of the American Bar Association, the New York State Bar Association, the Giles S. Rich American Inn of  Court, and the American Intellectual Property Law Association. Ms. Coman attended Medical School of Craiova for two years in Romania.  She received her B.A., summa cum laude, in biology from Baruch College of the City University of New York (1996).  At Baruch College, she received the Excellence Award in Natural Sciences(1996) and the Baruch College Alumni Association Award in Liberal Arts and Sciences (1996).  She received her J.D. from Brooklyn Law School (1999), where she was Notes and Comments Editor for the Brooklyn Law Review.

Svetlana Dimovski, Ph.D. is a Kellogg Executive Scholar in Leadership, founder of Dharma Growth LLC, and a Vice President of Transformation Lab at Pact, where she focuses on transformational approaches to improving the lives of those who are challenged by poverty and marginalization. Svetlana has two decades of experience in strategy and change management, innovation leadership, business and product development, and R&D analytical discovery in the private sector and academia. Her work on innovation and growth change management was recognized with the Best Open Innovation Program award at the Chief Strategy & Innovation Officers Summit in 2016. She also appeared in a documentary movie “Experiment 150” in 2016. With a PhD in materials science, and MS in Mechanical Engineering Svetlana has authored many research papers and a book chapter on nanotechnology, and held scientific and business development positions at BASF Corporation and The Procter & Gamble Company. Her deep interests include holistic and integral coaching, artificial intelligence, learning, performing arts, and meditation.

Elinor Ginzler is currently the senior director of the Center for Supportive Services at the Jewish Council for the Aging (JCA), in Rockville, Md.  With senior staff responsibility for an array of community-based programs serving vulnerable older adults, she oversees a medical adult day center, a social day program for adults with early stage memory loss, caregiver education, outreach and support, senior transportation services and mobility management programs.  Prior to her position with the JCA, Ginzler was with AARP for more than 14 years, directing strategic planning, monitoring for AARP’s integrated health work, and developing livable communities strategies in AARP’s Office of Social Impact.  Ginzler brought to AARP more than 20 years of experience in program management and development at the national, state and community levels with public, private, nonprofit and community-based organizations. Her undergraduate work was completed at the University of Pennsylvania and her graduate work in counseling at the University of Maryland.

Joyce S. Hagel-Silverman, Ph.D. has a psychotherapy private practice focusing on learning and emotional disabilities, suicide, grief, separation and divorce. She has served in many volunteer leadership roles in the community including with Black Tie, The Georgetown Club, Capital Speakers Bureau, and Washington International Piano Arts Council. Some of her associations and philanthropic circles include the Philips Collection, Smithsonian, the Washington Ballet, Arts Club and many others. She chaired the AFTA Women’s Committee several years ago and also two successful galas. Her husband Charles Silverman served on AFTA’s board for several years. Special interests include fundraising and promoting music, art, theatre, dance for all ages; advocating and assisting students and adults with learning and health challenges, suicide, grief, family issues; traveling, languages, and reading; lecturing on famous composers (amateur musicologist).

Nancy Havlik,  B.S. and M.A. in Speech, Northwestern University, has directed and choreographed for the past 25 years.  She formed Dance Performance Group (a non-profit 501c3 corporation) in 1989 as a vehicle to explore her own choreographic ideas with a small group of dancers and musicians. Through the Company her choreography has been performed extensively in the Washington, DC area at venues including Dance Place, Joy of Motion, Montgomery College, Jewish Community Center, Joe’s Movement Emporium, Mt. Vernon College and the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage. Her work has been shown in New York City at Joyce Soho, WAX, the Construction Company and in Eastern Europe. (Czech Republic and Slovakia). She has directed site work performances all over the Washington, DC area in places as varied as C& O Canal, the Building Museum, Barnes and Noble Bookstore, Josephine Butler Center and the Torpedo Factory Arts Center. She participated in the Capital Fringe Festival for 3 years and recently has presented performances at Flashpoint Mead Theatre and at Woolly Mammoth Melton Rehearsal Hall. She has received grants from Maryland State Arts Council, the Montgomery County Arts Council and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Nancy teaches creative movement and intergenerational workshops for older adults through Arts for the Aging.

Melanie Jarratt Wolfe is known for fostering a culture of philanthropy and serving as a catalyst for inspired giving in the museum, performing arts, and medical arenas. During Melanie’s career, she has provided fundraising leadership for some of our nation’s most prestigious cultural institutions, and raised millions of dollars for the Smithsonian Institution, National Gallery of Art, Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, and Inova Health System. She has an extensive network of contacts in the arts world. Currently, she is an independent nonprofit consultant specializing in capacity building through fundraising, board development, communications, and strategic planning. She is an adept fundraising coach for volunteers and staff and she partners skillfully with executives, board leaders, subject matter experts, and colleagues to create lasting programs resulting in long-term sustainability. As a consultant, Melanie offers fundraising and management counsel to high impact nonprofits-cultural, social services, and healthcare. She also enjoys presenting on the topic of philanthropy. Melanie is a member of the National Capital Gift Planning Council (NCGPC) and National Center for Creative Aging (NCCA). She is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE). Melanie is also the CEO of Mighty Waves Energy, LLC, a start-up company focusing on renewable ocean energy technology. She has a B.A. in Music (with a German minor) from Wake Forest University and a M.A.I.S. in Organizational Development from George Mason University. She is an amateur flutist and is passionate about the arts and literature.

Bruce E. Matter, Esq. practices intellectual property and technology law.  Mr. Matter’s practice is focused on transactions involving the exploitation of copyrights, trademarks and other intellectual properties primarily in the print and electronic publishing, software, and entertainment industries.  He is licensed to practice in Maryland, District of Columbia, Virginia, Florida, and California.  In addition to being a member of the bar in his practicing jurisdictions, Mr. Matter is a member of the Intellectual Property Law Section, the Computer and Telecommunications Law Section, the Arts, Entertainment and Sports Law Section, and the Law Practice Management Section of the District of Columbia Bar.  Prior to establishing his firm, Mr. Matter served as in-house counsel with Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Inc. and with Sea World of California and Sea World of Texas.  He began his legal career working in an intellectual property firm in Alexandria, Virginia.  After graduating from Salisbury University in 1977 with a B.A. in Psychology, Mr. Matter attended George Mason University School of Law where he served as Managing Editor of the Law Review and received his J.D. in 1982.  Mr. Matter also is the executive producer of two television documentaries: Slave Ship and Discharged Without Honor: The Brownsville Raid.

Deborah Riley has been described as one of “the presiding goddesses of this longstanding temple of dance,” (Sarah Kaufman, The Washington Post). Deborah provided 30 years of service to the Washington DC dance community at Dance Place from which she retired at co-director in 2017. In her capacity as artist-in-residence, faculty member, staff and ultimately Co-Director, Deborah has contributed immeasurably to nurturing the careers of thousands of dance artists, students and arts administrators. Under her tenure at Dance Place, the organization was awarded the DC Mayor’s Arts Awards for Excellence in Service to the Arts and Outstanding Contribution to Arts Education and is recognized as “the hub of dance activity in Washington DC” (Alan Kriegsman). As a dancer, choreographer and educator, career highlights include international touring with Douglas Dunn & Dancers, collaborative choreography with Diane Frank and director of Deborah Riley Dance Projects. In addition to guest artist residencies at universities across the country, Deborah’s choreographic work has been presented in the U.S, the U.K. and France. In the DC Metro area, Deborah’s Moving Affirmations workshops have helped to facilitate healing and recovery in partnership with community organizations such as the DC Rape Crisis Center, Montgomery County Crisis Center and Whitman Walker Clinic. Deborah currently continues to enjoy her work as a teaching artist with Studio Theater Acting Conservatory, Dance Place, Dance Exchange and Arts for the Aging which is informed by her methodology as a Certified Movement Analyst from the Laban Institute of Movement. She shares her leadership experience and passion for furthering the arts for all populations by volunteering as a board member for Dance Exchange. Past honors include the Distinguished Alumni in Fine Arts Award from Ohio University and twice for the Pola Nirenska Award – Distinguished Artistic Leadership and Lifetime Achievement. Deborah has served on grant panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour, DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities and the Bush Foundation. 

Scott Span, MSOD, is CEO and Sr. Advisor of Communications and Change at Tolero Solutions, a diverse-owned boutique consulting firm based in Montgomery County Maryland. Scott founded Tolero Solutions to provide services that support organizations to overcome challenges that impact success. Through his work he supports clients in achieving success through people, creating organizations where people enjoy working and customers enjoy doing business. He is an accomplished communication, change management & leadership effectiveness specialist with an ongoing record of success guiding leaders and organizations through successful change and transformation. He has 20 years of experience managing diverse projects and programs in achieving cost schedule, and performance objectives. Via his work, he encourages collaboration and transparency with both internal and external stakeholders ensuring strategies and initiatives are in alignment with objectives driving programs to success. He is an author on various topics of organizational development and leadership and the creator of the Recruitment and Retention Lifecycle ™. Scott holds a Masters in Organization Development (MSOD) from American University and the NTL Institute. He is a certified Scrum Master (CSM) and is also certified in various other leadership and organizational assessments. Scott’s interests include hiking with his two rescue dogs, escapes to the Caribbean, painting and creative arts.

T. Ryan Wilson, Esq. is senior strategic policy adviser with AARP’s Public Policy Institute, where he analyzes consumer issues relating to insurance and investments. He also serves on the Consumer Advisory Committee of the Interstate Insurance Product Regulation Commission, and he formerly served on the Standards Advisory Committee of the Insurance Marketplace Standards Association.  Ryan advises AARP on policy matters and works with their Government Affairs department to advance investor and consumer protections.  Prior to joining AARP, Ryan was with the Maryland General Assembly’s Department of Legislative Services, where he specialized in financial services, property, and consumer protection issues.  While there, he was active in the National Conference of State Legislatures and served as the Staff Chair of the NCSL’s Financial Services Committee.  Ryan received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Oregon, School of Law and is licensed to practice law in California and Maryland.  He also has a master’s degree in public administration and a bachelor’s degree in political science, both from San Francisco State University.