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Gerald Elston

is Pastor the Brightwood Park United Methodist Church and serves as Chairman and Board Member Pastor Elston serves our Petworth/Brightwood community with distinction, offering an open hand, a keen interest in helping young adults, and the warmth and kindness needed to win trust.  He has a sharp sense of humor and a law degree.  He has earned our NW DC community's trust and respect.

Board of Directors

Michael Aniton 

is an attorney advisor for the Office of the State Superintendent of Education. He also serves as a Captain in the United States Marine Corps Reserve. Michael is Vice Chair and Board Member. As a former Assistant Attorney General in DC, his connections with leadership in the judicial system will help assure that we have a stream of Entrepreneurs in Training who want to start their own businesses.

Aaron Frank

lives in San Francisco and works for the Silicon Valley-based Singularity University where he climbed from supporting their marketing function to becoming a Faculty member.  He advises on the future of technology and has deep connections to sporting good companies and technology giants.  Most important, he's personally committed to increasing diversity in the start-up movement.  

Rachel Gartlan

works for WeWork in Washington, DC and is responsible for market outreach, community management, and developing WeWork's Mission Possible program, an initiative by WeWork to support local mission-driven organizations, startups, and entrepreneurs in the DC metro area and around the country.


In May 2016, Rachel graduated magna cum laude from the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business, where she received a master’s degree in social entrepreneurship. This degree is the first of its kind at a US business school. She also has a bachelor's degree in international relations and Spanish from Virginia Tech, where she graduated in 2013.

Leon Andrews

is Director of Race, Equity, and Leadership (REAL) for the National League of Cities.  He is deeply committed to connecting our young entrepreneurs with the services they will need to traverse new environments and the life changes we believe they may experience in moving into a business start-up environment.

Brian Fair

is a development consultant who specializes in fundraising for nonprofits. His current position is Director of Resource Development for Angioma Alliance, the rare-disease patient advocacy organization where he creates and implements the growing nonprofit’s first-ever major gift program, and oversees development of grant proposals to corporations and family foundations.  For nearly 6 years he served as the Director of Development for Nauticus/USS Wisconsin in Norfolk, Va., where he launched the science museum’s first successful annual fundraising program, encompassing individual and corporate gifts, grants, special events and membership. This resulted in a 900% increase in donated revenue over his tenure and many 5- and 6-figure gifts. He is an experienced trainer in “making the ask” and is excited to help Community Carrot.

Nicole D. Porter

Nicole D. Porter is the Director of Advocacy at The Sentencing Project, a nonprofit organization engaged in research and advocacy for criminal justice reform. Nicole holds a Master's Degree in Public Affairs from the LBJ School at University of Texas at Austin. Her master's thesis explored self-employment strategies for formerly incarcerated African Americans.  Nicole is the former director of the Texas ACLU’s Prison & Jail Accountability Project (PJAP).  The project’s mission was to monitor the conditions of confinement in Texas jails and prisons. Nicole advocated in the Texas legislature to promote felony enfranchisement reforms, to address prison rape, and improve prison medical care. Previously, Nicole worked for the Appleseed Foundation, National Women’s Political Caucus, and the American Prospect Magazine. She was named a "New Civil Rights Leader" by Essence Magazine in November 2014 for her work to eliminate mass incarceration. 

Nicole was born in Houston and has lived in Austin, Baltimore and Accra, Ghana.   Nicole was politicized around mass incarceration when she noticed in her late teens and early twenties that many of the young men she grew up with were either in prison or under some form of supervision.  She currently resides in Washington, D.C

Ryan Palmer

Ryan Palmer is Chief External Relations Officer at Martha's Table, an organization that increases access to quality education, healthy food, and family supports in Washington, D.C. A passionate community advocate with experience in the fields of education, law, and nonprofit management, Ryan has worked in partnership with youth and families in vulnerable communities for over 15 years. Ryan worked for several years alongside her late fiancé, AJ Cooper, managing his citywide, grassroots political campaign, and serving as the CEO of Freedom Farms, their joint urban agriculture venture.

Ryan holds a Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania and a Juris Doctor from the University of Maryland School of Law. She is a Washington, D.C. native and a proud graduate of DC Public Schools.