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Interns stand in front of the Lincoln Memorial - Credit Jason Dixon

American Experience Foundation Team

The American Experience Foundation benefits from the support of the entire Destination DC team and professionals at its 1,000 member businesses.


AEF Board of Directors

Chair - Michael Akin, President, LINK Strategic Partners

Vice Chair - Greg Casten, Co-Chair, President, Oceanpro Industries

Secretary - Gail Smith-Howard, General Manager, Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill

Treasurer - Stacy Eacho Smith, Associate Director for the Division of State Initiatives, DC Department of Employment Services


At-Large Members

Nizam Ali, Co-Owner, Ben's Chili Bowl

Lajja Ashar, Area Manager (Boston, DC, Charlotte),

Michael Borris, Director of Global Accounts, Encore

Jake de Boer, DC Area Account Lead,

Elliott L. Ferguson, II, President & CEO, Destination DC

Abby Himmelrich, Teacher, McLean School

Tanisha Lewis, Vice President for Diversity, Inclusion and Social Impact, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority

James MacGregor, VP Local Markets, American City Business Journals, Inc

John McDonnell, President, Clyde’s Restaurant Group

Thomas Penny, President, Donohoe Hospitality Services

Michael Riley, ‎General Manager, Big Bus Tours DC


AEF Student Advisory Board

Lauren Brown, Howard University Class of 2022

Jazzmen Morant, Howard University Class of 2024

Zoe Roberts, George Mason University Class of 2022

JP Roberts, Wilson High School Class of 2022

Anura Sharma, Columbia Heights Educational Campus Class of 2022


AEF Staff

Claire Carlin
Executive Director, American Experience Foundation
VP, Partnerships & Alliances, Destination DC
[email protected]


Lisa Waldschmitt
Senior Foundation Manager
[email protected]


Christen Miller
Partnerships Manager
[email protected]