Karma Cottman, Executive Director
Before joining the Coalition in 2010, Karma was employed at the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV). As the Vice President of Policy and Emerging Issues, she directed the agency’s policy agenda and supervised NNEDV’s state coalition and housing technical assistance projects. Ms. Cottman worked closely with national policy partners to strengthen federal legislation to effectively respond to the needs of all survivors of domestic violence and federal agencies to enhance violence against women programming. Since 1994, Karma, a Washington D.C. native, has worked with numerous national partners to address emerging issues in domestic violence service provision and sits on several national committees. Karma served as the co-director of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence Rural Diversity Initiative where she assisted with the development of a community assessment tool used to identify service gaps in numerous local Florida communities. Karma currently serves on the steering committee of the Institute on Domestic Violence in the African Community and the Policy Partnership for Communities of Color.
Gretta Gardner, Deputy Director
Gretta Gardner, Esq., is the Deputy Director for the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Ujima, Inc.: The National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community, a project of the Coalition.
Ms. Gardner’s career as a legal advisor for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault was inspired by her early work as a prosecutor in the Domestic Violence Unit of the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office. She has worked for two decades to help shape guidelines, policies, and procedures that communities can use to end intimate partner violence and best practices for prevention and intervention in the Black community.
Ms. Gardner is Core Faculty for Establishing Expertise as an Expert Witness with the Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault; sits on the Board of Trustees for Garrison Forest School; licensed to practice law in DC, MD, TX, and the Supreme Court of the United States; and belongs to a multitude of local, state, and national committees that address violence against women and their children.
Jennifer Hooker, Finance and Operations Director
Jennifer is the Financial and Operations Director at the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence since 2007. As Director, she is responsible for the overall management and operations of the finance, accounting, and administrative functions of the Coalition; including planning and budgeting, audit and internal controls, financial report preparation, and general controllership. With 30 years of experience, she has devoted the last fifteen years to working with non-profit organizations.
Whitney Parker, Program Specialist
Whitney Parker is the Program Specialist for Ujima, Inc.: The National Center of Violence Against Women in the Black Community. She joined Ujima in 2017 and bring with her a strong background in communications, planning and development. Whitney joined the Ujima team to assist with the growth and development the organization and to carry out Ujima’s mission, to mobilize the community to respond to and end domestic, sexual and community violence in the Black community.
Kicha Blackstone, Administrative Coordinator
Kicha Blackstone is the Administrative Coordinator at the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Kicha joined the Coalition in early December 2014. She brings with her several years of administrative experience working in various agencies within the federal government.
Megan Simmons, Sr. Policy Attorney
Megan’s education in Women’s Studies and Political Science was the catalyst for her career in policy and advocacy work. She served as a Federal Agent and was tasked with investigating sexual assault for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS). She was also collaterally tasked with representing law enforcement on various committees, including holistic approaches to combating violence against women attached to the Navy. Megan later earned a law degree wherein she combined her education and her experience by contributing to policy, and conducting investigations into allegations of sexual assault within higher education. She has conducted various trainings on sexual harassment awareness, investigation execution, and Diversity and Inclusion. Megan continues to present a series of guest lectures for the Women and Gender Studies Department at George Mason University.
Ana Sanz-Saumeth, HBCU Specialist
Ana attended Florida A&M University where she began to feel empowered through her identity as a first generation, queer, non-binary, Afro-Latinx femme. She early on become involved with campus policy and state reform in regards to racial justice, LGBTQIA+ rights, and reproductive health justice through communal work from local grassroots organizations to nationally recognized non-profits. Ana later went on to receive her Masters at Florida International University where she continued to engage in advocacy work through accessible exhibition work that focused on underrepresented identities. Ana has also done organizational work in leading different student organizers across the nation in actions involving anti-sexual violence advocacy work while encouraging them to be involved at a national level as well as on their campuses and in their local communities. She also advocated much of this as an educator in Miami-Dade county’s public school system where she empowered her students to deconstruct systems of oppression through their own dialogue and lived experiences.
Pronouns: she/her/hers or they/them/theirs
Ayana Wallace, Training Specialist
Ayana is a Black American, intersectional womanist. Ayana graduated from Dickinson College with her Bachelor’s degree in Women’s and Gender Studies and minors in English, History, and Creative Writing. She went on to obtain her Master’s from Towson University, with a degree in Women’s and Gender Studies. Throughout her time at Towson University, Ayana focused her area of research on violence in communities of color, specifically intimate partner violence, sexual violence, reproductive coercion, and medicalized racism. Ayana has studied extensively the theory and every day implications of privilege, oppression, and intersectionality; including the work of Patricia Hill Collins, Audre Lorde, bell hooks, and more. She always strives to be intersectional in her approach and to highlight the experiences of victim-survivors who have been marginalized and how systemic barriers and violence further impact victim-survivors. Prior to her work with Ujima, Ayana acted as Project Manager and Lead Trainer, with the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence where she also worked with MNADV’s Lethality Assessment Program and was responsible for managing several national sites on the implementation of the Lethality Assessment Program-Maryland Model (LAP).