Washington Revels is delighted to announce our new Executive Director, Tamara C. Williams!
Tamara comes to Washington Revels with a wealth of executive leadership and musical experience. She was the founder and Executive Director of Music Beyond Measure, an arts organization that, like Revels, relies heavily on the gifts and talents of dedicated volunteers. She has devised and led education programs and is a composer and performer. You can read more about Tamara in her biography below.
The Executive Search Committee was impressed by Tamara’s combination of attributes – extensive professional experience in arts non-profit management, an external perspective, a willingness to listen, and the skills to build on what we already have in order to achieve the goals Revels has set. Colleagues praise her as a passionate and visionary leader, great communicator, strong community builder, and as self-aware, collaborative, and compassionate.
Tamara truly believes in the arts as an agent of transformation. She loves when performers and audiences come together to tell their own stories through the arts, whether they are personal, historical, or cultural. Her own story illustrates this well: As a young Air Force service member, Tamara was posted in Aviano, Italy and joined the base’s Aviano Gospel Choir, which performed public concerts and festivals in small towns across the region. At the end of each performance, the choir sang “Oh Happy Day” and everyone in the audience sang along, despite language barriers, and then joined in feasting together afterward.
Tamara offers a compelling and energizing vision for Revels, along with the attributes and desire to bridge from the present to the future. Ultimately, she wants Revels to be known, not just for putting on great shows, but for also seeking to know what is important to the community and how to celebrate it together. We anticipate Tamara can amplify the voices of others in an amazing way, uniquely among the candidates we considered.
“I am so excited to join the Revels community and look forward to celebrating old and new cultural traditions! For nearly 40 years, the Washington Revels has created community through celebration in the DC area. My greatest hope for this new chapter is to ensure that the legacy of the Revels is built upon and honored, while also embracing and uplifting the rich and diverse cultural and historical heritage of Montgomery County and beyond.”
In addition, Tamara has a 7-year-old daughter, Maya, whom she’s excited to introduce to the experience of being a “Revels kid.” They will be moving to the DC area in June 2022 and look forward to becoming part of the dynamic DC arts scene. Until then, Tamara will be working remotely, with periodic visits to Revels’ spring events. Once she is settled, we’ll host an opportunity for Revels community members and local arts and nonprofit leaders to meet her.
Tamara was selected through a nation-wide search. She will take up the Executive Director position on March 21st, following the retirement of Greg Lewis after 15 years as Executive Director, followed by an interim period of co-leadership by Ross Wixon, Administrating Director and Colin K. Bills, Producing Director. Colin will continue in his role as Producing Director, while Ross has chosen to seek new opportunities closer to his new home in central Maryland. Tamara will lead the office staff, day-to-day operations, and strategic visioning for Washington Revels as we enter a new phase of development, post-pandemic. She will collaborate closely with Artistic & Education Director Roberta Gasbarre, Music Director Betsy Fulford, and Associate Artistic Director Andrea Jones Blackford.
The Washington Revels Board is excited about the emerging partnership. Joan Burns, chair of the board, shares, “We are thrilled to welcome Tamara C. Williams as Executive Director. Her warmth, character, enthusiasm, and passion for the arts will be an inspiration to the Revels community, and we look forward to an exciting future with her as our leader.”
Please join us in giving Tamara C. Williams a warm welcome to the Washington Revels community!
Tamara C. Williams is a jazz vocalist, composer, nonprofit founder, arts administrator, and veteran of the USAF (1999-2003) with a very personal mission: To always be in service to others in a way that uplifts. This mission is why she founded Music Beyond Measure (MBM) in 2013, to help trauma survivors use music, group songwriting, and performance to tell their stories. Although the organization was founded over 9 years ago, the origin of this work began in 2005 when Ms. Williams volunteered with domestic violence and sexual assault organizations in the greater St. Louis area, serving as an advocate for the prevention of violence against women. Using poetry and creative writing, she worked with survivors to help them use artistic expression as a healing tool, which was the beginning of what she would later describe as “arts recovery programming.” This programming yielded the “Sing Your Story” Project, which partners professional musicians with trauma survivors to compose and perform their own songs; the Montclair Community Chorus, which performs original songs written by survivors in order to start community discussions about trauma; and the Mindful Music program, which merges quality music instruction with mindfulness techniques meant to reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression.
With an educational background in Music (B.A. Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, 2009) and Jazz Studies (Masters, Michigan State University, 2011), Ms. Williams has worked with numerous arts organizations (Jazz House Kids, Thurnauer School of Music) and universities (MSU Community Music School Detroit, William Paterson University) to teach, manage, and facilitate arts programming in Michigan, NJ and NY. During her brief role as Program Manager with the Young People’s Chorus of New York City, Ms. Williams started the Young People’s Chorus at Washington Heights, the organization’s first neighborhood choral initiative for elementary youth living in Washington Heights.
Music Beyond Measure was 1 of 11 organizations selected as the inaugural class of artists and nonprofits to provide arts programs to youth probation clients and the community as part of NeON Arts, a partnership between Carnegie Hall and the NYC Department of Probation. Initially meant to be a 2-year program, NeON Arts still takes place today because of the foundational work presented by MBM and the other artists and arts organizations who were part of that class. Since then, Ms. Williams has created partnerships with organizations and government agencies across NY and NJ. Through MBM, she has worked with the NYC Administration for Children’s Services, New York Presbyterian Hospital’s D.O.V.E. Program, the Urban Resource Institute, Children’s Village, Jersey City Medical Center, and many more.
In 2018, Ms. Williams was invited by Carnegie Hall to train their Lullaby Project teaching artists on how to better engage artistically with diverse populations. Carnegie Hall also invited her to be one of their teaching artist trainers/presenters for their yearly International Teaching Artist Conference 4 (ITAC4), which welcomes teaching artists from all over the world to learn new ways to better engage artistically with their target populations. In 2012, Ms. Williams was recognized for her work as the recipient of the “Trailblazer in Arts and Culture” award from the National Coalition of 100 Black Women Bergen/Passaic NJ Chapter. She is also an alumna of the Creative Community Fellowship with National Arts Strategies (2014) and Rutgers University Business School’s Victoria Emerging Leadership Program (2019). In March 2022, she was selected as the first Black woman to serve as Executive Director of the Washington Revels.