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MEET THE DECFA TEAM
Mercedes Ellington, DECFA President
MERCEDES ELLINGTON (Moderator) has continued a three generations-long tradition of musical excellence and international fame as a dancer, choreographer, and educator. This modern-day dance pioneer made history as the first African-American dancer to perform with the June Taylor Dancers on the Jackie Gleason television show.  She continued to make history for years to come with her contributions to the entertainment world. Ms. Ellington began her dance studies at a young age, graduating from the Juilliard School in 1960 with a degree in classical and modern dance.  

After her groundbreaking years with the June Taylor Dancers, she appeard in such Broadway productions as No, No Nanette; Hellzapoppin’; Oh Kay!;Happy New Year; The Grand Tour, and The Night that Made America Famous. In 1981, Ellington made dance history again as a featured dancer and assistant choreographer in the Broadway hit Sophisticated Ladies. Among her many awards are the Drama-Logue Award for Best Choreography, the Barrymore Award for Choreography/Musical Staging, and the Paul Robeson Citation Award from Actors’ Equity Association.  She is the Founder/President of the Duke Ellington Center for the Arts (DECFA), a non-profit educational organization whose mission is to further her grandfather’s legacy and philosophy. 
Michael Dinwiddie, Chair
MICHAEL DINWIDDIE (Moderator) is board chair of the Duke Ellington Center for the Arts. He is a playwright, composer, pianist and associate professor at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study, New York University, where he teaches courses related to dramatic writing and cultural studies.  

His recent plays include The Carelessness of Love, A Guest of Honor, and Northern Lights ’66.  Michael was an inaugural fellow in the Walt Disney Writers’ Program (Touchstone Pictures) and he currently serves on the national governance task force of TCG (Theatre Communications Group). He is immediate past president of the Black Theatre Network (BTN).
Seth Engel
Seth Engel is an attorney specializing in international litigation and M&A currently at the law firm BakerHostetler.  He previously practiced in Paris, France and the International Criminal Court.  

His father played trumpet with many jazz and classical greats and Seth is proud to continue his musical legacy with the Duke Ellington Center for the Arts.  Seth also plays the trumpet and enjoys opera.

Ethan Fein
Ethan Fein has played guitar in concerts with Kristin Chenoweth, Bernadette Peters, Marvin Hamlisch, Cy Coleman, and Carole King, to name a few. Ethan also played in the Broadway shows 42nd Street, West Side Story, The Full Monty, and Cats for its entire run.

He has written a new musical, The Black Russian, with Vladimir Alexandrov, Mercedes Ellington directed and collaborated on a performance of The Black Russian at the restaurant Moscow 57. Ethan is a co-founder of LiveIt!LIVE, the new nonprofit growing live music everywhere.
Michael Konopka, Co-Chair
Michael is DECFA's Vice-President and the managing member of Michael Konopka & Associates P.C. Except for a brief period when he was acting as general counsel for an artist management company, for the past 35 years Michael has focused primarily on complex litigation. He is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, one of the most prestigious groups of trial lawyers in the United States.

Michael has been selected for inclusion in Marquis Who's Who in American Law and is a member of the New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers, the American Bar Association and the New York State Trial Lawyers Association. He can be found at the web at  http://www.mfklaw.com/ and his email address is konopka@mfklaw.com. 
Scott Lange
Scott Lange is accomplished at securing sponsorships and alliances for sports, music, arts/cultural properties and philanthropic initiatives. In 1982 he co-executive produced “Sophisticated Ladies Live from the Lunt Fontanne Theater,” the first Broadway Musical televised live, Pay-Per-View, with Executive Producer and Partner, Bruce Brandwen. Between 1991-2000, he led the New York Road Runners and New York City Marathon® through a period of explosive growth and transformation into an equity marketing platform as EVP/CMO.

Scott subsequently served NYC2012 Olympic Bid Committee, and then led the initiative to tastefully commercialize the IP of “The Gates Project for Central Park by Christo and Jeanne Claude.” Throughout his career, Scott has focused on business development and establishing partnerships for the SFX Sports Group, Havas Impact, Leverage Agency and Active Network.  Scott presently operates Lange Marketing, a marketing solutions and partnerships consultancy.

Elaine Legaro, Treasurer
Elaine LeGaro has been an actor in numerous theatre (Producer’s Club, Cheltenham Theater, PA, Alabama Shakespeare, AL, South Coast Rep. Theater, CA & the Philadelphia Drama Guild), television (Six Degrees, Law & Order, the Good Wife, Sopranos) , film (The Brave One, Spinning Into Butter, Woody Allen Projects) and industrial productions (Kraft, Pioneer, Enco, Revlon) throughout her career.

She trained at HB Studios and the International School of Dance.  Former AFTRA N.Y. President, Vice President; Boards: SAG-AFTRA, AFTRA 32 years, SAG 15 years, Recipient of the Joseph C. Riley & WIN Awards.
Antoinette Montague
An Internationally renowned and New York established Jazz, Blues, and Beyond Category singer and entertainer’s entertainer and band leader from the great City of Newark, NJ.  CEO of her 501c3 Jazz Woman to the Rescue, dedicated to putting music and arts education back in the schools and lives of our disenfranchised children!. A celebrated Jazzmobile artist, Jazz Foundation of America, and Jazz Power Initiative teaching artist w Eli Yamin, Jazz at Lincoln Center's Syncopated Leadership Seminar, Urban Leagues, consultant to the jazz community, Icons and up and coming artists, and more.

She is a U.S. State Department teaching and performing artist w Jazz Power Initiative.  Ms. Montague has created a 501c3 Jazz, Film, Art and Media Consortium (501cJFAM) to encourage collaborative thinking. Please visit AntoinetteMontague.com. booking 203-820-8819.

Shub Mukherjee
Shub was born and raised in Delhi, India, where she completed her schooling, undergraduate degree (major in Economics) and an MBA (Finance, Strategy). She came to the US in 2001 to complete a Masters in Radio-Television-Film from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University on a full scholarship. She was awarded the Dean's award for “The Most Outstanding Graduate” in 2002. After graduating from Newhouse, Shub met her husband and currently resides in Manhattan with him and their two children, Ary (10) and Maya (5).

Shub was born into a musical community and family and hence started her love of music. Beginning at the tender age of 3, she would sing every evening with her aunts and uncles in a daily ritual over teatime. She started taking voice lessons very early on and completed her formal training in Indian vocal classical music from the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya.

Shub was introduced to Jazz after she came to the US and took a strong liking for the art. She feels honored to be on the board of DECFA to further its mission of spreading the Duke’s music across the world as the common language of love. She is an active member of the board and the lead of the International Committee.

Charles Nuckolls
Charles Nuckolls is a writer, director and producer of film, television and theatre.  TheEmmy Award Nominee has developed work in Europe, Asia, North America and the Caribbean.

Exhibitions include Urbanworld, Newport Beach, and Williamstown Film Festivals;Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; Video Frontiers Festival, Perugia; The New Foundation, Seattle; and PRX Public Radio Exchange.

He has received grants from the American Film Institute and Writers Guild of America and holds a BFA in Film and Television Production from Tisch School of the Arts, New York University, a MA in Theatre from Hunter College and is a member of the Playwrights and Directors Unit of the Actors Studio.

Bobby Sanabria, Events Chair
7X Grammy nominated as a leader, drummer, percussionist, composer, arranger, educator, documentary film producer, and activist, Bobby Sanabria is a native Nuyorican born and raised in New York’s South Bronx. His unique perspective comes from having performed and/or recorded with every major figure in the development of what today is known as Latin jazz. From the genre’s acknowledged creator, maestro Mario Bauzá, for whom Bobby recorded three Grammy-nominated CDs and worked as the drummer in his Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra for ten years, to Mongo Santamaria, with whom he started his career, to Tito Puente, Chico O’Farrill, Ray Barretto, Larry Harlow, Candido, Dizzy Gillespie, Marco Rizo, and many more.

A noted educator and clinician, he is on the faculty of Manhattan School of Music and of the Jazz & Contemporary Music Program at the New School and directs both schools’ Afro- Cuban jazz orchestras. He has worked as a producer, advisor, and on-air personality on the award-winning documentaries The Palladium Where Mambo Was King (Bravo, 2003), From Mambo to Hip Hop (PBS, 2007), Latin Music U.S.A. (PBS, 2009), and I Like It Like That: The Story of Latin Boogaloo (2015). He is the Co-Artistic Director/Curator of the Bronx Music Heritage Center and the Artistic Director/Artist in Residence of the Roberto Ocasio Memorial Latin Jazz Camp for High School Students in Cleveland, Ohio.
Tony Waag

Tony Waag (Executive/Artistic Director of the American Tap Dance Foundation) founded the American Tap Dance Orchestra in 1986, in collaboration with Brenda Bufalino and the late Charles "Honi" Coles, and toured extensively throughout the U.S. and around the world. From 1989 to 1995, he co-created and operated, with Brenda Bufalino, the Woodpeckers Tap Dance Center in SoHo.

In 2001, he renamed the organization the American Tap Dance Foundation and created Tap City, the annual New York City Tap Festival which includes a solid week of master classes, choreography residencies for youth, teens and adults, the Tap Preservation and Hoofer Awards, the International Tap Dance Hall of Fame, premiere performances and public events. In 2010, he opened the American Tap Dance Center in New York City where he currently directs on-going education programs for tappers of all ages and levels. In 2014 he received the Dance Magazine Award for his outstanding contributions to the field of dance.
Eli Yamin
ELI YAMIN (Musical Director) is a jazz and blues pianist, composer, singer, producer and educator. Raised in the bands of jazz masters Walter Perkins, Illinois Jacquet and Barry Harris, his joyful and imaginative piano playing have taken him around the world with his own groups as a cultural ambassador for the U.S. Department of State and led him to perform and teach at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City and President Obama’s White House.  

Yamin co-founded The Jazz Drama Program, which uplifts students, teachers and their communities through interactive experiences in the jazz arts—storytelling, music, theatre, dance and visual arts.  Yamin’s compositions like “A Healing Song,” about the healing power of the blues, and “Rwandan Child” about the wisdom of children awaken audiences shared sense of humanity, love and joy.  Eli’s jazz musicals for children are performed around the world and licensed by Theatrical Rights Worldwide.  His CD’s are heard on Sirius XM and Jazz 88, WBGO in Newark.  Ely is on the board of directors of The Duke Ellington Center for the Arts (DECFA).  
All Rights Reserved - DECFA - Copyright 2018
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