Board of Directors
Lisa Carrier Baker
President and Founder
Lisa Carrier Baker moved to the DC area from New York after almost a decade of performing in numerous national tours, regional opera and musical theatre houses, and off-Broadway. While in the Washington area she has performed at The Kennedy Center, The Atlas Theatre, American Century Theatre, Washington Savoyards, Adventure Theatre MTC, Arts Centric, Round House (Silver Spring), Toby’s Dinner Theatre, and Ganymede Arts. Lisa is an adjunct professor of voice at American University and Montgomery College. Her students can be heard singing in Broadway shows and national tours, and are Helen Hayes Award nominees and winners. Lisa is the Managing Director and Music Supervisor at Summer Dinner Theatre at Montgomery College, and served as their stage director for many seasons. She is the former Director of Education and pre-professional ensembles director for Adventure Theatre MTC. Her work to help animals in need has, and always will be, motivated by her own rescue fur kids. This year’s Beltway Barks is dedicated to Stella, Esme, and the memory of dear Nola, a Hurricane Katrina survivor.
Valerie Leonard is honored to be a Board Member of DC Artists for Animals (DCa4a) and also the political action committee, Maryland Votes for Animals (MVFA). Valerie is a professional artist who has performed on Broadway, Off-Broadway, on National Tours, Regionally and Locally. In this area she has performed at Arena Stage, The Shakespeare Theatre, Signature Theatre, Theatre J, Roundhouse, Adventure Theatre, and Olney Theatre. She is privileged to be an Associate Artist at the Olney Theatre and is a proud member of Actor's Equity. Valerie has rescued too many cats to count and has had the tremendous pleasure of living with many of them. Today she and her husband, Nigel, share their home with their cats, Raven and Rebel.
Laurie Newton has been a performer, educator, and choreographer/director for over 20 years. She holds a Masters degree in Dance from American University and a Bachelors degree in Integrative Arts from Penn State University. She was on the dance faculty at Montgomery College and ATMTC for 10 years. In addition to teaching, Laurie has performed both professionally and with local community theaters and has also directed and choreographed a number of shows in the DC area for professional, educational and community theaters. Being on the board and volunteering for DC Actors for Animals brings her two passions together - performing arts and animal rescue. As a proud vegan, she participates in many local animal rights and welfare events to raise awareness of the abuse of all animals; domestic and farmed. In 2018 she started Bee Their Voice, promoting cruelty-free living, veganism and animal activism.
Kathy Moore Wilson (Graphic Designer)
Kathy Moore Wilson has worked as an artist and graphic designer for over 30 years. She started as a cartographer right out of college, including working as a freelancer for the National Geographic Society. She worked for 20 years in the Graphic Design department of Westat, a research and consulting company in Rockville, MD. At Westat, she worked as a graphic designer, illustrator, animator, and video & audio editor. While continuing to work full time for Westat, she attended graduate school in an online program with the Savannah College of Art and Design. And in 2015, she earned her Masters Degree in Motion Media Design. In 2016, Ms. Wilson was accepted at a local art gallery, Artists & Makers Studios, as a resident artist. She currently works full time for her own company, Pendragon Art Studios, as a painter and illustrator of wildlife and pets. When she is not painting, she spends time with her husband and their dog Maisy, a very spoiled but very wonderful border collie mix.
TC Benson (Fundraising and Sponsorship)
T. C. has over 30 years of successful non-profit external relations experience in both large and small not-for-profit organizations including the arts, higher education, historic preservation, women’s issues, and health care. She currently serves as the Director of Foundation and Corporate Relations for St. Coletta of Greater Washington. Her previous arts management experiences include work for Atlas Performing Arts Center, Studio Theatre, Americans for the Arts and the San Francisco Symphony. She has developed new advancement programs and relationships resulting in major gifts from both institutional and individual donors for the Smithsonian, Georgetown University, National Cathedral and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. She has also served as key development staff member in several capital campaigns and led anniversary fund raising planning for large not for profits. The daughter of the founding Artistic Director of Totem Pole Playhouse, TC grew up around artists and performers in NYC. Here in DC she shares her home with her daughter, her rescue Westie, and another Westie named Charlie who was one of the Totos in Fords Theatre’s production of The Wiz!
Johanna Berkson (Strategic Advisor)
Johanna Berkson is a seasoned professional political operative with over 15 years of management experience in non-profits, on Capitol Hill, and on national & local campaigns for elective office working both on individual campaigns as well as for a national political party. She was President and Chair of the Board of OurTime.org, one of the nation’s largest non-profit organizations committed to increasing the voter participation of hundreds of thousands of young Americans by organizing education campaigns, forming strategic partnerships with heavily trafficked online brands, dozens of A-list and YouTube celebrities, and by utilizing state-of-the-art voter registration technology. Johanna served as a senior advisor to former Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) in his successful campaign to become the next U.S. Senator from Maryland. She has degrees from University of Maryland, College Park, and Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business. She cofounded the Capitol Terps alumni club, served on the Alumni Association Board of Governors, and is now on the board of the University’s Center for American Politics and Citizenship (CAPC). In her spare time she loves going on long walks with her fur kids, Teddi and Spencer.
Lynn Sharp Spears (Volunteer Coordinator)
Lynn Sharp Spears is an award-winning Director, Actor, and Artist, whose work has been seen in professional theaters, national touring companies, TV and film since 1987. She has always enjoyed the company of animals and presently has the pleasure of Bridie, an extremely patient, intelligent and funny Airedale. And Milo, a very large cat/dog who helps Bridie develop her patience. She is on the Board of Directors for The International Center for Sustainable Development and is also the resident artist for Sustainable Design Group. She is very excited to be joining DC Actors for Animals to help find homes for as many of these wonderful four-legged beasties as possible!
Erica Loy (Social Media and Digital Marketing Intern)
Erica Loy is a graduate from the University of Pittsburgh with a bachelor's in Communications and a minor in Theatre Performance. While she's been active in the local musical theatre community for over 14 years, her true passion lies with animal rescue and exploring the world. She's thrilled that she is finally able to combine her digital media background with her love of dogs and get behind a purpose she believes in. Erica is also a huge advocate for the #DontBullyMyBreed campaign, as she can't wait for the time when she can adopt a bully of her own. In her spare time, Erica loves to travel to new places and hopes to visit all 50 states, as well as a few different countries, in the next few years.
Virgil Ocampo (Event Photographer)
from our Founder:
A note from our Founder: In July of 2007, I was part of a team of animal lovers who were called into action and traveled to West Virginia to help with a cruelty case led by The Animal Law Coalition’s Tracey Smith. Over 100 animals who had been abandoned and forgotten, some near death, were stacked in crates to the ceiling and in dire need of help. I went into that situation a volunteer, but came out an activist. As I have grown into the DC theatre scene, I have been amazed by the amount of actors I’ve met who tirelessly volunteer, foster, transport, rescue and adopt animals in need. Being inspired by the work of Broadway Barks, it seemed a natural culmination of my two lives: theatre and rescue.
And now, after 5 years of helping the animals of the DC Metro area, DC Actors for Animals is officially a 501c3 organization. We are so thankful to Harvey Schweitzer of Schweitzer and Scherr LLC, and Darcy Shoop for their support through this process.
Thank you for your support. I look forward to seeing you again at next year's Beltway Barks!
-Lisa Carrier Baker