top of page


We are dedicated to funding evidence-based strategies that can stop murders before they happen.

IMG_6763 (1)_edited.jpg

Marcus Ellis

Executive Director

Marcus Ellis joins Peace For DC as Executive Director on April 3, 2023. Marcus has served as the Chief of Staff at the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement, in the Executive Office of the Mayor of Washington, DC. In this position he has spent several years overseeing some of Washington, DC’s innovations in community violence intervention. His office has fostered a community oriented model that is rooted in a public health approach to reducing violence.


At Peace For DC, Marcus will lead the organization’s efforts to harness philanthropic investments in a comprehensive violence reduction strategy for the District of Columbia. In doing this work, Marcus strives to increase neighborhood safety and decrease the likelihood of criminal justice involvement for the city’s most vulnerable residents. Community violence intervention efforts are focused on improving the outcomes of education, workforce development, mental health and wellness, and housing stability for those who are most likely to be harmed, or cause harm.


During his career, Marcus has served as the Director of the Safer Stronger DC Community Partnerships Office for DC’s Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services, and was also a key member of the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services’ (DYRS) Management Team serving as Superintendent of the New Beginnings Youth Development Center. In this role he oversaw the District of Columbia’s long term juvenile detention facility where he implemented a model that focused on a strengths-based approach and provided therapeutic rehabilitation. He also served in management roles at the Department of Parks and Recreation and DC Public Schools. He is a strong advocate for a public health approach to reducing violence and believes that every child deserves to grow up free of violence and in a safe and thriving community. His leadership at Peace For DC will be focused on building the civic will and partnerships to enable peace in every neighborhood.


While focusing on impacting some of our most vulnerable residents within his career, he also dedicates his personal time to giving back to the community as Founder and CEO of Giving with a Purpose; a nonprofit organization in the metropolitan DC area. Additionally, Marcus also serves as a Board Member for Cities United, a national network of Mayors and community activists that takes a holistic public health approach to reducing gun violence and creating better lives for young Black men and boys, their families, and their communities. Marcus is a proud graduate of Bowie State University where he majored in Sociology with a concentration in Criminal Justice



Director of Strategic Initiatives

Lashonia Thompson-El is Peace For DC's Director of Strategic Initiatives.  Her passion is centered in our programming and our work in healing and building up the community of practice around healing trauma and violence reduction. This position allows her to focus on those areas, in particular on building our Cognitive Behavioral Theory (CBT) community of practice and expanding our Stop the Bleed education partnerships in order to ensure that Peacemakers have these life-saving skills.   


Ms. Thompson-El joins Peace For DC from the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, where she served as Co-Chief of the Violence Reduction Unit.  Since 2018, Lashonia has helped to oversee the Cure the Streets program at the OAG. Cure the Streets uses a data-driven process to reduce gun violence and operates in discrete high violence neighborhoods using a public health approach and treating gun violence as a disease that can be interrupted, treated, and stopped from spreading. 


Lashonia is one of the District’s leading Restorative Justice practitioners and she is an expert in gender-responsive criminal justice reform.  Prior to joining the DC Office of Attorney General Lashonia worked at the Mayor’s Office on Returning Citizens Affairs (MORCA) coordinating gender-responsive reentry efforts. She has also worked as a Program Analyst at the DC Corrections Information Council (CIC) inspecting prison conditions in facilities where DC residents are incarcerated. 


As a directly impacted, native Washingtonian Lashonia is committed to transformative justice and the public health approach to healing and preventing harm. She believes strongly in a community-centric, people-centered approach to accountability and harm reduction.  She feels that this is an exciting time to be in partnership with community. The District has come a long way in building a credible workforce. Now the work begins as we set out to provide frontline workers with the support, training, and resources they need to be successful at preventing gun violence and changing unhealthy community norms. 




Roger Marmet is working to reduce gun violence to honor the memory of his son, Tom Marmet, as well as every other victim of homicide in the District.  Tom was 22 when he was killed, October 24, 2018,  just driving home from his first job out of college working for So Others Might Eat.  Tom’s murder was another senseless but possibly preventable tragedy in the plague of DC gun violence.

Since then, Roger has dedicated his time to advocacy - and now action.  He is dedicated to building community-powered resources to save lives in DC’s most dangerous neighborhoods, and bringing philanthropy to helping reduce the homicide rate in the city. 


Roger was born in Washington DC and had a long career in television before entering the restaurant business.  He has been active in the leadership of nonprofit organizations and is now committed to bringing resources to the most desperately needed neighborhoods in the city that he - and his son - loved so much for all their lives. 



Director of the DC Peace Academy

Nakeda Gilbert leads Peace For DC's flagship program, the DC Peace Acadamy, as the Director of Learning. Nakeda brings a wealth of management experience working in the violence intervention field, as well as work in the corporate and business world, and life experience as a mother and deep ties living and working with community in Ward 7. Nakeda is a strong, organized leader who also brings true compassion and patience, which are very valuable for this new role.



Director of Partnerships

Nneka Grimes serves as Director of Partnerships for Peace For DC, responsible for managing the relationships and strengthening the connections between our organization and its partners, including philanthropies and foundations, other nonprofits and community-based organizations, neighborhood associations and civic groups. Nneka has a tremendous range of talents including everything from graphic design, catering, and singing, to work in schools as a Behavioral Education Instructor and work on Cure The Streets violence intervention teams.  Nneka puts her all into everything she does, and we are so lucky to have her on our team.

Carole 2.jpeg


Director of Social Work

Carole Wills holds a special role as a social worker for the DC Peace Academy. Carole sits in on all DC Peace Academy classes, holds weekly healing circles with the class, and meets with the students individually outside of class time. Carole is a licensed social worker with over 10 years of experience in the mental health field. Carole has worked in various capacities as a licensed social worker, finding her passion lies with helping her patients to be their very best. She helps clients move toward emotional and physical safety, radical acceptance; having a sense of empowerment, choice and control; skill building; mood regulation; boundary setting; interpersonal effectiveness; trauma resolution and/or management and more. One of the greatest lessons learned from her grandmother was: “To Teach by Example”. As a mother and clinician, she has learned the importance of active listening, laughter, modeling positive leadership and unconditional love as essential tools for success. Throughout her years as a public servant, she has gained an awareness of the complexity, capabilities, and limitations of human relations and providing human services on multiple levels to a diverse population. True to her mission to heal, transform, and inspire, Ms. Wills continues to rise to the occasion in meeting the special challenges encountered in transforming an individual into a confident and articulate “pearl”. 

Rachel headshot.jpg


Director of Operations | Co-Founder

Rachel Usdan became involved in the gun violence reduction space in 2016 as a volunteer with the DC chapter of Moms Demand Action. Rachel learned that while DC has relatively strong gun safety laws, the city’s borders are porous and illegal guns can easily enter the city. It wasn’t until Rachel volunteered with Moms Demand Action that she realized she too was a survivor; her uncle died by gun suicide before Rachel was born. Rachel recognized the ripple effects that that tragedy had on her family was the same as the heartbreaking ripple effects that trauma has had on so many DC families who have had loved ones taken by gun violence, homicide or suicide.

After Rachel‘s hometown neighborhood (Tree of Life, Squirrel Hill, PA) and the high school that her husband attended (Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, Parkland, FL) both experienced mass shooting in the same year, Rachel decided she wanted to do more. In 2018, Rachel became the DC Chapter Leader for Moms Demand Action. By then, Rachel understood that much more beyond gun safety laws could make a community safe. Rachel worked hard to show up and listen and get to know the amazing Black- and brown-led local community organizations doing the arduous work of interrupting violence and healing trauma in DC.

Rachel is honored to be a part of Peace For DC - working to encourage philanthropy to make coordinated investments in violence intervention, to give DC’s peacemakers and community-based organizations the tools they need to build capacity and be successful in their work, and to co-create DC’s next phase of safety, peace, and wellness.

About Us: Meet the Team

What does peace for DC look like to you?

Share your thoughts about how gun violence has impacted your life or why you believe it is important to end gun violence in DC:

Thanks for submitting!

bottom of page