Board of Directors


Kristen Powers - President

Kristen first volunteered for Hands on DC with her DC Kickball team in 2011. She enjoyed working with the organization and was impressed with the mission, and got more involved, serving as a Site Coordinator and Volunteer Management Co-Chair. After hearing powerful stories from the founders during the 20th anniversary celebration, Kristen was inspired to lead the organization as Co-Director in 2015 and 2016; and now as the President. She is a native Northern Virginian and enjoys staying active by running, hiking and traveling as much as possible. During the day, Kristen supports the FAA's Corporate Communication office.

Royce Bassarab - Vice President

Royce's involvement in Hands on DC began shortly after relocating to DC from Cincinnati in 2006. Within an hour of sending an introductory email offering his assistance, Royce was tapped as a Regional Coordinator, and oversaw volunteer efforts in four schools. His interest and belief in the organization cemented, and his following roles included Special Projects Coordinator, Sites Co-Chair, and Co-Director in 2009. By day, Royce works as an Environmental Project Manager focused on the environmental analysis of transportation projects throughout the country. In Royce's words, Hands on DC allows him to give back to his local community, help foster a spirit of civic engagement, and encourage volunteerism. Royce is currently the Vice President of the Board, which allows him to remain involved in nearly every aspect of the organization.

Nate Higgins - Treasurer

Nate began volunteering with Hands on DC way back in 2006 as a site coordinator at the annual Work-a-thon. Since then, he has had many leadership roles within the organization and is a key contributor to the Sites/Logistics teams every year. He now serves as the treasurer for the organization, while being the resident “do it all” member of the board. During the day, Nate is a research economist with the Economic Research Service (USDA). He also teaches econometrics at the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies and Game Theory and Market Design at the University of Maryland. He has a B.A. in mathematics and economics from Ithaca College and a Ph.D. in agricultural and resource economics from the University of Maryland.

PC Zai - Secretary

Zai has been involved with Hands on DC since 2008, working on everything from fundraising to special events, and currently is Secretary of the Board of Directors. Before joining the Board, she was the Co-Director for the FY 2012 events. Zai’s deep-seated desire to be involved in her local community stems from her background as a social justice community organizer in Los Angeles and studies in city management at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School. Additionally, she is also the outreach coordinator for the UCLA Alumni Network of Washington DC and is a skater for the DC Rollergirls. For fun, Zai enjoys travelling, yoga, and exploring various cuisines of the world. In everyday life, she works as an analyst at the Department of Housing and Urban Development in civil rights enforcement.

Board Members

Chris Fernando

Chris has been involved with Hands on DC, since 2007 when he began volunteering by driving a supply delivery truck for the annual Work-a-thon. Since then, his involvement has grown serving as Sites Co-Chair, Co-Director and most recently as President of the Board. His support in educating a number of children in his native land of Sri Lanka since 2004 has inspired him to continue supporting education in his adopted country through his work with Hands on DC. In his day job, Chris is an aviation environmental specialist at Booz Allen Hamilton. He has 10+ years of aviation and related environmental experience and currently supports the NextGen Initiatives of the Office of Environment and Energy at the Federal Aviation Administration. In his spare time, Chris enjoys travelling, is an avid runner, an aviation enthusiast and has recently taken up triathlons with a goal of completing an Ironman in the near future.

Virginia Kromm

Virginia has been volunteering with Hands on DC for over 10 years since she moved to Washington, DC. Originally from St. Louis, Virginia attended public schools through high school and her architect parents specialize in public school design in Missouri. Being around and in public schools for much of her life, she sought out opportunities in DC to provide public school youth with enriching environments. She has served as chair of the fundraising, public relations, and special project committees, been co-director of the executive committee, president of the board, and most recently, secretary of the board of directors. In her professional career Virginia works in partnership development for the Smithsonian Institution.

Noelle Ellerson

Noli has been involved with Hands on DC since 2009, when she began volunteering with the annual Work-a-thon. Since then, her involvement has grown to include serving as a site coordinate, on the Executive Committee, on the Public Relations Committee, and in her newest role, as a Board member. Noli was attracted to Hands on DC for the ease of volunteering, the deep and immediate impact it has on DC schools, and the fact that it closely matches her deep belief in public schools and the role schools play in improving educational and life outcomes. In her day job, Noli is the Associate Executive Director, Policy & Advocacy for AASA: The School Superintendents Association. She leads AASA’s efforts to advocate and represent public school superintendents, their schools and the students they serve on Capitol Hill, to the administration and in federal education policy.

Stephanie Murdoch

Stephanie has been volunteering with Hands on DC since 2010. Her first project was helping to build display cases and shelves at Payne Elementary School…on crutches, no less. Not even that could stop her from helping to make schools a better and brighter place for DC’s students. She’s nothing if not dedicated. Her enthusiasm for Hands on DC has transpired into serving as the Sites Co-Chair for the last two years. Monday to Friday, Stephanie works as a Marketing and Business Development professional for Fentress Architects. She is also a proud University of Florida alumna (“Go Gators!”), so expect her to bring Florida’s “In All Kinds of Weather” mentality to Hands on DC.