Heran Sereke-Brhan, Ph.D.
Strategic Planning & Community Engagement Practice Leader
Heran Sereke-Brhan (she/her/hers) is an accomplished and well-versed professional with extensive executive experience managing personnel, budget, operations, and grantmaking programs within the arts and culture and government sectors. Throughout her career, she has held numerous leadership positions, implementing cultural initiatives, spearheading organizational development, and building consensus through community-focused programs.
A collaborative leader and avid arts advocate, Sereke-Brhan is committed to mission-driven public service and community development. Prior to joining ACG, Sereke-Brhan served as Executive Director of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (CAH). In this role, Sereke-Brhan oversaw various programs in public art, arts education, capacity building, individual artist fellowships, and project-based grants funding that fostered growth and stability of District artists and arts and humanities organizations. Managing a budget of over $42 million with nearly $34 million in grants funding, she worked closely with the staff and board of Commissioners to establish grant protocols and processes, implementing Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access throughout these grantmaking practices. Sereke-Brhan also led the development of a State Plan for artistic projects and programs and supervised the execution of a Strategic Plan and a Public Arts Master Plan.
“People who work in the arts and culture sector are often more compassionate, forward-thinking and oriented towards creative solutions than most. As we struggle to regain balance following the pandemic, artists and arts organizations will continue to stitch communities back together to recover and revitalize our shared vision for service through the transformative power of the arts and humanities.”
Previously, Sereke-Brhan served as Deputy Director for the DC Mayor’s Office on African Affairs overseeing programmatic initiatives and ensuring access to social services for immigrant African Diaspora residents. Sereke-Brhan has led and initiated projects at local, national, and international levels and fulfilled senior positions at cultural and educational institutions such as the School for International Training’s Study Abroad Program, Harn Museum at the University of Florida, the Ethiopian Community Development Council, Addis Ababa University, and Smithsonian National Museum of African Art. Sereke-Brhan has also served on the Advisory Committee for Art Forward Fund, a funding collaborative of the Greater Washington Community Foundation that focuses on promoting inclusion and equity for arts organizations.
Sereke-Brhan has spent over two decades conducting research on African histories and cultures. Her academic interests include Ethiopian social and political history, contemporary art and literature, and intellectual property issues for Africa. She has authored and edited numerous renowned publications on Ethiopian history, arts, and material culture, and has also produced several stage performances as well as the short film Ethiopia in Movement.
Sereke-Brhan holds a bachelor of arts degree in political, legal, economic analysis from Mills College, as well as a master of arts degree and a doctor of philosophy in history, with a focus on African, Caribbean and African-American history, both from Michigan State University.
Dr. Sereke-Brhan's professional work experience includes:
DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities
DC Mayor’s Office on African Affairs
ECDC African Community Center