The Team

The Ancestors Team

Dana Saxon : Founder & Executive Director

Dana Saxon

Founder & Executive Director

Dana has extensive experience in nonprofit management, fundraising, and youth development with both small and large nonprofit organizations. She spent two years as the Deputy Director of New Leaders, Bay Area, managing partnerships and fundraising for the Oakland office of the national organization. She moved to Brooklyn, NY to join iMentor in NYC, where she was the Director of Partnerships for more than 3 years. She left iMentor and NYC to pursue a Master's degree in Amsterdam.

Dana holds a B.A. from Vassar College and a J.D. from Temple University Law School. In 2013 she completed an MSc in Sociology at the University of Amsterdam, researching African Diaspora ancestry and identity development in the Netherlands and Suriname. With a passion for her own family tree and the many undiscovered treasures of ancestry research, Dana launched Ancestors unKnown in 2013.

Dana Saxon


Du’Charm Archer : Director of Curriculum

Du’Charm Archer

Director of Curriculum

Raised in Ann Arbor, Charmin Archer received her B.A. from the University of Michigan and an MA in Elementary Education from the City College of New York. Over the past fifteen years she has taught on the elementary, secondary and tertiary levels including teaching positions in Harlem, Ethiopia, Detroit and the Caribbean.

Charmin is currently the Acting Director/Program Manager at the Family Learning Institute (FLI), a non-profit after school program. Charmin is passionate about education and uses it as a vehicle to empower students to transform and better society. She enjoys spending time with her son, traveling and listening to music.

 


Natasha Boyce : Board Member, Chair

Natasha Boyce

Board Member, Chair

Originally from Charlotte, NC, Natasha Boyce currently serves as Board Chair for Ancestors unKnown. Her professional experience includes stints in banking, procurement, and microenterprise development in Bolivia as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer. Natasha spent six years as a Contracting Officer for the U.S. Department of Education. She currently serves as the Small Business Advocate for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in Washington, DC.

Natasha has a BA in Business Administration from Clark Atlanta University and an MS in International Development from Georgetown University. She enjoys history museums, travel and cultural exchange, dance and budget spreadsheets.

Natasha Boyce


Benjamin Dennis : Board Member

Benjamin Dennis

Board Member

Chef Benjamin “BJ” Dennis is a Lowcountry original. Born and raised in Charleston, SC, Benjamin “BJ” Dennis is a personal chef and caterer who infuses the flavors and culture of the Lowcountry into his Gullah-Geechie cuisine. What differentiates Chef BJ’s food from his contemporaries in “southern” cooking is the homage he pays to the Gullah Geechee culture, brought to the Americas by West Africans, and disseminated along the West Indies and the American South. He infuses the techniques of his ancestors, learned from four years of study in St. Thomas as well as the lessons of his grandparents about eating from the land.

Chef BJ has an associate’s degree in hospitality / tourism management and the culinary arts from the Culinary Institute of Charleston and has worked in a number of award winning southern dining establishments including Carolinas, Anson's, Oak Steakhouse, Hank’s Seafood, and 82 Queen. His cuisine has been featured in local, national and international events including the BB&T Wine+Food Festival, Cook It Raw and Meatopia and his “pop-up” dinners, at local establishments such as Butcher & Bee, Elliottborough MiniBar and Proof, are sought after culinary adventures on the underground dinner circuit.

Chef BJ Dennis


Ron Lester : Board Member

Ron Lester

Board Member

A native of Philadelphia, Ron Lester, graduated from high school in 1987. He boldly went to Colorado via a two day train ride to start college at Otero Jr. College. In March of 1989, after another two day train ride back home, he auditioned at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts for its undergraduate drama program. He was accepted and started there in the fall of 1989. That is how he got to New York City. He graduated in Feb. of  1992.

Ron started Disco Party Fundraiser in 2003, initially as a way to supplement his fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. He kept going when he realized the potential to provide a great dance party and funds for even greater not for profit organizations. He founded the Saxon Foundation in December of 2010 which supports not for profits in the arts and education by giving grants. He named the foundation after his late father as a way to honor him.

Ron Lester


Catherine Ang : Board of Advisors

Catherine Ang

Board of Advisors

Catherine Ang is an experienced nonprofit manager with a specialization in performance accountability and measurement in education and youth development programs. She is the National Director of Program Performance and Management at Year Up, a workforce development non-profit that works with young adults between the ages of 18-24. Through a one-year intensive training program, Year Up provides a unique combination of hands-on technical and professional skills, college credit, and corporate internships. Previously, she was selected to be a Graduate Fellow through Education Pioneers, a highly competitive fellowship program that identifies high potential leaders passionate about education reform. She also worked for iMentor, a New York City-based youth mentoring organization, where she managed a team by providing strategic and programmatic support. She graduated from Geneseo College with a B.A. in Psychology and has an Masters in Public Administration from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service.

Catherine Ang