Wizards Pioneer Award

The Washington Wizards and Amtrak Recognize Three Community Leaders in Honor of Black History Month.

In celebration of Black History Month, the Amtrak Pioneer Award was created by the Washington Wizards and Amtrak to honor African Americans in the Washington, DC metropolitan area that have made outstanding contributions to the community. During halftime at the Wizards vs. Detroit game on Wednesday, February 27, the Wizards and Amtrak will award the following three recipients: Roxanne J. Williams, Founder and President of Urban Ed Inc.; Fabian Barnes, Founder and Artistic Director of the Dance Institute Washington; and Dr. Jeffrey M. Johnson, President and CEO of the National Partnership for Community Leadership. They are each pioneers in their own right, and their ongoing efforts continue to enrich the Washington, DC area. Congratulations to this year’s recipients, on behalf of the Washington Wizards and Amtrak!


Roxanne J. Williams

Roxanne J. Williams is the founder and president of Urban Ed, Inc. She has over 18 years of community, youth development and technical experience that includes grassroots work, national nonprofit work and managing youth development projects throughout the country. She holds a Master’s degree in Training and Organizational Development, twelve global information technology certifications and was recognized internationally as a Salzburg Fellow in International Youth and Community Development (Austria) for her commitment, passion and outcomes-driven youth development work. She was most recently recognized as a ComputerWorld Honors Laureate for Urban Ed’s leadership in the visionary applications of information technology to promote positive social, economic and educational change. Urban Ed was selected from among over 500 innovators from around the world.

Prior to Urban Ed, Roxanne was at the Center for Community Change where she was the Director of Lifting New Voices, a youth organizing project that worked to build the capacity and leadership of young people to create social change. Roxanne was also a part of the Center's Organizational Development staff, providing technical assistance to nonprofits throughout the country. Roxanne has worked for government/government sponsored agencies such as the U.S. Department of Commerce and NeighborWorks, one of the country’s preeminent affordable housing and community development organizations. She has also served on the board of the national Girl Scouts and the District’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Group.

Roxanne built Urban Ed from the ground up and her visions for sustainability and dedication to residents of the District, particularly our youth, has been the force behind the quality success of Urban Ed. Community members admire her attention to their individual needs, her "keeping it real", soft but stern approach and her genuine inspiration for all people in the community to succeed.


Fabian Barnes

Fabian Barnes, Founder/Artistic Director of the Dance Institute of Washington (DIW), discovered dance at the early age of 11 when he followed his older brother to a dance class. In doing so, he found his life's work. Born and raised in Seattle, WA, Fabian began studying dance in 1971 under the direction of Virginia Corkle, and was made an apprentice to the Pacific Northwest Ballet Company at the age of 16. In 1979, he joined the Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) as an apprentice and quickly rose to the rank of soloist. During his 15 years with DTH, Mr. Barnes performed in much of the company's repertoire and toured extensively throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa. Mr. Barnes appeared as a guest performer at the Fisk University Arts Festival; the Washington Opera; the Royal Pacific Cultural Exchange in Beijing, China; a Command Performance for Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip given by the Bermuda Civic Ballet; and the New York City Opera.

Mr. Barnes founded the Dance Institute of Washington in 1987 during his summer break from DTH. He wished to give DC youth the opportunities that DTH gave him-to develop talent, confidence, and discipline.

In 1996, he retired from his career as a professional dancer with DTH to devote himself full time to his mission of improving the lives of underserved children through the arts. In 2002, he founded Washington Reflections Dance Company, a professional ensemble of dancers and choreographers that continues to impress audiences and critics alike with dynamic contemporary ballet and modern dance performances. Since DIW's inception, many students have gone on to careers with companies such as the Suzanne Farrell Ballet and DTH, or continued studies at ballet conservatories and universities, among them Temple and Harvard.

Additionally, Fabian Barnes has a long history of teaching at educational institutions other than the Dance Institute of Washington. He has served as Artist-in-Residence for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Education Department and the Seattle Public School System. He has taught master classes in dance from coast to coast and at the Spoleto Festival in Spoleto, Italy. He was an Adjunct Professor of Ballet at the University of the District of Columbia and served as an instructor at many other institutions. Mr. Barnes continues to serve as a master teacher and lecturer throughout the region.

His awards include: the Linowes Leadership Award; Oprah Angel Network Use Your Life Award; and Pola Nirenska Award. Most recently, the Dance Institute's outreach program Positive Directions Through Dance won the 2011 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. Fabian has been named a CNN "American Hero" and Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian Magazine. He has appeared on Oprah, the Today Show and the Remarkable Journey.

Mr. Barnes explains, "My mentor at the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Arthur Mitchell, the first African American to dance in a major ballet, New York City Ballet, always taught the importance of giving back to the community, and seeing talented young dancers grow and develop through DIW programs makes it all worthwhile."


Jeffrey M. Johnson

Jeffery M. Johnson is President and CEO of the National Partnership for Community Leadership (NPCL). Dr. Johnson played in integral role in the planning and implementation of two of the nation’s largest social welfare research projects involving low-income men. They are the Partners for Fragile Families Site Demonstration, and the Fathers at Work Demonstration. These projects have served more than 6000 men. Since 1997, Dr. Johnson and NPCL have also convened an annual international fatherhood conference that attracts cumulatively several thousands of community-based and family practitioners from around the world. Also, under Dr. Johnson’s leadership NPCL managed the National Youth Development Practitioners Institute on behalf of the United States Department of Labor, the Ford Foundation, and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. Dr. Johnson received his formal education at the University of Michigan where he received the Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Urban Education. Dr. Johnson is married 29 years and has two children.