25th Anniversary

25th Anniversary

Please join Operation Understanding DC
as we celebrate our 25th anniversary
at the
Silver Spring Civic Center
March 17, 2019
5:00-8:00 pm

Cocktail Hour and Heavy Hors d’oeuvres
5:00-6:00 pm

Program 6:00-8:00 pm


Jane practiced law in Washington DC for over 30 years. She was the first woman partner at Steptoe & Johnson and later served as General Counsel of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Carter. As Co-Founder and Partner in Sprenger & Lang, she litigated plaintiffs’ class actions on behalf of victims of workplace discrimination. In 2001, Jane co-founded the Atlas Performing Arts Center in Washington DC and served as Atlas Board Chair through 2014. She has also produced several award-winning plays. Jane graduated from Swarthmore College and the Law School of the University of Pennsylvania. She is a Trustee of the Atlas, the Eugene M. Lang Foundation (Chair) and Swarthmore College. Jane lives in Washington DC. She has two children, three stepchildren and fourteen grandchildren.


Busboys and Poets is a community gathering place. First established in 2005, Busboys and Poets was founded by owner Andy Shallal, an artist, activist and restaurateur. After opening the flagship location at 14th and V Streets, NW, the neighboring residents and progressive community embraced Busboys, particularly activists opposed to the Iraq War. Busboys and Poets is now located in six distinctive neighborhoods in the Washington Metropolitan area and is a cultural hub for artists, activists, writers, thinkers and dreamers. Why the name? The name Busboys and Poets refers to American poet Langston Hughes, who worked as a busboy at the Wardman Park Hotel in the 1920s, prior to gaining recognition as a poet.

Now more than ever, the mission of OUDC is critical. This program has graduated over 600 students, who are leaders and ambassadors for eliminating racism, anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination. Under the direction of OUDC parents and producers Mark Finkelpearl and Dave Canady, OUDC is proud to present Journeys for Justice: OUDC at 25, a new film on the program and the impact of Operation Understanding DC. This inspiring short film will premiere at our event, showcasing the work of OUDC in transforming students to become agents of resistance and change.

Our Founder: Karen Kalish

Karen, well-known as a serial social entrepreneur and full-time volunteer CEO, has started three nonprofits and is a former teacher, television reporter and business owner. She has 25+ years of community service focused on literacy, closing the achievement gap, and ending racial discrimination. Karen grew up in St. Louis, MO, the daughter of the late Ralph Kalish, a patent lawyer, and the late Betha Schield Kalish. Karen received an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School in 2000 (at the age of 54!) concentrating on African American issues, leadership, and nonprofits. Karen is currently the founder and CEO of HOME WORKS! The Teacher Home Visit Program. This current program’s mission partners families and teacher for children’s success. Karen is the founder, 25 years ago, of Operation Understanding DC, and we honor her at this event with the inauguration of the Karen Kalish Awards.

Chair and Volunteers
25th Anniversary Chair: Loren Amdursky

Board of Directors:
Eve Byford-Peterson, President
Dianne Samu, Vice President
Stephen Meyer, Treasurer
Shelby Shapiro, Secretary
Nora Abramson
Rabbi Bruce Aft
Loren Amdursky
Jim Barratt
Marci Blumenthal-Harris
Jackie Gosby
Joshua Levin
Dan Nathan
Samuel Paschall
Colonel LaSalle Petty
Adam Strickberger
Timothy Tubbs
Katherine Wheatley

Yolanda Savage-Narva, Executive Director
Emmy Cohen, Office Manager