Board of Directors
Dan Costello is a partner of management consulting for Bert Smith & Co. Certified Public Accounts. He has over 18 years of experience in financial management consulting, business process improvement, financial system implementation, audit, and internal control assessment. He received a BS in Business Administration and Accounting from Kansas State University and a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Kansas. Dan has resided in the Washington DC area for over 16 years. He is an avid supporter of theatre, dance, and live performances in the DC area. He believes that art and culture are a powerful tool for economic development. Dan currently serves as the Vice Chair of the Capital Fringe Festival Board of Trustees and previously served on the Board of Trustees of Metro Stage Theater. He is the Treasurer of the Board of Trustees for Samaritan Ministry which provides employment assistance to the homeless. He also serves on the board of the Washington area Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA).
Caroline Smith DeWaal
Caroline Smith DeWaal is a lawyer and a long-time member of the non-profit advocacy community in Washington, D.C. Since 1994, she has directed the food safety portfolio for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a health and nutrition group that publishes Nutrition Action Healthletter. A long-time dancer at Maryland Youth Ballet, in 2006 DeWaal created and ran the Friends of Maryland Youth Ballet at a time when the school was facing challenges with its locations in Bethesda and transitioning to Silver Spring. DeWaal originated the e-mail newsletter that facilitated communications between the school’s management and it adult students and parents. DeWaal transitioned MYB Friends after the move to new leadership, and the group remained active for several years, coordinating several fundraising activities to support the school. DeWaal also co-chairs the Global Mitzvah Project for Temple Emanuel in Kensington Maryland, which funds projects in developing countries through Temple-based activities.
Gihan Fernando, Vice Chairman of Board of Directors
Gihan Fernando joined the Dakshina board after being inspired and moved by a number of the company’s performances. A native of Sri Lanka, Gihan grew up all over Africa before moving to the US to attend college. He is an assistant dean at Georgetown University Law Center, and recently served as President of the board of his professional association, NALP (the Association of Legal Career Professionals.) Gihan lives in Washington, DC, a city he has long considered home.
Jess Gersky became interested in helping Dakshina after attending a Fall Festival of Indian Arts. She sees the arts as crucial to keeping a community vibrant and appreciates Dakshina’s pluralistic vision, its relevance to the growing So Asian community, and its participation in promoting cross-cultural understanding. As a non-profit executive for over 25 years, Jess brings her experience in governance, donor relations, and marketing and planning to her board service. She is a graduate of SUNY Buffalo and holds a masters degree from Harvard University. Her natural curiosity and passion for travel have taken her to over 45 countries, including four visits to India and, most recently, to Bhutan and Nepal.
Paul Isakson, Chairman of Board of Directors
Paul Isakson joined Dakshina’s Board in the fall of 2008. He learned of Dakshina simply by attending several performances and being affected in a very positive way. After the Fall Festival show at the Lincoln Theatre, he offered to lend a hand and was invited to join the Board. Born and raised in North and South Dakota, Paul studied mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology near Boston, and then pursued his dream job as an automotive engineer at the Ford Motor Company. While there, he began to learn about Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) as well as Lean and Six Sigma, going on to become a certified Six Sigma Black Belt in 2000 and teaching these methods to fellow employees. Along the way, he fell in love with teaching. In 2001 he entered government service and helped found the Navy’s LeanSixSigma College, serving as it’s first lead instructor. Paul moved to DC in the fall of 2007 and continues to work for the Department of Defense as a Master Black Belt. Currently, his principle duties include teaching, facilitating teams, and strategizing how organizations can continually improve everything they do–all skills he hopes to use to help Dakshina focus, grow and excel even more.
Minakshi Krishnan is a healthcare management consultant in the Washington DC area. Her educational background is in Pharmacy, Biotechnology and Health Administration. Minakshi’s involvement with Dakshina began in 2007 as a volunteer at the Fall festival and then as an active dancer. She has performed with Dakshina extensively over the last few years. Minakshi has significant experience with non-profits, participating in the fundraising efforts of the Whitman Walker Clinic and the AIDS Marathon program and serving several roles with AID (Association for India’s Development) and Asha for Education. Most recently she was the Fundraising Director for Asha for Education, a non-profit organization dedicated to change in India by focusing on basic education in the belief that education is a critical requisite for socio-economic change.
Daniel Phoenix Singh, President and Artistic Director
Daniel Phoenix Singh is the Artistic Director and President of Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh Dance Company. Under his leadership, the company has won many awards and has become one of the leading companies in the DC area. Singh holds an MFA in Dance and a Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies from the University of Maryland. He also holds a Laban Movement Analyst Certificate from the Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies in New York City. He received a baccalaureate degree in Dance and Computer Science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Singh trained in Bharata Natyam with Guru Meena Telikicherla of Nrityanjali, Maryland for several years. Singh’s most recent explorations in dance include Cuban/Colombian variations of Salsa and Merengue with Javier Varela and Shawn Malone and he is currently studying Argentine Tango with Sharna Fabiano.