Messay Derebe is the General Director of the Anacostia Arts Center. A seasoned leader with a diverse career that spans finance, arts management, social impact, and government service, she rejoins Wacif after previously serving as the founding Program Director of the Enterprising Women of Color Business Center.
Her professional journey began at Ernst & Young, where she conducted audits for midsized and Fortune 500 companies before obtaining a master’s degree in Arts Management from Carnegie Mellon University and transitioning to a career focused on social impact.
Derebe most recently served as an appointee in the Department of Commerce’s Implementation Coordination (CIC) office, a new office charged with ensuring the efficient distribution of over $110 billion dollars nationally in funding via legislation such as the Biden administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure (BIL) Law. Derebe played a vital role in overseeing the launch of the Minority Business Development Agency’s (MBDA) Capital Readiness Program, a $125 million initiative aimed at helping minorities and other underserved entrepreneurs grow and scale their businesses.
Derebe is a former Program Officer at the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, the largest private, independent foundation focused exclusively on the Washington, D.C. area. She managed a $2.3 million grants portfolio dedicated to supporting various DMV-based nonprofits spanning arts, humanities, education, the environment, and capacity building.
An ardent supporter of the arts and a firm believer in the importance of expanding opportunities for all, Derebe co-founded goARTful, a groundbreaking subscription service for art, with the aim of enhancing accessibility to the visual arts market.
In addition to her professional pursuits, she plays violin in her downtime and takes great joy in experiencing the rich arts landscape that D.C. has offers.