Our Staff

These dedicated individuals keep us on track.

Dawna M. Jones (she/her/hers), Director

101 Flowers Building
Box 90880
919.684.3814
dawna.jones@duke.edu

Dawna is a dedicated social worker, student affairs professional, and community advocate. A New Jersey native, Dawna has lived and worked in North Carolina since 2013, coming to Duke most recently from the Dean of Students office at UNC Chapel Hill. With over 10 years of student affairs experience, she has worked in crisis and case management, housing and residential life, and multicultural and first-generation student support. Dawna gives back to the higher education community by serving as a faculty member in the Higher Education Case Management Association's (HECMA) foundations program and as an active NASPA member. An engaged Chapel Hill resident, Jones was named the 2020 Young Professional of the Year by the Chapel Hill – Carrboro Chamber of Commerce for her service to the Chapel Hill Housing Advisory Board and leadership roles within the Chapel Hill - Carrboro NAACP and the Democratic Women of Orange County. Dawna is also a NEXT30 Board Member with the Southern Environmental Law Center and a graduate of the NAACP NextGen program. Jones has also been recognized with ACPA’s Pan-African Network 30 under 40 award for civic engagement. Dawna holds degrees in Sociology (BA), Higher Education Management (M.Ed.) and Social Work (MSW) and is currently pursuing her doctorate in Transformative Leadership for Civic and Community Engagement at the North Carolina A&T State University.

Outside of work and community service Dawna loves movies, reading and dining out with friends.

Quinton Smith, Associate Director

101 Flowers Building
Box 90880
919.684.3814
quinton.smith@duke.edu

Quinton “Q.” Smith was born and raised near the small town of Dillwyn in central Virginia and remained there until he left to attend college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  After completing his B.A. in Interpersonal and Organizational Communications, Quinton spent nearly a decade working in community mental health at varying levels before returning to UNC Chapel Hill for a Master of Social Work degree, focusing on community management and policy practice. This return to school reignited Quinton’s passion for working with marginalized communities in higher education, leading him to accept a position at the Sanford School of Public Policy here at Duke, spearheading their Committee on Diversity and Inclusion. Quinton eventually decided to return to Carolina yet again—this time to pursue his PhD in Social Work—and is actively in the midst of his studies. 

When not working or studying, Quinton enjoys mentoring Black young adults, playing video games, watching movies, listening to music, engaging in photography, cooking for others, and spending time with his wife and daughters.

 

Samaiyah Faison, Assistant Director

101 Flowers Building
Box 90880
919.684.3814
samaiyah.faison@duke.edu

Samaiyah Faison spent most of her childhood in the Bay Area of Northern California in a city called Cupertino. She has been residing in Raleigh, NC where she obtained her Bachelors in Social work with a minor in Women’s Studies. Samaiyah Faison has been an important part of the Duke Student Affairs community for five years. She is very passionate and excited about working with students. She enjoys working with students and providing mentorship, a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on. It was this passion for working with students that made her work on Black Muslim Talk Space and Friendsgiving some of the most enjoyable times.

Samaiyah has many years of experience in case management working with children with developmental delays and mental health issues both in Durham County and the Five counties of northern North Carolina such as Vance County, Warren County to name a few. She has a bachelors in social work and is looking to pursue her Master’s degree very soon. Samaiyah is wife, a mother to a beautiful daughter and a Gigi to her granddaughter who is always teaching her to value the beauty of life.

Ann El, Staff Assistant

101 Flowers Building
Box 90880
919.684.3814
ann.el@duke.edu

Ann was born and raised in Durham, NC. She is the mother of two wonderful children, son and a daughter both residing in Durham. In addition, she enjoys spending time with her parents and twin grandchildren, boy and a girl. She loves to travel, bowl, play pool, comedy shows, concerts, just to name a few past time activities.

Duke has been her home away from home for the past 22 years. She was on the Health System side for 19 years and University side for 3 years. I enjoy working with the faculty, staff, and students. She is passionate, caring, great listener and dedicated.

Johnna Lambert, Programming & Engagement Fellow

101 Flowers Building
Box 90880
919.684.3814
johnna.lambert@duke.edu

Johnna Lambert is the Programming and Engagement Fellow and a Class of 2021 Graduate. She is originally from the Bronx and studied Visual Media Studies, African/African American Studies, and Cinematic Arts. In her free-time she enjoys writing, filmmaking, animation, and occasionally falling into YouTube rabbit holes.

Abele Ambassadors

Undergraduate & Graduate and Professional Students

The Abele Ambassadors are undergraduate, graduate and/or professional students who work in our office, to complete front desk tasks, answer the phone, manage social media, design marketing materials, help install gallery exhibits, assist with special projects and PROMOTE the work of the Center by serving as Ambassadors, Interns or Fellows. These are part-time, paid positions working at least 5-10 hours per week. Student status is required. Federal or Duke work-study is preferred. The ambassadors have outgoing/engaging personality, strong organizational skills, demonstrated teamwork and leadership skills, computer literacy, office skills, creativity and an interest in Black People, Culture, History and the myriad of contributions we have made and are making at Duke and in the world.