Palisades Village is led by a highly qualified executive staff and board of directors with decades of high-level experience in a wide range of fields, who tirelessly work to help the organization fulfill its vision. Learn more about our staff and board below.
Erica Blanton, Executive Director
Erica Blanton came to Palisades Village in 2016 to coordinate programs and volunteers as well as manage the office. In her previous position, she worked with older adults as a Senior Transition Manager, sometimes helping them find more supportive housing but often making their current home work better so they could age in place. Before that she had an extensive career in advertising, marketing and communications, first with Earle Palmer Brown in Bethesda, Maryland where she advanced to the position of Vice President and Media Director, and then as a Partner and Managing Director for Harmonic International, LLC in Baltimore. She has also managed her own consulting firm. She volunteers with the Girl Scouts and various local arts organizations. Her daughter is enrolled at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts.
Anne Ourand, Assistant Director
Born and raised in Cleveland, Anne graduated from Xavier University before starting a career in social service work that included a stint with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, running the Emergency Services Department for a large non-profit in Great Falls, Montana and managing a child support agency in Cleveland. Anne moved to D.C. three decades ago to marry a seventh generation Washingtonian. She almost immediately started working for SOME (So Others Might Eat) coordinating the Donations Department. After five years, Anne and her husband moved to London, where Anne took a job as the assistant director of the Hackney Volunteer Bureau. Anne returned to DC four years later to start a family and take up her old job at SOME. She also agreed to join the Palisades Community Association as its administrator. She raised three children: a son who graduated from Gonzaga High School and Temple University; a daughter who graduated from Georgetown Visitation and attends the College of Holy Cross; and another daughter who attends Visitation. She has been married to John, a sports journalist, for 27 years. Anne has been intimately involved in the Palisades neighborhood since moving here in 1999.
Claudia de Colstoun, President, Kent
Claudia de Colstoun is a Leadership Coach and Mediator. She has recently retired from the Inter-American Development Bank Group (IDBG) where she had an exceptional career path, cultivating deep understanding of mediation, human resources, coaching, business operations and corporate management. Having led the IDBG’s Human Capital Strategy, she applied extensive strategy development experience to all aspects of recruiting, talent management, HR best practices and policy, with particular expertise in program development and implementation related to conflict management and resolution, facilitation, and negotiation. She has lived extensively in Latin America, North America and Europe, is fluent in four languages, and a champion of cultural diversity, committed to promoting mediation and coaching to encourage discussion, solve conflict and engender progress. She holds a Leadership Coaching Certificate from Georgetown University, an M.A. in International Relations from George Washington University, a B.A. in Political Science from Middlebury College, and a French Baccalaureate Degree from the Lycée Français in Caracas, Venezuela. She has been living in the Palisades with her family since 2012.
Susan Messina, Vice President, Palisades
Susan Messina has been working in nonprofit management, mostly as a fundraising and communications professional for health and human services organizations in the Washington, DC area since 1991. She is currently the Development Director for the Jewish Council on Aging, a position she was hired for in 2021. Most recently, Susan served as the Deputy Director at Iona Senior Services and previously was its Director of Development and Communications. Susan has volunteered in the LGBTQ community for many years, serving on the boards of the Mautner Project for Lesbians with Cancer, SMYAL (formerly the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League), and running support groups through Whitman-Walker Health and Rainbow Families. Her current volunteer work includes serving as a member of the Sibley Hospital Patients and Family Advisory Committee (PFAC) and co-chairing the ad hoc LGBTQ Aging Services Network. She has held leadership positions at the River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Bethesda, including co-chairing a $3.1 million capital campaign in 2014-15. Susan holds a bachelor’s degree from Bryn Mawr College, two master’s degrees from the Bryn Mawr Graduate School of Social Work & Social Research, and a master’s in library and information science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She and her wife have lived in the Palisades since 2001 and sent their daughter to DC Public Schools.
Elaine Bole, Secretary, Kent
Ellen Myerberg, Treasurer
Ellen has 40 years of experience as an accountant or Director of Finance for a variety of non-profit or governmental organizations including the Montgomery Housing Opportunities Commission, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Environmental Law Institute, and the Wellness Community. Her duties during this period varied from overseeing all accounting and finance activities to being responsible for various specialized accounting activities.
She currently volunteers at Palisades Village in the office. She also volunteers with The Smithsonian Associates, Learning Ally, and at the Blackwater Wildlife refuge in Cambridge, Maryland. Ellen holds a BA from Duke University, and MPA from Cornell University and an MBA from University of Maryland.
Lydia Benson, Spring Valley
Lydia Benson grew up in a small town in Illinois and received her undergraduate and master's degrees from Stanford University before moving to DC over 30 years ago. She is a leading Associate Broker and Realtor with Christie's | Long & Foster. She is highly active in a broad range of cultural, educational and community service endeavors throughout the DMV. She has served as the President of the All Hallows Guild of the Washington National Cathedral, the Washington Group, the Ukrainian American Federation of Business and Professional Associations, and the Stanford Association of Washington. Additionally, she has served on the Board of Governors for the National Cathedral School, and has served on the Board of Directors for Adventure Theatre and the Petite Society of Washington. She was the 3x Chairwoman of the Washington National Cathedral Flower Mart, and a past Chairwoman of the Palisades Village House Tour. A proud Ukrainian-American, she lives in Spring Valley with her husband, local veterinarian Randy Benson, and has two grown daughters, Lida and Sophia.
Job Dittberner, Spring Valley
Walter Hamsher, Berkley
Other volunteer duties include 13 years as track coach for McLean Youth Track, Controller at Immanuel Presbyterian Church in McLean, 20 years as a chaperone for church youth volunteering for Habitat, 20-year member of International Mission Committee at church, principle role in sponsoring two immigrant families who resettled in the US, one from Iran and one from Iraq, 10 years with the I Have a Dream Foundation mentoring youth in Anacostia, and other volunteer efforts.
Sharon Dalton Hays, Palisades
Sharon lived on Long Island as a kid, then moved to Iowa. She attended college at the University of Wisconsin, graduated with a BA. Sharon resided in San Francisco and eventually ended up in Boston where she received a Masters and married her husband, John Hays. While in Boston Sharon established a group home for teenagers who were wards of the state. She remained there for seven years and had two daughters. John and Sharon spent 8 years on a 100-acre farm in Maine tending chickens, goats, cows, horses, turkeys, sheep. In 1977, the Hays family moved to DC to try managing the Phoenix, located in Georgetown. The store specializes in Mexican imports and was started by John’s parents in the 1950’s. Shortly after they moved into the area, John’s father died and they have been involved in the business ever since. In the 1990’s and early 2000’s, Sharon has traveled the world and visited over 10 countries, volunteered with USAID and mentored small businesses in remote locations, and thoroughly enjoyed this experience.
As Sharon tells it, “It’s been quite an adventure, and I always tell the story about how we, and several other neighbors, read about this cool idea in Boston — a Village! We met at a picnic table on Sherier Place in 2007…and the rest is history — Palisades Village!”
William Iverson, Spring Valley
Charles Lanman, Foxhall
Charles B. Lanman, Jr. is a retired bank trust officer. As a local boy, he graduated from St. John’s College High School. He is a graduate of George Washington University and received a J.D. degree from George Mason Law School. He spent 34 years in the banking business after law school and was the Senior Vice President and Manager of the trust department of Burke & Herbert Bank in Alexandria, Virginia for the last 12 years of his career. He has helped organize the annual Estate Planning Seminar for Palisades Village since 2013. He is an active member of the Rotary Club of Alexandria. Mr. Lanman started volunteering for Palisades Village in 2011 and was a board member for a two-year term in 2012.
Charlie and his wife Mary have lived in Foxhall Village since 1990. They have 2 children, Michael age 31 and Claire age 28. Charlie is an avid cyclist and does a C&O Canal trip annually with other residents. He also enjoys golf and spending long weekends in Rappahannock County.
Char Mollison, Palisades
Char Mollison is a member of Palisades Village, a former board member, and an active volunteer with the Palisades Pan Handlers.
She has over 35 years of experience leading, managing and advising nonprofit organizations. She is currently Senior Fellow of the Center on Nonprofits, Philanthropy and Social Enterprise and a member of the Affiliated Faculty at George Mason University. She is also Senior Fellow of the Center for Advanced Governmental Studies at Johns Hopkins University and a member of the adjunct faculty there and at American University’s School of Public Affairs. Since 1997 she has taught graduate courses in nonprofit management, philanthropy, executive leadership, ethics, governance, and international NGO management and policy, both online and in the classroom.
As a consultant, she has advised government officials, nonprofit executives and boards in the U.S. and abroad, including Eastern and Central Europe, Latin America, China, Central Asia, Bangladesh and Africa. She is a Fellow of the Salzburg Global Seminar on the subject of nongovernmental organizations and civil society.
Her career began in 1977 at a national advocacy organization called WEAL where she staffed a national toll-free hotline for complaints of discrimination against women in sports. Later, as WEAL’s executive director, she developed the team of volunteers and staff and raised the financial support that resulted in several new laws relating to women’s legal and economic advancement. For the next 17 years she held senior positions at the Council on Foundations, an association of grantmakers, and at Independent Sector, a coalition of U.S.-based nonprofits and philanthropies.
She is currently a board officer for CAF America, part of a global network managing the international grantmaking of corporate, foundation and individual donors. She will assume the role of CAF America board chair in April 2022.
Besides Palisades Village, her other board service has included the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, which sets standards for nonprofit organizations; the New Faculty Majority Foundation, dedicated to research and public information about the working conditions of adjunct and contingent faculty; Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington; the House of Ruth, a nonprofit that serves homeless women and their children; and Partners of Tanzania’s Relief and Development, an NGO that supports programs in some of the poorest, rural areas in Tanzania.
She earned her undergraduate degree at Michigan State University where she was a co-founder, editor and reporter for “The Paper,” an independent, nonprofit community newspaper (part of the underground press movement in the U.S.) covering issues ignored by the commercial press.
Later she earned her master’s degree in comparative literature from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.
Her late husband was Andy Mollison, a former board chair of Palisades Village and a leader regionally and nationally in the aging-in-place movement. He was also an award-winning journalist, a president of the National Press Club, and part of the team at the Detroit Free Press that won a Pulitzer Prize for covering the urban protests after the death of Martin Luther King Jr. Char still lives in their 1926 Sears bungalow in the Palisades. An opera and baseball fanatic, she gives talks about opera to other fanatics and with her companion, Palisades Village member Richard Darilek, follows the minutia of the Washington Nationals baseball team.
Arne Paulson, Foxhall
A native of Washington DC, Arne moved to Foxhall Village in 1956 and still lives in the family home bought by his parents in 1961. He is a graduate of Sidwell Friends School, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, and Tufts’ Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, where he obtained a Master’s Degree in 1976. Professionally, Arne pursued a career in international development, working as an economist in a number of international organizations, including the World Bank, UNCTAD (Geneva), the International Energy Agency (Paris), and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), from which he retired in 2007. Arne has been active in community service work, including participating as a past Board member and Vice President of the Foxhall Community Citizens Association. Arne and his wife Sara have been active members of Palisades Village, and are credited with developing Palisades Village’s “associate member” category, which has successfully increased the association’s membership and financial base. He has previously served on the Palisades Village board and chaired the Fundraising Committee. He is a current member of the Endowment Campaign and Finance Committees.
Kate Montague Perry, Palisades
Kate graduated from Wesleyan University with a BA in English Literature, with a semester at the University of London while interning for a Member of Parliament. She also earned a J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center. Kate retired five years ago from the Environmental Protection Agency after 25 years of natural resource protection and public policy advocacy, and after having worked first in historic preservation law at the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and National Trust for Historic Preservation. She currently volunteers as a Board member of the US chapter of the international organization ICOMOS which works to preserve World Heritage Sites, serves on the Historic Preservation Subcommittee of the Committee of 100 on the Federal City, and serves on the Holton-Arms Alumnae Board. Beginning with her retirement Kate has volunteered for Palisades Village's House Tour and Events Committee that organizes events and social activities.