Whirlwind Johnson Foundation | Board of Directors
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Board of Directors

Lange Johnson | Grandson of Dr. Whirlwind Johnson

Lange Johnson is the grandson of Dr. Robert Walter “Whirlwind” Johnson. A former nationally ranked junior tennis player, who also played tennis professionally in 1983. Recently, Johnson was the Vice President of Operations at Direct Holdings Global, parent company to brands like Time Life, StarVista Live, Lifestyle Products Group and KitchenTek. Mr. Johnson brings more than 25 years of executive leadership and business experience in the communications, entertainment, DRTV, fitness and non-profit sectors. He has a track record of streamlining and automating complex business processes, while delivering revenue uplift and bottom-line savings in the tens of millions.

Jolynn Johnson Smith | Granddaughter of Dr. Whirlwind Johnson

Jolynn Johnson Smith, the granddaughter of Dr. Robert Walter “Whirlwind” Johnson, grew up in Washington, DC’s Dupont Circle neighborhood, in a family of competitive tennis players and educators. She attended Catholic elementary and high school and her first two years of college were spent in Nashville, TN at Fisk University, where she was the only female on the Men’s Tennis Team. Jolynn graduated from Howard University with a Masters in Mass Communication and a Bachelor’s degree in Radio & Television.

Claude Bailey

Mr. Bailey has been the principal legal advisor on three of the most high-profile public projects in the D.C. area in the past decade, including the construction of the new Washington Nationals Baseball Stadium and the construction and operation of the Washington Convention Center and MCI Center, now known as the Verizon Center. Since 2005 Mr. Bailey served as general counsel to the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission. His contributions included helping select a master developer for the Ballpark District; negotiating complex lease, labor and construction administration agreements; gathering the required political and local community support; and promoting the use of local, small and minority-owned businesses by the Commission. He also advised the Commission and its mayoral appointed board on government contracts, governance issues, and assisted in negotiations between the Commission and Major League Baseball.

Bobette Bland Banks

Bobette Banks has been fortunate to spend her professional career in the communications field, first in television production and most recently in the real estate and mortgage industries. Banks currently serves as the Director of Communications for the Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors® and the Greater Washington Commercial Association of Realtors®, where she directs communications to more than 10,000 Realtors® and commercial real estate brokers in the Washington metropolitan area. Prior to her current position, Banks spent 15 years in marketing communications at Fannie Mae, and also worked in marketing for Shannon and Luchs Realtors®, where she hosted their weekly home buying television show. She also worked as a television director for the Satellite Education Network, and was the first host of the Virginia Lottery’s nightly drawing show.

Bryan Fratkin

Bryan Fratkin is the founder and CEO of Whistle Stop Digital, a digital strategy firm specializing in innovative issue advocacy, PAC and grassroots campaigns and makers of the industry-leading digital advocacy software platform SparkInfluence®. Since 2007, Bryan has worked with organizations across the country, empowering their stakeholders through technology to reach their legislators and affect change on the state and federal level. A native Washingtonian, Bryan was lucky enough to learn the game from the Johnson family, eventually playing for the Emory University tennis team and teaching tennis in the DC Area.

Ken Friedli

Mr. Friedli was the Chief Financial Officer for Lifestyle and Entertainment Direct comprised of Direct Holdings Americas Inc. (entertainment direct response) and Direct Entertainment Media Group (lifestyle direct response). Mr. Friedli was responsible for all financial and fiscal management aspects of these businesses including the business planning, budgeting, forecasting, and accounting efforts.


Mr. Friedli was born and raised in Michigan. He attended The University of Michigan and graduated in 1992 with Bachelor’s degrees in History and Actuarial Mathematics. He was awarded a Masters of Business Administration with a concentration in Finance from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C in 1998. Mr. Friedli resides in Arlington, Virginia, with his wife, Christina. They have a family of three children – Josephine, Parker, and Grayson.

Rita Giles

Rita G. Giles, is a native of Lynchburg, Virginia. Rita was educated in the Public Schools of Lynchburg, before attending the following colleges and universities of Virginia: Hampton (Institute) University, The College of William and Mary, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute. Rita has over 35 years’ experience as a public school educator, college instructor, counselor, and consultant. As an educator, she has worked with special needs and at-risk youth and providing academic instruction as an adjunct professor for numerous universities in the Washington Metropolitan area. In addition, Dr. Giles has served on numerous Boards and committees involving public and educational service; made a plethora of presentations at regional and national conferences, and is a recognized resource in the education field. Currently, she works as a consultant for a non-profit organization and teaches counseling and special needs classes on the graduate level. In her leisure, Dr. Giles is a passionate devoted tennis player where her skills are recognized as a nationally ranked senior women’s player.

Henry Kennedy Jr.

Henry Harold Kennedy Jr. (born February 22, 1948) is a former United States District Judge for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Born in Columbia, South Carolina, Kennedy received an A.B. from Princeton University in 1970 and a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1973. Following graduation, he worked for the law firm of Reavis, Pogue, Neal and Rose in Washington, D.C.. Subsequent to this he was an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia between 1973 and 1976.


He served as a United States Magistrate for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia between 1976 and 1979. He was appointed Associate Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia in December 1979 where he served until he was appointed as a federal judge in September 1997. On May 15, 1997, Kennedy was nominated by President Clinton to a seat on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia vacated by Joyce Hens Green. Kennedy was confirmed by the United States Senate on September 4, 1997, and received his commission on September 18, 1997. He retired on November 18, 2011.

Leverne Marshall

Leverne Marshall is a native of Wilmington, North Carolina. A former ranked junior player, Division 2 Champion at New Hanover High School. Earned all CIAA honors all four years at Fayetteville State University and was Inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame at Fayetteville State University in 1990 for Tennis. Marshall was a Teacher, Coach, and Principal for 35 years. He received a B. S. Degree in Elementary Education from Fayetteville State University, a M. Ed. from James Madison University in Counseling, and a M. Ed. From Western Michigan University in Educational Leadership.


Leverne is a member of PHI DELTA KAPPA, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, INC. , and Prince Hall Grand Lodge, F. & Masons.

Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III

Political Scientist Wilmer J. Leon, lll, Ph.D. is a Political Commentator, Nationally Syndicated Columnist with the National Newspapers Publishers Association (NNPA) and the Host of the nationally broadcast three-hour call-in talk radio program Inside The Issues with Wilmer Leon” airing live nationally every Saturday at 11am est. on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio channel 128 “The Power.” The show rebroadcasts on Sundays at noon. A Teaching Associate in the Department of Political Science at Howard University in Washington, Dr. Leon writes and delivers commentary for a variety of national media outlets including Root.com, TheGrio.com, TruthOut.org, CNN, NPR.org, MSNBC, The Maynard Institute.com, Politicsincolor.com and many others.

Jill Roberts

Jill W. Roberts, M.S. is a Western Montana–based freelance medical and scientific writer and tennis enthusiast who contributes her event planning and communications talents to the Foundation. As someone who learned tennis later in life, she became interested in supporting Dr. Johnson’s project when she learned that he also wanted everyone he met to learn to play tennis.

Evan Smith

Evan is the great-grandson of Dr. Robert “Whirlwind” Johnson. He spent four years as the Director of Community Outreach at the Academy Center of the Arts in Lynchburg, Virginia, and he currently serves as the Program Coordinator at Diversity Richmond, a nonprofit LGBTQ+ organization. Evan attended Randolph College in Lynchburg, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in Philosophy.