Thomasenia Duncan


Founding Mother

Thomasenia P. Duncan, affectionately known as Tommie, passed on to eternal life April 23, 2024 after a brief illness.

Born on April 2, 1964, in New York City to proud parents, Alfred and Vivian Duncan, the family returned to Baltimore, Maryland where her grandmother, aunt, cousins, and extended family were a constant presence and an infinite source of loving support.

Tommie’s vibrant personality and authentic curiosity resulted in long-lasting friendships from childhood. She attended Roland Park Country Day School, where her passion for social justice and advocacy was nurtured. As a high school student, she interned at the State of Maryland Public Defenders Office in Baltimore City.

Tommie attended Brown University (Class of 1986) where she excelled academically and enriched campus life through her leadership in cultural arts programming. Her confidence, wry sense of humor and genuine spirit endeared her to a wide array of classmates, many of whom remain close friends.

Following college, Tommie pursued her commitment to advocacy and earned her J.D. at the University of Pennsylvania Law School (Class of 1989), where she was a member of the Penn Law Review. She completed her third year of law studies as a visiting student at Yale University Law School.

While Tommie started as a successful litigator at Covington & Burling, LLP, she couldn’t deny her calling to public and community service. Thus began a journey, more like a mission than a career, that leveraged her nimble intellect to become a remarkable woman of public service.

Staying rooted in her dedication to change the conditions that perpetuate voicelessness, Tommie invested her time and talents in a wide range of organizations.

She served as General Counsel to the Federal Election Commission, America’s Promise – The Alliance for Youth, and the Corporation for National and Community Service. She also served as Senior Legal Advisor to the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration; Acting Deputy Solicitor and Special Assistant to the Solicitor of the U.S. Department of Labor in the Clinton

Administration; and, in her most recent position, Panel Executive for the United States Judicial Panel on Multi-district Litigation. She was an elected member of the American Law Institute.

Tommie knew that mentoring the next generation of civic-minded activists was essential to assuring sustainable change. Accordingly, during her career, she taught at Georgetown University Law Center and at the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law.

Tommie is also a Founding Mother of the Washington Area Women’s Foundation, a community-supported foundation that invests in the power of women and girls of color in the Washington, D.C. region. She also served as President of the D.C. Rape Crisis Center Board and Vice-Chair of the Board of the Academy of Hope Adult Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. She served on the Edmund Burke School Board of Trustees and chaired its Equity and Inclusion Committee. Her love for young people also extended to membership in Jack and Jill of America, Inc., a historic organization focused on providing social, cultural, and educational opportunities for youth.

Tommie was a woman of deep faith and reverence. She was a member of New Bethel Baptist Church in Washington D.C, where she participated in a variety of ministry classes. 

Tommie’s intellect, charm, and joy were unparalleled. Anyone who met her instantly fell in love.

She enjoyed the beach, long walks, reading and listening to all kinds of music, especially Sade.

Her laughter was medicine for an enormous circle of friends. Her sound counsel was freely given and treasured.

Tommie and Rayner (Ray) Johnson formed a bond of deep and abiding love. As partners in life, they brought each other immense happiness. Ray’s commitment to caring for Tommie during her illness was a blessing to behold.

Tommie is survived by her son, Hunter Harold, who was the source of unmatched joy. Together, they traveled the world, explored thorny questions of social justice, cared for family, and committed to continuing their family legacy of excellence in service to others. She co-parented faithfully with Hunter’s father, Avron Harold. Tommie is also survived by her aunt Sylvia Banks Fisher, cousin Vivian Cidney Banks, cousin Eric A. Banks – EL and countless other family and friends.