125 full time staff. 250 volunteers. 3,500 members.
From interns to ushers, artists to donors, NJPAC is the most diverse performing arts center in the nation with the best people on the planet. We come from many backgrounds. We’ve taken many journeys to get here. And we’re all proud to be part of the NJPAC community. Click the menu and get to know our senior management, leadership team, committee members and arts education faculty. We can’t wait to meet you.
“I fell in love with the theater and I thought, I don’t know how, but I want to be part of that.”
I grew up in Queens, and I lived at the last stop on the subway. Starting at the age of nine, my parents let me take the subway into the city, and they gave me $5, and I could buy a seat in the balcony at a Broadway show. I have memories of seeing Carol Channing in Hello Dolly, Angela Lansbury in Mame, Linda Lavin in It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Superman. And I fell in love with the theater and with what it felt like to be transported into another world. I thought that was the greatest.
And I thought, I don’t know how, but I want to do that. I want to be part of that. When I went to college, I ran a concert series, and I started a summer theater. And I just knew that I needed to be in this universe somehow. I went to work for George Wein, who was the founder of the Newport Jazz Festival. I’ve been doing this sort of thing in music and theater and television and festivals ever since. And it’s been a glorious ride.
I’m especially proud that Savion Glover has become such an engaged and active part of our family here. Savion has this amazing ability to connect and inspire young people, give them a sense of confidence in themselves, a feeling of ownership of the development of the work they’re doing.
This past summer, he directed and choreographed a new production of The Tap Dance Kid, which he starred in when he was 11 on Broadway. To watch him recreate this work with a bunch of kids, three quarters of whom have never been on the stage before, it’s just magical. I can’t imagine that any of the children who are in that cast will ever forget what it is like to spend six weeks with a genius who is as kind as Savion is. It’s one thing to be a genius, another thing to be kind. To combine those two things in service of young people’s growth is very moving to me. I don’t care whether they become dentists or accountants or dancers or actors or whatever, man, it’s going to stick with them.
“How do I take business skills and apply them in a way that has more community impact?”
I started my career in business, working with Fortune 500 companies on business planning and strategy. While I was getting my MBA, my vision became: How do I take business skills and apply them in a way that has more community impact? So after business school, I became part of a consulting team that applied business planning to nonprofit management.
I knew NJPAC because I lived in New Jersey since 1998 and enjoyed visiting. But I really got introduced to the business side of things through a competition that NJPAC had entered for its One Theater Square real estate development. As it happened, I was one of the approved consultants for this competition and I was matched with NJPAC to work on the project. I really liked the team here and continued to consult for NJPAC on other issues. Then the CFO position opened up, and I wanted to be a full-time part of the team. I was CFO for six years and then became COO.
NJPAC is a really unique place. The biggest thing that hits me is how it has influenced change in the city of Newark over the 20-odd years that I’ve been in New Jersey. Just yesterday, I was at the downtown Whole Foods after work to buy some tomatoes. I was there at 6 pm, and the place was packed. But the parking lot was empty, which means that the vast majority of customers had walked from their office or their home. And the idea that people would be walking around downtown after dark to buy some tomatoes was not how people thought of Newark 20 years ago.
But the way this evolution is happening feels very organic and inclusive. It feels authentic. The people moving here are invested in this community. They work in this community, they study in this community. They want to be a part of the community as participants, not gentrifiers. Downtown Newark is not just a business district anymore, but a business, residential and arts community that’s rising up. And NJPAC was the catalyst that started it all.
“For artists, NJPAC is more than a stop on a tour—they’re part of our community.”
I was born in Newark and was a full-time musician on the road with groups ranging from Max Roach to Tito Puente to the Rochester Philharmonic. Over the course of the years, I studied at Juilliard, the Eastman School of Music and Mansfield University. I worked at Carnegie Hall, Aaron Davis Hall, AOL Live and the Apollo Theater. The opportunity arose to work at NJPAC and not just fill the seats, but to create diverse programs that resonate beyond the four walls of the venue.
A lot of touring artists go on stage in a different city every night. They might have a little sign taped to the piano that says the name of the city. “I’m so glad to be here in…Newark!” What we try and do here is to make artists feel like NJPAC is more than a stop on a tour—that they’re part of our community.
Kevin Hart came here right after Hurricane Sandy, and we arranged for him to spend the day talking to local young people about comedy. He went out to dinner before his performance and was half an hour late coming back. We asked his driver, What happened? Kevin had gone out and bought $50,000 worth of Home Depot cards to give to first responders and families who were impacted by the hurricane. Because he interacted with our community and had a connection with our community.
When artists come to NJPAC for the second, third, hundredth time, they don’t need that little sign on the corner of their piano to remind them where they are. They remember the face of the child they met last time. This goes for our audiences as well as our artists. Once you see that you’re part of our family, you’re part of the soul of our organization—a place where you can grow artistically, spiritually, educationally, whatever it might be.
“I see it in the kids’ faces. This is why we do what we do.”
I grew up in Fairview, New Jersey. When I was in junior high, from my classroom I could see the skyline of New York. I used to always think: That’s where I want to be. I was intrigued with the “City,” being taken there by family for Broadway shows—I just loved it. I attended William Paterson University and worked in New York City for many years which included fundraising positions at MoMA, the New York Philharmonic and Columbia University. I always said, if I was ever going to go for a job in New Jersey, it would have to be NJPAC. (In fact, I had been on a hard-hat tour when it was under construction in the ‘90s.) In 2017, the timing worked, and I was ready for NJPAC at the same time they were looking for someone with my expertise.
In the first few months of my arriving, NJPAC screened the film Hidden Figures for students as part of our Arts Education SchoolTime program. It was Lee Cooperman, one of our generous donors, who wanted the kids to see this film. Several people, including Lee, spoke before the movie started. They spoke to the students so authentically about their own experiences, and expressed how happy they were to have the students at NJPAC. Then the film started, and the kids were cheering at all the right times and they were really getting it in a meaningful way. And I thought: You know, this is not an everyday field trip. This felt very different to me—unique. We have an incredible base of donors from individuals to major corporations and foundations— their generosity is what allows us to do all this important work in Arts Education and serving our community.
I’ve seen it over and over again since I’ve been here. We don’t just invite students here, do a show and send them home. It’s much more authentic than that. I see it in their faces, how much they appreciate the words being said and how inspired they are by the total experience. This is why we do what we do. I feel like the way we approach arts education and our work in the community is different because the people involved bring so much of themselves to it.
“There was nary a time that I didn’t spend thinking about some aspect of Newark’s redevelopment.”
I’ve spent most of my career dedicated towards the redevelopment of the great state of New Jersey. Having spent 20 some-odd years working in the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, where I spent most of my time focused on urban redevelopment, I worked on just about every significant project here in the Brick City of Newark, including the original construction of NJPAC and more recently our own One Theater Square. I’m born and raised in Jersey, did my undergraduate and graduate work here at Rutgers Newark and from then on, there was nary a time that I didn’t spend thinking about some aspect of Newark’s redevelopment.
And now I’ve joined the team here at NJPAC to lead its mission of helping to revitalize the city of Newark through its real estate development. It’s not by accident. It was intentionally envisioned by Governor Kean that NJPAC would be a catalyst for redevelopment by its operation and by actively developing the lands surrounding to create a vibrant 24-7 community.
I get such satisfaction to walk around downtown Newark and see the impact of the projects I have worked on. I recall going to school here at Rutgers and I would come up Broad Street. I passing a steel structure that sat unfinished for the entire time I was going to undergraduate—four years—down by what is now the Marriott Hotel. It was an illustration of redevelopment gone bad. You start a project, you put the steel in the ground, and then you abandon it in place. It’s never a good sign. Now when I come up Broad Street, there’s there the Indigo Hotel, Prudential Tower, Hahnes Redevelopment, One Theater Square and more. It’s inspiring to see.
“I need to sit on the other side of the table if I want to see more people that look like me in the arts.”
I come to the arts as an opera singer, which, for a woman of color, is a very different career choice. As I was studying and auditioning, I began to see that there were too few people who looked like me sitting on the decision-making side of the table. As my life in the arts progressed, I made the conscious choice to stop my opera career, thinking: I need to sit on the other side of the table if I want to see more people that look like me in the arts.
So, I got an MA in higher education administration and worked at The Juilliard School. One of my responsibilities was to help recruit underserved and underrepresented students. When I travelled for recruitment trips, I would meet many students that dreamed of attending Juilliard. I saw that there’s the need for more places to increase access to the arts earlier in their trajectory, giving a foundation for creating “artist citizens.”
At NJPAC arts education we believe in creating artist citizens: young people who make and create in the arts as a way of understanding the world. This connects why it is important to sit on this side of the table and to create an artistic home for our students. Through targeted efforts with schools and communities, we have moved from students who had never come to NJPAC to now more than 50% of the kids in a SchoolTime audience who will say, “Oh, I’ve been here before. This is my second time.” Or, “I’ve been here. Let me show you where the bathroom is.” When a child can tell you, “The bathroom’s over here,” then that feels like their home. When I see that in our children, it brings such pride for me in what we’re doing and feels like we’re creating a community.
“I became so moved by the show that I got up out of my seat and started singing and dancing in the aisle.”
My parents are big theatergoers. They took me at age four to see Hello Dolly, which was my first Broadway show. My seminal moment happened when I became so moved by the show that I got up out of my seat, started singing and dancing in the aisle and experienced pure bliss. In elementary school, I learned to play clarinet and piano. In middle school and high school I was in concert band, marching band, girls’ touring choir and performed in several musicals. I also joined the Broadway Theater Club. The first show we saw was the revival of Hello Dolly, starring Carol Channing. As aspiring thespians, we were invited to go back stage to meet Ms. Channing. That was my first star struck moment, and I loved it!
I will always remember the first show I attended at NJPAC. It was a George Winston concert right before the holidays. George came on stage barefoot and in overalls, despite the freezing cold temperatures. By contrast, the theater was warm, beautiful and uplifting. George asked each patron to bring a can of food for the needy. George’s gesture and NJPAC’s support to create a show with heart and community impact impressed me. Subsequently, I have created two solo cabaret shows for charity; both events benefitted a local food pantry. I thank George and NJPAC for that inspiration.
When a recruiter reached out to me about the head of Human Resources job at NJPAC, in my gut I knew this was the right fit. Where else could I combine the joy of what I do for a living with the joy of lifelong personal interests, in such a caring and transformative place? I feel enormous responsibility for the stewardship of our employees. I know that by doing my best to care for our employees, they in turn will do their best to carry on our very worthwhile mission and transformative activities educating children, developing diverse programming and engaging in our community.
Thanks to Hello Dolly, I’m still in awe of live performances, and grateful knowing the role I play now helps NJPAC in some way bring magic to others.
“I’ve never been a part of anything like opening night of a brand new performing arts center. It was magical.”
My career in theater operations started in the ninth grade, changing the marquee at the John Harms Theater in Englewood. Every couple weeks, they would call up and say, “Hey, we need you to change the marquee.” Along with that, I began cleaning the theater after concerts, and then working the concession stands. At one point I started working as a stage hand, and I then began hiring my friends to work as crew to load shows in and out. One day the executive director asked me if I wanted to come on full-time. So I kind of became the defacto “guy with the keys”. Years later, I was hired at NJPAC just before it opened in ’97. I then went on to work at the PNC Bank Art Center and Jones Beach Theater before returning to NJPAC in ’03.
My biggest NJPAC moment was the Opening Night Gala. There’s been other big shows, exciting events and great performances since then, but I’ve never been a part of anything like that opening night of a brand new performing arts center. It was magical, exciting, and nerve wracking…and I was thrilled to be a part of it! It was like a race to the starting line, and once the dust settled and that special night was over, someone yelled “Go!” With a classical concert on the Pru stage the next day, we were up and running!
To this day, you can tell which of our guests are here for the first time…eyes go wide open and jaws drop. It’s particularly fulfilling to see this happen to the kids, knowing that this is going to be a special, and hopefully inspiring, moment for them.
“I never thought I’d be in the arts. But now that I’m here, it feels like home.”
I originally wanted to be a math teacher. I was a math major, and I thought, Ooh, maybe I’ll become an accountant. I took business classes and finance classes, then I took a marketing class. All the people in finance were kind of boring and all the people in marketing were really fun. So I ended up doing a dual major in marketing. I worked for Student Life doing the marketing for all of the events on campus. I would create the posters, emails and table tents for distribution and loved it. I always felt I had a creative mind and once I found marketing, it was the right fit.
I always loved the arts, but I didn’t think of it as a possible profession. I kind of fell into it when I started working at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts doing concerts. Then I moved to another theater, doing marketing. I never thought I’d be in the arts. But now that I’m here, it feels like home. Like I shouldn’t be anywhere else.
I remember this moment when I really understood the impact of NJPAC. I was at a board meeting and Purple Haze, one of the hip hop teachers in our Arts Education program, had a little girl perform a rap. The girl explained that she was always shy. She just didn’t feel like she belonged. But when she took these hip hop classes at NJPAC, she found her voice and she found where she belonged. In front of all of these important donors, this supposedly shy little girl walked around that room and she rapped her heart out. I truly got chills. Because we do change lives and we give incredible opportunities to children.
“I have the opportunity to work with the best group of professionals I’ve ever known.”
I am a lifelong resident of New Jersey and was born and raised in Newark. I earned my Bachelor’s degree in accounting at the College of New Jersey, and my MBA in Finance at Rutgers Newark.
Although my education focus was in business, I always had a passion for the arts. As a college undergrad I acted in a number of campus stage productions, as well as with the local theater company. It was fun being part of it all and over time I got pretty good at it. But I didn’t know how good until my junior year. Just for fun, I read for a part in a production that was about to go on tour. And, I got it! It was decision time: Do I drop out of school and tour with the company, or do I continue my studies? I thought: This is fun, but if I have to do it for a living, it may not be fun anymore. So I turned down the part, and who knew I would still be involved it the arts so many years later?
I was a fan of NJPAC from its very beginning. In fact, I attended the grand opening performance and many after. But I didn’t realize how special it was until I saw their stage production of Some Like It Hot with Tony Curtis. It was an incredible show that rivaled any Broadway show I’d ever seen. I said to my wife, “Wait a minute, now. This place really has range.” At that point we subscribed to a series of Pop and Classical performances and never looked back.
I came to NJPAC in 2015 as the CFO after a long career as a financial professional in the horse racing industry and in sports and entertainment. NJPAC is a demanding workplace, but I have the opportunity to work with the best group of professionals I’ve ever known. Many of us never have an opportunity to stand on a stage. However, at the end of a long day we may get the opportunity to observe the crowds coming into this beautiful building or to hear thunderous applause. When I do, I take a bow in my mind for all the members of the magnificent NJPAC team that make it possible.
“I wanted to be part of the anchor cultural institution driving the resurgence of Newark.”
There’s three things I’m passionate about, and my job at NJPAC brings all of them together. The first is Newark. Both of my parents were born in Newark. My grandfather spent his entire career at Howard Savings Bank. I have a great-great uncle who ran for mayor of Newark in 1896. Newark has always been a big part of our family’s history, and I wanted to be part of the anchor cultural institution driving the resurgence of Newark.
The second thing I’m passionate about is women’s issues. That’s specifically why I took this role. I serve as Managing Director of the Woman’s Association of NJPAC, a dynamic group of women who raised over $52 million for NJPAC over the past 25 years. I’m really excited about the opportunity to use this platform to open up the doors to bring more people into NJPAC. We have an incredibly diverse community who represent not only the top corporate C-suite women and philanthropic women in the state, but women from every local community.
The third thing I’m passionate about is my son! My youngest son Jonathan attended NJPAC’s Wells Fargo Jazz for Teens program starting in eighth grade. He would come and spend from nine o’clock in the morning until five o’clock in the afternoon on Saturdays learning jazz saxophone. But he was part of this diverse group of kids and jazz teachers. If you would have asked me when he was in eighth grade whether my son was going to be a musician, it would have been the furthest thing from my mind. But he’s currently majoring in Jazz Studies at Northwestern University.
I saw the impact this arts community had on him as a young musician, and how that’s transformed his life. NJPAC was responsible for opening up a door for him, and once he walked through it he said: “Oh wow, this is a place I want to spend my life.”
“I thought, That’s something that I can do to help change the world.”
I started my career as a dancer at the age of five. My mom took my twin sister and I to see the Bolshoi Ballet in Chicago. When I saw Maya Plisetskaya, who was the reigning ballerina in the world at that time, I said to my mom, “I’m going to do that. I want to be a ballerina.” So my mom enrolled us in dance classes. In a few years, we were invited to join a dance company in Chicago. I found, for me, dance was a way that I could see the world, and also my goal had always been to change the world. At the same time, a lawyer came to our high school, and spoke at our career day panel. I thought, That’s something that I can do to help change the world. So I went to law school, and I danced every day in law school. I had ballet classes at 7 am.
Then I finished law school and I thought, well, I better hang up my dance shoes and start to really act like a lawyer. I started working at Brooklyn Family Court as Assistant Corporation Counsel prosecuting juveniles. At the same time I was starting to feel frustrated about changing the world. One of my colleagues said, “Well, there’s a performing arts organization across the street. Why don’t you go over there and see if you can do some work.” So I did. And when I walked in the room, I saw papers on the floor. Everything in total chaos. And I said, “I can organize this office. I can file this for you on my lunch hour.” So every day I went, and I taught myself how to be an arts administrator on my lunch hour while prosecuting juveniles. My lunch hour started to extend beyond 2:30 pm. It’s now 4 pm, and judges are looking for Counselor Walker. Where is she? She’s across the street.
That’s when I resigned. Because I had found my mission in life, and I wrote a proposal to pay myself a salary and gave myself a title as Managing Director of the Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center. After that I worked at the Dance Theater of Harlem, The Public Theater, The Apollo Theater as well as consulting for arts organizations before coming to NJPAC. Now in addition to working as a Senior Advisor for Community Engagement, I travel extensively around the world, teaching and lecturing about building diverse audiences and creating access to the arts.