celebrating the 100th birthday of sarah vaughan 

At this year’s extraordinary show, we celebrate the music and the impact of one of Newark’s greatest jazz icons, Sarah Vaughan, the Divine One, on what would have been her 100th birthday.

Sassy’s praises will be sung (literally) by performers whose careers were launched by NJPAC’s lasting tribute to Vaughan: The Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition. GRAMMY® Award nominee Jazzmeia Horn and French-Dominican chanteuse Cyrille Aimée — the first two winners of the Competition — will perform. They’ll be joined by two vocalists beloved by NJPAC audiences, the honey-voiced Gregory Porter and New Jersey-born The Voice and American Idol finalist Wé Ani. NJPAC’s Jazz Advisor, Christian McBride, will serve as the evening’s musical director, fronting an All-Star Band.

Join Women@NJPAC for this unforgettable evening of music and the party of the year, the Spotlight Gala! Help us raise funds to continue the Arts Center’s work in arts education, community engagement and arts and well-being.

 schedule of events 

5:30PM Cocktails
6:45PM Gourmet Dinner
8:00PM Gala Performance & Founders Award Ceremony
9:30PM Dessert, Dancing & After-Party

 founders award 2023 honoree 

Carmen Villar

Vice President of Social Business Innovation for Merck & Co., Inc.
CEO, Merck Foundation

for commitment to NJPAC, Newark and the Arts

On this special evening, we will present NJPAC’s Founders Award to Merck, in recognition of the critical role the company has played in building and sustaining the Arts Center over the past 30 years. NJPAC has been blessed by the volunteer service of two great leaders — former co-chair Dr. P. Roy Vagelos and current co-chair Carmen S. Villar. Merck was the first major corporation to support the construction of NJPAC in Newark; its philanthropy was the catalyst for other corporate funding that ensured this Arts Center would become a reality.

 gala 2023 co-chairs 

Mindy A. Cohen

NJPAC Board Member and Vice President, Women@NJPAC

Patricia L. Capawana

Trustee, Women@NJPAC

attire | festive black tie attire

For more information, please contact Women@NJPAC at women@njpac.org  or call Sarah Rosen, Managing Director at 973.297.5806.


We are happy to announce a new option for receiving your Spotlight Gala Tickets to use for your entrance, the performance, and your dinner seating! You can now get your tickets in advance via text on Wednesday, September 27 or you can opt to receive your tickets in advance via USPS, on Wednesday, September 20. You will be contacted in advance for this information.


 generously sponsored by 


The MCJ Amelior Foundation
Merck & Co., Inc.

Mindy A. Cohen and David J. Bershad

Toby and Leon G. Coooperman
Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey
Arthur F. Ryan
Tanenbaum Keale LLP
Nina and Ted Wells

Bank of America
Elberon Development Group
Gibbons, P.C.
RWJBarnabas Health
The Smart Family Foundation / David S. Stone, Esq., Stone & Magnanini
Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch

Bloomberg Philanthropies
Boston Consulting Group
Judy and Stewart Colton
Edison Properties Newark Foundation
The Fidelco Group — The Berson Family
Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation
Joan and William Hickey
Johnson & Johnson
The Honorable Thomas H. Kean
William and Paula Marino
Mazars, USA
McCarter & English, LLP
NJM Insurance Group
PNC Bank
Rutgers University – Newark
Unity Electric
Windels Marx