Charles F. Lowrey and Carmen Villar Elected NJPAC Board Co-Chairs

Prudential Financial, Inc. and Merck & Co., Inc. executives will helm Arts Center leadership as of January 2023

(Newark, N.J. – Jan. 23, 2023) Charles F. Lowrey, Chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU), and Carmen Villar, Vice President of Social Business Innovation for Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE: MRK), have been elected Co-Chairs of the Board of Directors at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), the Arts Center announced today.

Lowrey will be the third Prudential Chairman and CEO in the Arts Center’s history to act as an NJPAC Board Chair or Co-Chair.

Villar, who was Chief of Staff at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) before joining Merck, is both the first woman and the first person of color to serve as the Arts Center’s Board Co-Chair.

“Throughout its 25-year history, NJPAC has always been blessed with extraordinarily committed, creative and collaborative Board Chairs,” said John Schreiber, President and CEO of NJPAC.

“I know that Carmen and Charlie, with their distinguished careers, dedication to community, unique areas of expertise and enormous generosity of spirit, will carry on that wonderful tradition.”

Lowrey joined Prudential in 2001 and became CEO in 2018 and Chairman in 2019. He was elected to the NJPAC Board and its Executive Committee in June 2019.

He is the third Prudential Chairman and CEO to join the Arts Center’s volunteer leadership as a Board Chair or Co-Chair, a testament to the company’s deep commitment to the city of Newark and its institutions. Art Ryan, while serving as Prudential’s Chairman and CEO, was NJPAC’s Board Chair from 1999 to 2009, and John Strangfeld, while serving as Prudential’s Chairman and CEO, was NJPAC’s Board Co-Chair from 2013 to 2015 and Board Chair from 2015 to 2018.

“Through its diverse performances, education programs and investment in local neighborhoods, NJPAC has helped create a thriving arts community in Newark, and economic growth and positive change across the city and the state,” said Lowrey. “All of us at Prudential are proud of what NJPAC has accomplished and excited about its plans for the future.”

Villar is the second Merck executive to be elected Board Co-Chair of the Arts Center. Former Merck Chairman and CEO Dr. P. Roy Vagelos was the Arts Center’s Board Co-Chair from 1993 through 1999.

“The Arts Center is a key driver of socioeconomic development in New Jersey, and an important community partner to Merck and many other organizations across the state,” said Villar.

“As a woman of Japanese and Mexican heritage, it’s an incredible honor to be elected to lead such a diverse and vital cultural institution. I am eager to bring a unique perspective to the role and help enhance the positive impact that NJPAC has on countless young lives and families throughout the region.”

Villar is a current member of the NJPAC Board’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee and a past member of its Executive Compensation Committee and Arts Education Committee. She joined NJPAC’s Board of Directors in 2018.

At Merck, as Vice President of Social Business Innovation, Villar oversees environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy and engagement, and the company’s global impact giving and health equity departments.

Lowrey and Villar will take on their new roles in January 2023, as the current Board Co-Chairs, Barry H. Ostrowsky, CEO of RWJBarnabas Health, and Steven M. Goldman, Esq., Managing Partner at PBM Capital Group, step down after a three-year tenure. Both Ostrowsky and Goldman will remain on NJPAC’s Executive Committee.

“We are endlessly grateful to Barry and Steve for their extraordinary and selfless leadership during the most challenging time in the Arts Center’s history,” said Schreiber.

“NJPAC flourished as an anchor cultural institution throughout the pandemic, thanks to their wisdom, insight and deep commitment to the Arts Center. Barry and Steve’s guidance made it possible for us to expand our mission through the production of more than 500 virtual programs, spanning education, social justice and the arts, and to reopen safely when the crisis receded. All of us at NJPAC are so thankful for their indispensable stewardship,” Schreiber said.


New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), located in downtown Newark, New Jersey, is among the largest performing arts centers in the United States. It is the artistic, cultural, educational and civic center of New Jersey — where great performances and events enhance and transform lives every day. As New Jersey’s Town Square, NJPAC brings diverse communities together, providing access to all and showcasing the state’s and the world’s best artists, while acting as a leading catalyst in the revitalization of its home city. Through its extensive Arts Education programs, NJPAC is shaping the next generation of artists and arts enthusiasts. NJPAC has attracted 11 million visitors (including almost two million children) since opening its doors in 1997, and nurtures meaningful and lasting relationships with each of its constituents. Visit for more information.