The GlassRoots Board of Trustees has overseen the development of GlassRoots from its founding days in which classes were held in a single room of the Boys and Girls Club, to its present location in the heart of Newark’s arts and culture district. Working effectively, this board continually upholds its obligation to provide responsible oversight as well as strategic leadership. An active, engaged group, the board works hand-in-hand with staff to attract a growing group of supportive funders from government, corporate, and foundation sources as well as from private individuals, to develop creative means for engagement, and to fulfill our mission. If you are interested in serving on GlassRoots board or a board committee, please contact our Executive Director, Barbara Heisler.
2017 Board of Directors
Stephanie Baker is currently the Assistant Dean of Academic Advising at Berkeley College Newark. Prior to this role, Stephanie worked in the Career Development Center and Business Office at St. Benedict’s Prep, where she also did some counseling and was a teacher for a period of time. Stephanie is currently a Leadership Newark Fellow. She is a lifelong Newarker and is passionate about Newark, youth development, and education.
Vicki Fernandez is currently a Program Director at the Institute for Ethical Leadership at Rutgers Business School in Newark. Previously, Vicki worked in production and youth educational programming for WBGO as well as in community development work for the New Jersey Community Development Corporation in Paterson. Vicki is a lifelong Elizabeth resident, alumna of Rutgers, and proud Lifetime Member of the Girl Scouts. Vicki chaired our successful 2016 15th Anniversary Gala and serves as chairwoman of GlassRoots' Events Committee.
Michael Handler* has been a successful Senior Project Manager in the construction industry for the past 25 years. Currently working for L & M Development in Newark on such important projects as the renovation of the iconic Hahne’s Building, Michael was project manager for St. Mary’s Hospital for Children and Alice Tully Hall and the Julliard School at Lincoln Center when he worked for Turner Construction. He was also project manager for the renovation of the Winter Garden and The World Financial Center after 9-11. Michael lives in Westchester County where actively involved with area non-profits as Board member of the Boys and Girls Club of New Rochelle and former Board Member of the New Rochelle Huguenot Children’s Library. He is an avid tennis player and horseback rider. Barbara Heisler, ex officio has served as GlassRoots' staff leader since July 2013. In July 2017, Barbara was promoted to the title of Chief Executive Officer. See her full bio here.
Sanaz Hojreh is a well-respected arts education consultant. Most recently, the Executive Director of the Newark Arts Education Roundtable, for 16 years prior Sanaz played a key role in the development and evolution of the arts education program at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, having served in varying capacities, ultimately as Director of Arts Education (2001-2003), and then as Assistant Vice President of Arts Education (2003 – 2013). Since 2013 she has worked as an independent consultant evaluating in-school artist-in-residence programs for the Victoria Foundation and as interim program director for GlassRoots, where she has also served for 5 years on its board of directors. Sanaz was a founding member of the Newark Arts Education Roundtable (NAER) and participated in the creation of the Roundtable’s Strategic Plan for Arts Education in Newark; she, also, was a member of the Leadership Council. Sanaz is a 1997 graduate of Rutgers University and serves on the Newark Youth Policy Board. In addition, she Co-chairs the Newark Arts High School Performing Arts Advisory Committee.
Mary C. Jaffa, Treasurer holds the position of Senior Director, Finance at New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC). As Senior Director of Finance, she is responsible for the overall administration of the Finance Department, including payroll management and technology, financial analysis, benefits and forecasting. She collaborates with senior executives to develop and manage NJPAC’s annual operating budget (currently over $35 million). Prior to joining NJPAC in 2000, she was Director of Budget and Financial Reporting at the Anti-Defamation League’s national headquarters in New York City. While there, she was selected to travel to Israel on a mission with other ADL professionals and was awarded ADL’s professional leadership award. Early in her career, she held a finance position at the Brooklyn Museum. Mary graduated from Pace University with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance. Early in her children’s school years, she held various volunteer-driven fundraising efforts. From 2008 to 2012, she served as Treasurer for the Boy Scouts of America Troop 50 in Randolph, NJ. Currently, she serves as Board Treasurer and Membership Czar for the Randolph High School Forensics Parent Booster Assoc, Inc. Mary and her husband, Brian, live in Randolph, NJ with their two teenage sons.
Sheila Kenny is currently a Vice President in External Affairs for Prudential Financial in Newark, NJ. She manages a portfolio of policy issues and analyzes current and emerging state and federal legislation and regulations. She works closely with regulators and policymakers, as well as with national trade associations. Previously, she was Government Relations Counsel at MetLife and managed all legislative and regulatory affairs for MetLife for the states of New Jersey, Missouri and Minnesota. She also provided national government relations support to MetLife Auto and Home and supplemental products business. Prior to joining MetLife, she worked for all three branches of government in the state of New Jersey. At the New Jersey Department of Banking & Insurance, she held the positions of Director of Legislation and Policy as well as Legislative Counsel. Previously, she served as Associate General Counsel for the New Jersey General Assembly Majority Office where she staffed the Assembly Banking and Insurance and Judiciary Committees. She also served as Law Clerk to the Honorable Sybil R. Moses, Assignment Judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey. Sheila served on the Board of Directors for the Delaware-Raritan Girl Scout Council and was a 2003 Leadership New Jersey Fellow. She received a J.D. from Rutgers University and a B.S. from Georgetown University.
Dena Lowenbach, Corresponding Secretary, began her relationship with Newark in 1964, when she worked as the Librarian for the N.J. Commission for the Blind. Changing course, she spent 12 years as as a residential realtor in suburban Essex County, where she was a member of the Million Dollar Club. But Newark called her back! In 1991 she was the first volunteer of “NJPAC project”, where she headed up the volunteer department as director for 6 years. Since 1996, Dena has been a trustee of the Women’s Association, chairing such events as the Annual Luncheon, Valentine Dinner, Volunteer Dinner, plus chairing the Cultural Legacy Committee. In fact, the annual volunteer of the year award is named in her honor. In 2001, Dena co-founded GlassRoots, and since has served as our president, secretary, a member of the Executive Board, and as chair of the Development and Governance Committees.
Kathryn Markel, Board President Owner, Markel Fine Arts, Inc. Kathryn Markel has owned Kathryn Markel Fine Arts, which specializes in painting and work on paper by contemporary American artists, since 1975, and is a respected member of the contemporary art community. She has lectured widely on the contemporary art market and is a member of Arttable, an organization for women in the arts.
Henry Robinson* grew up in nearby Maplewood, and currently lives in South Orange with his wife, Laura. As a second generation insurance professional, Henry owns a Farmer's Insurance Agency in Livingston, NJ. Henry has always been involved with community organizations and local politics and in High School started a mentoring program for special education students that today reaches 100 students. Henry is thrilled to join the GlassRoots Board and bring his talents to a team of like-minded people.
Phil Smith, Board Vice President is currently Vice President Business Development at Moody’s Investors Service. He has served over 20 years in the municipal financial industry, including for nearly 18 years as Senior Vice President for Rice Financial Products Co.
Erin Sweeney is the Executive Director of Schools That Can, Newark, working to break through silos to connect leaders, share practices, and build solutions so every urban school can thrive and students are college and career ready.. Erin also serves as the Service Unit Manager for the Newark Girl Scouts, a mentor and former instructor at NJ Law Education and Empowerment Program, a member of the Young Professional Network Board for the Student/Partner Alliance, a fellow in Leadership Newark Class of 2014, and a program member of Emerge NJ Class of 2014. Erin earned a Masters in Public Policy/Urban Planning from the Harvard Kennedy School and a Bachelors in Public Policy from the University of Chicago. She is currently a part time Masters student at Rutgers-Newark studying Newark.
Veda Truesdale is an independent research consultant who currently works with academic institutions to enhance their strategic plans. She comes to GlassRoots Board with a background working on sustainability, environmental justice, and climate change policies in New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts. Veda is passionate about engaging young people in civic life, particularly on issues of environmental and social justice and has incorporated these issues into life skills lessons with the Varis Scientific Glass students at GlassRoots. She is a member of the Maplewood Green Team Advisory Committee and regularly volunteers to assist newly arrived refugees adjust to life in Northern New Jersey. Veda received a BA in Geography and Spanish from Vassar College and a Master of Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
Roger C. Tucker III, Recording Secretary, is an innovative fine arts professional who continues to shape a career path as educator, art dealer, adviser, collector and curator to educate and advocate for emerging underrepresented artists. Tucker launched Tucker Contemporary Art, Inc. in 2012. This innovative fine arts advisory firm leverages Tucker’s extensive experience in art, business, education, communications, marketing and social media to position exceptional emerging and underrepresented artists in the national and global contemporary art world. As president of TCA, Tucker is a recognized influencer in social media advocating for a more inclusive art community that embraces the unique voices of diverse artists. Tucker received his BFA from Cooper Union, MS from Pratt Institute and Professional Certificate in Art Business from New York University, SCPS.
Antonio Valla, is a real estate developer and urban planner with the RBH Group in Newark, NJ. Antonio's Projects include the development of Teachers Village within the SoMa redevelopment project, a 15 million square foot mixed-use redevelopment in downtown Newark.
Louis A. Chiafullo, Esq., of counsel McCarter & English
*Board members elected June 2017
(Affiliations provided for identification purposes only.)