On May 1, 2024, the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) announced Svetlana (Lana) Rogachevskaya as its new Executive Director and Aida Jones as its new Board Chair.  Jones replaces long-time Board Member and current Board Chair Douglas Newman, who also managed SOPAC’s operations during its recent Executive Director search.

“Aida being elected Board Chair and Lana joining as new Executive Director are exciting and important steps forward for SOPAC,” says Newman.  “As accomplished professionals, they’ll guide SOPAC to continue offering audiences exhilarating and diverse arts entertainment and experiences, while heralding an era of female leadership for SOPAC.”


About Executive Director Lana Rogachevskaya

Lana Rogachevskaya (Photo Credit: Mike Mullan)

“I am honored to join SOPAC at this moment of its history,” says Rogachevskaya.

A Ukrainian-born arts and cultural leader with a deep passion for community building, Rogachevskaya will take on the role of guiding SOPAC to increasingly innovate and diversify its programming, while engaging both new and existing audiences.

Throughout her two-decades-long career, Rogachevskaya has promoted social justice, inclusion, and belonging through the arts, consistently generating resources and leveraging partnerships to expand cultural access, education, and community engagement.  She has produced, hosted, and facilitated numerous gatherings to help individuals, groups, and communities find collective meaning.

She began her career developing resources for international cultural exchange initiatives, touring and producing with the American Russian Young Artists Orchestra in New York and later, the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Tanglewood Festival.  Rogachevskaya then moved to the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College where she and her team expanded accessibility and belonging for the more than 70,000 visitors.

Rogachevskaya comes to SOPAC from the Center for Performing Arts at Governors State University, a minority-serving institution in the south suburbs of Chicago.  As the Executive Director there for 11 years, she facilitated the Center’s transformation from an academic unit to a prominent cultural destination by expanding its visibility, access, and engagement with new programs, partnerships, and premieres.  Rogachevskaya led her team through the Illinois budget crisis, numerous university leadership changes, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

To celebrate the Center’s 25th anniversary, she produced Sweet Home Chicago Blues (2021)—which aired on Chicago’s PBS affiliate WTTW—and the world premiere staging of Red Summer (2022)—a musical about the Chicago Race Riots of 1919.  Her leadership resulted in expanded endowed funds, renovated facilities, and the new series Creating Compassionate Communities (CCC).  CCC engages communities in accessible public performances celebrating the beauty of authentic cultural heritage while breaking down accessibility barriers and empowering youth.

Rogachevskaya holds a BA in Multimedia Communications from Baruch College and an MFA in Performing Arts Management from Brooklyn College.  In 2023, she received The Howard Luckey Excellence in Jazz Leadership Award, presented at Prairie State College’s 24th Annual Jazz Festival, for her contributions to sustaining and supporting Chicago Jazz in a spirit of humility and community.

“As a vibrant community resource, SOPAC is committed to activating artists to help connect our diverse community,” Rogachevskaya says. “I look forward to working collaboratively with the community to help write our next chapter together.”


About Board Chair Aida Jones

Aida Jones (Photo Credit: Mike Mullan)

“I am deeply honored by the confidence placed in me by our esteemed Board members,” says Jones.  “I am grateful for the opportunity to build upon the foundation laid by our outgoing Chair, Douglas Newman, whose guidance, and leadership have been invaluable to SOPAC’s growth and success.”

Raised in South Orange and now residing in Maplewood, Aida Jones is a successful visual artist and the current Vice President of Global Enablement at Lucid Software.  With over twenty years of leadership in the tech industry, Jones has held strategic go-to-market strategy, brand identity, marketing, and enablement at renowned companies such as ServiceNow, Adobe, Amobee, and Verizon.

Beyond her achievements in the tech world, Jones has made significant contributions to the arts community.  From 2002 to 2008, she was the Marketing and Artistic Director of the Monroe Center for the Arts in Hoboken—a 180,000 square foot mixed-use arts complex with more than 150 artist studios, performances spaces, and a 4,000 square-foot gallery.  In this role, Jones spearheaded initiatives in marketing, programming, and gallery curation, as well as management and promotion of “First Sundays,” a monthly artist studio tour.

Upon moving from Hoboken to Maplewood, Jones became active in the South Orange-Maplewood (SOMA) arts community, participating in exhibits, studio tours, and serving on the board of the 1978 Arts Center.  She has acted as judge, juror, and curator for fine arts exhibits and artist tours in SOMA and across New Jersey, including SOPAC’s annual INSPIRED MINDS: Young Artists Exhibition.

Jones explains, “During my tenure on the Board and as a resident of Maplewood since 2006, I’ve witnessed firsthand the profound impact SOPAC has made on our community. It’s more than just a venue; it’s a cultural center that enriches lives through art, performances, and educational programming, fostering a sense of belonging.”

When not involved in arts administration and management, Jones is an abstract painter.  She displays her work in galleries, art shows, and events throughout New Jersey and New York, including a dedicated exhibition in SOPAC’s Herb + Milly Iris Gallery, Rhapsody in Color, and a permanent installation at Restaurant Lorena’s in Maplewood.


Finally, the SOPAC Board and Staff would like to thank Douglas Newman for his 13 dedicated years at SOPAC.  During his time on the Board, Newman served as the Chair of the Development and Finance Committees, as well as Board Treasure, before becoming Board Chair in July 2022.

Newman has been a steadfast leader during periods of transition and uncertainty for SOPAC.  When he became Board Chair in July 2022, the organization was recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.  And during the past six months, he has served as a hard-working and reliable management leader during SOPAC’s transition from its previous executive director.

Thank you, Doug!