Thursday, October 15 at 7:30PM EST

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Controversial Art and Entertainment

In our first Connected Conversations event, representatives from several arts and entertainment fields will be brought together to discuss their views on controversial art as a means to affect change. Panelists will come from the fields of Theater, Sports, Visual Art, Music, Spoken Word and Video.

Participants are: Barbara Heisler (CEO Glass Roots), Anthony Smith (Executive Director, Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District), Bobby Brown (Attorney and former Professional Football player), and Angela Kariotis (Seton Hall Professor and performance artist/leader).

Stephen Schnall, the founder/producer of SouthNEXT for the last 6 years, will moderate.

After serving as Interim Executive Director at GlassRoots in Newark, NJ for one year, on July 1, 2014, the Board asked Barbara Heisler to stay as the Executive Director of the organization; and on July 1, 2017 named her the organization’s first CEO. After implementing program innovations, in 2019-20 Barbara led GlassRoots’ ambitious expansion and capital campaign, which will result in programmatic expansion and enhanced community impact as the organization moves to its new 25,000 sf home in Newark later in this year. Barbara’s professional background includes more than 30 years of experience in non-profit, education and government management; focusing on strategic planning, organizational and board development, program design, communications strategy, fiscal oversight, resource development, and grant procurement.

Barbara brings extensive leadership experience in the nonprofit sector, having served as the Executive Director of Funding Exchange, the CEO of Fund for an Open Society, and as Founding Executive Director for the South Orange/Maplewood Community Coalition on Race, in addition to experience in senior management positions, including that as a Regional Director of Post-secondary Education, in the US Department of Education and at two institutions of higher education. Barbara also serves as the president of her own nonprofit consultancy firm, Organizations by Design, which provides executive and nonprofit board coaching. She has served on national and local boards including that of the NJ Center for Non-Profits and the Center for Creative Placemaking, and has been honored numerous times for her achievements and community volunteerism. Barbara earned an M.Ed in Management from Cambridge College. After 26 years in her beloved Maplewood, Barbara moved to East Orange in 2014, and is enjoying building community there.

Anthony Smith is the Executive Director for Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District, Inc. (LPCCD). LPCCD is a non-profit organization actively engaged in the practice of creative place-making/place-keeping. Our mission to plan, design and develop a vibrant and comprehensive sustainable cultural/arts district in the historical Lincoln Park neighborhood of downtown Newark — built on affordable housing, green jobs, Black Music, culture, heritage and urban farming. LPCCD’s two main arts & culture programs are the annual Lincoln Park Music Festival and Lincoln Park Music Speaks.

Anthony cultivates relationships with the public and private sectors to garner financial support that is essential to the organization’s role as an arts developer. He performs advocacy work and is liaison with all levels of government. As Executive Producer of the annual Lincoln Park Music Festival, he is responsible for the creation of artistic programming, fund development and strategic planning. He manages a marketing and communications team, and directs LPCCD’s arts-based outreach program, Music Speaks.

Braynard “Bobby” Brown is a former NFL player with extensive relationships across several professional sports organizations and Wall Street firms. After playing in the NFL, Bobby returned to Notre Dame to obtain his law degree. While there, he became the president of the Black Law Students Association.
Bobby obtained his MBA from Yale in 2011. At the Yale School of Management, he served as the Co-Chair of the Black Business Alliance and Co-Captain of the Debate Team. Since 2012, Bobby has taught sports and entertainment related college courses in his spare time as an adjunct professor at both Montclair State University and Mercy College. In 2017, he was awarded the highly coveted Adjunct Professor of the Year award at Montclair State University.

Bobby moved to the buy-side of Wall Street in 2014 by leading external, institutional sales in the asset management group of Rockefeller & Co. where he covered college endowments and public pension funds. In 2018 Bobby took a role at the internationally renowned securities litigation law firm, Grant & Eisenhofer, in NYC. Separately, Bobby has devoted his time and efforts to providing financial literacy to professional athletes and has assumed a business development role at a boutique sports & entertainment wealth management firm.

Angela Kariotis has brought her unique performance style across America and beyond to venues such as The University of California- Los Angeles, Contact Theater in Manchester, UK, Legion Arts in Iowa, the Off-Center in Austin, TX, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, and the Hip Hop Theater Festival in New York City.

Angela couples her masterful performances with cutting-edge residency work. This summer, she facilitated Walking the Beat 2020: An Emergency Convening, a 10-week multimedia workshop between Elizabeth (NJ) Police Department and Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy as a community engagement project meeting the current moment. Kariotis is committed to anti-racist pedagogy, literacy through the arts, theater for social justice, and art-making as a liberating practice. Currently, she teaches in the communication program at Seton Hall University.

Angela is offering community workshops on interrupting racism, raising anti-racist kids, and integrating social emotional learning in anti-racist teaching. She was curated by World Theater Lab, writing and directing the hip hop theater play, “Survival of the Illest.” and is commissioned to create a spoken word poem on advocacy and activism by Poetic People Power in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote.

Steve Schnall is the founder and producer of “South by South Orange”, now called SouthNEXT. He is proud that this annual event brings innovative Arts, Ideas and Music programming to the Village of South Orange. Its focus on “Creative Collisions” offers artistic activities showcasing multiple productive perspectives to the diverse Community.

Steve is a Certified Compliance and Ethics Professional and is the winner of several prestigious business awards. He has spoken at many conferences sharing the message of using innovation to achieve business goals. His current interest is the interaction of humanity with Technology and Artificial Intelligence that will potentially allow a more productive and meaningful life.

Steve is the Vice President for American Theater Group and is also a Director for “Big Apple Greeter,” a volunteer organization that provides knowledgeable guides to help visitors discover the “real New York.” He serves on the Essex County College Foundation Board where he delights in raising money for student scholarships and financial support.

Evolution vs. Revolution

When we look at the history of societal change it seems to evolve at a slow pace, until it doesn’t. Does it take a revolution to spark the birth of the new consensus or should we expect and desire change to evolve over an extended period? What is possible? What is probable? What are the repercussions?

Join us for a series of dynamic panel discussions that investigate evolution vs. revolution in diverse areas of our modern life, including identity politics, climate change and social justice, economic wealth distribution, immigrants quest for refuge in the United States and more.

Evolution vs. Revolution is co-presented by SouthNEXT and SOPAC.

Connected Conversations is a series of virtual panel discussions and presentations that are are free with advance registration!