Press Release: YA Welcomes Eight Arts Supporters to Board

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                                                                          


 Denyce Mylson

Director of Public Relations & Marketing

609-243-9000 x202

                                                                                                                                        [email protected]

Young Audiences Welcomes Eight Arts Supporters to Board

PRINCETON, NJ; October 19, 2020 — Young Audiences Arts for Learning NJ & Eastern PA (YA), the leading arts education partner in the region, has named Dominique Carroll, Jeannine Cimino, Marisol Conde-Hernandez, Hima Kher, Mikaela Levons, Michele Minter, Susan Palmer, and Kalpana Patel to its Board of Trustees. The eight arts advocates were welcomed to the 30-member board at a virtual annual meeting this summer.

“We are so excited to have this diverse and passionate group of community leaders join the board to help us advocate for arts education for the children of New Jersey and Eastern PA,” shared Stacy Mattia, Vice Chair and Chair for the Committee on Trustees.

Dominique Carroll

Dominique Carroll, Fox Rothchild, LLP, Litigator & Trial Lawyer

Dominique Carroll, a Princeton resident, is a skilled litigator and trial lawyer at Fox Rothchild, LLP, with experience representing clients in state and federal courts across multiple jurisdictions, and a practice focused on intellectual property and complex commercial litigation. Dominique also serves as outside general counsel to privately held businesses, and he provides strategic representation to small, medium, and large businesses in the manufacturing, retail, media and other industries. A graduate of Rutgers University, Dominique went on to earn J.D. and MBA degrees in a joint business and law curriculum at the University of Illinois, receiving several awards for earning top marks and serving as an editor on the Illinois Business Law Journal.

“I remember going to see my first Young Audiences program at Grant Elementary School in Trenton and leaving inspired and energized,” shared Dominique. “It was at that assembly performance when I knew I wanted to help more children in our region experience the power of the arts. I am looking forward to helping Young Audiences advance their mission and create an impact on children’s education, lives, and their communities!”

Jeannine Cimino

Jeannine Cimino, Berkshire Bank,
SVP & Regional President

Jeannine Cimino, a Hamilton resident, is a Senior Vice President and Regional President at Berkshire Bank. Jeannine also serves as the President of the St. Gregory the Great Academy PTA. A graduate of Brooklyn College, Jeannine recently served as the Chairman of the Board of the MIDJersey Chamber of Commerce and is currently the Chairman of the Board of Ryan’s Quest, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to raise awareness and allocated funds for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Jeannine has been recognized as a Woman of Distinction by the Girl Scouts of Central and Southern New Jersey. In 2011, she was awarded the Young Professional of the Year by Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital at Hamilton. Jeannine was selected as a VIP dancer for YA’s annual gala, Dazzle: Mad Hot Ballroom where she competed and won the YA Disco Ball Trophy in 2018.

“I was fortunate enough to be a Dazzle Dancer a few years ago. When I saw the dedication and commitment that the staff and the other volunteers had to the organization it inspired me to get more involved,” shared Jeannine. “Dance was my escape when I was young; it helped me get through some difficult times, and it helped to give me confidence in myself. The arts are an important part of education, because through the arts, children are able to express themselves and show their individuality. I hope to help YA raise awareness of the importance of art education and help secure more funding to reach children.”

Marisol Conde-Hernandez

Marisol Conde-Hernandez, Law Office of Eric M. Mark, New Jersey Immigration & Criminal Defense Attorney

Marisol Conde-Hernandez is an immigration and criminal defense attorney licensed in the State of New Jersey, the District Court for the District of New Jersey, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She made history as New Jersey’s first undocumented law school graduate, and as the first, undocumented woman and Latina attorney in the state. Prior to embarking on her legal career, Marisol dedicated a significant portion of her time and energy towards mentoring systemically-disadvantaged youth and towards the expansion of resources for those youth. She’s thrilled to be a part of the Young Audiences team to reignite her passion for the enrichment of young people’s lives.

“Witnessing YA’s commitment to children’s education and passion for the arts in action moved me to get involved,” expressed Marisol. “Fictional novels were my best friends throughout my lonely childhood. Writing stories, playing the flute, and coloring brought me comfort into my adolescence. Currently seeing my 10-year-old sister engrossed with the arts program at her school is a daily reminder of the impact and transformational power of the arts in people’s lives. We need the arts to teach and practice compassion and empathy. The arts are their own universal language, and I would love to contribute to YA’s partnership with schools serving nontraditional and/or multilingual students.”

Hima Kher

Hima Kher, Johnson & Johnson,
Senior Director R&D IT

Hima Kher recently joined Johnson & Johnson as Senior Director R&D IT partnering with the J&J Innovation and Global Health divisions. Hima has over 20 years of experience in information technology in pharma, healthcare, and digital health. She has implemented projects related to digital marketing and information technology including SAP, Salesforce, omni-channel marketing, big data, population health management, online learning, telemedicine, and electronic medical records. In her most recent role as Chief Technology Officer of Tech Care for All, she successfully applied and received over $2M in grant funding for digital health programs in India and Sub-Saharan Africa. She has worked and travelled extensively across the US, Europe, Africa, and Asia and has a strong personal network in the local region, as well as the pharmaceutical, technology, and global health sectors. As a senior woman in the technology sector, she has a passion for mentoring and advocating for STEM education in girls in underrepresented populations. She currently lives in Plainsboro, NJ with her husband and two children, ages 15 and 12.

Hima expressed, “I was awed by the scale and impact of Young Audiences across the region. There is no other organization that touches so many children and schools in the critical area of the arts. Especially in this time of virtual learning, I have come to realize the critical role the arts and teaching artists play in the education, health, and wellness for our children. I hope to bring my experiences in digital innovation and technology to help the organization evolve to new virtual teaching methods, graphic design, and digital art.  I am excited to help provide input into the organizations strategic planning and future success.”

Mikaela Levons

Mikaela Levons, Princeton AlumniCorps,
Director of Advancement

Mikaela Levons is a native of Jamaica who has a passion for civic engagement. She is the Director of Advancement at Princeton AlumniCorps, an independent nonprofit founded by Princeton University alumni to mobilize people, organizations, and network for public good. She has worked in the charitable sector since receiving a B.A. from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School. Mikaela served as the grant writer for the statewide afterschool program New Jersey After 3 and The Martin House in Trenton. She was also the Membership and Communications Coordinator for the Center for Non-Profits in New Jersey. She received her M.Sc. in Non-Profit and NGO Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania and currently serves on the board of a non-profit operating in rural Jamaica. She and her husband live in Titusville, NJ with their three young daughters.

“The most compelling factor that motivated me to get involved with YA was the nature of the work: as a parent of elementary school children, I’ve seen how effectively children learn through the arts,” expressed Mikaela. “I am also convinced that to succeed in the 21st century, our children will need more than “The Three R’s”. Skills such as empathy, self-awareness, and collaboration will prepare our children to lead in the next generation as rudimentary tasks are automated. The arts allow our children to express themselves in ways that other modes of education may not facilitate. I was struck by the common theme the teaching artists have shared: the arts unlock children’s voices, and the arts continue to unlock the voices of children who may not have other avenues for expressing themselves. As a Black, female, mid-career nonprofit professional who is also a parent, I plan to lend my perspective to YA’s work. In particular, I’m excited to serve on our Arts United and Education Committees. Amidst the recent call for equity and diversity in corporate spaces, I’m happy to see that YA has been invested in this work well before the recent, high profile, tragic killings of Black people.”

Michele Minter

Michele Minter, Princeton University,
Vice Provost for Institutional Equity & Diversity

Michele Minter is Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity at Princeton University, where she oversees the University’s initiatives focused on diversity, inclusion, and access. Michele has served as a trustee of many local and national nonprofits, including Isles, Princeton Area Community Foundation, where she chaired the Fund for Women and Girls, Princeton Library Foundation, Mercer County Community College Foundation, Presbyterian Foundation, and Indiana University’s Women’s Philanthropy Institute. Michele is a graduate of Yale University and the City University of New York, where she received an MFA in theater. She and her husband Jeff live in Plainsboro. An avid dancer, Michele was selected as a VIP dancer for YA’s annual gala, Dazzle: Mad Hot Ballroom where she competed in 2016.

“I believe passionately that creativity, beauty and self-expression make us and our communities happier and more resilient,” shared Michele. “They teach us self-awareness and imagination. The arts are essential, not “nice to have.” Making sure that all children have equal access to the arts is about equity and justice. When I first saw the pride and excitement of the student performers at my first YA Dazzle benefit, it was infectious. As a trustee, I want to be part of guaranteeing that YA can not only continue its work, but expand it. That will take renewed commitments and discernment at a time when we are so challenged by the pandemic, economic impacts and systemic racism.”

Susan Palmer

Susan Palmer, A Maker’s Art Studio,
Practicing Ceramic Artist

Susan Palmer has lived in Oldwick, NJ for 22 years. Before deciding to raise a family, Susan worked in advertising in account management for Deutsch Advertising in NYC and LA. While raising her children, Susan taught visual arts both full- and part-time at The Willow School in Gladstone, NJ. She also was a board member and President of the Tewksbury Education Foundation for many years and a board member of the Kennebunk Beach Improvement Association. Susan currently runs A Maker’s Circle Art Studio and is a practicing ceramic artist.

“A powerful creative experience can offer a person the power to be one with themselves, to focus themselves inwardly, and to better understand the gifts they may have to offer the world,” expressed Susan. “Creativity also has the power to heal individuals and communities in a very holistic way. I truly feel creative thinking will be the key to solving future world problems, and it is critical YA underscores the value of a creative experience for students in this STEM-driven, academic world.”

Kalpana Patel 

Kalpana Patel, Excellence Management Consulting, Founder & CEO

Kalpana Patel is the Founder and CEO of Excellence Management Consulting, specializing in executive coaching, leadership training, and operations management. As Director of Services at Telcordia Technologies, Kalpana implemented processes and best practices to increase team efficiency serving customers in India for wireless services. In her operations management role at ETS, she successfully built strong client relationships. Kalpana began her career teaching undergraduate college physics, followed by a 30-year corporate career, at Telcordia Technologies, ETS, Alacriti, and netForensics. Kalpana served as President of India Foundation of Metropolitan Princeton from 2002-2008, where she led a successful fundraising campaign to organize community events to encourage Americans of Indian origin, particularly children, to raise ethnic awareness. Kalpana holds an MA in Solid State Physics and an MA in Computer and Information Sciences.

“An important element of good education is building a sound foundation for a strong character, one’s ability to make good decisions, and be self-confident,” Kalpana shared. “I am excited to be in the company of very dedicated and motivated members of the Board of Trustees. Along with the board, I am looking forward to contributing to a development strategy to further our mission, with one key objective: raise awareness of the role of arts education for children in their social and emotional well-being and critical thinking. Arts education is one of the critical needs of the current times, and will be even more critical as we advance further into the Digital Age.”

“We are delighted that Kalpana, Susan, Michele, Mikaela, Hima, Marisol, Jeannine, and Dominique have joined the Young Audiences Board,” said Michele Russo, YA President & CEO. “Our trustees provide exceptional guidance, perspective, and support to further our mission and to help realize our goal to provide engagaing and inclusive arts experiences to every child in the region. There is no doubt that these new ambassadors of arts education will make a remarkable addition to the YA team.”

Colleen Foy, Young Audiences’ Board Chair, shared, “Our new trustees have made considerable contributions to their respective fields, and we look forward to collaborating with them to bring their extensive knowledge, insight, and experience to our work at Young Audiences.”

Three of YA’s new trustees, Dominique Carrol, Hima Kher, and Kalpana Patel were introduced to Young Audiences’ organization and mission through NonProfitConnect, a local organization that supports the strategic needs of non-profits with with skill-based volunteering and professional development opportunities for executive directors and non-profit board training.

NonProfitConnect Executive Director, Allison Howe shared, “It is our pleasure at NonProfitConnect to identify, train, and match potential new board members with organizations like Young Audiences, an organization that makes such a significant impact in our community.”


About Young Audiences Arts for Learning NJ & Eastern PA

Founded in 1973, Young Audiences Arts for Learning NJ & Eastern PA is the premier arts-in-education resource in the region, providing teaching artist-led performances, workshops, residencies, and teacher professional learning programs to schools in all 21 counties of New Jersey and the 7 easternmost counties of Pennsylvania. Young Audiences’ extensive professional artist roster represents all art forms—from dance and theater to music, language and visual arts. Since its founding, the organization has reached over 15 million children in its nearly 50-year history.

A not-for-profit organization, Young Audiences’ mission is to inspire young people and expand their learning through the arts. Students are the center of our work. Our vision is that every child will have rich and meaningful arts experiences as part of their education. YA continually strives to create spaces that are diverse, equitable, inclusive, and accessible to all students and is committed to providing students of all identities, backgrounds, and experiences with arts education in which their creativity, cultures, abilities, and identities are validated, included, and nurtured.

YA’s programs are designed to strengthen the arts in schools, meet local and state curriculum standards, and enrich cultural life in New Jersey and Pennsylvania communities.

Young Audiences is the first arts education organization designated as a major service organization by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and, as part of the national network of Young Audiences, Inc., was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Clinton. Young Audiences programs are made possible in part through a grant from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State and Pennsylvania Council of the Arts. Additional funding comes from foundations, corporations and generous individuals. To learn more, visit To be “social” with us, join us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram and Twitter @YAAFLORG.