Young Audiences Welcomes Two Arts Supporters to Board.

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Young Audiences Welcomes Two Arts Supporters to Board

PRINCETON, NJ; February 2, 2021 — Young Audiences Arts for Learning NJ & Eastern PA (YA), the leading arts education partner in the region, has named Heather Barberi and Nirpal Dhanjal to its Board of Trustees. The two arts advocates were welcomed to the 31-member board at a recent virtual board meeting.

“We are honored to have Heather and Nirpal, two passionate 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.

New Young Audiences Board Member, Heather Barberi

New Young Audiences Trustee, Heather Barberi

Heather Barberi, an Ocean County, NJ resident, is the Executive Director of the Grunin Foundation – a private family philanthropic foundation whose mission is to improve the quality of life for all members of our community by using philanthropy to drive economic excellence at the Central Jersey Shore.  Since 2013, the Foundation has been thoughtfully investing in the arts, education, health care, and nonprofit capacity. With a background in fundraising, marketing, strategic development, and management, Heather uses her experience to lead innovative projects at the Foundation, such as the Catapult Institute, and partnerships that bring meaningful, transformative change in the community. In addition to her role at the Grunin Foundation, Heather is an active member of the community serving on boards and committees with organizations such as the Ocean County College Foundation, Community Medical Center Foundation, Ocean County YMCA, Ocean Partnership for Children, Impact 100 Jersey Shore, the New Jersey Arts & Culture Recovery Fund, Monmouth-Ocean Development Council, and the Greater Toms River Chamber of Commerce. Heather is a graduate of York College of Pennsylvania.

“The arts have shaped my life in so many ways, from a very early age,” shared Heather. “I was a very shy kid and I can honestly say that dance grew my confidence by leaps and bounds. I attribute so much of who I am – the discipline, the creativity, the concentration, the confidence – to the arts. Young Audiences is an incredibly strong organization in the state – always innovating and pushing the creative boundaries. I’ve always been incredibly impressed by the caliber of their work and the limitless passion the entire team has for making an impact on the youth they serve. I truly believe in their mission, vision and values.  It’s hard to not want to be involved with Young Audiences! As a trustee, I will work hard during my tenure to do whatever I can to make them stronger, help them on their journey, advocate for their mission, and leave them in a better place than when I began.”

New Young Audiences Trustee, Nirpal Dhanjal

New Young Audiences Trustee, Nirpal Dhanjal

Nirpal Dhanjal, a Pennington, NJ resident, is a consultant to the pharmaceutical industry. Her current focus is on quality and compliance, though her career spans roles at several of the region’s pharmaceutical companies and startups. She has a masters in Microbiology from Panjab University and 25+ years of experience in academia, research and development, and quality management. Born in Nairobi, Kenya, Nirpal studied in Punjab, India, and was a researcher at the Children’s Hospital in London. Since moving to New Jersey she has held positions at Princeton University, Merck, Bristol Myers Squibb, and several startups. While raising a family in America Nirpal remains connected to her roots. She is a founding member of the local Sikh place of worship — the gurdwara, where she has taught the Panjabi language and prepared community meals for hundreds of congregants. Nirpal is well versed in various languages like Swahili and other regional languages of India and has hosted various Kenya-focused charities.

“Arts are important because they provide a vehicle for students to express their deepest emotions and feelings,” shared Nirpal. “Children learn what they observe. Their minds are at a stage where they have a great potential to absorb information and have a positive impact — they are the future. Young Audiences has a great mission to inspire young people and expand their learning through many artforms including music, dance, and theater. I hope to learn how YA works behind the scenes, and help and assist in supporting the organization’s mission”

Colleen Foy, Young Audiences’ Board Chair shared, “Now more than ever children need the arts and we are thrilled to have two new board members that believe the arts are an essential part of education. We look forward to collaborating with Heather and Nirpal to bring their extensive knowledge, insight, and experience to our work at Young Audiences.”


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 teaching 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.


Denyce Mylson

Director of Public Relations & Marketing

609-243-9000 x202

[email protected]