newark 350

Newark Celebration 350 (NC 350) is a year-long jubilee of unique events and festivities commemorating the 350th anniversary of the city of Newark’s founding. NC350 was the vision of the late Dr. Clement A. Price, Newark’s foremost historian and tireless booster of the city and its people. In his eyes, this momentous mark in time is an opportunity to take stock in ourselves and benefit from the wisdom and experience of our collective narrative.

Over 150 marquee programs will highlight the city’s rich history, remarkable achievements, diverse communities and extraordinary culture presented by a unique coalition of citizens, educational institutions, cultural organizations and community groups. This spectacular “festival of festivals” aims to inspire and excite locals and visitors from around the world by showcasing the best of this great American city.

Newark Celebration 350 Committee

Junius Williams, Chair

Junius Williams is a prominent attorney, educator, musician, and advocate. As a planner, government administrator, and non-profit real estate developer, he is responsible for over 2,000 housing units and many community centers in Newark, New Jersey. Williams, who attended Amherst College and Yale Law School, was elected the youngest President of the National Bar Association in 1978 and listed among Ebony’s “100 Most Influential Blacks in America.” His singing group, Return to the Source, has performed at grade schools, colleges, and other venues throughout the East Coast. He is currently Director of the Abbot Leadership Institute at Rutgers University Newark where his free Saturday morning classes attract hundreds of parents, teachers, and students in learning how to become better advocates for public education.

Marcia Wilson Brown, Vice Chair

Marcia Wilson Brown is vice chancellor for external relations and governmental affairs, a position in which she forges and maintains relationships on behalf of Rutgers University – Newark with public officials, governmental agencies, and civic groups. Brown is an alumna of the School of Law-Newark where she was elected class speaker and was the recipient of three honors: International Academy of Trial Lawyers Award, Judge J. Skelly Wright Award for Civil and Human Rights Activities, and the Rutgers Alumni Senior Award. She clerked for Chief Justice Robert Wilentz, Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, and was admitted to practice in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, U.S. Federal District Courts (Eastern Districts, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit), and the U.S. Supreme Court. She helped to expand the Office of University-Community Partnerships; engaged funders as partners for access and retention programs for students from Newark and from first-generation families; and served as a consultant and adjunct with the Clement A. Price Institute on Ethnicity, Culture and the Modern Experience. Brown has spent more than 30 years in community development advocacy in Newark, working on housing, education, and nonprofit leadership issues. Through the Lucent Foundation, she helped structure more than $10 million in philanthropic dollars toward Newark’s nonprofits engaged in rebuilding neighborhoods and providing learning opportunities for young people.

Ralph Izzo, Vice Chair

Ralph Izzo was elected chairman and chief executive officer of Public Service Enterprise Group Incorporated (PSEG) in April 2007. He was named as the company’s president and chief operating officer and a member of the board of directors of PSEG in October 2006. Previously, Mr. Izzo was president and chief operating officer of Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G). Since joining PSE&G in 1992, Mr. Izzo was elected to several executive positions within PSEG’s family of companies. Mr. Izzo is a well-known leader within the utility industry, as well as the public policy arena. He is frequently asked to testify before Congress and speak to organizations on matters pertaining to national energy policy. He has published or presented over 35 papers on magnetohydrodynamic modeling. Mr. Izzo received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in mechanical engineering and his Doctor of Philosophy degree in applied physics from Columbia University. He also received a Master of Business Administration degree, with a concentration in finance from the Rutgers Graduate School of Management. He is listed in numerous editions of Who’s Who and has been the recipient of national fellowships and awards.

Victor Parsonnet, Vice Chair

Victor Parsonnet is an American cardiac surgeon who contributed significantly to the evolution of cardiac pacemaking. Dr Parsonnet grew up in Newark, NJ and attended Weequahic High School before enrolling at Cornell University. In 1955, Dr. Parsonnet joined his father’s practice at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, in Newark NJ, which his grandfathers founded in 1901.  Dr. Parsonnet was the first surgeon in New Jersey to implant a permanent pacemaker (1961) and to complete a heart transplant (1985) and kidney transplant.  The former chief of surgery at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, is now the Medical Director of the Pacemaker and Defibrillator Evaluation Center and Director of Surgical Research at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. He helped co-found the North American Society of Pacing and Electrophysiology and is the author to over 600 articles and 5 books. He also holds five patents.

Dr. Parsonnet also has a deep love for music. His father was the chair for the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (NJSO). In 1986, when his father died, Victor was asked to fill his spot. In 1991, Parsonnet became the Chairman of the NJSO, a position which he held for 17 years. He is now the Chairman Emeritus for the NJSO.

Wilma Grey, Secretary

Wilma Grey, a Newark native, has been Director of the Newark Public Library since 2005. She first joined the library staff in 1969 after graduating from Howard University. During her tenure, she has provided literacy programs for children and adults, introduced services for sight and hearing impaired patrons, and expanded the library’s outreach to diverse cultural and ethnic groups. She also oversaw the renovation and refurbishment of eight neighborhood library branches. Prior to that she worked for two years at Boston University’s School of Education. Grey is a board member of several organizations in Newark and New Jersey, including the Newark Black Film Festival Committee, the New Jersey Center for the Book, Newark 350 Celebration, Inc., and the Advisory Board of the Jewish Museum of New Jersey. She has also served as a trustee of The Newark Arts Council, the Newark Literacy Campaign and the South Orange Public Library and has a Master of Library Science degree from Rutgers University.

Gina D. Nisbeth, Treasurer

Gina D. Nisbeth is a Director in the Structured Lending and Investments Group at Citi where she leads the firm’s national New Markets Tax Credit and EB-5 bridge lending programs as part of the bank’s Community Reinvestment responsibilities including transaction origination, structuring and portfolio management. Nisbeth began her career with Citi 18 years ago as a trader for the firm’s municipal Tender Option Bond portfolio. A graduate of Rutgers College (B.A., Political Science) and an Eagleton Institute of Politics Undergraduate Fellow, Gina later received an M.B.A. from The Fox School of Business at Temple University with a concentration in Finance.

Irene Cooper-Basch, Fundraising Chair

Irene Cooper-Basch has spent the past 20 years in philanthropy focused on the city of Newark—6 years with the Healthcare Foundation of NJ and the past 14 years at Victoria Foundation, where she serves as the Executive Officer. In addition to her assignment as Fundraising Chair for Newark Celebration 350, Cooper-Basch is the Chair of the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers, and serves as an Advisory Board member of the Newark City of Learning Collaborative, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Russ Berrie Unsung Hero Awards, and the Cooperman College Scholars. She is a proud graduate of Rutgers University-Newark with a Ph.D. in Urban Systems.

Shané Harris, Public Relations Chairperson

Shané Harris serves as the vice president of The Prudential Foundation. Her responsibilities include management of Foundation staff and program strategy and overseeing the distribution of $25 million in annual Foundation grants. Harris oversees education policy for Prudential’s Community Resources Department and advises senior management on their support of education initiatives. She also serves as Secretary of the Foundation. Prior to joining Prudential in 2004, Shané was the Director of the New Jersey Nets and Devils Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the New Jersey Nets Professional Basketball Team and the New Jersey Devils Professional Hockey Team. Before that, she was a Program Director for Communities In Schools of Newark, where she was responsible for brokering community resources to key schools in the Newark Public School district. Harris serves as Vice-President for Resource Development for the Board of Trustees for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Newark, one of the largest youth development agencies in the City of Newark. She has a B.A. degree in biology from Columbia University and also holds a Masters degree in Public Administration from New York University Wagner School of Public Service.

John Schreiber, Programming Chair

Termed a “visionary producer” and “impresario of brand names” by The New York Times, Emmy and Tony Award-winning producer John Schreiber is President and CEO of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC). The state’s largest cultural institution, NJPAC presents over 400 events each season via its best of class arts learning programs with the Arts Center reaching over 60,000 students annually. Prior to joining NJPAC, Schreiber was Executive Vice President of Social Action & Advocacy at Participant Media, the production company that released the critically acclaimed films Lincoln, The Help, Waiting for Superman and An Inconvenient Truth.

Newark Celebration 350 Staff

John W. Johnson, Jr., Executive Director

John W. Johnson, Jr. is a fellow at the Clement A. Price Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience. He received his PhD from Rutgers University-Newark in American Studies in 2014. His research and teaching interests are centered on the political and cultural history of 20th century United States, African American history, history of immigration, and Urban Studies. His dissertation surveys the growth and development of the storied Weequahic Section of Newark, charting its transition from a predominantly Jewish to majority African American neighborhood. A seasoned educator, John has taught high school as well as undergraduate students, and served as a middle school administrator, and higher education program coordinator and resident counselor. For over a decade he has worked with pre-college and undergraduate educational programs as an instructor and administrator. In 2014, Johnson partnered with the Children’s Defense Fund and founded the New Ark Freedom School, a summer reading and community-building program for city youth. He is a proud alumnus of Saint Benedict’s Preparatory School.

Jackie Harris, Producer

Jackie Harris has spent the past 30 years providing convention planning, event management, festival production, program development, arts and tour management services to a variety of clients in the United States and abroad. She spent nearly 10 years at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, as Assistant Fair Director and Night Concerts Producer. She then led the City of New Orleans Music and Entertainment Commission for eight years marked by tremendous success in re-positioning New Orleans as an entertainment Mecca and marketing its rich cultural legacy as the “Birthplace of Jazz.” Harris led the charge that resulted in the first airport in the United States to be named for a jazz artist – Louis Armstrong International Airport. She serves as executive director of the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation (New York), created and produces the twenty-two year old, Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong Summer Jazz Camp that has provided jazz music education to more than 2000 young people.

nc350 staff

Newark Celebration 350 Board of Trustees

Board of Trustees

Junius Williams, Esq., Chair
Marcia Brown, Esq., Vice Chair
Ralph Izzo, Vice Chair
Victor Parsonnet, MD, Vice Chair
Wilma Grey, Secretary
Gina Nisbeth, Treasurer
Irene Cooper-Basch, Fundraising Chair
Shané Harris, PR/Marketing Chair
John Schreiber, Programming Chair

Hon. Ras Baraka
Linda Bowden
Nancy Cantor
Hon. Mildred Crump
Elizabeth Del Tufo
Steven Kern
Roger Leon
Gwen Moten
Jonathan Pearson
Paul Profeta
Hon. Luis Quintana
Hon. M. Teresa Ruiz
Nancy Zak

Honorary Trustees

Marc Berson
Joel Bloom
Hon. Cory Booker
Gloria Hopkins Buck
Raymond Chambers
Tim Crist
Hon. Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr.
Curtis Farrow
Patrick Foye
Gale Gibson
Hon. Kenneth Gibson
Lawrence Hamm
Rashon Hasan
Rev. William Howard
Hon. Sharpe James
Pastor David Jefferson
Robert Johnson
Barbara Kukla
Father Edwin Leahy
Monsignor William Linder
Robert Marino
Mary Sue Sweeney Price
A. Zachary Yamba

Robert Pickett, Counsel
Dr. John Johnson Jr., Executive Director

Newark Celebration 350 Partners

Signature Partners

Premier Partners

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Thank you for your longstanding support and commitment.