Art House Productions announces six new board members

Art House Board Members Irene Barnaby, Margo Chaly, Bree Falato, Sunil K. Garg, Ibn Sharif Shakoor and Lewis Spears

Art House Productions, Jersey City’s home of performing and visual arts for 20 years, has announced the appointment of six new members to its Board of Trustees.

Irene Barnaby, Margo Chaly, Bree Falato, Sunil K. Garg, Ibn Sharif Shakoor and Lewis Spears, the new board members, will provide additional leadership when Art House Productions moves to its permanent home at The Hendrix (180 Morgan St) in Jersey City , in Fall 2022. Developed in partnership with SILVERMAN, The Albanese Group and Liberty Harbor.

“Art House is pleased to add six new board members to our board,” said Michelle Lewis-Bellamy, Co-President of the Board of Trustees. “Our new board members bring a diverse range of knowledge, skills and vision that will greatly assist Art House as we expand our reach within the Jersey City community and beyond!”

“We are very pleased to bring these high-performing board members on board. Art House is in a period of significant growth and expansion and we will continue to develop our board and staff over the next year,” said Executive Artistic Director Meredith Burns.

Irene Barnaby is a real estate agent, matchmaker, art lover, local business owner and community organizer. For over 20 years she has been an award-winning agent recognized as a knowledgeable and valuable local guide, trusted advisor and dedicated resource to her community. She serves as treasurer of the Village Neighborhood Association as well as a mayor-appointed director on the Jersey City Board of Assessment.

Irene is from the Republic of Georgia and has a degree in International Business and Economics. She has been in New Jersey for over 25 years and lives in the Harsimus Cove neighborhood with her fiancé and three dogs. Irene enjoys a lifelong love of skiing and international travel that has taken her to more than 50 countries around the world.

Margo Chaly, Esq. is Chief of Staff at the NJ Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA), whose mission is to support and promote the accessibility and affordability of post-secondary education in New Jersey. HESAA administers $500 million in grants – non-repayable financial aid – to students attending colleges and universities in NJ. Prior to joining HESAA, Margo was Manager of Litigation & Operations for a New York City law firm specializing in the defense of nursing homes and long-term care facilities, and risk and crisis management.

Prior to that, Margo worked for multinational insurance companies for more than a decade, most recently on the technology optimization team as a communications coordinator and as a liaison between senior stakeholders and developers on systems migration initiatives. As a founding member of a nonprofit organization AMIGAS, Inc, which supports the professional and personal development of women through community service and networking opportunities, Margo is committed to advancing charitable programs that empower young girls in pursuing their academic goals. Margo is a longtime advocate and supporter of Jersey City organizations including WomenRising, the Anti-Violence Coalition of Hudson County and the West Indian Caribbean American Carnival Association.

Bree Falato has spent nearly two decades in the corporate and nonprofit sectors specializing in communications, community impact, and strategic programming and partnerships. In 2021, Bree joined Haute Advisory as Partner and Chief Strategy Officer. Through Haute, Bree brings her combined expertise in strategic planning and a genuine passion for helping people succeed, ensuring her clients achieve their short- and long-term goals. Bree lives in Hudson County with her husband, three children and their turtle.

Sunil K. Garg After graduating in chemistry from the University of Delhi, India, Sunil received his PhD in physical chemistry from a fellowship at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ. He later received his Juris Doctor from Rutgers Law School in Newark and practiced environmental, regulatory, intellectual property and transactional law in New York and New Jersey. He founded and operated a scientific and legal consulting firm and, as a government official, regulated the operation of one of the largest waste-to-energy systems in the United States.

Today he is best known as an experimental light and illumination artist. He was a resident at Gallery Aferro and had a studio at The Gateway Project – Project for Empty Space in Newark. He now maintains a studio at Mana Contemporary in Jersey City. He has had solo shows at the Novado Gallery, the Affordable Art Fair, and the Visual Arts Gallery at New Jersey City University, curated by Midori Yoshimoto. He has exhibited in exhibitions at Index Art Center, Gallery 14 Maple, Walsh Gallery, Williamsburg Art and Historical Center, Hammond Museum, and Queens Museum, among others.

His large-scale, site-specific public art installations (indoor and outdoor) have been exhibited in Chelsea, Bushwick, Newark, Key West, FL, Madison, WI, Summit, NJ, Philadelphia, PA, Long Beach Island, Jersey City, and more. His work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Hyperallergic, Artefuse, Vogue and other media. A mini-documentary about his work has been selected for the New Filmmakers’ Festival. He is also a classically trained Indian improvisational musician.

Ibn Sharif Shakoor, co-founder of The Spot JC LLC and Spot JC Foundation, is a licensed teacher, school counselor and therapist. Ibn graduated from Saint Peter’s University with a Master of Arts in Education. He is also a songwriter, poet and creative from Jersey City, New Jersey. He is best known for his soulful lyrics, creative visuals, and lessons that connect hip-hop with the world of education.

Ibn Sharif Shakoor was born in Hoboken and grew up in Jersey City. After playing the trumpet as a child, Ibn began exploring the world of poetry. His early writings reflected his dysfunctional upbringing. Ibn continues to create music and direct videos while educating youth, primarily in Jersey City, New Jersey. Many of his lessons are about encouraging students to go beyond the surface of everyday school life.

Lewis Spears is a firm believer in a community that pulls itself up by its bootstraps. He has dedicated his life and career to the manifestation of this philosophy. Lewis was born and raised in the Booker T. Washington Projects in Jersey City. He was educated at JCPS and then received his BA from Rutgers University. After college, he returned to Jersey City and taught at all grade levels for nearly a decade, focusing primarily on special education development and providing access to current curriculum with little to no support.

Lewis continued his formal education at New Jersey City University and received a Master of Arts in Urban Education to improve his classroom pedagogy. It was at this point that he realized that leadership was the solution to organizational change. In his quest to become an educational leader and increase his influence, Lewis earned an Educational Masters in School Leadership from Harvard University. Lewis is the founder of Kismet of Kings, Inc.

Lewis currently worked as an administrator for the Hudson County Youth Services Commission, where he worked to improve the program for youth on a daily basis. Lewis is grounded in his faith and an active member of his church community. He is happily married to Dr. Myriam Spears and proud father of AJ and Beau.

The Art House Board of Trustees includes Irene Barnaby, Joseph Bonifaz, Jeanne Brasile, Margo Chaly, Bree Falato, Bradley Fay, Sunil K. Garg, Michael Griffiths, Annie Kessler, Michelle Lewis-Bellamy, Kristin Mountford, Sophie Penkrat and Erin Leigh Pierson , Erica Resnick, Ibn Sharif Shakoor and Lewis Spears. The Art House Access Committee includes Krystle Allen, Millie Gonzalez, Rachel Handler, Stephanie Lubalin, John McGinty and Colleen Roche.

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