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As New Brunswick Arts Scene Evolves, State Theatre Names 5 New Board Members

State Theatre New Jersey Benefit Gala artist and six-time Tony Award-winner Audra McDonald performing on the State Theatre New Jersey stage. Credits: Jeff Auger

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — A handful of business heavyweights are set to steer the State Theatre into the future.

The Livingston Avenue-based theater company this week announced five new appointments to its board of trustees. The list represents a who's-who in high-level businesses in New Brunswick and beyond, pulling from Johnson & Johnson, Bank of America and more.

“These five outstanding individuals offer diverse experience and talents that will be invaluable to the State Theatre,” the board's chair, Scott Fergang, said in a statement. “We are fortunate to have such high-caliber leaders join our Board of Trustees.”

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So who are they? Etta Rudolf Denk, a senior vice president at Bank of America; Robert DiLeo, the owner of NAI DiLeo-Bram & Co.; Wanda Bryant Hope, Johnson & Johnson's chief diversity and inclusion officer; Josh T. Harrison, a senior vice president at Investors Bank; and Robin Suydam, president of Suydam Insurance Operations.

Several of the new board members studied at or worked with Rutgers University, according to their biographies.

Their collective experience spans everything from top-tier financial dealings and university positions to coaching children, real estate development and fostering diversity in the workplace.

Perhaps most important in this role, though, the trustees said they believed in the power of the arts. They praised the State Theatre and said they were excited to join the team.

“Having a strong arts and culture platform in local communities helps economies thrive,” Denk, the Bank of America executive, said in a statement. “It also enables individuals to connect with one [another] across cultures, as well as educate and enrich societies.

She went on to label the theater an “important anchor institution” in New Brunswick.

The appointments come as the city's downtown arts and theater district begins a profound transformation. Two other theaters in the area are undergoing demolition, and a new 22-story performing arts center is set to sprout in their place.

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