Newark native Kim Hawthorne's journey as an actress has taken her across the world to light up the stage. Hawthorne journeyed home earlier this month to shine a light on those who back the mission of supporting the arts in Newark, a force that positively changes cities and changes lives.

"I could not be more excited to be illuminating the arts in my hometown," said Hawthrone, a graduate of Newark's Arts High School and one of the stars on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) television show Greenleaf, who emceed Newark Arts' annual fundraiser on April 11. "It was a great night in Newark as we honored [recently retired PSEG chief diversity officer] Ellen Lambert, and highlighted the work of Newark artists and raised money towards a great cause."  

The "Flashes of Genius" fundraiser, held inside the recently refurbished Rutgers-Newark building at 15 Washington Street in Newark's revitalizing downtown, lauded Lambert for her longtime efforts to help artists realize their full potential. 

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The works of the types of artists that persistent patrons such as Lambert have helped were showcased. Among those who showed off their work included lighting artist Sunil Garg, visual and performance artist Jerry Gant, artist and curator Adrienne Wheeler, sculptor Robert Lach, artist Kween Moore, photographer Tamara Fleming, and interior designer Lynette Lashawn of Off The Hanger Boutique. The Nai Ni Chen Dance Company performed around and amidst Gang's light sculptures to striking effect. 

"What an honor it was to be recognized as a champion for diversity both in the corporate sector and in the arts. I am quite pleased to have been a part of this exciting event to raise much needed dollars to support the arts community in Newark," said Lambert, whose work for PSEG included supporting the Newark Museum, the Newark-based New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, and Newark Arts.

Derek Di Risio, president of the PSEG Services Corporation, graced Lambert with the Newark Arts distinguished honors award. 

"We’re proud to recognize Ellen on her many years of leadership at PSEG and her commitment to diversity, philanthropy and the arts,” Di Risio said, both praising Lambert and noting PSEG's longtime role in Newark as a corporate anchor and community partner. 

Funds raised at the "Flashes of Genius" event will fuel a range of roles that Newark Arts plays as one of the engines of Newark's ongoing civic revival. 

The funds will sustain the non-profit organization's efforts to support community-driven initiatives, including the well-known for the Open Doors Citywide Arts Festival, an annual fall tour of public and private art spaces, studios and galleries across the city. 

Newark Arts has awarded over $500,000 in grants to neighborhood individuals and local organizations through the ArtStart program, helping to ensure that the arts in Newark continues to be a community-based force coming from the ground up. 

Newark Arts is also powering a community cultural plan for the City of Newark, Newark Creates, an eighteen-month planning process which will support the city's civic, social, and economic growth. The organization is also the incubator of the Newark Arts Education Roundtable, a strategic alliance of more than 80 arts education stakeholders, who ensure that Newark early learners and students have equitable access to high quality, sequential arts education opportunities.

When asked about the "Flashes of Genius" event, the face of Newark Arts Executive Director Jeremy Johnson lit up.

“There is no more deserving honoree than Ellen Lambert," Johnson said. "Her career is a testament to the power of diversity, and Newark Arts has always been at the forefront of diversity in the arts."

To see more of the event photos visit newarkarts.org/flashesofgenius/photos