The Alliance welcomes Joseph Benincasa of The Actors Fund and Connie Alexis-Laona of Rutgers University Foundation to the Board of Trustees | New Jersey Theatre Alliance

The Alliance welcomes Joseph Benincasa of The Actors Fund and Connie Alexis-Laona of Rutgers University Foundation to the Board of Trustees

(West Orange) The New Jersey Theatre Alliance (NJTA), the service organization for the state’s professional theatres, welcomes community leaders Connie Alexis-Laona of Rutgers University Foundation, and Joseph Benincasa of The Actors Fund to their Board of Trustees.

John McEwen, Executive Director of the Theatre Alliance says: “We are delighted to add the expertise, energy and unique perspectives that Joe and Connie bring to our board as the New Jersey Theatre Alliance explores exciting new ways to advance its mission in support of professional theatre and quality of life in New Jersey.”

Connie Alexis-Laona, a resident of Nutley, is currently the Director of Development at Rutgers University Foundation. Here, she is responsible for the cultivation and solicitation of major gifts prospects in support of the school’s research, teaching and outreach activities as well as raising fund for scholarships and fellowships for the School of Arts and Sciences.  Prior to working with Rutgers University Foundation, she was the Senior Development Officer/Director of Development for eight years at Kean University.

Ms. Alexis-Laona has extensive experience in nonprofit management, consulting  and fundraising.   She has worked in performing arts management as the Managing Director of Circle Repertory Company and General Manager of the Manhattan Theatre Club.

Ms. Alexis-Laona is a member of the Council for Advancement Support of Education (CASE) and ArtPride New Jersey.  She formally served as a Board Member and Treasurer of Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP): New Jersey Chapter and in 1998, she became certified in AFP’s Certified Fund Raising Executive Program.

A graduate of Clarion State College, Ms. Alexis-Laona also has a Masters of Arts degree from Pennsylvania State University.

“With my history of over 20 years in not-for-profit theatre in the NY-NJ region I am happy to be part of an organization that strengthens theatres and enhances their efforts through programs such as The Stages Festival, njArtsTix.org, and the Cultural Access Network Project,” said Alexis-Laona.

Joseph Benincasa, a resident of Stockton, is currently the President & CEO of The Actors Fund headquartered out of New York City.  Mr. Benincasa joined The Fund in 1988 and oversees innovative programs including comprehensive social services, health care services, employment and training, and affordable, supportive and senior housing.  He is also Chairman of the Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation, which builds affordable, supportive and senior care residences for artists in major urban centers.

“Just as the organization I manage helps performing artists and members of the creative community face the challenges of life in the Arts, the Theatre Alliance helps professional theatres survive and thrive,” said Benincasa. “Helping live theatre succeed in the Garden State is important for our souls and our local economies, and I’m very proud to play a supporting role.” He added, “I know quite well how good the Theatre Alliance is and believe everyone should take enormous pride in how it serves.”

Mr. Benincasa serves on the board of directors of several organizations including Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Career Transition for Dancers, Human Services Council, Times Square Alliance, Bio-Reference Laboratories, YMCA of New York City and the Somerset Patriots.  Some of the past boards he was involved with included chair of the New York Society of Association Executives in 2007,  the Tony Administration and Nominating Committees and the Board of Directors of St. Peter's University Medical Center.

Recognized with several honors, including the inaugural Made in New York Award presented by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Brooklyn’s Italian of the Year presented by Borough President Marty Markowitz, Mr. Benincasa was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by Centenary College in 2011, and served on the New York State Attorney General’s Leadership Committee for Nonprofit Revitalization. He has lectured on the topic of not-for-profit management at Duke University and the New School.

Mr. Benincasa graduated from St. Joseph's University, earned a Masters degree from Rutgers University and attended the Graduate Business School at Fordham University.

Funding for the New Jersey Theatre Alliance, a not-for-profit organization, is provided in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as contributions from foundations, corporations, businesses and individuals.