Staff & Leadership
Jessica Gaines brings over 15 years of project management experience in the creative, arts, and marketing fields. Her interest in management was inspired early on from working in the private sector as a Marketing Account Manager. But it’s the Arts and Culture sector where she found her professional home. Her connection to the arts stems from her training and background in dance; Jessica spent the early stages of her career as an independent/ freelance dancer, choreographer and instructor, stateside and internationally. Prior to joining the Alliance as Operations Coordinator, she showcased her management talents with Americans for the Arts, City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, and New York International Children’s Film Festival.
In 2018, Jessica received a certificate in Executive Arts and Culture Strategy from University of Pennsylvania and National Arts Strategies. In 2019, she received an M.S. in Organization Change Management at The New School, Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Studies.
Deonté Griffin-Quick, a New Jersey native, is an actor, singer, and arts administrator who is committed to the advancement and diversity of American Theatre. Deonté joined the NJTA team as an intern in December of 2016 and was enthused to continue his work with the Alliance as the Marketing and Communications Assistant before becoming the Manager of Programs and Services.
Before joining the Alliance staff, Deonté was afforded the opportunity to complete internships with several NJ theatres including New Jersey Repertory Company and Premiere Stages. In 2018, Deonté served as a grant review panelist for Alternate ROOTS (Atlanta, GA) to review applications for Partners in Action, a program that fosters and funds social justice partnerships with progressive activist artists from all artistic disciplines in grassroots communities across the U.S. Southern Region. He has also worked with the organization to facilitate workshops focused on equity, diversity, and anti-oppression. From 2018-2019 he served as the State Coordinator of New Jersey Poetry Out Loud, working with New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
In April of 2019, Deonté received the "Outstanding Achievement in the Arts" award from the Urban League of Union County Young Professionals. Deonté holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre with a Communication minor from Kean University and is a candidate for membership of the Actor's Equity Association. As a performer, Deonté has performed at The Prudential Center, Enlow Recital Hall, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, the world-renowned Apollo Theater in Harlem, Premiere Stages, Luna Stage Company, New Jersey Repertory Company, and on Fox 5 Good Day NY.
Lauren Mancuso is the Digital Communications and Marketing Specialist with the New Jersey Theatre Alliance.
Before joinging the Alliance team, Lauren was the Social Media and Partnerships Manager at iPlay America, New Jersey's largest indoor amusement park. Before that, she served as the Marketing Associate and Social Media Coordinator at Two River Theater where, among many projects, she designed merchandise for the production of Love in Hate Nation, helped create social media contests for opening night tickets, and started a revolution ending in a quarter of the staff speaking in British accents.
Lauren received her BS in Music Business from Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida. It was in the muggy center of Florida where she fell in love with digital marketing and the power that social media can have.
In her spare time, she enjoys blasting Six: The Musical on repeat, playing the ukulele, and posting on her Instagram story.
John McEwen has served as the Executive Director of New Jersey Theatre Alliance since 2001.
Prior to the Alliance, John served as Vice President for Development of the New Jersey Network Foundation where he was responsible for providing the leadership for an annual fund goal of more than $7 million in support of NJN Public Television and Radio’s programs and services. Prior to joining NJN, John served as the Director of Development for Paper Mill Playhouse where he oversaw all fundraising activities, long-range planning, and board development. John provided the leadership for Paper Mill’s successful $10 million capital campaign.
In 1992, McEwen developed the Cultural Access Network Project, a project of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and New Jersey Theatre Alliance, for which he received the inaugural Leadership Award in Access from The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. John serves as a trustee of ArtPride NJ andFund for the New Jersey Blind. John has served as an adjunct professor in arts management at Seton Hall University, Drew University, and New York University.
John has consulted numerous organizations on board development, long-range planning, fundraising, and cultural access. He received a BA from Montclair State University and an MA from New York University.
John is a graduate of Leadership/New Jersey and was selected as one of 50 nonprofit arts leaders to participate in the Executive Program for Nonprofit Arts Leaders at Stanford University, a partnership of Stanford and National Arts Strategies.
When John is not attending the theatre, he enjoys cooking, collecting glass art, and anything to do with the water—boating, sun bathing, swimming.
Before joining the Alliance in 2019, Erica Nagel was the Director of Creative Development and Strategy at McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, where she served as a senior member of the artistic staff, oversaw a variety of programs for learners of all ages, and lead cross-departmental initiatives such as The Every 28 Hour Plays, The Migration Plays, and sensory-friendly relaxed performances. Erica previously worked as Director of Education and Engagement at McCarter, during which time she significantly expanded educational partnerships with the Trenton Public School District and re-imagined audience engagement offerings to deepen the impact of attending live performance.
Before her time at McCarter, Erica served as the Producing Associate and Resident Dramaturg at Premiere Stages in Union, NJ. She has also consulted as a dramaturg, curriculum developer, grant panelist, and assessment specialist for numerous organizations across the country, and taught at Princeton University, SUNY Brockport, and Texas A&M University. She is a proud recipient of a 2010 TCG New Generations Future Leaders Grant, which “seeks to identify exceptionally talented theatre professionals who will impact the field in a positive way,” and was honored to participate in the second cohort of the TCG Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Institute
Erica received her MFA in Performance as Public Practice (Theatre and Social Change) at the University of Texas-Austin, where she was a recipient of a Continuing Fellowship Award for her thesis project, Collaboration, Context, and Common Ground: A Model for Community-Engaged Dramaturgy, and regularly wore cowgirl boots to rehearsal.
Board of Trustees:
John Wooten, Chair
Larry Capo, President
Michael Hurst, Vice Chair
Seth Geldzahler, Treasurer
Laura Ekstrand, Secretary
Neha Bhalani, Esq.
Laura J. Hay
Marshall Jones, III
Suzanne Klar, Esq.
Michael Schoering, FAIA