The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey Elects Five New Board Members

Christine Aschwald, Heather Braun, Eleanor Lear, Jennifer Markovitz, and Greg Vargas will officially begin their terms in November 2024.

By: Jul. 01, 2024
The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey Elects Five New Board Members
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​The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey (VACNJ) elected five new members to its board of Trustees at its most recent board meeting on June 10, 2024. Christine Aschwald, Heather Braun, Eleanor Lear, Jennifer Markovitz, and Greg Vargas will officially begin their terms in November 2024, and their tenures will run through 2027. “The opportunity to welcome new trustees to the Art Center board is always inspiring,” said Melanie Cohn, VACNJ's Executive Director. “Christine, Heather, Eleanor, Jennifer, and Greg all bring a variety of talents and strengths, and their diverse skill sets, along with their shared passions for the arts, will undoubtedly serve the Art Center for years to come.”

Christine Aschwald is a private art advisor with more than 17 years of art market experience. Raised in Summit, Christine moved back to the area in 2020 during the pandemic to be close to family and now lives there with her husband, Eric, with whom she raises three young boys. Most recently Aschwald spent two years as Senior Director of Collector Sales at Artsy, the leading online art marketplace, where she focused on auctions and private sales of Post War and Contemporary and emerging art. Before that, she spent 15 years at Christie's Auction House in New York, beginning her career as a cataloguer of 19th-century Art and eventually becoming Vice President in the Client Advisory team, where she advised many of the firm's top private clients on acquisitions, appraisals, and selling. She graduated with a BA in Art History and Political Science from Williams College.

Heather Braun began her career in consumer packaged goods working with such brands as the Saratoga Spring Water Company, the Naked Juice company, and Vitaminwater, before becoming the Principal of Immersion Marketing, a branding and marketing agency specializing in research and brand positioning. She is a Board Member of Horizons Newark, an organization that advances educational equity by building partnerships with students, families, communities, and schools in Newark to create experiences outside of school that inspire the joy of learning. She has been an active supporter of the Jewish Women's Foundation of New Jersey; the Link Community Charter School of Newark; and multiple organizations and initiatives that support students with dyslexia and learning differences, such as the Child Mind Institute of New York City and Learning Ally in Princeton. She is actively involved at The Peck School and Morristown Beard School and is currently serving as a chairperson for Common Grounds Speaks, a consortium of parent associations of independent schools  She has also served on the Board of the Junior Fortnightly Club of Summit, NJ, where she lives with her husband, three teenage sons, and two dogs.

Eleanor Lear has been an educator since 1996, teaching English and ESL at public high schools in Oregon and New Jersey, the Kent Place School in Summit, and most recently at The Pingry School in Basking Ridge. In 2022 she stepped away from full-time teaching to become more involved in the Pingry community in other capacities. She developed and teaches a two-week mini-semester on comedy writing, coaches students in college essay writing, fills in for teachers when substitutes are scarce, and represents Pingry at fundraising events and important ceremonial events such as graduation. She also recently started serving on the Princeton Alumni Association Committee for the Princeton Prize in Race Relations, for which she supports young people's social justice efforts. She has recently become a trustee on the Link Education Partners board, which is the fundraising arm of the Link School in Newark, and is on the Religious Education Committee at the Chatham Summit Quaker Meeting. She lives in Basking Ridge with her husband, Tim, and her three children.

Jennifer Markovitz is a New Jersey-based artist working primarily in mixed media, printmaking, and collage. She received her BFA in painting and printmaking from Cornell University and her Masters from Seton Hall University in museum studies. She has exhibited in group and juried shows at North of History Gallery in New York City; Garrison Art Center in Garrison, NY; Montclair Art Museum in Montclair, NJ; FIAF French Institute in Montclair NJ; The A Space Gallery in New Hope, PA; LITM Gallery in Jersey City, NJ; Atlantic Highlands Art Council; d the JCC in Whippany, NJ; and VACNJ. She has worked as a docent at the Museum of Tolerance in Manhattan, VACNJ, and is currently a docent at The Museum of Arts and Design in New York City. Jennifer lives in Short Hills with her husband, Michael, and cat, Gigi.

Greg Vargas is a human resources executive who brings more than 25 years of HR expertise to diverse industries including tech, finance, and consumer goods. He excels in global recruitment, employee relations, and staff development. Greg's career path transitioned from managing the International Monetary Fund's Economist Program to leading talent acquisition teams at Google, Yahoo, and Harry's. Now with the Diligent Corporation, Greg oversees international talent acquisition, people development, and DEI initiatives. Passionate about social impact, Greg serves on the board of Impact Justice, a justice reform research center based in Oakland, California. He previously served for several years as membership chair of the Architecture + Design Forum at SFMOMA. Greg resides in Summit, NJ, with his husband, Dan, and daughter, Caroline.

About the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey

For more than 90 years, the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey has been exclusively dedicated to viewing, making, and learning about contemporary art. Recognized as a leading non-profit arts organization, the Art Center's renowned Studio School, acclaimed exhibitions, and educational outreach initiatives serve thousands of youths, families, seniors, and people with special needs every year. 


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