Morris Arts Celebrates its 50th Anniversary with 27 Conversationalists

Join Morris Arts to celebrate its 50th Anniversary at Great Conversations on Wednesday April 26 from 6­–9:30PM at the Birchwood Manor in Whippany, NJ. The event is chaired by Morris Arts’ board member Merle Johnson.

Great Conversations is a unique event that gives guests the opportunity to dine and talk with a prominent individual while supporting the arts. Our conversationalists are made up of 27 honored guests who contribute to the diverse character of our community including: artists, top business leaders, world-class performers, entrepreneurs, authors, scientists, culinary stars, and more.

Attendees are asked to select their top five conversationalists in advance and will be assigned to sit with one of their choices. We invite you to take advantage of this unique opportunity to exchange ideas while savoring a delicious meal, refreshing drink, and great conversation.

Mingle with host conversationalists during the cocktail hour and then dine with such luminaries including the New York Red Bulls’ President and General Manager; CEO of Tate’s Bake Shop; a highly acclaimed NYC chef; the Chief Medical Officer of Hackensack University Medical Center; a NY Times bestselling author; a Broadway actor and other similarly fascinating and accomplished individuals.

In celebration of its golden anniversary, Morris Arts is thrilled to incorporate the talents of two local arts grantee* organizations throughout the evening. Lakeland Youth Symphony’s Youth Ensemble will provide live music during the cocktail hour with a quintet led by the symphony’s Executive Director, Sue On. Morristown Neighborhood House will feature the captains of their Unity Stepper Dance & Drill Team in a performance led by Before & Afterschool Supervisor, Adia Harris.

Individual Tickets are now on sale here. Early pricing per ticket is $250, which increases to $275 on April 13. A young professional rate of $150 is available this year for individuals who are 35 and under.

You can find the full list of our 2023 conversationalists below and view their full bios here. Each conversationalist’s headshot is above in alphabetical order from left to right starting at the top left corner.

Our conversationalists include (photographed above): Jill Abramovitz, Kimberly Alvarez, Mark Beausoleil, Bianca Bosker, Anthony Broccoli, Courtney DiGiovanni, Stanley Fiel, M.D., Marc de Grandpré, John Harmon, Sr., Al Hockaday, Joseph Lee, John Maki, Anthony Marques, Jim Mottola, Patrick Munduga, Ritesh Patel, Tom Puthiyamadam, Sara Queen, Esi Seng, Bill Stephney, Lisa Tank, M.D., Tom Valenti, Rosalind Nzinga Vaugh-Nichol, Lisa Vickery, Yesmean Wahdan, M.D., Brett Whitsitt and Kimberly Wolf.

Proceeds from Great Conversations help to support programs and services provided by Morris Arts. Often accomplished “behind the scenes,” Morris Arts’ work serves hundreds of thousands of people each year – with arts in education programs, arts programming in the community, grants, scholarships, advocacy, innovative community-building/creative placemaking events and support for artists and arts organizations. These efforts are critical to enriching and improving the quality of life in the broader community.

*Morris Arts offers Local Arts Grants to provide access to quality arts experiences in Morris County communities. In Fiscal Year 2023, 32 Morris County arts organizations received a total of $120,500 which supports more than 1,500 arts activities and programs that serve over 100,000 children and adults. Morris Arts’ Local Arts Grants are made possible by, and contingent upon, funding from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

Morris Arts gratefully acknowledges the generosity of our sponsors: Encore: AMHigley; Bayer; Finn Partners; Hackensack Meridian Health Network; MCM Wealth Management at Morgan Stanley; MetLife; NJ Advance Media representing & Jersey’s Best; NJTV; ROI-NJ; Conversationalists’ Reception: Finn Partners; Ovation: Mondelēz International; New York Red Bulls, PwC, Valley Bank; Applause: Charles Schwab; JPMorgan Chase & Co.; Morristown Medical Center; Pfizer; Melanie and Alan Levitan; Nancy and Nelson Schaenen, Jr.; Star: African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey; Morris County Chamber of Commerce; NK Architects; Riker Danzig; Anne E. Aronovitch and Dick Eger; Bill Keefauver; Nicky L’Hommedieu; Tara and Dave Skirzenski; Supporting Role: Marcia and Peter Hunter; Joanne and Tom McMillian; Clare and Martin Prentice.

Handicap parking spots are available by the main entrance of the venue and are marked accordingly. The main program portions of the event will be Open Captioned by TotalCaption. If you should need any other essentials to attend the event, please contact Jenna Castano, ADA Coordinator at

Visit for more information about the host conversationalists, sponsorships, and to purchase tickets.

Morris Arts, located in Morristown, NJ, is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1973 dedicated to building community through the arts. Using the arts to inspire, connect and engage, Morris Arts serves as a resource for Morris County with a special focus on arts programming in the schools and in the community, arts advocacy, creative placemaking and support of the Morris Area community of artists and arts organizations.