Great Conversations 2024

Reception, Dinner, and Conversation with Celebrated Hosts

Save the Date: Wednesday, May 1, 2024

6:00pm Cocktail Reception   |   7:15pm Dinner
Birchwood Manor in Whippany, NJ

GREAT CONVERSATIONS is a one-of-a-kind event where you get the opportunity to dine and talk with a prominent individual while supporting the arts! Our conversationalists are honored guests who contribute to the diverse character of our community including artists, top business executives, healthcare innovators, social impact leaders, entrepreneurs, scientists, and many more.

We invite you to join us for this unique evening to exchange ideas, toast and dine with new friends, and engage in great conversations.

Check out our highlight reel from Great Conversations 2023 to see what it’s all about!

 

Choose Your Conversationalist

When you register, you are asked to select your top 5 Conversationalist choices. We will assign you to sit with one of these choices. Seating assignments are first come, first serve. This popular event fills up quickly, so be sure to purchase your tickets early. 

Take a look at this year’s fascinating conversationalists below – click on their name to see their full bio.

ARTS, MUSIC & ENTERTAINMENT

Lee Baskerville
Fine artist, interior designer, and historic home renovator from a long line of architects in Richmond, VA; adventure seeking outdoorsman who has led safaris in Africa.
Serena Bocchino
Award-winning contemporary abstract artist inspired by music, working in the realm of painting, sculpture, and installation.
Derby Chukwudi
Miss New Jersey USA 2023; member of the Global Investment Strategy Team at JPMorgan; passionate advocate for financial literacy.
Seth Ruggles Hiler
Artist inspired by nature, humans, and the communities they create; current artistic obsession is painting nature en plein air.
   
AJ Washington
Founder of Phlote, collaborative music platform for independent musicians, producers, and DJs; traveled to 22 countries in year-long around the world adventure.
 

COMMUNICATIONS & MEDIA

Ronnie Agnew
General Manager of NJ Advance Media representing NJ.com and Mosaic.nj.com; award-winning career includes coverage of Mississippi’s civil rights movement.
Meredith DeSalazar
Emmy-nominated science documentary producer at the Wonder Collaborative; former news producer for Dan Rather.
Jason Ellinger
Master Storyteller, Commercial Filmmaker, and Co-Founder of Beard & Bowler Productions, premier video production agency focused on serving nonprofits.
John Zweig
Chairman of Neuro-Insight; company using neuromarketing to study how the brain responds to advertising; former Group CEO of WPP, world’s largest communications company.

CULINARY ARTS, FOOD & BEVERAGE

Chris Casiello
Arethusa Farm Dairy – Production Manager & Head Cheeser; oversees operation of successful CT farm started by the executives behind the Manolo Blahnik shoe empire.
Joe Pat Clayton
Penta Tequila – Brand Ambassador & National Sales Director; certified sommelier with 40+ years in hospitality who is passionate about sharing his love of agave, Mexico, and stories from the road.
Geoff Doloff
Beverage Director for Harvest Restaurants including Roots Steakhouse, Tabor Road Tavern, Grato, Agricola, and Huntley Taverne.
Andre Romero
Mondel─ôz International – VP, Revenue Growth, US; responsible for driving growth across iconic brands such as OREO, Chips Ahoy! cookies, and Ritz crackers.

DATA SCIENCE & AI

Dakshi Agrawal
IBM Fellow & Chief Technology Officer for IBM AI Research; responsible for bringing the next generation of AI innovations to market through IBM products.
Nate Barnes
PwC – US Deals Chief Data Scientist; experienced consultant passionate about harnessing data, analytics, and Generative AI.
Drew Thompson
Founder, Consultant, and Coach for Consult Drew, startup helping small businesses future-proof their organizations and expedite results with the power of AI.
 

DESIGN & ARCHITECTURE

Nancy Dougherty
Owner and Principal of Studio 1200, award-winning Architecture and Design Firm; AIA NJ 2023 Architect of the Year.

FINANCE & BANKING

Fred Castrovinci
Valley Bank – Regional President, Middle Market Commercial & Business Banking; responsible for expanding Valley’s market presence in NJ.

HEALTHCARE & PHARMA

Graham Ferrier, PhD
Pfizer – Global Medical Director & Lead, Gastrointestinal Cancers & Melanoma; advocate for the role art can play in patients’ healing process.
Linda Gillam, MD, MPH, FACC
Chair, Gagnon Cardiovascular Institute at Morristown Medical Center and AHS Cardiology; expert in echocardiography, valvular heart disease, and heart disease in women.
Stefanie Kuhner
Bristol Myers Squibb – Global Head of Clinical Technology, Innovation, Patient Recruitment & Real-World Data.
Tracey Saia, LPAT, MS, ATR-BC, ATCS
Art Therapist who uses artistic creation and expression to psychologically heal and grow those experiencing trauma.

POLICY & CONFLICT RESOLUTION

Jean Molino
Board Member & Former Chair of Convergence Center for Policy Resolution, dedicated to convening leaders in collaborative problem solving; former General Counsel to McKinsey & Company.
 

SOCIAL IMPACT & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Allison Ladd
Newark Deputy Mayor/Director Economic & Housing Development; leads Newark’s nationally acclaimed equitable growth housing and development strategy. 
Elizabeth McCarthy
Community FoodBank of New Jersey – President & CEO; human services nonprofit leader committed to breaking the cycle of generational poverty and social inequity.

Great Sponsors of Great Conversations

We thank the following sponsors for their support of Morris Arts. Click on the sponsor’s name to link to their website.

GOLD: Nancy and Nelson Schaenen, Jr.

CONVERSATIONALISTS’ RECEPTION: Finn Partners

ENCORE: Beard & Bowler, Finn Partners, NJ Advance Media representing NJ.com + Mosaic.nj.com, and ROI-NJ

OVATION: Mondel─ôz International, Valley Bank

APPLAUSE: En Masse Coworking, Gensler, Morristown Medical Center, Pfizer, Melanie and Alan Levitan

STAR: AMHigley, Community Builders, Eaglesite Management, HITT Contracting, Morris County Economic Development Alliance & Tourism BureauNK Architects, PBF Energy, ShopRite of Greater Morristown, WB Wood, Anne E. Aronovitch and Dick Eger, and Becky Button Espiritu

SUPPORTING ROLE: Kraus Marketing, Shanghai Jazz, Vollers, Will Draper, Marcia and Peter Hunter, Joanne and Tom McMillian, Virginia Molino, and Clare and Martin Prentice

 

For more information or sponsorship opportunities, please contact Dominique Tornabe, Director of Development at dtornabe@morrisarts.org or 908-619-7550.