Art House Productions Announces Six New Board Members

Art House Board Members Irene Barnaby, Margo Chaly, Bree Falato, Sunil K. Garg, Ibn Sharif Shakoor, and Lewis Spears

Art House Productions, Jersey City’s home for the performing and visual arts for the past 20 years, has announced the appointment of six new members to its Board of Trustees.

Irene Barnaby, Margo Chaly, Bree Falato, Sunil K. Garg, Ibn Sharif Shakoor, and Lewis Spears, the new board members, will provide additional leadership as Art House Productions moves into its permanent home at The Hendrix (180 Morgan St) in Jersey City, in fall 2022. The development is in partnership with SILVERMAN, The Albanese Group, and Liberty Harbor.

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“Art House is excited to expand our board with six new board members,” says Michelle Lewis-Bellamy, Co-President of the Board of Trustees. “Our new board members bring with them a varied set of knowledge, proficiency and vision that will assist Art House greatly as we expand our reach within the Jersey City community and beyond!”

“We’re thrilled to bring on these powerhouse board members. Art House is in a period of considerable growth and expansion and we will be continuing to develop our board and staff throughout the next year,” says Executive Artistic Director Meredith Burns.

Irene Barnaby is a real estate broker, people-connector,  art lover, local business owner, and community organizer. For over 20 years, she’s been an award-winning agent who’s recognized as a knowledgeable and valuable local guide, trusted advisor, and dedicated resource to her community. She serves as treasurer for the Village Neighborhood Association as well as a mayor-appointed board member position on the Jersey City Board of Assessment.

Irene is a native of the Republic of Georgia and holds a degree in International Business and Economics. She has resided in New Jersey for over 25 years and lives with her fiancé and three dogs in the Harsimus Cove neighborhood. Irene enjoys a lifelong love of skiing and international travel that has taken her to more than 50 countries around the world.

Margo Chaly, Esq. serves as Chief of Staff at the NJ Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA), where the mission is to support and promote accessibility to and affordability of post-secondary education in New Jersey. HESAA administers $500M in grants – financial aid that need not be paid back – to students attending colleges and universities in NJ. Before joining HESAA Margo served as Manager of Litigation & Operations at a law firm in New York City specializing in Nursing Home & Long-Term Care Facility Defense and Risk & Crisis Management.

Prior to that, Margo worked for more than a decade at multinational insurance companies, most recently on the technology optimization team as the Communications Coordinator and a liaison between executive stakeholders and developers during system migration initiatives. As a founding member of a not-for-profit organization AMIGAS, Inc, which supports professional and personal development of women through community service and networking opportunities, Margo is committed to advancing charitable programming that empowers young girls pursuing their academic goals. Margo is a long-time advocate and supporter of Jersey City community-based organizations, including WomenRising, the Anti-violence Coalition of Hudson County, and the West Indian Caribbean American Carnival Association.

Bree Falato spent nearly two decades in the corporate sector and non-profit sector where she specialized in communications, community impact, and strategic programming and partnerships. In 2021, Bree joined Haute Advisory as a partner and Chief Strategy Officer. Through Haute, Bree brings her combined expertise in strategic planning and a genuine passion for helping people succeed to ensure her clients’ meet their short- and long-term goals. Bree lives in Hudson County with her husband, three kids, and their turtle.

Sunil K. Garg Upon graduating from the University of Delhi, India with an Honours Degree in Chemistry, Sunil received his Doctorate in Physical Chemistry through a Fellowship at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ. He later received his Juris Doctor from Rutgers Law School in Newark and practiced environmental, regulatory, intellectual property and transactional law in New York and New Jersey. He founded and operated a science and law consulting firm and, as a government appointee, regulated the operations of one of the largest waste-to-energy systems in the US.

He is now known primarily as an experimental light and illumination artist. He was a resident at Gallery Aferro, and maintained a studio at The Gateway Project -Project for Empty Space in Newark. He now maintains a studio at Mana Contemporary in Jersey City. He has exhibited solo at the Novado Gallery, the Affordable Art Fair and the Visual Arts Gallery, New Jersey City University curated by Midori Yoshimoto. He has exhibited in shows at Index Art Center, Gallery 14 Maple, Walsh Gallery, Williamsburg Art and Historical Center, Hammond Museum, Queens Museum, among others.

His large-scale, site-specific public art installations (in and outdoors), have been exhibited in Chelsea, Bushwick, Newark, Key West, FL, Madison, WI, Summit, NJ, Philadelphia, PA, Long Beach Island, Jersey City, and more. His work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Hyperallergic, Artefuse, Vogue and other media. A mini-documentary on his work was selected for the New Filmmakers’ Festival. He is also a classically trained Indian improvisational musician.

Ibn Sharif Shakoor, Co-Founder of The Spot JC LLC and Spot JC Foundation is a licensed teacher, school counselor and therapist. Ibn Graduated from Saint Peter’s University with a Master of Arts in Education. He is also a songwriter, poet, and creative from Jersey City, New Jersey. He is best known for his soulful lyrics, creative visuals, as well as classroom lessons that connect hip hop to the world of education.

Ibn Sharif Shakoor was born in Hoboken, and raised in Jersey City. After playing the trumpet as a child, Ibn began to explore the world of poetry. His early writings were a reflection of his dysfunctional upbringing. Ibn continues to create music, direct videos, while simultaneously educating youth, mainly in Jersey City, New Jersey. In many of his lessons, the objective is to encourage students to reach beyond the surface of the everyday school curriculum.

Lewis Spears is a firm believer in a community pulling itself up by its bootstraps. He  has devoted his life and career to manifesting this philosophy. Lewis was born and raised in the Booker T. Washington Projects in Jersey City. He was educated in the JCPS and then went on to receive his B.A. from Rutgers University. After college, he returned to Jersey City and for nearly a decade, he has taught across grade levels, focusing primarily on developing the special education population and providing access to up-to-date curriculum with little to no assistance.

Lewis continued his formal education at New Jersey City University, receiving a Masters of Arts in Urban Education to enhance his teaching pedagogy. It was at this juncture, that he realized that leadership was the solution to organizational change. In his pursuit to become an educational leader and increase his influence, Lewis attained an Educational Masters in School Leadership from Harvard University. Lewis is the Founder of Kismet of Kings, Inc.

Currently, Lewis worked as the Hudson County Youth Services Commission Administrator where he was committed to improving programming for youths on a daily basis. Lewis is grounded in his faith and is an active member of his church community. He is happily married to Dr. Myriam Spears and a proud dad to AJ and Beau.

The Art House Board of Trustees includes Irene Barnaby, Joseph Bonifaz, Jeanne Brasile, Margo Chaly, Bree Falato, Bradley Fay, Sunil K. Garg, Michael Griffiths, Annie Kessler, Michelle Lewis-Bellamy, Kristin Mountford, Sophie Penkrat, Erin Leigh Pierson, Erica Resnick, Ibn Sharif Shakoor, and Lewis Spears. The Art House Access Committee includes Krystle Allen, Millie Gonzalez, Rachel Handler, Stephanie Lubalin, John McGinty, and Colleen Roche.