Leadership changes at SOPAC

Photos Courtesy of SOPAC
Svetlana ‘Lana’ Rogachevskaya was recently named executive director of the South Orange Performing Arts Center.

SOUTH ORANGE — The arts helped Svetlana “Lana” Rogachevskaya assimilate.

A native of Ukraine, Rogachevskaya moved to Brooklyn when she was 19 and art helped ease the transition.

“The reason I dedicated myself to the arts is that feeling of community,” she said. “Through the arts, I found my way to assimilate.”

The South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) announced recently that Rogachevskaya had been hired as its executive director and Aida Jones was its new board chair. Jones replaces long-time board member and current board chair Douglas Newman, who also managed SOPAC’s operations during its executive director search.

Jones said Rogachevskaya was chosen after a rigorous search that included more than 50 applicants.

“Lana was a clear winner,” Jones said. “In terms of her ability to be an exceptional people leader, an empathetic leader, she is highly creative, innovative and energetic.”

SOPAC has an annual budget of about $3 million with 14 full-time employees plus part timers and numerous volunteers. Rogachevskaya will take on the role of guiding SOPAC to increasingly innovate and diversify its programming, while engaging both new and existing audiences.

Throughout her two-decades-long career, Rogachevskaya has promoted social justice, inclusion, and belonging through the arts, consistently generating resources and leveraging partnerships to expand cultural access, education, and community engagement. She has produced, hosted, and facilitated numerous gatherings to help individuals, groups, and communities find collective meaning.

She began her career developing resources for international cultural exchange initiatives, touring and producing with the American Russian Young Artists Orchestra in New York and later, the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Tanglewood Festival.

Rogachevskaya then moved to the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College where she and her team expanded accessibility and belonging for the more than 70,000 visitors. Rogachevskaya comes to SOPAC from the Center for Performing Arts at Governors State University, a minority-serving institution in the south suburbs of Chicago.

As the executive director there for 11 years, she facilitated the center’s transformation from an academic unit to a prominent cultural destination by expanding its visibility, access, and engagement with new programs, partnerships, and premieres.

Her leadership resulted in expanded endowed funds, renovated facilities, and the new series Creating Compassionate Communities (CCC). CCC engages communities in accessible public performances celebrating the beauty of authentic cultural heritage while breaking down accessibility barriers and empowering youth.

Rogachevskaya holds a BA in Multimedia Communications from Baruch College and an MFA in Performing Arts Management from Brooklyn College.
Rogachevskaya said she is currently in listening mode, getting to know the community.

“What is this community about,” Rogachevskaya said. “What do they value? How can we be essential? In the heart of it, it’s about connections.”

Rogachevskaya said she will seek to make sure there is something for every segment of the community at SOPAC.

Rogachevskaya, 45, is married with two teenage children. She started at SOPAC on May 1, which was the same day Jones took over as board chair.

“Two women leading the organization for the first time, there’s a new energy and we are very much aligned in how we want to connect and how we want to treat people in and out of the organization and how much we want to collaborate and listen.”