NEWARK, NJ — Charles F. Lowrey Jr., chairperson and CEO of Prudential Financial, and Carmen Villar, vice president of social business innovation for Merck & Co., have been elected co-chairpersons of the board of directors at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, the arts center announced Jan. 24.
Lowrey will be the third Prudential chairperson and CEO in the arts center’s history to act as board chairperson or co-chairperson. Villar, who was chief of staff at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before joining Merck, is both the first woman and the first person of color to serve as the arts center’s board co-chairperson.
“Throughout its 25-year history, NJPAC has always been blessed with extraordinarily committed, creative and collaborative board chairs,” NJPAC President and CEO John Schreiber said. “I know that Carmen and Charlie, with their distinguished careers, dedication to community, unique areas of expertise and enormous generosity of spirit, will carry on that wonderful tradition.”
Lowrey joined Prudential in 2001 and became CEO in 2018 and chairperson in 2019. He was elected to the NJPAC board and its executive committee in June 2019.
“Through its diverse performances, education programs and investment in local neighborhoods, NJPAC has helped create a thriving arts community in Newark, and economic growth and positive change across the city and the state,” Lowrey said. “All of us at Prudential are proud of what NJPAC has accomplished and excited about its plans for the future.”
Villar is the second Merck executive to be elected board co-chairperson of the arts center.
“The arts center is a key driver of socioeconomic development in New Jersey, and an important community partner to Merck and many other organizations across the state,” Villar said. “As a woman of Japanese and Mexican heritage, it’s an incredible honor to be elected to lead such a diverse and vital cultural institution. I am eager to bring a unique perspective to the role and help enhance the positive impact that NJPAC has on countless young lives and families throughout the region.”
Villar is a current member of the NJPAC board’s diversity, equity and inclusion committee, and a past member of its executive compensation and arts education committees. She joined NJPAC’s board of directors in 2018.
Lowrey and Villar took on their new roles at the end of January, as the previous board co-chairpersons, Barry H. Ostrowsky, CEO of RWJBarnabas Health, and Steven M. Goldman, managing partner at PBM Capital Group, stepped down after a three-year tenure. Both Ostrowsky and Goldman remain on NJPAC’s executive committee.
“We are endlessly grateful to Barry and Steve for their extraordinary and selfless leadership during the most challenging time in the arts center’s history,” Schreiber said. “NJPAC flourished as an anchor cultural institution throughout the pandemic, thanks to their wisdom, insight and deep commitment to the arts center. Barry and Steve’s guidance made it possible for us to expand our mission through the production of more than 500 virtual programs, spanning education, social justice and the arts, and to reopen safely when the crisis receded. All of us at NJPAC are so thankful for their indispensable stewardship.”