Great Conversations, great idea: Morris Arts’ unique fundraiser to honor founder Joen Ferrari, April 26

Morris Museum Trustee Joen Ferrari at Lino Tagliapietra exhibition at the Morris Museum, March 11, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Joen Luy Ferrari. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Joen Ferrari will be honored at Great Conversations. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Editor’s note: A decade ago, Joen Ferrari, one of Morris County’s superstar volunteers, came up with a novel fundraising idea for Morris Arts: Why not gather luminaries from the arts, business and sports for an evening of stimulating dinner chat? Great Conversations was born. Morris Arts will celebrate its good fortune by honoring Joen this Thursday, April 26, 2018, for the 10 anniversary of Great Conversations. If you hurry, you still can get a ticket. Read on for the roster of great conversationalists.


Tickets are now on sale for Morris Arts’ 10th Anniversary Great Conversations on April 26, 2018, at the Madison Hotel, 1 Convent Rd., Morris Township.

To mark the anniversary, this year’s event honors Joen Ferrari, the founder of Great Conversations.

Guests can mix and mingle with a stellar lineup of prominent and fascinating host conversationalists at a 6 pm reception leading to the 7:15 pm dinner, where guests can converse in more depth with a specific host selected in advance.

Discover the pleasure of live conversation with celebrated hosts from the arts, media, tech, sciences, healthcare, public service, sports, industry and more.

Among this year’s hosts are a NY Times bestselling author, a robotics expert, a jazz saxophonist, Stanley Cup champion, a Medal of Honor recipient, a world famous climate scientist, a celebrated chef or other similarly fascinating and accomplished individuals.

Great Conversations 2018 banner

Each dinner table will feature a host Conversationalist whose unique experiences, life story and achievements will catalyze intriguing conversations.

Learn about their work, their thoughts on the world, their insights into their fields, and the experiences that shaped their lives. How did they get to where they are now? What lessons can they impart? This is an evening to exchange ideas and savor the pleasures of live encounters. You may be surprised by what you discover.

Our host conversationalists this year include the following distinguished individuals:


Tom Bergeron, ROI-NJ – Editor & Chief Content Officer of new multimedia NJ business publication; former NJBIZ editor

Joanne Del Rio, Novartis – Art Collection Manager overseeing Novartis’ extensive art collection in North and South America; Board Chair for Save Ellis Island

Leia Gaccione, South + Pine American Eatery – Chef/Owner of Morristown’s latest gastronomic success; former Chef de Cuisine for celebrity chef Bobby Flay; competed in three seasons of Iron Chef America

Mark Gross, Jazz Saxophonist, Recording Artist & Educator with two Grammy® award-winning projects; performed with Dizzy Gillespie, the Duke Ellington Orchestra and on Broadway; Rutgers Mason Gross School of the Arts Faculty

Christina Baker Kline, highly acclaimed author of the NY Times bestsellers, Orphan Train and A Piece of the World

Carly Murphy, Sotheby’s – VP for Global Client Development, Contemporary Art

John Servidio, General Manager of NJTV; Vice President of Subsidiary Stations for WNET

Bill Stephney, Co-creator and producer for the rap group Public Enemy, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees; Def Jam Records former President; Broad Market Media Principal; NJPAC Producer & Curator


James Kraus, Crum & Forster – SVP, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary

Jason Levine, Mondelēz International– Regional Chief Marketing Officer North America

Ned Linnen, Avis Budget Group – EVP & Chief Human Resources Officer

Robin Rotenberg, BASF Corporation – VP, Corporate Communications & Chief Communications Officer; former President, BASF Canada


Irene Chang Britt, Independent Board Director & Strategic Advisor; 30 years in Consumer Packaged Goods including President and C-Suite executive at Pepperidge Farm

Michael Engel, PwC – Intelligent Process Automation Leader for Emerging Technologies; Adviser to the Institute for Robotic Process Automation

Aaron Price, CEO & Founder – Propelify (one of the country’s largest innovation communities) & NJ Tech Meetup; tech community expert for The White House (Obama Administration), Governor Phil Murphy, and the WSJ

Linda Wellbrock, CEO & Founder of Leading Woman Entrepreneurs, a media and events company that recognizes outstanding women business owners and entrepreneurs


Carsten Brunn, PhD, Bayer Pharmaceuticals – President, Americas Region

Nancy Corcoran-Davidoff, Hackensack Meridian Health Network – EVP & Chief Experience Officer

Alex Kelly, Allergan – EVP, Corporate Affairs & Chief Communications Officer

Carrie Eglinton Manner, Quest Diagnostics – SVP, Advanced Diagnostics; Chair of the Board for Thrive Networks

Suneet Varma, Pfizer Essential Health – Global President

Joe Wilkins, Atlantic Health System – SVP & Chief Transformation Officer


Jami McKeon, Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP – Partner, Chair of the Firm; named among The National Law Journal’s “75 Most Outstanding Women Lawyers”


Colonel Jack Jacobs (Retired), Medal of Honor recipient for service in Vietnam; NBC News military analyst


Leslie E. Smith Jr., Rockefeller Group – former EVP; developed the International Trade Center/NJ Foreign Trade Zone in Mt. Olive NJ; Principal – Smith & Main


Lisa Goddard, PhD, Columbia University – Director & Senior Research Scientist at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society; Global expert on El Niño, La Niña & near-term climate change

Allen Keller, MD, NYU School of Medicine – Associate Professor of Medicine & Director of Center for Health and Human Rights; Director – Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture


Bruce Driver, New Jersey Devils Defenseman, Captain, and Stanley Cup Champion; Two-time NCAA Division I National Champion; Olympian

Brent Qvale, New York Jets Offensive Lineman #79

Some tables are equipped with Audio Directions hearing loops to assist hearing aid wearers.

This very popular event fills up quickly so be sure to buy your tickets early, available online at Tickets are $250. Proceeds from Great Conversations help to support the many 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. Come and savor the art of live conversation, meet some extraordinary individuals and help a truly worthy organization give back to its community.

Morris Arts, located in Morristown, 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, and support of the Morris Area community of artists and arts organizations.

The New Jersey State Council on the Arts has awarded the Morris Arts a “Citation of Excellence” and designated it as a “Major Service Organization” in recognition of its “solid history of service excellence, substantial activity and broad public service.”

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  1. Hearty congratulations to my friend Joen! This honor is overdue, yet she is too modest to be the center of attention. Joen Ferrari has done so much for others in her community while using her remarkable creativity and drive! Best wishes for a wonderful event on Thursday.


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