State Theatre New Jersey


2017 Gala Honorees Demonstrate Commitment to Performing Arts

The 2017 Benefit Gala is quickly approaching, and we look forward to a fabulous evening on May 13, featuring a performance by Audra McDonald. Yet, surprisingly, the headline for this year’s fundraiser isn’t just the performance by this Tony®, Emmy®, and Grammy award®-winning artist—it’s the honorees! Each one of our honorees—Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios and the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders (Leadership in the Arts), Susan and Brent Podlogar (Patron), and American Benefits Consulting (Corporate)—have shown an exemplary commitment to State Theatre New Jersey. They also have a strong understanding that the well-being of people, through access to live performing arts and quality employee benefits, creates a vibrant and thriving community.

Ron Rios While funding to the arts is being cut in places across the nation, the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders has set an example for more localities throughout the country to reinvest in the arts and culture of their communities. After an overwhelmingly positive response to a public question placed on the November 2014 ballot, the Middlesex County Freeholders established a Cultural and Arts Trust Fund, allocating $10 million annually to be used to fund projects that improve, expand or build facilities and venues, or to enhance arts and cultural programming. During a panel discussion at the State Theatre entitled “Arts Partnerships: Building Better Communities Together,” Freeholder Director Ron Rios stated “through the Cultural and Arts Trust Fund, we look to provide all County residents with access to the broadest range of cultural activities, encourage awareness of and enjoyment of the arts, and support cultural initiatives designed to preserve and promote the history of the County.” Because of this immense commitment to arts and culture as fundamental to the quality of life for people of all backgrounds throughout Middlesex County, Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios and the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders are most deserving of the Leadership in the Arts award.

Susan and Brent Podlogar

This year’s Patron honorees, Susan and Brent Podlogar, are also no strangers to the State Theatre’s not-for-profit mission. In addition to leading the charge as Co-Chairs for the 2015 and 2016 Benefit Galas (including the highest grossing Gala in State Theatre history in 2015), Susan, Global Head of Human Resources, Medical Devices at Johnson & Johnson, has also been a State Theatre Board of Trustees member for seven years. The history between the State Theatre and Johnson & Johnson is deeply connected: the State Theatre as it is known today may not have existed had it not been for Johnson & Johnson’s monumental decision in the 1970s to keep their headquarters in New Brunswick and their unwavering commitment to the economic, social, and cultural renaissance of the city. Two of our most dedicated and enthusiastic advocates, Susan and Brent continue to demonstrate the Johnson & Johnson credo of being “responsible to the communities in which we live and work,” and we are thrilled to be able to recognize them with this year’s Patron award.

American Benefits Consulting (ABC) works with organizations of all sizes to create innovative benefit programs that are cost-effective and appealing to both the company and employee. Content employees contribute to a positive work environment and a flourishing community to work and live within. ABC’s history with State Theatre New Jersey began with its yearly support of our Benefit Gala through its connection to Johnson & Johnson. Through the years, we have been thrilled to develop a deeper partnership with the company and are pleased to be welcoming Craig Guiffre, Chief Operating Officer & Managing Consultant, to the State Theatre Board of Trustees.  Due to American Benefits Consulting’s long-term dedication to the State Theatre and its elevated partnership moving forward, we are delighted to give them the Corporate award at this year’s Gala.

State Theatre New Jersey’s annual benefit Gala raises money to fund our nationally recognized arts education and community outreach programs, enabling us to create access for residents otherwise unlikely to have performing arts experiences, including local Latino families, veterans, children with autism, underserved school districts, at-risk youth, and many others. Support for State Theatre New Jersey also helps us continue to grow our audiences of all ages, and offer the public affordable tickets to experience world-class artistry in a premier performing arts venue.

“By all of us working together—government, private businesses and non-profit foundations—we can make a much larger impact on the lives of our residents and customers.” – Ronald G. Rios

State Theatre Benefit Gala

Support the 2017 Benefit Gala

For more information on how you can support the 2017 Benefit Gala, please visit our Gala Webpage. Sponsor, Underwriter, Patron ticket, and Spotlight Journal advertising opportunities available.


Corporate Co-Chairs



Bradd M. Chignoli, Senior Vice President – National Accounts, MetLife


Shideh Sedgh Bina, Founding Partner, Insigniam

Emerald Partners

American Benefits Consulting



Diamond Partner

American Benefits Consulting




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