'Entertainer of the Year' Jennifer Hudson Headlines the Women's Association of NJPAC's Spotlight Gala, October 2, 2010

Sep 16, 2010, 11:00 ET from New Jersey Performing Arts Center

NEWARK, N.J., Sept. 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Academy Award and Golden Globe Award-winner, American Idol superstar and Soul Train's 'Entertainer of the Year,' Jennifer Hudson brings her soaring vocals to the Women's Association of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center's annual Spotlight Gala, the largest and most eagerly anticipated nonprofit fundraising event in the State of New Jersey, on Saturday, October 2, 2010.  New this year, there are multiple ways for patrons to take part in the festivities at various prices, starting at $35, including two special party packages and performance-only tickets. The gala takes place throughout the Arts Center and in a 300-square-foot heated tent.  

Officially raising the curtain on NJPAC's 14th season of bringing the world's finest performers to the State, the full black-tie evening begins with cocktails at 5:30pm in Prudential Hall Lobby, followed by an awards ceremony and Jennifer Hudson's performance, with dinner and dancing to follow in the gala tent, culminating in a fireworks finale. Ticket packages for the entire evening's festivities, including premium seating for ten people in Prudential Hall, are available at the following levels: Vice-Chair Table ($50,000), Platinum Table ($35,000), Gold Table ($25,000), and Silver Table ($15,000). Single tickets for the complete evening range from $1,000 to $5,000.  

New this year are two party options at lower price-points.  The East Wing Party begins at 5:00pm and includes a buffet dinner, open bar, dessert, coffee, First Tier seating for the award ceremony and Ms. Hudson's performance and discounted parking and costs $150 per ticket.  The Ladies Night Reception, also beginning at 5:00pm, is hosted by KISS-FM personality Shaila, and includes passed hors d'oeuvres, an open bar, Second Tier seating for the awards ceremony and performance, and discounted parking for $95 a ticket.  Concert-only tickets for Ms. Hudson's performance and awards ceremony range from $35 to $100 each. Tickets for the party packages and performance-only tickets are available at www.njpac.org or by calling 1-888-GO-NJPAC. For full evening Gala tickets, call Barbara Miller at 973-642-8989 extension 3334 or e-mail bmiller@njpac.org.  

"We are pleased to open up the annual Spotlight Gala to a much broader audience this year by offering tickets at all price levels," said Sheila F. Klehm, president of the Women's Association.  "Anyone who comes to the gala, no matter the level of support, helps NJPAC continue to provide world-class performances in Newark and arts education opportunities for young artists throughout the State."

Since its inception, the Women's Association of NJPAC has raised over $32 million in support of general operations and Arts Education programs at NJPAC through its annual Spotlight Gala, annual Spring Luncheon and Auction and various other events and initiatives.

This year's Gala Co-Chairs are Tai Beauchamp of Bloomfield, NJ, M. Michele Blackwood, MD, FACS, of Chatham, NJ, and Nina Mitchell Wells, Esq. of Livingston, NJ. The Spotlight Gala Dinner Co-Chairs are Anne Evans Estabrook, owner of Elberon Development Co., and Ralph Izzo, Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer, Public Service Enterprise Group. The Women's Association of NJPAC will present awards to individual, corporate and community leaders during the evening's ceremonies. This year's honorees: Donald A. Robinson, Esq., Robinson, Wettre & Miller, LLC, will receive The Ryan Award for his "Commitment to NJPAC and Leadership in the City of Newark;" John and Rose Cali will receive The Chambers Award for their "Service to the Community and to the Arts;" Prudential Financial and, John R. Strangfeld, Chairman and CEO, will receive The Vagelos Award for their "Corporate Commitment to the Arts."

Academy Award-winning actress and Grammy® Award-winning recording artist, Jennifer Hudson began singing in a small Chicago church.  In 2007, Hudson won an Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, Screen Actors Guild Award, a BAFTA and an NAACP Image Award for her role as "Effie" in the smash hit "Dreamgirls." She was also honored by the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the National Board of Review and was named "Entertainer of the Year" at the Soul Train Awards.

Hudson's self-titled album won a Grammy Award for "Best R & B Album" and received three additional nominations including "Best Female R&B Vocal Performance," "Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals" and "Best R&B Song." The album also won three awards at the 2009 NAACP Image Awards including "Best Album." The RIAA Gold Certified album entered Billboard's Top 200 at No. 2 and marked the biggest first week sales for an R&B female entry since 2004. She co-starred in 2008's "The Secret Life of Bees" and "Sex in the City."  In early 2009, Hudson performed the National Anthem at the Super Bowl.  

Donald A. Robinson has been practicing law in Newark, NJ since 1971.  He is the founding partner of the former Robinson, St. John & Wayne law firm (currently Robinson, Wettre & Miller, LLC).  In addition to his active litigation practice in the Federal and State courts, he serves as an arbitrator, a mediator and Special Master in the Federal Courts in New Jersey and the State Superior Court.  Robinson has served on numerous statutory Merit Selection Committees for the selection of Federal Magistrate Judges, chaired a Judicial-Bar group that extensively revised the Local Rules of the Federal District Court, and chaired the Federal Court's Lawyers Advisory Committee for 14 years.  Don is a founder of the Historical Society of the Federal Court of which he has been President for 15 years.    

Robinson is the co-founder, with Michael Griffinger, Esq., of the annual "Battle of the Barristers" benefit softball tournament to support the Greater Newark Fresh Air Fund, in which many of New Jersey's major law firms compete, and judges and magistrate judges of the New Jersey Federal District Court serve as umpires.  

Rose Cali began her life-long interest in community service through The Salvation Army, which provided service to her family when she was growing up.  She obtained a degree in anthropology from Montclair State University (MSU) and served on the advisory board of its School for the Arts and its executive board.  She has served on the Women's Association of NJPAC's Board of Trustees and currently serves on NJPAC's Arts Education Committee. In addition, Rose founded the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center.  

John Cali, Sr. is one of New Jersey's pre-eminent innovators in real estate development. The Chairman Emeritus and Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Mack-Cali Realty Corporation, John earned his way through Indiana University playing jazz saxophone.

In January, 2010, the John J. Cali School of Music opened at MSU, the first school of music on a New Jersey university campus. Established through a donation from Rose and the Cali children in honor of John's enduring love for music and understanding of its value as a universal language, the Cali School of Music offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in music education, music performance, music therapy, and theory/composition, as well as a Performer's Certificate and an Artist Diploma in performance, and is fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music.

The Calis have championed the Human Needs Food Pantry, the affordable housing group HOMECorp, the Montclair Art Museum, New Jersey Coalition for Inclusive Education, and Big Brothers and Big Sisters of New Jersey.  

John Strangfeld is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Prudential Financial, Inc.  Prior to taking over the helm as Chairman and CEO in 2008, Strangfeld was Vice Chairman responsible for Prudential's U.S. Businesses, which include both the Investment and the Insurance Divisions.  Prior to that, he held a variety of senior investment positions at Prudential Financial, both within the United States and abroad, including six years in London.  

Strangfeld, an MBA-alumnus of the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia, is a member of the Raven Society, UVA's oldest honorary society.  In 2005, Strangfeld initiated, and is an ongoing sponsor of, a recruitment and scholarship program for military officers seeking to transition into leadership roles in civilian life via an MBA at Darden.  He is actively exploring additional ways for Prudential and other corporations to support returning Veterans as they reenter civilian life.

With over 135 years of life insurance and asset management expertise, Prudential Financial, Inc. is focused on helping its 50 million individual and institutional customers grow and protect their wealth.  Prudential businesses offer a variety of products and services, including life insurance, annuities, retirement-related services, mutual funds, investment management, and real estate services.   In addition to its financial strength, Prudential has a strong reputation in social responsibility, and a long-standing commitment to diversity and workplace inclusion.  Fortune magazine recently named Prudential one of the most admired companies in the world in the life/health insurance category.

Established in 1994, the Women's Association of NJPAC (WA) is a self-supporting, volunteer group comprised of diverse members actively engaged in regional and national business endeavors, politics, cultural, and social causes. As NJPAC ambassadors, the WA members seek to increase awareness and educate the public about NJPAC, and provide financial support to programs and educational activities through their Annual Spring Luncheon, Spotlight Gala in the Fall, and other events and membership activities.  

New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), located in downtown Newark, New Jersey, is the sixth largest performing arts center in the United States.  As New Jersey's Town Square, NJPAC brings diverse communities together, providing access to all and showcasing the State's and the world's best artists while acting as a leading catalyst in the revitalization of its home city.  Through its extensive Arts Education programs, NJPAC is shaping the next generation of artists and arts enthusiasts. NJPAC has attracted over 6 million visitors (more than one million children) since opening its doors in 1997, and nurtures meaningful and lasting relationships with each of its constituents.  Visit www.njpac.org for more information.

Programming has been made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts and by funds from the National Endowment for the Arts.

NJPAC is a wheelchair accessible facility and provides assistive services for patrons with disabilities.  For more information, call 888-GO-NJPAC.

SOURCE New Jersey Performing Arts Center