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Press Releases

SOPAC Appoints New Executive Director Mark Packer

January 10, 2013 | By AMT PR
Packer will assume his official duties at SOPAC on March 1, 2013.

“I’m thrilled to be joining the team at SOPAC,” says Packer. “It’s an honor to soon be at the helm of what has become the cultural center of the South Orange–Maplewood communities as well as a cultural beacon for the state of New Jersey. This marks a new chapter for SOPAC and I’m excited to be playing a role in it.”

Packer brings over 30 years of arts administration experience, significant fundraising acumen and an outstanding record as a leader in the New Jersey’s cultural arts scene. As the long-time Executive Director of Appel Farms Arts & Music Center, he expanded the center to a year-round performing arts organization offering a diverse array of programming each year, with extensive community outreach programs in schools as well as therapeutic arts programs for the elderly, mentally challenged adults and families in crisis. Also under his leadership, Appel Farms assumed management and programming responsibility for the 700 seat Landis Theater in Vineland, NJ. In addition, Packer has played a major role in regional and statewide arts organizations including the South Jersey Cultural Alliance, ArtPride in New Jersey, and the Arts & Business Partnership of Southern New Jersey.

“SOPAC is extremely pleased and excited that Mark Packer has agreed to become SOPAC’s new Executive Director,” exclaims Tony Leitner, SOPAC Board Chair. “We could not have asked for a more experienced, passionate, professional and socially responsible leader. We are most impressed with his vision for artistic direction, prioritization of arts education, and belief that SOPAC is a truly valuable asset to the local community. We enthusiastically welcome him and his wife Laura to the SOPAC family!”

Packer replaces the Interim Executive Director Linda Onorevole, who will be returning to her initial position as SOPAC’s Director of Development. She graciously replaced SOPAC’s former Executive/Artistic Director Michael Bollinger in late-August 2012. Packer was selected after SOPAC engaged Arts Consulting Group, a national executive search firm specializing in arts and culture recruitments, to assist with the three-month international search process.

About Mark Packer Mark Packer joined the staff of Appel Farms in 1984. From 1985 through 1987 he served as the Summer Arts Camp Director and from 1988 through 2012 he served as the Executive Director. A native of Montreal, Canada, he is a graduate cum laude of Kenyon College, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology, and attended courses towards his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University. He plays a major role in regional and statewide arts organizations including the South Jersey Cultural Alliance, which he founded in 1992, and ArtPride New Jersey, where he has been a Trustee since 1988 and served as President from 2006 - 2012. He co-founded the Arts & Business Partnership of Southern New Jersey and was honored in 2002 as the recipient of ABP's annual Art Partner of the Year. In 2009, Mark received the Lillian Levy Standing Ovation Award from the South Jersey Cultural Alliance for his outstanding service to the nonprofit arts community of the region and the State of New Jersey. He has served as a consultant, mentor, and panelist for numerous organizations and individuals, including the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Gloucester County Cultural and Heritage Commission, and the G.G. Green Redevelopment Project.

About SOPAC Since 2006, SOPAC has been serving as a premier performing arts center in the region. SOPAC offers innovative artistic and cultural experiences for diverse audiences in an intimate, inviting environment. The multidisciplinary arts center hosts a variety of live performances, community events and education programs for all ages. To further expand its offerings, SOPAC has a partnership with the Juilliard School of Music to present Juilliard @ SOPAC—a series featuring upcoming musicians from the acclaimed conservatory. SOPAC is also a home for Seton Hall University Arts Council’s performances, including Classical Concert Series, Jazz N’ the Hall performances and Seton Hall Theatre productions. SOPAC also presents performances by its theater company in residence, Midtown Direct Rep, and its dance company in residence, Lydia Johnson Dance. For more information, visit

About Arts Consulting Group, Inc. (ACG) Arts Consulting Group is the leading provider of hands-on interim management, executive search, fundraising & marketing consulting, facilities & program planning, and organizational development services for the arts and culture industry. With offices in New York, Washington DC, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, Portland, and Seattle, ACG consultants are also located in other communities throughout North America to best serve the needs of its clients. For more information, visit # # #

Editor’s Note: For photo permissions, interviews or ticket requests, contact April Thibeault / AMT PR / 212.861.0990 /




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