JAZZ HOUSE KiDS Expands CHiCA Power® Residency with Inaugural RiSE + IMPROViSE Summit on Saturday, April 6th to Empower Young Women, On and Off the Bandstand

“After listening to young women talk about how CHiCA Power has positively impacted their lives, music and self-esteem, we asked them about their hopes and dreams for the future and found that many have passions that reach beyond music,” said Walker. “These young women want to be our future doctors, engineers, game developers, politicians, and changemakers,” she added. “That is why we created the RISE + IMPROVISE Summit.”

There have been many women who have broken barriers so that others could follow behind them. Phyllis Hassard became the first woman to sell advertising space in the pharmaceutical sector, and spent her career paving the way for others within what was traditionally a very male-dominated field. Today, more than half of the industry is comprised of women. Sandy Smith initially studied to be a pharmacist and is now the Executive Director of Regulatory Affairs, AML Franchise and Small Molecules at Daiichi Sankyo, and Hilary Lane Apicella is a corporate lawyer charged with developing and implementing policies that protect employee and customer data. These women are among the RISE + IMPROVISE Summit panelists who will unite around a common goal – to help young women believe in their own potential.

Meet the Panelists

Open to CHiCA Power students and their families, the presentations will be followed by a question and answer session.  Confirmed panelists include:

  • Hilary Lane Apicella (Lawyer) – SVP, Information Governance & Chief Privacy Officer, NBC Universal
  • Roberta Baldwin (Realtor/Franchise Co-Owner) – Keller Williams NJ Metro Group; former arts & entertainment journalist/theater producer
  • Ariane Duarte (Chef and Restaurateur) – Ariane Kitchen & Bar
  • Diane Francis (Healthcare Executive) – Regional Health Economics & Market Access Lead for LATAM & Canada, Johnson & Johnson
  • Rachael Grochowski, RA, NCARB (Architect) – Founder, RHG Architecture + Design LLC
  • Phyllis Hassard (Retired) – Pharmaceutical Advertising Sales Executive
  • Dr. Priya Jadja (Physician) – Surgical Oncologist, Summit Medical Group
  • Nancy Northup (Women’s Rights Executive) – President and CEO, Center for Reproductive Rights
  • Kate Scott (Engineering Drafter) – Central Hudson Gas & Electric
  • Sandy Smith (Pharmaceuticals) – Executive Director of Regulatory Affairs, AML Franchise and Small Molecules, Daiichi Sankyo
  • Faith Taylor (Educator) – Clinical Professor, Feliciano School of Business, Montclair State University

CHiCA Power is one of the nation’s leading jazz education and performance initiatives specifically focused on the empowerment of girls through jazz. The year-round program provides a rich and inclusive learning environment, mentoring and peer-to-peer engagement for girls ages 9 to 18 from diverse communities, with an emphasis on students from low-income families.  The crown jewel of CHiCA Power is the free seven-week residency (2019 dates: February 23 to April 9), led by an outstanding faculty of female musicians and world-renowned guest artists.  During the 2019 residency, which overlaps Women’s History Month, 50+ girls in grades 5-12 from 17 school districts are receiving more than 30 hours of hands-on jazz education, mentorship, and team-building. The residency also includes live performances, discussions with guest artists, masterclasses, ensemble rehearsals, a party, and a culminating concert.  CHiCA Power guests have included Esperanza Spalding, Sheila E., Dee Dee Bridgewater, Camila Meza, Terri Lyne Carrington, Regina Carter, Anat Cohen, Ingrid Jensen, and Rachel Z.

CHiCA Power was a safe space where I could express myself as a musician and my capability,” said Emily Springer, JAZZ HOUSE KiDS alum and current student at Smith College. “The community of women and girls made it easier to be confident and accepting of where I was as a musician,” she said. Emily studied trumpet and vocals at the JAZZ HOUSE and focused her college admission essay on her experience in the program. 

CHiCA Power was launched in 2011 when student saxophonist Zoe Obadia expressed a desire for more girls to be included in the award-winning JAZZ HOUSE BiG BAND.  At the time, young women represented 7% of JAZZ HOUSE Summer Workshop attendees and year-round ensembles at the JAZZ HOUSE. Currently studying for her master’s degree in jazz at The Juilliard School led by Wynton Marsalis, Zoe returns to the JAZZ HOUSE each year as a CHiCA Power teaching assistant. Today, 32% of JAZZ HOUSE KiDS students are young women, and 100% of the graduates go on to attend leading colleges and conservatories.

“Research and first-hand accounts helped us understand the reasons why young women were not initially participating in jazz,” says Allison Russo, CHiCA Power Program Manager. “JAZZ HOUSE KiDS built an entire program around the gender inequality issue, and we are now seeing the positive outcomes coming out of the JAZZ HOUSE.” 

Additional CHiCA Power programs planned for 2019 include a final concert on April 9, and masterclasses for all students by top-tier female musicians.

CHiCA Power is ever-evolving at the JAZZ HOUSE,” said Melissa Walker. “It has developed into a philosophy, a series of programs, and a growing movement to support jazz musicians of underrepresented genders, from beginners to professionals. The success of the program is built on giving young women the space, confidence and community to succeed beyond the band room.” 

CHiCA Power programming is made possible by The ASCAP Foundation, the Jewish Women’s Foundation of New Jersey, Montclair Fund for Women, TD Charitable Foundation, Susan and Chris Gifford, Rachael Grochowski, Mary Jean Potenzone, and other generous supporters.

For more information on CHiCA Power, visit jazzhousekids.org or follow the music on Facebook and Instagram.

JAZZ HOUSE KiDS has been swinging doors open for 16 years, and our emerging musicians are soloing and singing their way to greatness. Our year-round programs help young people from all backgrounds gain an artistic edge through music, mentoring, education and apprenticeship. Through pre-professional musical training along with community engagement and education programs, we use jazz as an effective teaching tool to enhance academic achievement, dedication, and teamwork and cultivate tomorrow’s global citizens. JAZZ HOUSE KiDS produces the acclaimed “No Tickets Required” MONTCLAIR JAZZ FESTIVAL, which attracts over 12,000 people each August and is led by six-time GRAMMY Award winner and Artistic Director Christian McBride.

When you build a JAZZ HOUSE, you build a child’s future!

Contact: Andrea Ferguson


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