The Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank has announced the retirement of Yvonne Lamb-Scudiery, founder of the nonprofit organization’s performing arts programs and a member of the Basie Center family for more than two decades.
“The heart of the Basie Center organization is its education programs, and those programs simply wouldn’t exist without Yvonne,” said Adam Philipson, President and CEO, Count Basie Center for the Arts. “For 20 years, Yvonne has dedicated her professional career to bettering the community through arts education, and the Basie Center has been blessed to have her lead its charge to fulfill our mission to inspire, educate and entertain.”
The Count Basie Center will recognize Scudiery’s contributions to the nonprofit at its March 13th “Winter Trip” gala, which will also honor Monmouth County Commissioner Director Tom Arnone and New Jersey State Senator Vin Gopal.
“Yvonne’s knowledge, vision and wisdom have led the Basie’s education programs to a scale and excellence unique in our community and our state,” said Michael Parent, a member of the Basie Board of Trustees and co-chair of the organization’s Education Committee. “As importantly, her heart and soul animate the Basie mission to inspire and enrich the lives of all students of the performing arts. We applaud her selfless efforts to build our programs and capacity for the benefit of all learners, and recognize that she has succeeded in making our community, and indeed the world, a more joy-filled place.”
Scudiery began working at the Basie in 2000, strengthening the organization’s mission to promote arts education by establishing the “Cool School” arts academy. Since then, she established the Basie Awards, the heralded, annual “Tony Awards”-esque ceremony to honor excellence in Monmouth County high school theatre.
Scudiery has also spearheaded the Basie’s arts education programs in the Red Bank, Keansburg, Fair Haven, Long Branch and other school districts, as well as professional development programs for area teachers through her work with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Arts’ Partners in Education program.
“I consider myself extremely fortunate to have spent the last 20 years immersed in bringing the life changing magic of the arts to our community,” said Scudiery. “I am grateful for having had the opportunity to bring so many impactful programs and artsbased initiatives to our students.”
The Basie Center also announced the appointment of Samantha Giustiniani and Dr. Lucy Chen as co-directors of its Education department moving forward.
Giustiniani, Senior Director of Education and Outreach, will head the department’s performing arts programs. Dr. Chen, who joined the Basie organization in 2018 as head of its Monmouth Conservatory of Music, will also serve as head of the Basie’s music programs, including its summer opera and jazz camps, Red Bank Middle School’s strings program and the Basie Center Gospel Choir.
“I’ve been fortunate to work with Yvonne for nearly a decade,” said Giustiniani. Under her guidance and mentorship, I have learned to be a better artist, teacher and leader, and to appreciate the real power and impact of the arts. I’m privileged and honored to have the opportunity to share everything I’ve learned from her so that our Academy and educational outreach programs continue to grow.”
“In music, traditions and values pass from one artist to the next: Haydn gave piano lessons to Beethoven, and Lady Gaga cites Elton John as a mentor,” said Dr. Chen. “As a classically trained ballet dancer and choreographer, Yvonne has always understood and championed the value of music education – that through practice and hard work, students build grit and perseverance while enjoying the emotional benefits of a creative outlet.”
“These dynamic women share my passion for arts education,” Scudiery said of Giustiniani and Dr. Chen.
“Coupled with their high levels of creativity and compassionate nurturing natures ensures that the future looks bright for the Basie’s education programs.”
Scudiery will remain active with the Basie Center organization as a producer of the annual Basie Awards, as well as a consultant for the nonprofit’s annual fundraising galas.
“One of the things I have learned during my tenure as Vice President of Education is that the arts are vital to the community and to the individual,” Scudiery continued. “My five decades of teaching, and touching hundreds of young souls and instilling lifelong skills and a love for theatre, dance and music is a gift for which I will be forever grateful.”