Pharrell Williams Is One of Apollo's Six New Board Members

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Pharrell Williams

The Apollo Theater has announced the election of six new members to its Board of Directors.

The Board of the Apollo, a nonprofit institution since 1991, is a vital force guiding the growth of the Theater’s artistic, education and community programming, fundraising, and strategic planning.  Robert K. Kraft, Jason L. Mathews, Carolyn Minick Mason, Charles Phillips, Pharrell Williams, and Bronson van Wyck have been elected to join the now 32 member Board chaired by Richard D. Parsons and comprised of business, civic, philanthropic, and cultural leaders.

“I couldn’t be more pleased to welcome these six individuals to the Apollo Board. It is such a wonderfully diverse group of professionals, each representing the very best in their respective fields. They all understand the incredible legacy of the Apollo’s contributions to American culture and are equally committed to investing in its future,” said Richard Parsons, Chairman of the Apollo Theater’s Board of Directors. “I know that the collective knowledge and insight of these new Board members will be a wonderful and valuable addition as we guide the Theater forward.”

“As a cultural and economic anchor for the Harlem community, and a driving force for shaping so many up-and-coming artists today, we rely on the visionary leadership of our Board of Directors to help ensure we fulfill every aspect of our mission,” said Jonelle Procope, President and CEO of the Apollo Theater. “We are so pleased to welcome Bob, Jason, Carolyn, Charles, Pharrell, and Bronson to our Board of distinguished leaders.”

Drawing from the institution’s legacy to inform contemporary artistic expression, and its commitment to supporting emerging and established artists, the Apollo Theater recently kicked off its 2014-2015 season with the third installment of the annual Africa Now! Festival, spotlighting today’s South African music scene.  The Theater’s season continues with The New Orleans Project on November 7-8, 2014, featuring Irvin Mayfield curating a weekend of events including a mainstage concert on the Apollo’s legendary stage with Aaron Neville and two special Apollo Music Café shows with Stefon Harris and Jonathan Batiste, respectively.  The Apollo will also present an international tour for the first time in its history during the 2014-2015 season — its original production of James Brown: Get on the Good Foot—A Celebration in Dance.

More information on the Apollo Theater’s season may be found at

The Apollo Theater Foundation welcomes the following new directors:

Robert Kraft is the Founder, Chairman and CEO of The Kraft Group, based in Foxborough, Mass. The Kraft Group is the holding company of the Kraft family's many businesses, including the New England Patriots, the New England Revolution, Gillette Stadium, Patriot Place, International Forest Products, Rand-Whitney Group, Rand-Whitney Containerboard and a portfolio of more than 100 private equity investments.

Kraft began his business career with the Rand-Whitney Group, Inc. of Worcester, Mass. In 1972, he founded International Forest Products (IFP), a trader of paper commodities that now does business in more than 90 countries. IFP has consistently been the leading exporter in Massachusetts and last year ranked first in New England and 20th overall in North America according to the annual rankings published by The Journal of Commerce.

Kraft serves on the board of directors of Viacom and is a trustee at Boston College, a trustee emeritus at Columbia and a governing trustee on the board of trustees for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, where he established the Robert K. Kraft Blood Donor Center. He has received many honorary degrees and awards from several colleges and universities including the Theodore Roosevelt Award, the NCAA’s highest honor; the Harvard Business School Alumni Achievement Award and, in 2012, he became the first NFL owner to receive the George Halas Award, which is presented annually to the NFL player, coach or staff member who overcomes the most adversity to succeed. He was also inducted into Columbia’s Athletic Hall of Fame and into the 231st class of American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Over the past four decades, the Kraft family has been one of New England's most philanthropic families, donating several hundred million dollars in support of local charities and civic affairs.

Jason L. Mathews is a Managing Director at Goldman Sachs. He currently works on the Goldman Sachs Equity Derivative Sales desk, focusing on macro hedge funds, a role he assumed in 2006. Mathews joined Goldman in 2000 on the Global Futures Trading desk.

In 2003, he was selected to head an equity focused futures trading desk in the Equity Derivative department. Mathews earned a BA in Political Science (Cum Laude) from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.

Carolyn Minick Mason, Esq. is a seasoned labor and employment lawyer who practiced law for more than ten years prior to founding her company Love Notes, Inc. and CM2 Signature Events in 1999.  Mason is also an active and committed philanthropist and currently serves on the boards of Girls Inc. of NYC and the South Orange Performing Arts Center. She has also served with other organizations including Jack and Jill of America, Inc., The Valerie Fund, and the Brotherhood/Sisterhood Sol.

She earned her joint Juris Doctor and Master of Business Administration from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies from The American University School of International Service located in Washington, DC.

Charles Phillips is the Chief Executive Officer of Infor ®, the world’s third largest provider of enterprise software applications. Headquartered in New York City, with 13,000 employees and more than 70,000 customers in 200 countries and territories, Infor builds industry-specific software for manufacturing, healthcare, fashion, and public sector organizations, among others. Infor pioneered the concept of deploying an entire industry in the cloud and now has over 25 million cloud users on Infor CloudSuite™.

Prior to Infor, Phillips was President of Oracle ® Corporation and a member of its Board of Directors.During his seven and a half year-tenure, the company tripled in size and successfully acquired 70 companies. Prior to Oracle, Phillips was a Managing Director in the Technology Group at Morgan Stanley®, where he was an Institutional Investor All Star for ten consecutive years. Before his 18-year career on Wall Street, Phillips was a Captain in the U.S. Marine Corps in the 2nd Battalion, 10th Marines artillery unit.

Phillips holds a BS in computer science from the U.S. Air Force Academy, a JD from New York LawSchool, and an MBA from Hampton University; he is also a member of the Georgia State Bar.Phillips serves on the Boards of Viacom ® Corporation, BENS (Business Executives For National Security), CodeNow, Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York Law School, Partnership for New York City, Posse Foundation, United States Air Force Academy Endowment Fund, and his family foundation, Phillips Charitable Organization. Phillips also served on the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness (previously the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board), chaired by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker.

Pharrell Williams is a creative force, using music, fashion, and design to express his distinctive style. From his beginnings as a teenage prodigy and multi-instrumentalist in Virginia Beach in the early ’90s, through enough hits to earn him Billboard’s Producer of the Decade in 2010, to his current status as multi-media superstar, Williams continues to be an innovator.  Starting his producing career as one half of The Neptunes with Chad Hugo, Williams has helped create such classics as Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” Nelly’s “Hot in Herre,” Jay-Z’s “I Just Wanna Love U (Give it 2 Me),” Britney Spears’s “I’m A Slave 4 U,” and Justin Timberlake’s “Like I Love You.” Over four albums, Williams and Hugo along with Shae Haley created an unpredictable hybrid as part of the alt-rock/hip-hop group N.E.R.D.

With over 100 million copies of his productions sold,  his numerous awards and honors include seven Grammy Awards (including 2004’s and 2014’s “Producer of the Year”), ASCAP’s prestigious Golden Note Award in 2012, and  a 2014 Academy Award Nomination for his original song “Happy” featured in the animated film Despicable Me 2. “

His prolific body of work also ranges from designing a sculpture with Tokyo-born artist Takashi Murakami to accessories and jewelry for luxury goods brand Louis Vuitton, to t-shirts for Japanese mega-brand Uniqlo, to Adidas sportswear and to the forthcoming perfume collaboration with Comme des Garcons.

Williams is also a noted humanitarian and, in 2008, he founded From One Hand To AnOTHER (FOHTA), a foundation focused on supporting the Pharrell Williams Resource Centers’ learning programs for underserved youth in at risk communities across the nation. Williams partnered with the United Nations Foundation to celebrate the International Day of Happiness inspiring individuals all over the globe to demonstrate their unique “happy.” Now, with his latest venture i am OTHER — a multi-media creative collective that serves as an umbrella for all his endeavors, including Billionaire Boys Club & ICECREAM apparel, textile company Bionic Yarn and a dedicated YouTube channel — Williams’s vision continues to push pop culture forward.

Bronson van Wyck is one of the world's leading authorities on hospitality and event design. He is celebrated for a style of entertaining that combines wit and sophistication with the gracious warmth of his Southern upbringing. After graduating from Yale, van Wyck served as protocol aide to Ambassador Pamela Harriman in Paris and then moved to Hollywood producing set designs.

In 1999, van Wyck and his mother, Mary Lynn, started their company Van Wyck & Van Wyck. Today they are responsible for producing some of the most memorable and imaginative events across the world.

The legendary Apollo Theater— the soul of American culture—plays a vital role in cultivating emerging talents and launching legends. Since its founding, the Apollo has served as a center of innovation, and a creative catalyst for Harlem, the city of New York, and the world.

With music at its core, the Apollo’s programming extends to dance, theater, performance art, spoken word initiatives, and more.  Recent highlights have included James Brown: Get on the Good Foot, which will begin an international tour in 2015, the Africa Now! Festival, and Apollo Club Harlem. Since introducing the first Amateur Night contests in 1934, the Apollo Theater has served as a testing ground for new artists working across a variety of art forms, and has ushered in the emergence of many new musical genres – including jazz, swing, bebop, R&B, gospel, blues, soul, and hip-hop. Among the countless legendary performers who launched their careers at the Apollo are Lauryn Hill, Machine Gun Kelly, Miri Ben Ari, D’Angelo,  Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, James Brown, Michael Jackson, Gladys Knight, Luther Vandross, and Stevie Wonder; and the Apollo’s forward-looking artistic vision continues to build on this legacy.

The Apollo Theater is a not-for-profit organization and currently in the midst of fundraising for its 21st Century Apollo Campaign, created to extend the institution’s role in fostering artistic innovation and in building appreciation of American culture around the world.  For more information, visit


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