LETTERS OF SUPPORT DELIVERED

 

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

INTRODUCING the founding Directors of the Board for the new 501c3 not-for-profit Be A Friend Project, Inc....

CHAIR

Lillian Diaz-Withers

"Lily"

TREASURER

Dr. Vincent Puglisi

"Vinny"

SECRETARY

Jennifer Kennett

"Jenn"

THEATER ADVISER

B.T. McNicholl

"BT"

BOARD MEMBER

(Executive Director)

Jennifer Young

LILLIAN DIAZ-WITHERS

BOARD CHAIR

An instrumental volunteer for the Be A Friend Project since 2017, Lily is the mom of our “It’s Easy!” professional cast member and On-Air Teen Ambassador, Brielle. From working show concessions, hosting “Friend Mail” parties and video shoots, recruiting Ambassadors and escorting Brielle to meetings, Lily has already been generously facilitating behind-the-scenes activity. In her professional life, Lily holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling and Human Development. She currently applies her exceptional knowledge, ethics and empathy as a High School Counselor since 2012 for the White Plains School District in New York and formerly 15 years as Middle School Counselor. In past years, Lily has served on the school district’s Crisis Team and collaborated closely with local agencies to help empower students. Fluent in Spanish, Lily also taught Bilingual Special Education for 4 years for the NYC Board of Education. We are honored and thrilled that Lily accepted the position as the presiding officer of the Board for our anti-bullying, pro-empathy initiative for kids and teens.

DR. VINCENT PUGLISI

BOARD TREASURER

A Pediatric Hematologist-Oncologist for three decades, Vinny is National Medical Director of Pediatrics for the Women’s & Children’s Division of Envision Physician Services where he oversees neonatal, intensive and emergency care for pediatrics in hospitals across the country. A brilliant and compassionate Physician with a lifetime of caring for children, Vinny is a perfect fit as the Treasurer overseeing a budget in support of children recovering from severe bullying and their K-12 Ambassadors. To quote a lyric from the musical that launched the Be A Friend Project, “drama is all about empathy” and it’s no coincidence that Vinny also paid the bills through the 80’s and 90’s as a film & TV extra, most ironically playing a doctor on a popular soap opera, and as a freelance model for billboard and print ads. He has an affinity for travel and experiencing different cultures. We are fortunate and honored to welcome Vinny as a founding board member.

JENNIFER KENNETT

BOARD SECRETARY

On her 12th year as a First Grade Teacher in Beacon, NY, Jennifer has contributed greatly to the Be A Friend Project since its inception in 2015. She was awarded a Certificate of Super Ambassador in 2018 after 4 seasons of consistently teaching her young students to practice empathy by contributing Friend Mail letters, recruiting her elementary school colleagues to participate and being a dependable member of the letter-review team. Jennifer is on her 3rd season of being a volunteer Coach for Girls On The Run, a program that promotes positive social, emotional, mental and physical development for girls in grades 3-5. Jennifer completed NYS Trainings for the Dignity for All Students Act and other anti-bullying programs, and has served on her school’s Arts & Ed Committee. The character of “Ms. Kennett” in “It’s Easy!” is affectionately named after this long-time supporter of the musical’s playwrights and founders of the

Be A Friend Project for whom she is also a Zumba Instructor. We are excited to have Jennifer’s exceptional kindness, organizational skills and impassioned initiative at work as Secretary of The Board.

B.T. MCNICHOLL

BOARD THEATER ADVISER

BT is a director, producer and writer celebrating his 30th anniversary in the Entertainment industry.  He has been a member of the creative team for 12 Broadway plays and musicals, including the Tony-winning hits SPAMALOT, CABARET and BILLY ELLIOT, as the Associate Director for luminaries James Lapine, Jerry Zaks, Stephen Daldry, David Hare, Sam Mendes, Rob Marshall and the legendary Mike Nichols. International credits include staging the European premiere of THE PRODUCERS for Mel Brooks, a new play at London's Menier Chocolate Factory, and winning the 2003 Helpmann Award (Australia's Tony Award) for Best DIrection.  Regional credits in the U.S. include hit productions for the Goodspeed Opera House (2004 Best Musical), Walnut Street Theatre, Ogunquit Playhouse (2014 Moss Hart Award) and the Maltz Jupiter Theatre. He is a BMI-Award winning lyricist whose musical THE IT GIRL was presented Off-Broadway and has a cast album published by Samuel French. His other musicals have toured the U.S. and played Madison Square Garden. In family entertainment, he directed WINNIE THE POOH for Disney/Feld (7 year international tour) and won 3 international awards for his shows presented at Busch Gardens and its sister venues. He was a Development Consultant for MGM's theatrical division and spent three years with the Shubert Organization.  He was the Producing Artistic Director of the Palace Theatre (Stamford, CT) and is now in the same role at the Tony-winning La Mirada Theatre in Los Angeles. As Director of the Board for the Be A Friend Project in the specialty of Theater Advisor, BT will advise on promotional, performance and licensing issues for IT’S EASY! THE FRIEND STRONG MUSICAL for which the Project holds exclusive rights to license to educational entities including schools and youth theater programs. We are incredibly fortunate to have this entertainment professional working to help us bring the anti-bullying show that launched and promotes the Be A Friend Project to kids everywhere!

JENNIFER YOUNG

BOARD MEMBER / Executive Director

Jennifer is the Co-Founder and Co-President with January Akselrad of See The Wish, a ten-year partnership that created Mom's Choice, Parents' Choice and Benjamin Frankiln GOLD Award-winning educational chapter books, Dramaterials (tm) classroom plays that teach, school presentations and the production of full-length original musicals including the 8x Broadway World Award-winning "IT'S EASY! The Friend Strong Musical" for which she is Co-Playwright. The Be A Friend Project was developed in 2015 to carry off-stage the anti-bullying "speak up, reach out and be a friend message of "It's Easy!". Jennifer is now Executive Director of the new not-for-profit incorporated in 2019 that she has directed since its 2015 inception, and will also sit on the Board during this start-up time. For full BIO, see CO-FOUNDERS under the ABOUT US tab.

 

JENNIFER@BEAFRIENDPROJECT.ORG

 

 

 

 

Contact Us

449 LANE GATE ROAD, COLD SPRING, NY 10516

OFFICE: 845-797-9183

Co-President Jennifer Cell: 845-742-7112

jennifer@beafriendproject.org

The organization’s formal legal name is BE A FRIEND PROJECT, INC.

It is a not-for-profit 501c3 organization / Federal Tax ID # 84-2802576.

Any donation to the Be A Friend Project, Inc. is tax-deductible to the maximum extent allowed by law, thank you!