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Meet the Team

Diane L. Parker
Co-Founder and Executive Director
Gwen Ricks-Spencer
Co-Founder and Artistic Director
Born and raised in St. Louis, Diane used her creative talents in the church at a young age.  Her first professional play was with the St. Louis Black Repertory Theater.   Since that time, Diane has toured nationally and worked with a variety of theatre groups portraying a range of characters from the Dragon in Shrek the Musical to Rose in Fences.  Her voracious passion for theater has afforded Diane the opportunity to direct productions such as Katori Hall's The Mountaintop, Todd Kriedler's Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, and Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman with a predominately Black cast.   Diane's original one-woman show on voting rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer was recognized as the top play in the 2017 Strawberry One-Act Festival where she also received the best actress award.  For her performance as Mrs. Muller in the play, Doubt, Diane received the Perry award for outstanding featured actress in a play from the New Jersey Association of Community Theaters.

Diane is VP & Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for one of the top investment management companies headquartered in New Jersey.  She has a Master of Science degree in Human Resource Management and a Bachelor's degree in Communications from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO.  In addition, Diane is a certified public speaker and workshop facilitator.  She has delivered numerous speeches, presentations, and training sessions to small and large corporate, professional, and community groups.  Topics range from leadership development to diversity and inclusion to talent acquisition strategies and personal branding.

Diane is a proud alumnus of Stella Adler's/Billie Holiday Theatre Black Arts Institute as well as a member of the acting companies of Luna Stage and New Jersey Play Lab.  She resides in Middlesex County, New Jersey, and is an avid southern style, everything-from-scratch, baker.

Gwen is an Ohio native and has been involved in the arts since childhood. She received a bachelor's degree in Theatre and Government from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts (emphasis: Acting and Light Design) and a Master of Fine Arts in Theatre from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (emphasis: Acting). A former member of Actors Equity, she has worked professionally with the Billie Holiday Theatre and Negro Ensemble Companies in New York, 12 Miles West in NJ, Michigan Ensemble Theatre, The Attic Theatre in Detroit, and Karamu House in Cleveland, Ohio. Additionally, Gwen has taught theater at the college level. She currently directs, and recent productions include, Intimate Apparel by Lynn Nottage and August Wilson's Fences.

Gwen is a founding member and Executive Director of 4th Wall Theatre, a premier community theatre in New Jersey. An avid arts supporter, she previously served on the Boards of The Newark Community School of the Arts, 12 Miles West Theatre, and the Montclair Operetta Club. She also served on the Essex County Arts Funding Review Committee for several years. Gwen recently served as a nominator for Theatre Philadelphia. In addition, she is a member of the Board of Trustees of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance and the Board of Directors for the Manhattan Theatre Club.  MTC is one of the country's most prestigious and award-winning theatre companies that have earned 7 Pulitzer Prizes, 28 Tony Awards, 50 Drama Desk Awards, and 49 Obie Awards, among many other honors.

She is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated and The Links, Incorporated. In addition, Gwen is a charter member of the Philadelphia Metro Chapter of The Pierians, Incorporated - a national organization dedicated to advancing the arts of the African-American experience.

Gwen is an Associate Director in Communications for a Big 4 accounting firm. She is married and the mother of five children. Gwen and her husband, Robert, reside in South Jersey.