Board of Directors
Marian M. Zak
Founder & President
Marian Zak, choreographer, is a graduate of the State Ballet School in Warsaw, Poland. He received M.S. from Polytechnic Institute in Krakow, Poland and M.A. from New York University, NY, USA. He has received acknowledgments from the highest ranking theaters and arts institutions of his native Poland. He was the principal dancer with the Krakow Opera, and the Silesian State Opera, where he directed and choreographed. He was also a founder of Dance Theater Silva Rerum which was very successful throughout the whole Poland. In 1989, he immigrated to America where he choreographed off Broadway and for Polish & Slavic Annual Festivals. He was also the School Director of the New Dance Group Studio and a Fellow Teacher at New York University. Currently, he is the President of the New York Dance & Arts Innovations, Inc.
Vice President & Artistic Director
Jakub Polaczyk (b.1983) is a New York City based Polish composer currently teaching at the New York Conservatory of Music. Jakub obtained his Artist Diploma in Composition at Carnegie Mellon University (2013) as a full scholarship recipient. Prior to his education in the US, he studied at the Jagiellonain University and Music Academy in Krakow, where he received dual degrees in Bachelor and Master of Composition and Musicology. His compositions were performed and premiered at many new music festivals around the world, specifically 10 countries in Europe, 3 countries in Asia (Japan, China, South Korea) and 15 states in the US. He achieved many accolades and awards for his work. Most recently, he won the American Prize in Chamber Music Composition (2020), the 4th SIMC International Composition Competition at the Castello Sforzesco in Milan (2019), Moniuszko Composition Prize in Gdansk in Poland (2018), and Honorable Mention at A. Schnitkee in Sochi, Russia (2018). Additionally, he won Iron Composer in Cleveland, US (2013), Baird Young Polish Composers Society Award in Poland (2013), Orion Orchestral Contest (2010) in London, John Paul II Days in Krakow (2008) in Poland and Polish Music Publisher Competition (2007), and many others. He received artistic scholarship from the Minister of Culture of Poland, Mayor of the City of Krakow and the Sapere Auso Foundation. Jakub’s works are published by PWM, Feniks, and Euterpe in Poland, and online by Babel Scores and Arcomis. For more information about Jakub visit www.jakub.polaczyk.com
Ahmed Wafik is an architect, urban designer and a real estate developer. He has been working in the industry for over 10 years and has successfully contributed to the development of many projects domestically and internationally. Ahmed holds a Master of Science Degree in Urban Design & Community Development and a Bachelors of Science Degree in Architectural Engineering. Currently he is a PhD candidate, conducting research in architecture and design to develop new approaches for creating healthier and more energetically balanced habitable spaces. Ahmed conducted public presentations and lectures for diverse audiences in the US & Egypt. Aside from architecture, he has passion for photography & his photos are often reflective of architecture, patterns and forms in the urban & natural environment. For more information about Ahmed visit www.ahmedwafik.com
Anna has been involved in the New York City art scene since her teen years, from volunteering to running nonprofit arts organizations. She has served as a Master of Ceremonies for many Polish-American art festivals, concerts and events. Anna possesses 20 + years of progressive experience in the nonprofit, government and education sectors. Currently, Anna is the Associate Director of Academic Service-Learning at the Vincentian Institute for Social Action at St. John’s University in New York, where she is also a doctoral student in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the School of Education. Her research interests include Study Abroad, Global Education, Service-Learning as well as the role the Arts play in Social Justice and Diversity Education. Anna holds a Masters of Public Administration Degree from the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University and a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Long Island University. She has completed a Teaching Certification Program as part of The College of New Jersey’s Global Programs in Cairo, Egypt and is a certified teacher in the State of New Jersey. Her teaching philosophy emphasizes the importance of arts education in the development of creative and innovative future generations. Her experience is further enhanced by her brief past in the field of journalism and broadcasting. Anna has extensive experience studying, working, serving and living abroad and possesses a great enthusiasm for learning foreign languages.
Xiaoyin (Shell) Li
Shell, is a NYC based architectural designer & educator. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from the University of California – Berkeley. She was a recipient of the prestigious Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholarship, and the Michael Ho Memorial Travel Scholarship, which supported her semester study abroad at U.C. Rome Center in Italy. Shell obtained her Master of Architecture from the University of Kentucky College of Design, where she received the Graduate Scholarship and served as a Teaching Assistant in architectural history and design studios. Additionally, she conducted an independent study to research on performing arts architecture – a focus of her intellectual endeavor. In 2016, Shell participated in the Institute for Public Architecture (IPA) Fellowship and contributed to the discourse on live/work units for the NYC workforce from the perspective of Loft Law.
Shell has worked professionally in both architectural practice and the academia. She served as a Program Coordinator and subsequently the Program Manager at Syracuse University School of Architecture’s NYC Program from 2014 – 2019. She also taught the Field Studies in NYC Urbanism & Architecture course in the program, taking students on urban field trips exploring and analyzing the contemporary urban issues in NYC. Shell has worked in China and US at various architectural offices, most recently as a Project Manager at Cheung Showman Architects based in DUMBO, Brooklyn. Beyond her professional life, Shell sings with the Cecilia Chorus of New York, hosts Meet-Up workshops to paint music, and designs installations that bring all her passions together. Her multimedia installation– Two and A Half Pianos – in collaboration with composer Jakub Polaczyk, was exhibited at the 17th Annual International Chopin & Friends Festival.
Retired Board Members
Suzanne K. Walther, Ph.D.
Vice-President; Magazine.Art Editor
Dr. Suzanne K. Walther was born in Budapest, Hungary and entered the United States as a political refugee. She has a BA degree in Anthropology from the University of Hawaii, and MA and Ph.D. degrees in Dance from New York University. She has taught classical dance technique and dance-related academic courses for the United Nations Recreation Council, at Cedar Crest College, and at New York University where she is currently an adjunct professor in dance. She has been a dance critic for several publications including The Call Chronicle Newspapers and The New Haven Register. Her articles have appeared in academic journals such as Congress on Research in Dance (CORD), Choreography and Dance and the American Book Review. She also reviews dance companies for the New York State Council on the Arts. Her book The Dance of Death; Kurt Jooss and the Weimar Years was published in 1994 by Harwood Academic Publishers. Her poetry translations from Hungarian were included in an anthology, In Quest of the Miracle Stag. The poetry of Hungary from the 13th Century to the Present. Her hobbies include painting in oil, photography, video, swimming and gardening. She continues to take classical ballet classes at the New York Conservatory of Dance, where she has studied with Vladimir Dokoudovsky for many years.
Przemyslaw J. Moskal, Ph.D.
Born in Poland, Przemyslaw Moskal moved to the U.S. in 1990. In 2003 he graduated with a master’s degree from Tisch School of the Arts, NYU and in 2011 he earned his doctorate in Film Art from the National Higher School of Film, Television and Theatre in Łódź, Poland under the supervision of Prof. Stanisław Szymański. Currently, he holds a position of Associate Professor at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY where he directs the Digital Media Arts Program. In 2003 he received grants from New York State Council on the Arts and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council for his project Virtual and Real: K-Dron and Light. In 2005 The ChronoScope designed for the Times Square Centennial received Honorable Mention Award from I.D. Magazine Annual Design Review in interactive category. His interactive, digital art works have been exhibited in the U.S., Poland, France, England, Portugal, Brazil, Thailand, China and Germany. You may visit his artist web site at www.laksom.com
Arri’s greatest love is fundraising for nonprofits. She uses photography as a supportive tool to in her work. Arri is also an excellent writer and editor and has edited dozens of books for publishers such as Rutgers University Press, Lea & Febiger, Associated University Presses, Transaction Publishers, and The College Board. For more information about Arri visit www.arrisendzimir.com
Eric Walther, Ph.D.
Dr. Eric Walther is a Professor of Philosophy and Computer Science at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University, where he is currently Acting Chairman of the Philosophy Department. His Ph.D. is from Yale University, and he earned an MS degree in Computer Science from Polytechnic University. He has published articles in symbolic logic, parapsychology, business ethics and the philosophy of science. He has done extensive research in statistical language processing at Brown University. His current research interests are in artificial intelligence and the philosophy of the mind. His hobbies include hunting, vegetable gardening, home repairs and fine wines.