Cherrie Illidge-McKenna is the new Board Chairman of the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning (JCAL). Illidge-McKenna, who grew up on the Caribbean island of St. Croix in the United States Virgin Islands, assumes board leadership of one of the leading multi-disciplinary arts centers in southeast Queens, New York.

The center features two of the most impressive arts spaces in New York City -  its 45,000 square-foot headquarters visual arts and education center, and the new 400-seat Jamaica Performing Arts Center (JPAC). Illidge-McKenna succeeds Leilani Brown who led the organization admirably through a period of transition and strategic planning over the past two and a half years.

President of Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, F. Carlisle Towery, said: "Cherrie's contributions will position JCAL for its next phase of growth, and we are pleased to have her lead JCAL to greater reach and influence in our partnerships in the exciting revitalization of downtown Jamaica."

The new chairman has held several key management positions with HSBC Bank, including Vice President - Global Transaction Banking, Institutional Sales; Head of Diversity; and Vice President of Commercial e-Business. She has also served as Chief of Staff for American Express' Global Corporate Technologies and as an IT Consultant / Senior Engineer delivering technology solutions to Fortune 100 companies.

Most recently, as a founding director, she opened a new K-8 charter school in Queens and continues to help drive educational reform. Illidge-McKenna is known for championing diversity initiatives and multicultural programs across various corporate, nonprofit and community organizations. She serves on the executive board of Jack and Jill of America - Queens Chapter, and the National Black MBA Association - NY Metro Chapter.

She is also a founding member of The Metropolitan Museum of Art Multicultural Advisory Board and a member of Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn. 

Illidge-McKenna has traveled extensively across every continent except Australia and Antarctica, and enjoys returning to both St. Croix and St. Martin/St. Maarten which she also considers home. In addition, she was an Earthwatch Environmental Fellow, where she did field research on crocodiles to help build a sustainable economy in Botswana, Africa.

Illidge-McKenna received an undergraduate degree in Computer Information Systems from Hofstra University and earned her MBA in Marketing and Management from St. John's University Graduate School of Business.

JCAL's Executive Director, Philip Willis, thanked Leilani Brown for her outstanding leadership and stated: "We are fortunate to have someone like Cherrie leading the Board at this pivotal point in our evolution. Like Leilani, she brings to the Board's leadership a unique set of skills and life experiences that will benefit the organization immensely as it addresses the challenges ahead."

Cherrie Illidge-McKenna is married and has two sons.

About Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning (JCAL)
For almost 40 years, the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning (JCAL) has served as an arts oasis in a section of New York City where cultural opportunities are extremely limited. Created in 1972 as part of an effort to revitalize Jamaica, JCAL has earned a reputation for inspiring youth to take an interest in the arts, showcasing the talents of up-and-coming local artists and performers, and creating dynamic multicultural programs and workshops that have been embraced by the community. Each year, tens of thousands of visitors of all ages, backgrounds and skill sets pass through its doors to attend classes and workshops, view art exhibitions, attend performances or immerse themselves in an art residency.

For further information, visit  

About Jamaica Performing Arts Center (JPAC)
Jamaica Performing Arts Center (JPAC) is a mid-size, multipurpose performance venue housed in a completely renovated 1858 landmark building - the former First Reformed Dutch Church of Jamaica. JPAC is a showcase for local, regional and national artists and performers. This beautiful 400-seat theater is surrounded by stained glass windows giving the space an almost ethereal quality. State-of-the-art lighting and sound systems enhance the experience all the more. JPAC is destined to become one of the premier destination spots in New York City for intimate concerts and other performances. Visit for more information.

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