Barbara Heisler

Executive Director

“innovative, collaborative, entrepreneurial”

After serving as GlassRoots Interim Executive Director for one year, the Board asked Barbara Heisler to stay as the Executive Director of the organization. Barbara assumed that role on July 1, 2014. Her professional background includes more than 20 years of experience in non-profit, education and government management; focusing on strategic planning, organization and board development, program design, communications strategy, fiscal oversight, resource development, and grant procurement.

Barbara brings extensive leadership experience in the nonprofit sector, having served as the Executive Director of Funding Exchange, the CEO of Fund for an Open Society,and as Founding Executive Director for the South Orange/Maplewood Community Coalition on Race, in addition to experience in senior management positions at the US Department of Education and institutions of higher education. Barbara also serves as the president of a nonprofit consultancy firm, Organizations by Design. She has served on national and local boards and is currently a board member of the NJ Center for Non-Profits and the Center for Creative Placemaking. Barbara earned an M.Ed in Management from Cambridge College.

Services provided by GlassRoots: FLAME offers local alternative HS students a unique program grounded in a work readiness frame with glassworking at the core of an engaging learning opportunity.

In our Business and Entrepreneurship Program local HS students begin their journeys as entrepreneurs, identifying and cultivating the skills needed to start a business. Our Summer Youth Leadership Corps youth receive in-depth training in leadership/mentorship skills and serve as mentors to younger aspiring artists. Varis Scientific Glassblowing Training Program offers 18-22 year olds training in academic areas (CAD, Math, Drafting and Blueprint Reading) and scientific glass studio work, while preparing them for life in the working world through Job Readiness, Workroom Safety, Financial Literacy, Leadership, and other skill training.

Our Summer Glass Experience Programs are designed to foster an appreciation of glass art for youth 12-18.

Classroom Experiences include a wide variety of customized programs that are easily adapted to the needs and interests of students and teachers in grades 4-12 from public, private and parochial schools. Our activities, whether in school or at GlassRoots’ studio, are interactive and rooted in NJ Core Curriculum Standards.

Our After School Programs introduce students from community-based organizations to the basic techniques of glass making; our artists deliver a strong dose of science and history as part of the fun of working with glass. Adult classes and lessons too.

Overview of GlassRoots: The mission of GlassRoots is to transform lives, especially of underserved youth, by fostering life-long learning and creative self-expression through the wonder of glassmaking. GlassRoots staff believe that participation in glass art directly contributes to the development of intellectual and personal capacities. Our goals have long been to invite youth to discover the “coolness” of glass art as an alternative to less productive and more dangerous activities; our arts education program is complemented by a business and entrepreneurship curriculum that uses students’ collections of unique glass artwork as an example of a viable business venture — providing a real life dimension to the workshops that spur youth to understanding vital economic principles. Additional programs feature STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) and are offered as in-school residencies, after-school and summer arts programs, and as workshops for teens and adults, using competency in handling molten glass as a pathway to personal development. Newer offerings connect graduates of our high school programs and other young people without an apparent direction in life with apprenticeship training and a structured work experience. We facilitate effective transitions to high-skill, high-wage employment in glass-based labor demand occupations; providing a meaningful training program leading to work while focusing on building accountability, self-esteem, and other interpersonal skills.


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Arts Ed Newark is made possible by the generous support of: Turrell Fund, The Prudential Foundation, The Horizon Foundation of New Jersey, 

The Victoria Foundation, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation,

and The National Endowment for the Arts



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