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Meet the Honorees

Betty Jagoda Murphy

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betty murphy at a past event

The Montclair Art Museum is honored and delighted to recognize Betty Jagoda Murphy for her tireless dedication to the community and for her steadfast support of the Museum since the 90s. As an active leader of numerous non-profit organizations, Betty’s advocacy and investment has impacted our community for future generations. She has served on boards and advisory committees of the Museum, Programs for Parents, Dress for Success, Little Kids Rock, and NJ Jewish Women’s Foundation, to name a few. In addition, as Co-President, she led Bnai Keshet Reconstructionist Synagogue in the successful campaign to raise $1.2 Million to retire their mortgage. And, she inspires us all with her unique blend of zest for life and joie de vivre.

As President and Managing Member of ReGenisis, LLC for 40 years Betty was lauded as a successful business woman. Her leadership was recognized by the North Essex Chamber’s Community Leader of the Year; NJ Women Business Owners Business Woman of the Year; Working Woman’s Entrepreneurial Excellence Award; and she received the Top 25 NJ Businesses Award. Betty was included in a chapter in Barry Farber’s 12 Clichés of Selling (& Why They Work) and is highlighted in Joanne Burke’s Happy 100, a book about women who love their careers.

Above all, the arts have filled Betty’s life with passion. For over 30 years, Betty performed in a family group with her sister, brother, and her internationally recognized mother, Flory Jagoda; singing in Judeo-Espanol, or Ladino, the language of the Jews who were exiled during the 15th Century Spanish Inquisition. MAM was honored to host a concert in 2016 accompanied by a screening of Flory’s Flame—a documentary about Flory’s life and music that has been featured in film festivals around the world. Flory’s Flame interweaves the life story of Betty’s now 96-year old mother, a legendary NEA National Heritage Fellow musician.

A native of Virginia, Betty holds a BA in Dance from Adelphi University and a post-graduate certification in Dance Therapy from New York Medical College. She and her husband, Greg Murphy, a Certified Financial Planner are also partners with Betty’s sister and brother-in-law, Lori and Jeremy Lowell, in several Gold’s Gyms. Their son, Josh, an entrepreneur himself, has his own creative agency, New Uniform Design and lives with his wife, Meghan and their two children, Liam and Flory, in Atlanta, GA.

Lora Urbanelli

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It is an honor to recognize Lora S. Urbanelli, our wonderful Director, for the significant legacy she leaves at MAM upon her retirement this June. As the ninth director of the Museum, Lora has held one of the longest tenures of over 11 years. This Gala celebrates her for leading the Museum through countless significant institutional advancements.

Lora successfully navigated MAM through the Great Recession stabilizing the Museum’s finances and reviving optimistic spirits. Under Lora’s leadership, MAM completed cataloging its Native American collection, broadened the Museum’s exhibition roster with the New Directions contemporary art initiative and several other acclaimed exhibitions, and celebrated 100 years of art and community in its Centennial year. In addition, Lora sanctioned the Museum’s refocused mission to ensure the institution was more accessible to all audiences, which is evident in the success of Free First Thursday Nights and our ever-growing Creative Aging programs and Accessibility initiatives. Other significant achievements during Lora’s tenure were the opening of MAM’s popular Ceramics Studio and Media Lab; the Helen & Bill Geyer Art Studio; the naming  the Nathaniel C. Harris Jr. Entrance in dedication to the beloved late board president who made a lasting mark on the Museum; and the creation of the Vance Wall Art Education Center, encompassing all our educational efforts including the Yard School of Art and establishing the footing for enhanced educational outreach and accessible programs for people of all ages.

Before her leadership at MAM, Lora held roles as Executive Director at the Farnsworth Art Museum and Interim Director of the Museum of Art, Rhode Island school of Design. As a beloved Director at MAM, this year’s Gala will be a bittersweet sendoff celebration for Lora Urbanelli.  

Founded in 1914, MAM has evolved into a cultural anchor of Northern New Jersey, a catalyst for the arts in the region. As the Museum enters its second century, its vision is of an accessible, inclusive, family-centered museum, providing a rich array of arts education for ages 2 to 102.”

Carol Vance Wall and Rose L. Cali

Co-Chairs, Board of Trustees