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Trinity Rep | Announcing the 2018 Local Pell Award Honorees


PROVIDENCE, RI – Trinity Repertory Company announced today that three area residents will be honored at its 2018 Pell Awards Gala on Monday, May 21, 2018 in Providence.  Pawtucket-based designer and artist Morris Nathanson will receive a Rhode Island Pell Award for Excellence in the Arts. Longtime Providence philanthropist and arts advocate Jane S. Nelson will receive the Charles Sullivan Award for Distinguished Service in the Arts. The Pell Award for Outstanding Leadership in the Arts will go to Jeannine Chartier in recognition of her work with VSA arts Rhode Island. Additional honorees will be announced at a later date.

Trinity Rep’s 2018 Pell Awards Gala will be held the evening of Monday, May 21, 2018 at the WaterFire Arts Center in Providence. The annual fundraising event is co-chaired by Sally Lapides and Art Solomon and Jonathan M. Nelson. Honorary co-chairs include Clay PellNick and Annie Pell, Tripler Pell and Tawfik Hammoud, Christina Neal Pell, and Eames Yates, Jr.


The creative black-tie event will begin at 6:00 pm with a VIP cocktail reception. The awards ceremony and seated gourmet dinner reception will begin at 7:00 pm. Guests will enjoy mixing and mingling with artists, business, political, and social leaders; catering by Russell Morin Fine Catering; and unforgettable moments as the theater honors individuals who are committed to bettering the world through art.


Tickets for Trinity Rep’s Pell Awards Gala are $500 (VIP) and $250. Tables, sponsorships and event program ads are also available. All proceeds benefit Trinity Rep’s artistic programs.  For more information or to purchase tickets, sponsorships or ads, visit or call (401) 453-9237.

«There is no better way to honor Senator Claiborne Pell’s dedication to the arts than by recognizing the talents and hearts of Jeannine Chartier, Morris Nathanson, and Jane Nelson, all incredibly deserving honorees,» said Curt Columbus, artistic director of Trinity Rep. “Each of the 2018 Pell Award winners demonstrates the significant impact that a life spent in dedication to the creative arts, community, and philanthropy can make. The work these honorees have done over their lifetimes continues to reach worldwide. It gives me deep pleasure to recognize Jeannine, Morris, and Jane for their many years of service to Trinity Rep and to Rhode Island.”

Trinity Rep’s Pell Awards were established in 1997 to honor the legacy of Senator Claiborne Pell (D-RI) and recognize artistic excellence in Rhode Island and the New England region as well as on the national level. Between 1961 and 1997, Senator Pell held influential Senate posts in the fields of human resources, education, arms control, health, human rights, foreign relations, the environment, and the arts and humanities. Throughout his life, Senator Pell worked to support the arts and provide new opportunities for artists. He was the principal sponsor of landmark legislation that established the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities in 1965, and chaired the Senate Education and Arts subcommittee. He also took a lead role in eliminating barriers to higher education with his legislation creating the Basic Educational Opportunity Grants, which Congress named “Pell Grants” in 1980.

Past Rhode Island Pell Award for Excellence in the Arts honorees include: John Benson, Howard BenTré, Dan Butterworth, Len Cabral, Charlene Carpenzano, John Chan, Bob Colonna, Robert Coover, Umberto “Bert” Crenca, Richard Cumming, Ruth Frisch Dealy, Tony Estrella, Richard Fleischner, Peter Geisser, Malcolm Grear, Michael Harper, Bunny Harvey, Dorothy Jungels & the Everett Dance Theatre, George Kent, Eugene Lee, David Macaulay, Salvatore Mancini, Dave McKenna, Barbara Meek, Denny Moers, Timothy Philbrick, Ricardo Pitts-Wiley, Duke Robillard, Thomas Sgouros, Sr., Consuelo Sherba, Gretchen Dow Simpson, Maria Spacagna, Judith Lynn Stillman, Chris Van Allsburg, Paula Vogel, Keith and Rosmarie Waldrop, William Warner, Rose Weaver, Steven Weinberg, and Toots Zynsky.

Pell Award/Charles Sullivan Award for Distinguished Service in/to the Arts honorees include: Elizabeth Z. Chace, Mayor Vincent A. Cianci, Jr., Martha Douglas-Osmundson, Sally and Joe Dowling, Adrian Hall, Mary Paula Hunter, P. William Hutchinson, Virginia Lynch, Lowry Marshall, Elaine Foster Perry and Julie Adams Strandberg.

Past Pell Award for Outstanding Leadership in the Arts honorees include: Joseph A. Chazan M.D., Mihailo “Misha” Djuric, Michael Gennaro, Roger Mandle, Senator Claiborne Pell, J.L. “Lynn” Singleton and George Wein.

2018 Charles Sullivan Award for Distinguished Service in the Arts

Jane S. Nelson
Photo: Courtesy of Jane S. Nelson

Jane S. Nelson was born and raised in Providence, and after many early years of attending cultural events in Boston and New York City,  became one of the original subscribers of Trinity Repertory Company more than 50 years ago. She fondly remembers making cakes and cookies and carrying them upstairs at the Trinity Church to serve (for free!) at intermission. Jane’s other favorite Trinity Rep memories include being introduced to Adrian Hall when he was hired as the first artistic director, and traveling with Trinity Rep on several of its first international theater tours. She has continued her attendance and financial support since, and has been glad to be able to focus on supporting Trinity Rep’s talent and attending Providence’s own embarrassment of cultural riches.

Nelson’s interest in and support of the arts extends to Festival Ballet Providence, and the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra, where she has served on the board and development committee, as well as sponsored guest conductors. She has been a volunteer and supporter of many other charitable organizations; her philanthropy covers a wide range of interests.

Nelson also served on the board and executive committee of the Rhode Island Zoological Society. For many years she was active at the Miriam Hospital, where in 1971 she was the first woman named to the board of trustees, and in 1988 was named the first woman to be Honorary Trustee for Life. She was actively involved in and volunteered at the Gordon School, and continues to support other pet passions such as the RISPCA.

She is the mother of three, grandmother of five, and great-grandmother of two. Currently, Abigail Peagle, her beloved dog, takes center stage.
2018 Rhode Island Pell Award

Morris Nathanson
Photo: Courtesy of Eric Delin and Phyllis and Morris Nathanson

Born in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, Morris Nathanson is widely recognized as the father of modern restaurant and hospitality design. He has lived his life on the international stage as an urban designer and creator of award-winning restaurants, concert spaces, and hospitality venues. Having traveled widely and with offices in Boston and Providence, Mr. Nathanson returned to his roots in Pawtucket in 1986, purchasing the historic, but decaying, Rhode Island Cardboard Manufacturing complex. He and his wife, Phyllis Van Orden Nathanson, renovated the mill buildings into offices for his design firm, Morris Nathanson Designs, and a community of live/work artist lofts in an effort to encourage other artists to rehabilitate vacant buildings in the area. In addition to the recognition he has received for his restaurants and hospitality projects, Mr. Nathanson is the recipient of numerous personal awards and recognitions, including honorary doctorates from Johnson and Wales University and Rhode Island College. Upon his retirement, Boston University approached him to donate his entire body of work to their collections, resulting in the Morris Nathanson Design Collection, housed at the renowned Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center.

Mr. Nathanson was a founding board member of Trinity Repertory Company. One of Trinity Rep’s earliest set designers, he was also in charge of its relocation to the Emery’s Majestic Theater (now the Lederer Theater Center), which has been the theater’s home for over 50 years. He was an active board member on many other major civic initiatives in Pawtucket, including the Pawtucket Foundation, the Pawtucket Armory Performing Arts Center, the Pawtucket Riverfront Commission, and the Pawtucket 2020 Mayor’s Commission, and has served as a commissioner under the direction of Antoinette Downing on the Providence Historic Commission. He has taught design courses at the Rhode Island School of Design and served as a design consultant for Joseph Paolino, the former Mayor of the City of Providence.

A lifetime member of the Providence Art Club, with his silhouette hanging on its walls, Mr. Nathanson is also a highly-regarded professional painter with numerous exhibitions in Providence and New York. He received a BA in Fine Arts from the University of Miami, and did graduate studies in Theater Arts at the New School for Social Research in New York City. Many of the award-winning projects designed by his office are published in leading books on hospitality design. Many of his art pieces have been installed worldwide, including the designs his office created for the Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.; Euro Disney Park’s 11 quintessential American restaurants and Buffalo Bill Wild West Show; and here in Rhode Island for Dunkin’ Donuts, as well as celebrated restaurants like The Capital Grille and Hemenway’s.
2018 Pell Award for Outstanding Leadership in the Arts

Jeannine Chartier
Photo: Jeannine Chartier

After surviving childhood polio, Jeannine Chartier was raised in the working class neighborhood of

Pawtucket’s St. Joseph Parish. As a visual artist she works using both digital technology and mixed-media fabrication, referencing images of personal and political identity. As an arts educator, Chartier has more than 25 years of experience in program design, development, and evaluation of arts education, specializing in programs to be inclusive of persons with disabilities. She has served as the Executive and Artistic Director of VSA arts Rhode Island since 1996. In 2001 Chartier became the first community recipient of the RI Department of Education’s prestigious Paul V. Sherlock Leadership Award; in 2012 the RI Council on the Humanities Creative Achievement Award; and, in 2015, Pawtucket’s Working River Award.

While working in RI and New York City as a designer in the cultural arts and fashion industries, Chartier was recruited by the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts in 1986 to help create VSA arts Rhode Island, a nonprofit arts education organization providing programs for people with disabilities to actively participate in the arts. She was elected from 1993-96 as the Co-Chair of the Board with (now) Congressman David Cicilline. Through its collaborations with partners across the arts, cultural, disability, and educational communities, VSA arts RI advances integration while promoting the educational and cultural benefits of the arts for all people. In addition to developing programs for VSA arts RI, Chartier both teaches and conducts professional development workshops for arts education, universal design and inclusion in locations as varied as New England, Texas, Brazil, Cuba, and the Pacific Rim.

She received a grant from The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences through their

Education Program to conduct a filmmaking residency, served as an Advisory Board member of Project New Directions at RI School of Design; on the Access Committee at RISD Museum of Art; and as a consultant for the State of RI’s K- 12 Grade Arts Standards (GSE) development towards Proficiency Based Graduation. She currently is on the RI PBS Community Advisory Board, the Steering Committee for the Give Me 5 Teen Film Festival, the New England Consortium of Arts-Education Professionals, the RI Arts Learning Network, Congressman Langevin’s Cultural Advisory Committee and Pawtucket’s Advisory Commission on Arts and Culture.

Chartier’s artwork has been purchased in Rhode Island through the State’s 1% for Public Arts Project for permanent display at the RI Department of Education and the RI Disability Law Center, and chosen for exhibition in Art Slam 2007 and 2008 by the de Young Museum with the National Arts and Disability Center at UCLA. In addition to her visual artwork she has also performed with Heidi Latsky Dance in their “Gimp” and “On Display” dance theater events.


Rhode Island’s Tony Award-winning theater, Trinity Rep has created unparalleled professional theater for and with its community since its founding in 1963. Trinity Rep strives to facilitate human connection and has been a driving force behind the creativity that fuels and defines the region for more than 50 years.

Trinity Rep is committed to reinventing the public square and inspiring dialogue by creating emotionally-stimulating live productions that range from classical to contemporary and innovative education programs for all ages and abilities. Its annual production of A Christmas Carol has brought families together for 40 years and made memories for over a million audience members.

For more information visit Trinity Rep’s website at

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