Where Creativity, Collaboration & Charity Collide 

Board Of Directors

LAUREN MATTHEWS RAAD, President, Founder and Managing Director

Lauren Matthews Raad, Esq., a former private practice attorney, founded Garden State Players in 2011. Prior to that, she was an Appellate Law Clerk at the Monmouth County Prosecutors Office, a Judicial Law Clerk at the Monmouth County Courthouse and a Law Clerk at Hoagland, Longo, Moran, Dunst & Doukas. Before embarking on a law career, she was a marketing intern at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick.

Ms. Matthews Raad earned her J.D. in Entertainment Law from Widener University School of Law and also attended Seton Hall Law School. She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in theater management from Rutgers University, Douglass College. A New Jersey native, Ms. Matthews Raad graduated from Red Bank Regional High School’s Academy of Visual and Performing Arts as a theater major.

CHUCK CUTAIA,Vice President and Artistic Director

Chuck Cutaia is an Realtor at Patrick Parker Realty.  Prior to that, he was Director of Special Events and Vice President at U.S. Moxy, a Federally approved nonprofit that places music resources in children’s hospitals. In 1997, Mr. Cutaia found GhostLight Rep. and opened a small theater in New York City's historical theater district. Over the next three years, Chuck went on to produce and direct over 50 productions including “Ordinary People,” “Steel Magnolias,” “Psycho Beach Party,” “Women of Manhattan,” “Savage In Limbo,” “Women and Wallace,” “SubUrbia,” and “Laughing Wild.” He also conceived and directed Shana Gregory Williams' one-woman show “21st Century Foxx,” which was turned into a short film and shown at various film festivals around the country.

Mr. Cutaia attended Marymount Manhattan College where he studied directing.  

Board Secretary

Anastacia C. Carroll is freelance professional organizer with 13 years of retail experience. She is a certified teacher of the disabled K-12 and Classroom teacher K-5. Previously she was a respite care provider for autistic teenagers. Ms. Carroll’s nonprofit experience includes two years as President and Fundraising chair at Psi Beta, Brookdale Community College, and a year as Vice President for the college’s Women Student Organization.

ERICA KOSTYZ, Board Treasurer

Erica Kostyz is a Municipal Secretary and Accounts Payable Clerk for the Borough of Neptune City, where she grew up. A resident of Ocean Township, Erica has been singing since the age of 13. She graduated from Performing Arts Program of Red Bank Regional High School as a Drama Major and studied voice with a private instructor for 13 years. She took a break from the performing scene up until a few years ago when she started singing again at various showcases in the Asbury Park area.

ELLEN MONTEMARANO, Press and Marketing Director

Ellen Montemarano is a freelance writer with extensive experience in marketing. She is a former copy editor with Greater Media Newspapers and is still an occasional freelance feature writer for the company. She was also a coleader at the nonprofit Food Allergy Support Group of Monmouth County. In that capacity, she disseminated accurate, relevant and timely information about food allergies via local media and social networking. She has also been instrumental in the promotion of the Long Branch FAAN Walk for Food Allergies since it began in 2008. Prior to that, she worked in marketing at several major publishers including John Wiley & Sons, Routledge and St. Martin’s Press. 

Ms. Montemarano earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, with a minor in journalism, from Stony Brook University (formerly SUNY Stony Brook).


Loretta Zimmer has been the principal at Middle Road Elementary School, Hazlet, since 1995. She is the District Affirmative Action/Equity Training Officer and the District Odyssey of the Mind Coordinator. She works cooperatively with the Director of Curriculum to coordinate and oversee the district's challenging and creative Enrichment Program (Grades K-6).


Prior to being appointed principal, she was an Elementary Teacher of Grades 4-6, an Enrichment Teacher of Grades 2-8, an Odyssey of the Mind Coach of Grades 5-8 and recipient of the Governor's Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award. 


Brittany Boardwick is a student at Brookdale Community College studying the field of performing arts and voice. Previously, Brittany attended Bayshore Academy of Dance in Holmdel and took acting lessons at Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank. While a student at Keyport High School, she performed in several of the high school’s musicals and with Count Basie Productions.

JAMES BUTLER, Board Member

James Butler works as a Recreation Program Specialist for the Monmouth County Park System. He has organized programs, activities and special events for children and adults throughout Monmouth County. Mr. Butler has volunteered with the Union Beach Soccer Association for the last 18 years coaching and serving various positions on the board including president.

PAUL BURESH, Board Member

After graduating with a Theatre Degree from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, Paul Buresh worked as a Business Manager for three years with the dance company, JENNIFER MULLER - The Works in New York City. Prior to his degree, he toured nationally with the Robin Hood’s Players, a children’s theater company. Throughout the Midwest, he has performed with many regional and community productions as choreographer and actor. Mr. Buresh is currently the Dramatics Advisor and Substitute teacher for Keansburg High School and directed their most recent musical as well as accompanies the High School Chorus on piano. He has also served as the Technical and/or Music Director for the musicals in the Keansburg Middle School over the past several years. He is active as the pianist/organist and Choir Director at Gethsemane Lutheran church in Keyport. He also works in New York City at the Millennium Broadway Hotel in the banquet department, which boasts the Hudson Theater, the oldest Broadway Theater still in use. 


Eileen Carton  is an an account manager and marketing specialist for Rue Insurance Agency and previously was account manager and marketing specialist with Bittner and Carton Insurance Agency. Prior to her positions in the insurance industry, she was a pediatric nurse at Bayshore Community Hospital. 

Ms. Carton earned her nursing degree from Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Pa.


Elizabeth Graham is the Associate Director at 180, Turning Lives Around, a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to ending domestic and sexual violence in our community.  In the five years that Ms. Graham has served the organization, she has contributed in many areas of the agency and most specifically to the 2NDFLOOR Youth Helpline as it expanded services statewide. Prior to her employment with 180, Liz was Head of Production for Haymarket Media, a large international business-to-business magazine publisher.

Ms. Graham received a bachelor’s degree from the School of Engineering at The College of New Jersey (formally Trenton State College) where she majored in technological studies. She is a graduate of High Technology High School, Lincroft.

LAURA HERR, Board Member

Laura Herr is a certified FitCoach at Koko FitClub Shrewsbury and a Realtor Associate at Resources Real Estate. Previously, she earned her Private Pilot's Certificate and Instrument Rating (single engine airplane land) at Eagles View Aviation. Ms. Herr has been involved in many local community theater productions since 2007, on the stage as an actor/singer and behind the scenes as assistant director, stage manager and light/sound tech.

Ms. Herr earned her B.S. in Business Administration from Georgian Court University.

DAN PUMA, Board Member

Dan Puma is a musician, actor and entertainer. Graduating from Middletown High School North, he was awarded the Lion's Pride Award for Performing Arts Achievement in Instrumental Music. He has performed numerous times at the Count Basie Theater, playing guitar for Rockit! Live, a performing arts program for youths ages 8-18. After aging out of the program, he still roadies and performs with the program. In Boston, one of his past bands, The Five Senses, won third place in the Music On and Up competition at the Hard Rock Cafe. 

JOE THOMPSON, Board Member

From Asbury Park, Joe Thompson is a singer, songwriter and Jersey shore native. He is a vocalist and co-songwriter for the electronic/dance act UNDERCOVER, whose single "Your Lovin' Touch" was added to Abercrombie & Fitch's Summer 2012 playlist in stores nationwide, and whose full-length album was independently released in July. Joe is also a backup singer for NYC-based rock and soul artist Tamar-Kali. Recent venues played include Joe's Pub, Harlem Stage and the Brooklyn Academy of Music as part of the Next Wave of Song festival. 


Ms. Trujillo holds a B.A. in applied communication from Monmouth University and is currently working toward a master’s in public policy and public and corporate communication. Her notable experience includes serving on an executive board, founding a university-based minority organization, proposing a budget, organizing an executive board, drafting bylaws and forming a network of supporters. She has published works for academic journals, magazines and presented at national academic conferences. Professional experience in the non-profit sector for a leading New Jersey privately funded 501c(3) organization adds to her knowledge of the requirements for successful leadership, development, and the organizational skills necessary to launch and sustain a growing agency. She has recently partnered with Google® as an independent agent and is familiar with Google Apps for business, specifically for the non-profit sector.