People

 

Board of Directors


Joe White portrait Joe White

“Hip-hop for me, it’s my story. Early DMX, KRS-One’s Return of the Boom Bap, Gang Starr, Jay Z on Reasonable Doubt – those guys are the soundtrack of my life. They rap about the struggle and trying to be successful, about the normal, every day up and down.”

Born and raised in Camden, Joseph White is a dedicated father and husband, a screen printer, and music lover. He was one of the first supporters of The Muse Collaborative and joined the board to help others in his city chase dreams he wasn’t able to dream. Joe has worked for Camden Printworks for over fifteen years, helped found BIGNOIZEINC, coaches a local football team, and is a strong supporter of Rising Leaders, UrbanPromise, and Project HOPE. He grew up playing trombone, trumpet, and percussion and was part of Woodrow Wilson’s marching band all throughout high school.

“Really, I want to give back. I’m always trying to figure out how to connect people in their situation to other people moving in the same direction, even if that’s just getting someone’s local business on a t-shirt.”

PJ Craig portrait PJ Craig

PJ is committed to The Muse Collaborative because of what the arts have done for her and the people she loves. Throughout her life, she’s continually coming back to music, dance, and art to find beauty, express herself, and connect to others. She may or may not also have all the choreography for Aaliyah’s Are You That Somebody memorized in ready-to-perform shape.

After giving up her childhood dream of being a pop star, and then a folk singer, PJ decided to try her hand at something equally challenging and rewarding – youth development. Today, she spends her time hanging out with 4th -12th graders and college students who are smarter, cooler, and funnier than her. As the Assistant Director of K12 Partnerships at Rutgers University–Camden, PJ oversees programs like Rutgers Future Scholars and the Ignite after-school program.

Before Rutgers, PJ was Executive Director of The Advocate Center for Culture and Education in North Philadelphia, an organization that focuses on youth identity and success rooted in the tradition of social justice and Black Power. She is currently working on her PhD in Community Development/Public Affairs at Rutgers, and holds an MS in Public Affairs and an MDiv with a concentration in church and community leadership as well.

When she’s not working on choreography to Keith Sweat songs, PJ cooks, eats, and instagrams what she eats with her husband, Matt, and their Havanese dog, Pepper.

 

Staff


Ayinde Merrill Ayinde Merrill

ayinde@themusecollaborative.org
Program Coordinator

Born and raised in the vibrant city of Camden, Ayinde fell in love with artistry at a young age. He’s an active member of the Philly poetry scene and curates Black art and performance showcases throughout South Jersey. Ayinde studied drums at Settlement Music School and earned a degree in Africana Studies with honors from Rutgers University. He is also the founder of Watu Moja, a nonprofit organization dedicated to relationship building and vital development efforts in the global Afrikan community. As an anime and music enthusiast, his must-watch and must-listen lists are always full.

Michael Zier with paper stuck in his face Michael Zier

michael@themusecollaborative.org
Executive Director

Michael is a Camden resident with family roots in the Midwest and an extensive resume in community organizing, grassroots development, and philosophy, including work with The American Red Cross, The Center for Environmental Transformation, AmeriCorps VISTA, PeaceCorps, and UrbanPromise.  He’s a musician at heart who loves Russian and French literature, learning from others’ lived experiences, and cooking for friends.  He is also a painfully incompetent dancer.