project director

Fran Bartkowski

Fran Bartkowski has been on the faculty at Rutgers University-Newark since 1989.  She teaches in the English Department and for the Women's and Gender Studies Program as well as the American Studies Program.  She is the author of three books of literary criticism and a novel.  Being the Project Director of Cherry Blossoms in Winter was about connecting, collaborating and bringing to fruition the dreams and visions of so many in our communities.


program coordinator

kristina micu

Kristina Micu is a doctoral student in the Global Urban Studies program at Rutgers University-Newark and a professor of sociology at Saint Peter’s University. Prior to doing this work, Kristina spent a year living in Geneva, Switzerland where she interned for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Arigatou International, and the Internal Organization for Migration. Her scholarly interests include the securitization of immigration, social exclusion, and refugee resettlement.




photo credit: Anna Ryabtsov

photo credit: Anna Ryabtsov


Matthew Gosser

Matt Gosser is a Newark based artist and designer who also teaches at the College of Architecture and Design (NJIT campus).  Having been formally trained as an architect, Gosser’s art centers around the relationship between man, nature and the built environment – in particular, ruins (those vestiges of the built environment abandoned by man and gradually being reclaimed by nature). His early black and white photographic series’ documented sites in Scotland, New York City and Johnstown.

Within Newark, Gosser has explored a wide variety of abandoned buildings; transforming artifacts such as employee records, company documents, machine parts, etc. into collages, sculpture, lighting and furniture in what can best be described as historic preservation with artistic license.  Gosser is also the director of the College of Architecture and Design gallery and is on the executive boards of the Jewish Museum of New Jersey and the Newark Preservation and Landmarks Committee.  He recently opened a storefront gallery in Downtown Newark called “Art & Artifacts of Newark”.

Graphic design

chantal fischzang

Chantal is an Assistant Professor of Communications Design at Rutgers University-Newark and works independently in NYC & NJ. Her practice serves a range of multidisciplinary projects related to design for social impact and her capabilities range from brand identity systems, print, publications, exhibition to interactive design. 

Chantal is a founding member of IntraCollaborative, a team of designers and educators sharing a deep-seated interest in design and its relevance to the social sector.  Along with her teaching role at Rutgers University-Newark, Chantal is founder of VISUAL MEANS and Director of the DESIGN CONSORTIUM, two initiatives that offer graphic design students a collaborative, quasi-professional working experience in which they learn how design can serve and empower a community. 

In recent years, her independent and collaborative work have been recognized by CORE77, AIGA, CREATIVITY, HOW, UCDA and AWWWARDS. 

project liaison

dimitri reyes

Dimitri Reyes is a Puerto-Vegan educator, writer, artist, and community organizer from Newark, New Jersey.  His work has been featured internationally in Australia, Singapore, and the UK as well as locally in the Star-Ledger and the West Orange Chronicle. He is the recipient of Slice Literary's 2017 Bridging the Gap Award for Emerging Poets, and a finalist for the Arcturus Poetry Prize by the Chicago Review of Books. Dimitri will receive his MFA at Rutgers- Newark in May 2018, and upon graduation hopes to pursue an administrative career in the RU-Newark family.


Photography & Web Design

COlleen Gutwein O'Neal

Colleen G. O’Neal is a digital and analog photographer from the Northeast United States.  She works predominantly in documentary and portraiture styles, incorporating the use of alternative photographic processes in her exploration of the human experience.

Colleen is a community partner at Shine Portrait Studio, within Express Newark. She is the founder and lead photographer at Small Forest Photography, focusing on photography and web design for artists, individuals, and small businesses.  Her studios are located in Newark, NJ.