The Ana Grace Project (AGP), established to promote love, community, and connection in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, has a new home at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) in New Britain. A pilot partnership between the AGP and CCSU establishes a new base of operations for the Ana Grace Project, in addition to the blending of resources, services, and expertise, officials of both organizations have announced.
Nelba Márquez-Greene was a CCSU adjunct faculty member in 2012 when her daughter Ana Grace was killed at Sandy Hook, along with 19 other first-graders and six educators. She established The Ana Grace Project to honor her daughter’s memory and, as its executive director, she will oversee the CCSU-AGP partnership.
In announcing the partnership, CCSU President Zulma Toro said, “This arrangement will enrich our longstanding commitment to serving our communities as well as deepen our commitment to being a University of compassion. We are happy to welcome Nelba Márquez-Greene back to the CCSU family.”
“I’m looking forward to the amazing things we can do together,” says Márquez-Greene. “CCSU already has an extraordinary depth and breadth of talented, skilled people. We'll add another layer of support and love available to all.” She is a clinical fellow of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy and has experience in private practice, as well as academic and community mental health settings. For a time she served as coordinator for Klingberg Family Therapy Center’s outpatient child and adolescent psychiatric clinic.
“By partnering with CCSU, we’ll be able to expand our vision of ensuring every student in Connecticut has access to healthy relationships and tools of self-regulation – setting them up for life long success,” Márquez-Greene explains.
Also expected is the continuation and expansion of AGP’s “Love Wins: Finish the Race” initiative hosted at CCSU for the past two years. Several hundred New Britain school children spend a day on campus with CCSU student volunteers for a taste of the college experience with the hope, says Márquez-Greene, of “instilling the belief that there is a world of possibilities awaiting them.”
Márquez-Greene will also work with the School of Education & Professional Studies to establish a Center for Social & Emotional Learning to provide education, training, and research to the campus, community, and state. Other expected collaborations include the training of CCSU undergraduate and graduate students in the Marriage & Family Therapy, Psychology, and Counseling programs in the use of social-emotional curriculum in the classroom.
Her husband, Jimmy Greene, is Coordinator of Jazz Studies and Assistant Professor of Music at Western Connecticut State University, another of the four state universities in the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) system.
Greene teaches applied jazz saxophone, jazz history, jazz pedagogy, jazz improvisation, jazz theory, jazz arranging, conducts the jazz orchestra and was awarded a 2013 Outstanding Faculty Award for his efforts. A native of Hartford, Greene is considered one of the most respected saxophonists of his generation since his graduation from the Hartt School of Music in 1997. His most recent recording, Beautiful Life (Mack Avenue) is a celebration of the life of his daughter. The album features touching performances by giants like Pat Metheny, Christian McBride, Kenny Barron and Kurt Elling amongst many others.