Margaret Jean Bernstein is the founder and director of Azalea Blossom, Incorporated and the SAFE through the arts program. Initially, Ms. Bernstein established Azalea Blossom, Inc. as the non-profit 501c3 sister organization to her music publishing company, Growing Azalea Music in order to facilitate musical projects aimed at Social Awareness. Ms. Bernstein is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, composer, and flutist internationally known for her Socially Awakened Songs and Uplifting Instrumental compositions in addition to being a dually certified educator in New York State. A graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music (BM, flute performance) and Arizona State University (MM, flute performance), Ms. Bernstein’s recording credits include four solo albums released on her Growing Azalea Music record label in addition to appearance as a flutist on over two dozen recordings. She is also the songwriter for all of the songs on the “Songs from SAFE through the arts” CD. Her musical compositions have been distributed and licensed worldwide including appearances in the Chelsea Lately Show and on PBS. In addition, Ms. Bernstein is the author of two original socially relevant children’s musicals, “The Little Seed” and “The Trees’ Song for Peace” as well as songs for children and school choruses, which have been performed at public, private, and charter schools throughout the United States. Two decades of experience as a classroom music teacher in rural and urban communities in California and New York State coupled with close encounters with domestic violence lead her to create the SAFE through the Arts program in 2007. A voting member of the Recording Academy, she is the mother of Julian Jacobs, a Sophomore at Oberlin College and the founder of the Youth Shaves, an annual retreat for teenagers held in South Carolina. In addition to her work with Azalea Blossom, the SAFE through the arts program and the Bricks in the Wall project, Ms. Bernstein is the flutist with the Beguine Ensemble and is currently a co-writer on the recording project of Alexa Valentino, an upcoming singer-songwriter.
Originating from Middlesex, New Jersey, Amy Gong is currently Director of Art and Design for the SAFE through the arts program and a sophomore at Rutgers University where she is an art and psychology double major with a minor in business administration. Having completed a successful internship with Azalea Blossom during the summer of 2016, she was able to stay on as an independent contractor, thanks to generous support from Stewarts Shops. Currently, Ms. Gong is working on re-designing the student handbooks for the SAFE through the arts program. During her internship, Ms. Gong created the designs for the sixteen puppet characters integral to the program as well as supplying the artwork for the CD art for “Songs from SAFE through the arts”, which is currently up for Grammy nomination considerations for best children’s album and best album package. Ms. Gong is passionate about the arts and social justice issues such as human trafficking and child abuse. She has continued to use her skills in video editing, photography, oil painting, and graphic design to volunteer at the Zimmerli Art Museum, to work as a teacher’s assistant for Timothy Christian School’s elementary art classes, and to work as a visual display intern for Anthropologie. In addition, she currently serves as the Treasurer and the Media and Publicity Manager for her school’s chapter of International Justice Mission (IJM) which is an anti-trafficking organization based in Washington D.C. In addition, Ms. Gong is involved with Rutger’s Art and Medicine Society (RAMS), a group that strives to serve its community through art and science. Over the next several years, Ms. Gong hopes to continue her education and eventually pursuing a Ph.D. in psychology. She aspires to use the artistic skills and work experience gained from working with Azalea Blossom to continuing to help others through art.
Queens, New York resident, Kristen Amrhein has been the intern Director of Licensing and Publishing at Growing Azalea Music since March 2016. She is a junior English Major at Hartwick College in Oneonta, NY. She also has Music and Business Administration as minors. Her involvement with Azalea Blossom included her work with the “Songs from SAFE through the Arts” recording on the metadata, registration, and copyright. Ms. Amrhein has been a writer for Hilltops Newspaper and The Odyssey Online for a year. She is a founding sister of a national sorority called the Delta Theta Chapter of Theta Phi Alpha, which was established in Spring 2016. She holds a position on Theta Phi’s E-Board as Historian. Ms. Amrhein aspires to be a part of the music industry as a songwriter and producer. She loves to listen to music and dance around her dorm room whenever she can.
From Schuylerville, New York, Natalia Lewitinn is our new Assistant Director of Program and Development. She is currently a junior at Hartwick College located in Oneonta, New York majoring in Accounting (CPA) and Business Administration while also pursuing a minor in Finance. At Hartwick, she is a cheerleader for football and basketball and is a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success. Over the summer, she works as a camp counselor at Camp Scully. After graduation in 2018, Natalia aspires to travel abroad and work for non-profits that support victims of domestic violence, homelessness, and life-threatening illnesses.
From West Babylon, New York, Alyssa Budke is currently Azalea Blossom’s Director of the Bricks in the Wall project. She is a sophomore at the University at Albany, majoring in Business Administration and minoring in Music. At UAlbany, Alyssa is a support squad member for UAlbany Dance Council, a Team Member for Victoria Secret’s PINK on Campus, and was just awarded Mentee of the Semester for Albany Mentorship Program. Throughout the summer, she works two jobs: a waitress at Long Island Yacht Club, and a cashier at Marshall’s. After graduating in Spring 2019, Alyssa is looking forward to finding a job on Broadway, managing theatres.
Taj Marable is the new Director of Operations and Human Resources for Azalea Blossom, Inc. Taj is currently a sophomore and studies Economics at the University at Albany with minors in business and international studies. On campus, Taj works for the Department of Residential Life as a Resident Assistant and off-campus, he is a mentor to children on the Wolverines Pop Warner Youth Football team back in his hometown of White Plains, New York. After graduation, Taj aspires to be an entrepreneur in the music and fashion industries.