About Our Founder & Executive Director
Sophia Haynes-Cardwell has spent over 30 years dedicating her life to dance, music, theater, the community, and her family. At the young age of nine years old Sophia began her dance career at the Roxbury Center for the Performing Arts in Boston, MA under the tutelage of noted studio owner Ms. Andrea Herbert Major. Through the gifting of Ms. Andrea, Sophia studied dance and got her first experience as a singer. In addition, she received theater training from Youth Boston and Wheelock Family Theater. Thereafter, she became a part of Dreamers Incorporated, a youth organization who trained and developed rising stars in the Boston area. As a participant in Dreamers Inc. Sophia became a member of Boston’s hottest female vocalist group, SoChey. Under the management of Dreamers Inc. her group performed with many accomplished artists such as LL Cool J, MC Lyte, Silk, Joe, Melba Moore, Pattie Labelle, Black Street and many more. SoChey held the title of Grand Champion from the Apollo Theater Amateur Night and Sony Music "New Artist of the Year." SoChey was featured on the BET in the new artist spotlight. Sophia dove heavy into her music career and went on to work with Knock Out Entertainment, a New York-based agency that landed her a record deal with Mass Appeal Records.
Right after graduating high school and at the young age of 17 Sophia was offered the lead role in the off-Broadway hit musical "Mama I Want To Sing." While on tour with "Mama I Want To Sing," Sophia was discovered by the producer of the nationally, televised show "Star Search." She competed and won first place in the female vocalist category. Later Sophia went on to study at Newbury College earning a Degree in Business. She went on to study music at Berkeley College of Music where she was able to study with some of the best musicians in the business.
Sophia has always been a giver and has always wanted to give back to the world what God has given her. After having her first child she decided that it was that time to pour back into her community. This is when Stajez was born. In 1993 she opened her doors to young people in the Boston community who had a passion for the arts . As a single mother, she knew that she had to provide for her daughter and she knew that she had to do something that she loved and something that would steer young people in the right direction. She wanted to do something from the heart that she could make a personal connection and eventually a spiritual connection with others. She also wanted to make sure that it would be affordable for all. As the Founder and Executive Director she has been able to touch and change the lives of thousands of young people through her work at Stajez Cultural Arts Center Randolph and now Stajez Dance Studio in Rhode Island in addition to her 4 youth dance companies. Sophia is the former Performing Arts Director for the Blue Hills Boys & Girls Club of Boston where she served as a loyal employee for 7 years having designed & facilitated their first performing arts program. She also spend 3 years as the Dance Ministry leader for New Dimension Church in Rhode Island. Currently she is in partnership with the Bridge to Excellence After-School program in Boston Ma. where she is developing a new performing arts program as a part of their curriculum. Her continuous hard work and dedication to the community has given her recognition by many political figures including the offices of the Mayor and governor of Massachusetts as well as the town council of Randolph Ma. . Sophia was awarded the MLK Spirit of Youth Award in the Town of Randolph, the prestigious Robert Quinn Award for community service with excellence from UMass Boston, among many other accolades including an official proclamation from the town of Randolph that recognizes a day in the town as Stajez Day for over 25 years of service.