Ana Baptista, Assistant Professor of Professional Practice, Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management, The New School
Baptista also serves as the Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management program’s chair and as associate director of the Tishman Environment and Design Center at the New School. A native of Newark’s Ironbound, she was previously director of Environmental Justice and Community Development programs for the Ironbound Community Corp. For seven years, she oversaw its environmental justice, community development, planning, and research projects and is now a board of trustees member. Baptista is the co-chair of the Passaic River Superfund Community Advisory Group, member of the Coalition for Healthy Ports, and steering committee member of the New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka
Ras Baraka, Mayor, City of Newark
Baraka was elected as mayor in May 2014. A Newark native, Baraka has spent more than two decades tackling issues that affect the quality of life for Newark residents. He was elected as the Newark South Ward’s councilman in May 2010 and taught elementary school for 10 years before becoming the principal of Central High School in 2007, a position he held until 2014. Baraka has established various anti-crime initiatives, including Newark’s Committee on Violence, opening of a mini-precinct in partnership with the Newark Police Department, and creating the annual “24 Hours of Peace Cultural Event.”
Carolyn Beauchamp, President and CEO, Mental Health Association of NJ (MHANJ)
Beauchamp has been a leader in the public mental-health field for over three decades. Her lifelong commitment to advocating for persons with mental illness includes recently establishing the NJ Connect for Recovery call line and advocating for initiatives to address the state’s opioid epidemic. As a social worker in Greystone Psychiatric Hospital, creating one of the state’s first outreach programs to becoming MHANJ’s director of policy and advocacy and its CEO, she has utilized individual, systems, and legislative advocacy. She has led program development to empower consumers as personal and systems advocates and created a statewide consumer voice.
Staci Berger, President and CEO, Housing and Community Development Network of NJ (HCDNNJ)
HCDNNJ is a statewide association of over 150 community-based development organizations created in 1989 to enhance the efforts of these groups to create affordable housing, revitalize their communities, and improve the climate for community development in New Jersey. Berger previously served as Network’s director of advocacy and policy. Prior to joining the Network, she worked for nine years with New Jersey Citizen Action where she went from being an organizer to serving as the political and legislative director. In that role, she devised and implemented political, legislative, and electoral strategy for the state’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan independent watchdog coalition.
Elizabeth Mayor Christian Bollwage
J. Christian Bollwage, Mayor, City of Elizabeth
All eyes focused on Elizabeth in September as law enforcement agencies converged to track down the accused Chelsea and Jersey Shore bomber, a city resident. Bollwage who has led New Jersey’s fourth-largest city for 22 years, is committed to providing the latest public-safety initiatives. A native son, Bollwage, has brought in $800 million in economic redevelopment. His vision of the future includes “Go-Green” programs; a collegiate-corridor concept; foreclosure assistance program; Midtown train station remodeling; and recreation, housing, and transportation expansion.
Emily Bonilla, Video Production Teacher, Essex County Vocational Bloomfield Tech
Bonilla’s greatest joy in education is providing a space for student voice and creativity. She was named a 2016 Fishman Prize Finalist for Superlative Teaching Practice, the first vocational and media teacher in the U.S. to reach this honor. Earlier this year, three of Bonilla’s students won the Montclair Film Festival’s 2016 Emerging Filmmakers Competition in the Documentary and Social Impact categories for their film, “Individuality.”
Tom Byrne, Chairman, New Jersey State Investment Council
Since 2010, Byrne has been a member of the Investment Council, which oversees the investment of the state’s $70 billion in public pension fund assets. He has more than 35 years experience in the securities industry and recently served on a bipartisan gubernatorial commission charged with creating a plan to fix the state’s underfunded pension system. He is a trustee and treasurer of The Fund for New Jersey and a trustee of Lead New Jersey, which has trained more than 1,500 people in civic and governmental leadership. Byrne has been involved in several urban education initiatives.
Suzi Cabo, Director of Corporate and Community Affairs, United Airlines
Cabo manages global Community Affairs activities, including strategic planning, volunteerism programs, executive nonprofit board placements, fundraising, corporate grant making, and cause marketing programs. She has been with United since 2008, holding various positions within the Marketing and Community Affairs teams. Prior to working at United Cabo spent eight years in brand advertising, working for a variety of advertising agencies in Chicago. She currently serves as the vice chair of the National Runaway Safeline, a 24/7 hotline that that helps runaway, homeless,s and at-risk youth stay safe and off the streets.
Assm. Jack M. Ciattarelli
Jack M. Ciattarelli, Assemblyman, New Jersey Legislature
Ciattarelli represents the 16th Legislative Assembly District and holds the post of assistant Republican whip. He has sponsored bills requiring public utilities seeking rate hikes to hold public hearings in every county, allowing freeholder boards to create programs to encourage shared services and municipal consolidation, and setting certain conditions to allow “nonimmigrant aliens” to qualify for in-state tuition rates at public colleges. Ciattarelli is founder and CEO of Galen Publishing. He was previously a member of the Somerset County board of chosen freeholders and served a one-year term as its director and also served on the Raritan Borough Council.
Jeremy Colangelo-Bryan, Chief Planner, New Jersey Transit
Colangelo-Bryan oversees Capital Planning, Forecasting, Research, and Local Programs and Community Mobility at NJ Transit. He is engaged in a multifaceted effort to plan new and improved transit services that satisfy market demand and customer preference. At NJ Transit and the New Jersey Department of Transportation, Colangelo-Bryan has worked on community transportation projects and policies, the relationship between highway capacity and land use, and transit capital project development and delivery. Over the past decade, he has been involved in efforts to address the trans-Hudson transit-capacity problem. Previously, he worked on community development projects in Oakland, CA, and neighborhood-based transportation plans in Seattle.
Carol Coletta, Senior Fellow, American Cities Practice, The Kresge Foundation
Coletta leads a proposed $40 million-plus collaboration of national and local foundations, local nonprofits, and governments to Reimagine the Civic Commons in five cities. It is envisioned as a realistic demonstration of how a connected set of civic assets can yield more widely shared prosperity for cities and neighborhoods. Prior to The Kresge Foundation, she was vice president of Community and National Initiatives for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, led the two-year start-up of ArtPlace, served as president and CEO of CEOs for Cities, and held the post of executive director of the Mayors Institute on City Design.
Deborah Cornavaca, Statewide Field Organizer, New Jersey Education Association (NJEA)
Cornavaca’s works on coalition building across the state, but especially in urban centers, to unite educators, parents, and community groups in the search for equity and excellence in public schools. Current projects include: the Family and Students Together Work for Children program, Every Student Succeed Act (ESSA) implementation, and community schools. She has spent the past five years working on sustainable community schools as a proven model for transformational change and an alternative to privatizing and closing public schools. She has been a community organizer and lobbyist for nearly two decades: as a parent advocate in her hometown, as an organizer with Save Our Schools NJ, as Legislative Director for New Jersey Working Families, and at NJEA as a lobbyist field organizer. She has a Ph.D. in anthropological archaeology, specializing in indigenous Latin American culture and society.
Braden Crooks, Founding Parter, Designing the We
Designing the We is a social impact design studio based at the Centre for Social Innovation in New York City. Crooks graduated from the MS Design and Urban Ecologies program at Parsons the New School for Design. In Pennsylvania, he founded Groundswell PA — A Community and Environmental Rights Initiative, which campaigned for and passed a “Community Environmental Bill of Rights” in the borough of State College, PA by a popular vote in November of 2011. Braden has taught ecological thinking in urban issues at Parsons and produced a web-series about New York. He serves on the board of Sure We Can: a non-profit collective for those who make their living by redeeming cans and bottles for five cents, as well as The New York State Sustainable Business Council.
Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz
Wilda Diaz, Mayor, City of Perth Amboy
Diaz is serving her second term as mayor, is the first woman to hold the office, and the state’s only elected Latina mayor. The Perth Amboy native has expanded programs for children, youth, and families; promoted business growth, investment, and job creation; and preserved and restored the public library and train station. Her administration instituted a Capital Improvement Program and cost-reducing strategies that decreased the city’s $250 million debt by over $50 million. Diaz is the first woman elected president and chair of the New Jersey Urban Mayors Association and is the chairwoman for the Perth Amboy Redevelopment Agency.
Rev. Eric Dobson
Rev. Eric Dobson, Outreach Coordinator, Fair Share Housing Center
Dobson is a community organizer, outreach specialist and social entrepreneur with extensive experience working with diverse audiences and communities. He is also the Co-Founder of Open Communities LLC (a racial integration consultant firm), and founded a non-profit focused on youth development and education called Planting Seeds of Hope. In 2006, Eric was recognized by the Camden County Board of Chosen Freeholders with the highly regarded Community Service Award. He received the Champion of Diversity Award from the Courier Post South Jersey in 2007. He is an ordained minister and studies religion at Temple University.
Margaret El, Special Assistant for the Arts, Newark Public Schools
Appointed to her current position in March 2016, El previously served as vice principal at her alma mater Newark Arts High School where she supervised visual, performing and media arts programs. Before that, she worked with students as a visual arts teacher at both Arts and Weequahic High Schools in Newark. Prior to joining Newark Public Schools, El worked in the New York fashion industry for 15 years as a designer. She believes that the arts are vital to civilization, and through equitable arts education and exposure Newark students can transform their life, home, and community.
Kim Fortunato, President, Campbell Soup Foundation
Under Fortunato’s guidance, Campbell’s Healthy Communities program has expanded from Camden to four other cities. The program to reduce childhood hunger and obesity is a model for the industry and the company’s signature philanthropic effort. Previously, Fortunato served as president of Operation Warm, Inc. and The National Academy of Medicine published her report on “The Private-Sector Role in Building Healthy Communities.” She serves as secretary to the Rodel Foundation-Delaware, director of the New Jersey Preventive Health Advisory Committee, and member of the Google Food Lab. In 2015 she received the first business “Culture of Health Champion” award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Jahleel Giles, Graduate, Essex County Bloomfield Tech
Giles and two Bloomfield Tech classmates won the Montclair Film Festival’s 2016 Emerging Filmmakers Competition in the Documentary and Social Impact categories. Giles, along with Al Nafi-Walker and Jailene Perez, received the grand prize in both categories for their film, “Individuality.” Giles is now a freshman at Montclair State University enrolled in its B.F.A film-making program. He plans on pursing a career in the performing arts and entrepreneurship industries integrating art and technology
Barbara George Johnson
Barbara George Johnson, Executive Director, John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy, Thomas Edison State University
Johnson manages the activities of the New Jersey Urban Mayors Association and oversees the Institute’s six policy centers focused on early childhood education, urban environmental issues, public health, civic engagement and leadership development, and capacity building for governmental entities and nonprofits. Her more than 20 years as a public policy professional includes the position of managing principal of GOVCONNECTIONS, LLC and senior associate for MBI-GluckShaw, representing clients that included the New Jersey Council of Teaching Hospitals and the City of Trenton. Johnson served as the first Legislative Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey.
Rosie Grant, Executive Director, Paterson Education Fund (PEF)
The longtime New Jersey resident began at the Paterson Education Fund in 1992 managing a grant program and then became PEF’s program director. In 2013, Grant moved into the executive director position. She has supported schools taking steps to reinforce positive behaviors to decrease the number of suspensions and has backed a new state law limiting expulsions and suspensions of elementary school students. Grant has been advocating for the state to return full local control to the Paterson School District by implementing new PEF programs, unifying community support and testifying, about academic progress at state and local forums.
Marty Johnson, Founder and CEO, Isles, Inc.
Johnson and other Princeton students started the community development and environmental organization. Isles supports community planning, green real-estate development, environmental health, urban agriculture, education for high school dropouts, and job training. For its work fostering family self-reliance and healthy neighborhoods, Isles received awards from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, White House, and United Nations. Johnson’s other community initiatives include the New Jersey Community Capital, Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey and Success Measures Project. Johnson is the James Wei Visiting Professor in Entrepreneurship at Princeton's Engineering School for 2015-2017 and previously taught at its Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
Tom Johnson, Energy/Environment Writer and Founder, NJ Spotlight
Tom Johnson is a journalist with more than 30 years of experience in reporting and editing at New Jersey newspapers. A veteran reporter for The Newark Star-Ledger, Johnson worked in the Statehouse and in Newark covering energy, environmental and telecommunications issues. Before that he served as editor of the Ridgewood Newspapers and a reporter and editor at the Herald-News. A recipient of many state and national journalism honors, including recognition by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for coverage of the environment, he was a member of the Star-Ledger’s nationally award-winning business section. After leaving the Ledger in early 2009, he served as press secretary to the Daggett Campaign for Governor.
Peter Kasabach, Executive Director, New Jersey Future
Kasabach has been actively engaged in the areas of housing and sustainable development and community revitalization for the past 20 years. Before taking the helm of New Jersey Future in December 2007, he was chief of policy and community development for the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (HMFA), where he guided investment programs and developed a comprehensive state housing policy for use by the Department of Community Affairs. Prior to joining the HMFA, he oversaw all planning and real estate development activities for Isles, a private nonprofit community development organization in Trenton.
Former Gov. Thomas H. Kean
Former NJ Gov. Thomas H. Kean
During his two terms as governor in the 1980s, Kean promoted educational reform and environmental legislation, including wetlands protection and creation of the Transportation Trust Fund. He then became president of Drew University. In 2002, he was appointed chairperson of the 9-11 Commission, which investigated the cause of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Kean co-authored a book about the investigation. He is chairman of the Carnegie Corp., co-chair of JerseyCAN, and vice chair of the Environmental Defense Fund. Kean began his political career as an assemblyman in the state Legislature and was elected speaker of the General Assembly.
Lee Keough, Editor-In-Chief & Founder, NJ Spotlight
Keough is an award-winning journalist and editor with more than 25 years of experience. After starting her career as a reporter at a New Jersey daily paper, the Herald-News, Keough began working at a variety of computer publications. She served as editor-in-chief of Techweb, a network of websites for IT professionals. Keough also led Data Communications, a McGraw-Hill Companies publication and website to more than 40 national awards for editorial excellence. Keough served as editorial director of Telecom ‘97 and Telecom‘99, the world’s largest telecom trade show, which is sponsored by a division of the United Nations.
Taneshia Nash Laird
Taneshia Nash Laird, Founder and CEO, Legacy Business Advisors
Laird’s community revitalization work involves creating economic opportunities through small business growth; sports, entertainment and destination marketing; affordable and mixed-income housing promotion; and commercial real estate development. She is a board member of the New Jersey Urban Enterprises Zone Authority and a trustee with Art Pride New Jersey Foundation and Advocates for New Jersey History and senior fellow in the Environmental Leadership Program’s Eastern Regional Network. In 2014, Laird attended White House policy briefings as the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce’s Mercer County regional director. Previously, she served as Trenton’s director of economic development, acting director of housing production, and executive director of the Trenton Downtown Association.
Sen. Raymond Lesniak
Raymond Lesniak, Senator, New Jersey Legislature
A lifelong resident of Elizabeth, Lesniak began representing the 20th Legislative District in 1983. He currently chairs the Senate Economic Growth Committee, serves as vice chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, and is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Lesniak has sponsored environmental policies that were the first in the nation to make polluters responsible for cleanup. He spearheaded legislation for tax financing to attract new investment and jobs, to reform the criminal justice system, and to create the state’s Commissioner of Higher Education cabinet post. Lesniak founded nonprofit groups including The Road to Justice and Peace, NJ4Haiti, and Imagine the Possibilities.
Matthew Lister, Director and Team Lead, Gehl
Lister’s approach to real estate project development in urban areas blends programming, design, policy management, market strategies, financial feasibility, and stakeholder collaboration. His work with public and private clients in urban areas emphasizes aspirational designs that are economically sustainable and implementable. As an urban placemaker, he studies the use of public space in order to bring real estate strategy, design and activation of public spaces together for a better quality of life. Lister teachers graduate level urban redevelopment planning at Pratt Institute and has taught undergraduate and graduate courses at the University of Miami’s School of Architecture.
Eric McIntire, Recovery Support Coordinator, RWJBarnabas Health
McIntire has more than 12 years experience in the recovery field. He is a member of a newly formed Barnabas Health team that meets with Narcan-reversed patients in the ER and encourages them to enter treatment programs. McIntire’s initiatives include starting a nonprofit organization, providing a 24-hour hotline, and interventions for families with members struggling with addiction. McIntire wants to bring the message of recovery to incarcerated and institutionalized addicts.
Barbara Mintz, Vice President of Healthy Living and Community Wellness, RWJBarnabas Health
Mintz merges her passion for healthy living with her professional career. She participates in activities involving state and local government offices, businesses, schools, New Jersey Special Olympics, and faith-based institutions along with her daily work of promoting wellness and disease prevention throughout RWJBarnabas Health and its communities. She promotes an integrated approach to provide information and guidance about healthier living and disease prevention for employees and area residents. Mintz facilitates and coordinates lifestyle education programs for exercise, nutrition, stress relief, and smoking cessation. Several of her programs including the Beth Garden, an outdoor urban farm, have won hospital association awards.
John Mooney, Chief Executive Officer, Founding Editor, Education Writer, NJ Spotlight
Before founding NJ Spotlight in 2009, John Mooney covered education in New Jersey for 15 years as a reporter for The Newark Star-Ledger and The Bergen Record and as a contributing writer for The New York Times. He has won numerous state and national awards, including honors from the Education Writers Association and the American Society of News Editors. John also has spoken at conferences and other events regarding school issues facing New Jersey and the role of education journalism.
Tom Moran, Editorial Page Editor, The Star-Ledger/NJ.com
Moran previously worked at the Bergen Record and has been covering New Jersey politics for more than 20 years. He lives in Montclair.
Elizabeth A. Murphy, Director, Creative New Jersey
In 2016, Murphy launched The Disaster Philanthropy Playbook, a joint project of the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers (CNJG) and Center for Disaster Philanthropy. It shares strategies and practices philanthropic efforts in response to disaster preparedness and recovery. She is the founding director of Creative New Jersey, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation’s statewide initiative to build better communities. Murphy helped create strategy for CNJG’s disaster response efforts to superstorm Sandy and programming that educated funders on the major recovery issues. In 2014, For Pre-K Our Way she designed and implemented the initial statewide stakeholder engagement program fostering early support for pre-k expansion.
Phil Murphy, Announced Democratic Party Candidate in New Jersey’s 2017 Gubernatorial Campaign
In May, Murphy became the first to declare his candidacy for New Jersey governor. Murphy served as finance chair of the Democratic National Committee for Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign and worked with Howard Dean on rebuilding the party. He is a retired Goldman Sachs senior director and a former U.S. Ambassador to Germany. Murphy, whose campaign emphasizes rebuilding the middle class and growing the state’s economy, helped launch the New Start Career Network which provides free assistance to help long-term unemployed state residents find jobs. Murphy is an NAACP board member.
Marco Navarro, Senior Program Officer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Navarro is noted for his efforts in developing PRIs (program-related investments) — a “venture philanthropy” approach to funding that enables foundations to stretch their resources and fund essential projects, such as building construction. He now manages a portfolio of New Jersey grants, including the New Jersey Health Initiatives and more than $70 million in a grant/loan portfolio designed to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable populations, support area universities, hospitals and other organizations. He also led the planning for the New Jersey Partnership for Healthier Kids to prevent childhood obesity. Previously, Navarro worked for 10 years managing community improvement projects, which included work on developing affordable housing and the growth of a community-owned credit union in Newark, NJ.
Sheikia Norris, aka “Purple Haze”
Sheikia Norris, aka “Purple Haze”
Norris, also known as Purple Haze or Haze, was born in hip-hop’s birthplace, The Bronx, and recorded her first song at 16. A song writer, recording rap artist and spoken word performer she has performed in the U.S. and abroad. Norris is the Hip Hop 101 Edutainment Program Facilitator & Recruiter for the Hip Hop Culture Center, a member of the Rhyme Like A Girl Collective and a hip-hop art and performance curator. She uses her voice to inspire audience movement and positive thoughts. Her intention is for her music to encourage listeners to explore themselves while elevating global consciousness and self awareness.
Colin Newman, Vice President of Public Policy and Community Affairs, Audible
Newman leads government affairs, community engagement, and corporate social responsibility efforts. Prior to joining Audible, he served as deputy chief counsel to the governor of New Jersey, where he supervised the development of legal advice for Gov. Chris Christie and negotiated legislation on issues including economic development, energy programs, tax policy, and oversight of federal aid. Earlier in his career, Newman served as a White House aide to the Counsel to the President and as a congressional advisor at the U.S. Department of State.
Gregory Paulson, Executive Director, Trenton Health Team
Paulson was appointed executive director in June after serving as deputy director for two years. He held multiple healthcare administrative positions previously, including manager of the Somerset Medical Center’s EMS Department. Paulson has more than 20 years clinical experience as an EMS provider and worked as a paramedic in Trenton. A member of the American College of Healthcare Executives, Paulson is responsible for the 2014 launch of the Trenton Health Information Exchange, which supports the Team’s mission to make Trenton the state’s healthiest city by sharing real-time patient information across medical providers to coordinate care and increase efficiency.
Jailene Perez, Graduate, Essex County Bloomfield Tech
Perez and two Bloomfield Tech classmates won the Montclair Film Festival’s 2016 Emerging Filmmakers Competition in the Documentary and Social Impact categories. Perez, along with Jahleel Giles and Al-Nafi Walker, received the grand prize in both categories for their film, “Individuality.” Perez was born and raised in Newark. She is now a freshman at Caldwell University where she is studying to be an occupational therapist with dreams of owning her own practice.
Camden Mayor Dana Redd
Dana Redd, Mayor, City of Camden
As former city council representative and chair of the Housing Authority, Redd worked to secure investment to transform an entire community with new public housing and expanded access to healthcare. As a former state Senator, she sponsored and negotiated the passage of legislation creating the Homeless Trust Fund and raised $3.9 billion in new school construction funding for New Jersey Abbott Districts. In 2014, Standard & Poor’s published an issuer credit rating of BBB+ to Camden, recognizing the fiscal controls the Redd administration instituted in order to improve and stabilize the finances of the city. This was the first investment grade rating for the city of Camden in more than 15 years.
Ingrid Reed, Board Chair, NJ Spotlight and Board Member and Founder, New Jersey Future
Reed is a policy analyst focusing on New Jersey civic affairs, who directed the New Jersey Project of Rutgers' Eagleton Institute for Politics for 14 years. Currently, she chairs NJ Spotlight’s governing board and serves on the board of New Jersey Future, where she is a founder and its first senior fellow. Reed has chaired the Governor's Task Force on Local Government Ethics and Capital City Redevelopment Corp., held the posts of vice president for public affairs and corporate secretary of Rockefeller University, and served as assistant dean of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
Peter S. Reinhart
Peter S. Reinhart, Esq., Director of the Kislak Real Estate Institute, Monmouth University and Board Member, NJ Spotlight
Reinhart served as senior vice president and general counsel for Hovnanian Enterprises, Inc. for 33 years before joining Monmouth University full time in 2011. He is the chair of New Jersey Future, immediate past chair of Community Foundation of New Jersey, vice-chair of Meridian Health, Inc., founding board member of NJ Spotlight, and former president of the New Jersey Builders Association. He also served on the Council on Affordable Housing from 1993 to 2004 and as a member of the Site Improvements Advisory Board.
John Reitmeyer, Budget and Public Finance Writer, NJ Spotlight
Reitmeyer has covered state and local government in New Jersey for more than 15 years and was named one of the country’s best state political reporters in 2015 by The Washington Post’s The Fix blog. PolitickerNJ cited him for “meticulous research” in its 2014 “Year in Review.” Before joining NJ Spotlight, he wrote about state budgets, tax policy, pension system, and campaign finance for The Bergen Record and covered the State House. Reitmeyer worked at The Burlington County Times and The Press of Atlantic City and has won numerous New Jersey Press Association Awards for public service journalism and responsible journalism.
John Schreiber, President and CEO, New Jersey Performing Arts Center
Termed a “visionary producer” and “impresario of brand names” by The New York Times, Emmy and Tony Award-winning producer John Schreiber leads the state’s largest cultural institution. NJPAC presents more than 400 events each season and through its class arts learning programs, reaches over 75,000 students annually. Prior to joining NJPAC, Schreiber was executive vice president at Participant Media, the Los Angeles film production company responsible for movies such as “Lincoln,” “The Help,” “Waiting for Superman,” and “An Inconvenient Truth.”
Nicky Sheats, Esq., Director, Center for the Urban Environment John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy, Thomas Edison State University
Sheats is a founding member of the New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance (NJEJA), the EJ Leadership Forum on Climate Change and the EJ and Science Initiative. He served as a co-author of the public health chapter of the National Climate Assessment and has been appointed to several governmental advisory councils including the National EJ Advisory Council, Clean Air Act Advisory Committee and NJ Clean Air Council. Sheats is working to increase the ability of the environmental justice community and assisting with development of legal strategies to address particulate matter air pollution, climate change, and cumulative impacts.
Paul Silverman, Founder & Principal, SILVERMAN
Silverman has spearheaded restoration of historic landmarks, developed mixed-use buildings, and created residential, commercial, office and industrial spaces to become parts of neighborhoods. He is a philanthropist supporting many Hudson County not-for-profits, as well as Jersey City Public and Charter schools, and the arts. Silverman serves as chairman of the Hudson County Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy Committee, vice chairman of the Hudson County Chamber of Commerce, and as a director of the NJCU Foundation.
Lilo Stainton, Healthcare Writer NJ Spotlight
An award-winning reporter, Stainton recently joined NJ Spotlight as healthcare writer. Previously, she covered politics and public policy in New Jersey for more than a decade and served as press secretary to Gov. Jon S. Corzine. Stainton also worked as a communications strategist, campaign director and advocate for coastal preservation in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
East Orange Mayor Lester Taylor
Lester Taylor, Mayor, City of East Orange
Taylor sees potential in the city’s location for redevelopment as a mixed-use, transit-oriented walker-friendly community. He partnered with the City Council to turn East Orange’s water commission and golf course into revenue generators. Taylor’s administration resolved a 10-year-old legal dispute preventing redevelopment of Sussex Avenue. In 2014, East Orange became the state’s fourth city and nation’s eighth urban center to pass the earned paid sick leave ordinance. Taylor is building a community network to support children and students with expanded job opportunities and options for continuing education past high school. He is a United Way of Essex and West Hudson board member.
Jennifer Velez, Senior Vice President, Community and Behavioral Health, RWJBarnabas Health
Velez focuses on the health of communities, understanding the societal and economic issues of primarily the urban Medicaid populations in Newark, Lakewood, and other communities. She also has direct oversight over all aspects of Barnabas Health Behavioral Health. Velez joined Barnabas Health in March, 2015, as Senior Vice President of Strategy and Planning, after serving for eight years as Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Human Services, and was the state’s longest-serving Human Services Commissioner.
Sen. Joseph Vitale
Joseph Vitale, Senator, New Jersey Legislature
Vitale has represented the 19th Legislative District since 1998. He is chairman of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee and vice chair of the Senate Labor Committee. He has sponsored legislation to protect the health of children and working families and make healthcare accessible to all residents. He has led efforts to improve care at hospitals and nursing homes, restrict the number of patients assigned to a nurse, and limit forced overtime for healthcare workers. He co-sponsored legislation to gradually raise the state’s minimum wage to $15.Vitale served as interim mayor of Woodbridge in 2006.
Al-Nafi Walker, Graduate, Essex County Bloomfield Tech
Walker and two Bloomfield Tech classmates won the Montclair Film Festival’s 2016 Emerging Filmmakers Competition in the Documentary and Social Impact categories. Walker, along with Jahleel Giles and Jailene Perez, received the grand prize in both categories for their film, “Individuality.” Walker is a now a freshman at Montclair State University enrolled in its B.F.A film making program. He lives in Irvington and aspires to be a professional cinematographer and editor.
John Wisniewski, Assemblyman, New Jersey Legislature
Wisniewski has represented the 19th legislative district since 1996 and served as deputy speaker of the General Assembly since 2004. As chairman of the Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee, he has led efforts to make the Port Authority of NY and NJ more accountable. Wisniewski opposed plans to privatize New Jersey’s toll roads and is examining how to make the state’s transportation network more reliable and affordable. He co-sponsored a bill that would have raised the minimum wage to $15. Wisniewski is a member of the Environment and Solid Waste Committee and co-chairman of the NJ Legislative Select Committee on Investigation.
Lourdes Valdes, Human Resources Manager at Jersey City Medical Center (JCMC), RWJBarnabas Health
Valdes recruits new talent through training and staff development initiatives. She has spearheaded grants establishing career ladder opportunities for front line employees with training enabling them to earn nationally recognized certifications and services to address barriers including financial and family issues. President Obama’s Upskill America Initiative and National Fund for Workforce Solutions have recognized some of JCMC’s programs. Valdez created a professional development program for hospital leadership to mentor employees. The Great Futures Charter High School for the Health Sciences, established through a partnership she formed with the Boys and Girl Club, offers students the chance to experience working in the hospital through internships and practicums.
Renee Wolf Koubiadis
Renee Wolf Koubiadis, Executive Director, Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey
Prior to joining the Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey (APN), Koubiadis served as advocacy coordinator of the National Association of Social Workers – NJ Chapter (NASW-NJ) and assistant state director for the Citizens’ Campaign. Koubiadis is secretary/treasurer for the board of the Affordable Homes Group, Inc. in Burlington County and a New Jersey Coalition to End Homelessness (NJCEH) board of trustees member. A longtime advocate and community organizer for disempowered populations and social change, she has educated thousands about poverty, leadership, and civic engagement. Along with NJCEH, she established the leadership organization, Garden State Leaders, which is partnering with APN this year.