2019 Governor's Conference on Housing and Economic Development

 Dr_Soaries            Our Keynote Speaker - Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr., Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens, a pioneer of faith-based community development and former New Jersey Secretary of State.

Read his full bio

View his keynote speech 


Lt. Governor Sheila Y. Oliver
Lt. Governor and Commissioner, NJ Department of Community Affairs (DCA)

Sheila Y. Oliver took the oath of office as New Jersey’s 2nd Lieutenant Governor on January 16, 2018. She is the first woman of color to serve in statewide elected office in New Jersey history. She was appointed Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs by Governor Phil Murphy. Lt. Governor Oliver is a 40-year resident of East Orange, and a native of Newark. First elected to the General Assembly in 2003, she became Speaker in 2010 – the first African-American woman in state history to serve as such, and just the second in the nation’s history to lead a state legislative house. She has chaired the Assembly Human Services Committee, and served on the Labor, Higher Education, Women and Children, Commerce and Economic Development, and Transportation and Independent Authorities committees. She also sat on the Joint Committee on the Public Schools and the Joint Committee on Economic Justice and Equal Employment Opportunity. Prior to her election to the General Assembly, she served as an Essex County Freeholder, from 1996 to 1999, and was a member of the East Orange Board of Education. She also served as an Assistant County Administrator for Essex County from 2000 until 2018. An alumna of Newark’s Weequahic High School, she went on to graduate cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. She also holds a Master of Science Degree in community organization, planning and administration from Columbia University.

Lt. Governor Oliver began her career in public service as the Director of the Office of Youth Services and Special Projects for the City of Newark, where she focused on preparing young people ages 14 to 21 for post-secondary education and entry into the workforce. She later became the Development Director for The Newark Literacy Campaign while working at Caldwell College as the Coordinator of Career Guidance within the Educational Opportunity Fund Program. She has taught college courses in Achievement Motivation, Nonprofit Management, and Pre-College Preparation, served as a consultant to a variety of nonprofit organizations, and spent several years as the Director of the Essex County Division of Community Action, an anti-poverty initiative.

Click here to read Lt. Governor Sheila Y. Oliver's full bio.

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Leslie A. Anderson
President and Chief Executive Officer, NJ Redevelopment Authority (NJRA)
Leslie A. Anderson is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority. Ms. Anderson is the first African American woman to helm an independent financing authority in New Jersey. Under her bold leadership, NJRA has used its financial resources to leverage over $3.8 billion in new investments, helping to redevelop some of New Jersey’s most economically challenged neighborhoods. Moreover, the authority committed $418 million in direct investments in 44 eligible communities. This has led to the creation of 15,000 new housing units and 10 million square feet of commercial and retail space. In 2006, Ms. Anderson created the NJRA Redevelopment Training Institute (RTI) to provide learning opportunities centered on the complexities of redevelopment and best practices for community revitalization. Since its inception, RTI has trained over 2,000 attorneys, elected officials, developers and nonprofits.
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Tai Cooper
Vice President for Policy & Communications, NJ Economic Development Authority (NJEDA)
As Vice President for Policy and Communications at the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, Tai Cooper is responsible for leading the NJEDA’s communications and engagement strategy, which includes guiding the NJEDA’s messaging and strengthening ties with policy-makers at the federal, state, and local level. Ms. Cooper joined the NJEDA in February 2019. Previously, she was the Deputy Chief Policy Advisor to Governor Phil Murphy and led New Jersey’s federal Opportunity Zone initiative. She previously served as Chief Policy Advisor to Mayor Ras J. Baraka, and also had key roles in both his campaign and transition teams. She began her political career as a Senior Aide to U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg. A Newark resident, Ms. Cooper earned a Bachelor of Arts in urban planning from the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University and a master’s degree in urban planning from the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at New York University.
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Maurice A. Jones
President and Chief Executive Officer, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)
With deep experience in both public and private sectors, Maurice A. Jones became LISC's fourth President and Chief Executive Officer in 2016. He has served as the Secretary of Commerce for the Commonwealth of Virginia; Deputy Secretary for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; Commissioner of Virginia’s Department of Social Services; Deputy Chief of Staff to former Virginia Governor Mark Warner; and, during the Clinton administration, Director of the CDFI Fund. Mr. Jones was the President and Publisher of the Virginian-Pilot Media Group and a corporate attorney at Hunton & Williams. He is also a Rhodes Scholar and sits on the University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors.
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Charles A. Richman
Executive Director, NJ Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA)
Charles A. Richman brings more than 40 years of experience in New Jersey state government to his role as Executive Director of the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency. Under his leadership, NJHMFA has spearheaded several new initiatives such as a statewide down payment assistance program, which has opened the door to home ownership to thousands of first-time homebuyers; foreclosure mediation assistance, which works with the New Jersey courts system to pair homeowners who have received a foreclosure notice with free housing counseling in an effort to help save their homes; and a funding partnership with hospitals to create affordable housing opportunities in their communities, including a required number for special needs residents and/or frequent users of emergency room services. Before joining NJHMFA in January 2018, Richman previously had served as Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA), where he had worked for 31 years. NJHMFA is an affiliate of DCA. Prior to joining DCA in 1986, he served as Executive Director of the New Jersey State Energy Office, and Assistant Commissioner and then Acting Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Energy. He was named Assistant Commissioner of DCA in 1986, was promoted to Deputy Commissioner in 2005, and held the title of Acting Commissioner at DCA three times. Throughout his tenure at DCA, Mr. Richman led effective policy development in areas ranging from affordable housing, fire safety, community planning and economic revitalization to budget development. He was responsible for regulatory reform in a variety of building and housing codes, evaluations of municipal operations; formulation of legislative strategies; preparation of department budgets and priorities; contract management; and supervision of operating divisions. Over the years, he has represented DCA on a number of prominent boards and commissions, including the Council on Affordable Housing; Casino Reinvestment Development Authority; the State Planning Commission, the New Jersey Historic Trust; and the Asbury Park Housing Authority among others. In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, he helped lead efforts to provide Sandy-displaced families with housing options and in administering federal Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funds to assist homeowners, renters and local governments in their Sandy recovery and rebuilding efforts.
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Margaret Chinwe Anadu
Managing Director and Head of the Urban Investment Group, Goldman Sachs
Margaret Chinwe Anadu is head of the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group (UIG), a domestic investing and lending business that provides capital to real estate projects and social enterprises. UIG commits more than $1.4 billion annually to community and economic development investments, benefiting underserved communities and serving as a catalyst in the revitalization of distressed urban neighborhoods. She serves on the Goldman Sachs Bank USA Management Committee. Ms. Anadu joined Goldman Sachs as an analyst in 2003, and was named managing director in 2013 and partner in 2018. She serves on the boards of several community and economic development nonprofit organizations, including the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, Center for an Urban Future, and Core Innovation Capital. Ms. Anadu earned a Bachelor of Arts in computer science from Harvard College in 2003.
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Karen J. Alexander
Managing Director, New Jersey Travel Independence Program, Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center, Rutgers, The State University of NJ
Karen J. Alexander has 20+ years of experience planning and implementing human service, public transit, and aging in place programs. In 2013, she joined the Voorhees Transportation Center as a Senior Research Project Manager, directing the New Jersey Travel Independence Program, NJTIP @ Rutgers. NJTIP provides travel training to 1,000+ people each year. Ms. Alexander is an instructor and course developer for the National Transit Institute. She led the 2017 Coordinated Human Services Transportation Plan update for the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority and authored “How Can We Help Older Residents of Montclair Age in Place?” which led to the implementation of Lifelong Montclair, a WHO-AARP recognized Age-Friendly Community. Ms. Alexander received her Bachelor of Arts from UCLA and her Master in Public Administration from Columbia University. She is a Certified Assisted Living Administrator and currently serves on the New Jersey State Rehabilitation Council.
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Paul Aronsohn
Ombudsman, Individuals with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities and Their Families
Paul Aronsohn is currently serving as New Jersey’s statewide Ombudsman for Individuals with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities and Their Families – a position to which he was appointed by Governor Phil Murphy in April 2018. As Ombudsman, he serves as the administration’s lead advocate and ally for New Jersey residents in need of critical services and supports ranging from early childhood through adulthood. Previously, he held several positions in both the public and private sectors, including Mayor of Ridgewood. Mr. Aronsohn has long been involved with disability issues, professionally as well as personally. He has served in several disability organizations and is the proud sibling of a brother and two sisters, who have had a mix of disabilities and healthcare challenges.
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Robert Asaro-Angelo
Commissioner, NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDLWD)
Robert Asaro-Angelo was nominated by Governor Phil Murphy to serve as the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development in January 2018. As Commissioner, he is proud to oversee the state’s diverse services to New Jersey workers, including the state’s workforce programs, wage and hour compliance, unemployment insurance program, workers’ compensation, temporary disability insurance, and family leave insurance, among other duties. From 2010 – 2017, he served as Eastern Regional Representative for the U.S. Department of Labor under the Obama Administration, managing the department’s regional activities and coordinating federal initiatives on the regional, state and local levels. Prior to his government service, he worked for the Laborers International Union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Service Employees International Union Local 1115. He earned a Bachelor of Science in communications from Boston University and a master’s degree in public policy from the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University.
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George Ashton
Managing Director, Strategic Investments, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)
George Ashton is the Managing Director of Strategic Investments with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). He leads LISC’s multi-dimensional effort pursuing a range of high-impact investments that create jobs, fuel small businesses, revitalize commercial areas, improve housing, expand local incomes and make communities safer and stronger. The Opportunity Zone legislation falls squarely within that mission and will be his first point of focus at LISC. Mr. Ashton previously served as co-founder and president of Sol System, a Washington, D.C.-based renewable energy investment firm. In addition to his many professional accomplishments, George volunteers his time for a variety of Washington, D.C.-area organizations, including the Washington Jesuit Academy and the HERO Initiative; Community Ministries of Rockville, and Grid Alternatives. He is a graduate of the College of William and Mary, with a bachelor’s degree in finance and economics, and earned a Master of Business Administration from the University of Maryland.
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Kim Avant-Babb
Chief Strategy Officer, NJ Redevelopment Authority (NJRA)
Kim Avant-Babb is the Chief Strategy Officer at the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority, a multi-million-dollar independent financing authority created by the State of New Jersey to transform urban communities through direct investment and technical support. For the past 13 years, she has led the operations of the Redevelopment Training Institute (RTI), a nationally recognized and accredited training program. RTI offers intensive workshops in the areas of project finance, tax abatements, new construction, redevelopment planning law and more. RTI has trained over 2,000 attorneys, planners, elected officials, developers and nonprofits from nine states. Since joining NJRA in 1998, Ms. Avant-Babb has held various positions in community development, lending services and business development. Her career has included state government, transportation and procurement. Prior to her work in state government, she held senior positions with SEPTA and the University of Pennsylvania. She also operates two businesses, Babb Properties LLC, and Ameenah Designs.
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Demelza Baer
Director of Public Policy, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
Demelza Baer is the Director of Public Policy for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, where she leads and coordinates advocacy before federal, state, and local legislatures and executive agencies. Previously, Ms. Baer was Senior Counsel and Director of the Economic Mobility Initiative for the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, where she directed work on employment, housing, and access to credit. She also worked as a Policy Counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), where she worked on racial justice, women’s rights, disability rights, human rights, and criminal justice reform through advocacy before the federal government. Ms. Baer served as Assistant Counsel for the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, where she worked on civil rights issues for the Subcommittee on the Constitution and on oversight for the full committee. She is holds Bachelor of Arts from Northwestern University, a Juris Doctor from Tulane Law School, and an LL.M. from Columbia Law School.
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Ras J. Baraka
Mayor, City of Newark
Mayor Ras J. Baraka’s progressive approach to governing has shined a national spotlight on Newark for Its success in building cooperation between residents and the police, reducing crime to its lowest level in 50 years, establishing the nation’s strongest inclusionary zoning ordinance and civilian police review board, and prioritizing equitable growth. Under his leadership, Newark has been recognized as a technology center - a finalist in Amazon’s search to locate a second world headquarters, as a city on the rise with more than $4 billion in economic development underway, and as a place where the City and its major anchor institutions collaborate to place residents in local jobs, increase the number of Newarkers with college degrees and prepare school dropouts for successful careers. Previously, he was a long-time educator in the Newark Public Schools, his most recent assignment being principal of Central High School. His father, the late Amiri Baraka, was a legendary poet, playwright and civic activist. His mother, Amina Baraka, is herself a renowned poet. Mayor Baraka is a published poet as well.
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Charles A. Barker
Projects Specialist, Office of U.S. Senator Cory Booker
Charles A. Barker is a Projects Specialist for U.S. Senator Cory Booker. In this role, he manages several issue areas for the Senator here in New Jersey. Mr. Barker also works with leaders throughout the state to ensure that Senator Booker is responsive to his constituency, from local residents to statewide elected officials and agency executives. Whether it is building events that will amplify Senator Booker’s message, connecting stakeholders with federal resources, working to introduce legislation on a federal level that will benefit the nation, or supporting state bills and initiatives that will benefit New Jerseyans, Mr. Barker enjoys serving the people of the Garden State and the country who need assistance.
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Susan Bass Levin
President and Chief Executive Officer, The Cooper Foundation, Cooper University Health Care
Susan Bass Levin is President and Chief Executive Officer of The Cooper Foundation at Cooper University Health Care. Her career spans law, government service and leadership in nonprofit and community organizations. She served in the Cabinet of three New Jersey governors as the Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs (2002-2007), and also served as the Deputy Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (2007-2010), and as the Mayor of Cherry Hill (1988-2002). She is co-chair of Cooper’s Ferry Partnership and serves on the boards of the Cherry Hill Public Library, KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy and Center for Family Services. She is most proud of her work building the Cherry Hill Public Library and the MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper. A graduate of the University of Rochester, she received her Juris Doctor from George Washington University Law School, where she was a member of the Law Review.
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Adenah Bayoh
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Adenah Bayoh and Companies

Adenah Bayoh is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Adenah Bayoh and Companies, which is the parent corporation that owns IHOP franchises in Newark, Paterson and Irvington, and a real estate development portfolio with over $250 million in urban redevelopment projects. Because of the success of her flagship IHOP in Irvington, Ms. Bayoh is the second largest employer in the township. Recently, she launched Cornbread, her signature line of fast casual, farm-to-table, soul food restaurants.

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Staci Berger
President and Chief Executive Officer, Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey
As the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, Staci Berger directs this statewide association of over 150 community-based development organizations, created to enhance the efforts of these groups to create affordable homes and revitalize their communities, and to improve the climate for the sector. She previously served as the Director of Advocacy and Policy. In this role, she was responsible for leading the community development policy staff team to broaden and mobilize support for the Network’s public policy agenda. Prior to joining the Network, she worked for nine years with New Jersey Citizen Action serving as organizer before becoming the Political and Legislative Director. In this role, she devised and implemented political, legislative and electoral strategy for the state’s largest nonprofit, non-partisan independent watchdog coalition. She received a Master of Public Affairs and Politics from Rutgers University in 2004.
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Francis E. Blanco
Director, Women's Empowerment Initiatives, Division on Women, NJ Department of Children and Families (DCF)
Francis E. Blanco currently serves as the Director of Women’s Empowerment Initiatives for the Division on Women in the New Jersey Department of Children and Families. Ms. Blanco’s main role is to direct the development, promotion and expansion of women and girls’ rights and opportunities in the areas of economic self-sufficiency, anti-violence, civic and political engagement, girls’ leadership, and social aspects of healthcare, She serves as a liaison to ensure integration of services, and the development of strategic partnerships with internal and external stakeholders in support of the division’s objectives.
Past experiences include serving as the Chief of Staff for former Trenton Mayor Eric E. Jackson. In this role she served as the Mayor’s confidential representative and served as his lead to magnify the support and effectiveness of strategic initiatives across city administration/Cabinet, City Council, and external partners, facilitating growth and sustainability of constituent inclusive, socially responsible economic development and educational efforts.
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Donna M. Blaze
Chief Executive Officer, Affordable Housing Alliance
Donna Blaze has her Bachelor of Arts degree from Montclair State University and Master of Arts degree from the University of South Florida. In 1991, she founded the Monmouth Housing Alliance due to the paucity of affordable housing available to low-income residents in Monmouth County. In 2010, the organization changed its name to Affordable Housing Alliance, expanding its services to Ocean and Mercer counties. With over 40 years of experience in consultation, technical assistance and management of affordable housing programs for low income and special needs population, Ms. Blaze oversees the management, development, construction and financing of all internal and consultant projects. Ms. Blaze is a certified housing counselor, public housing manager, homeowner education counselor and real estate manager.
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Katherine Brennan
Chief of Staff, NJ Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA)
Katherine Brennan joined the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency as Chief of Staff in February 2018. As Chief of Staff, Ms. Brennan works across Agency departments to ensure implementation of strategic initiatives and policy goals. Prior to her current role, Ms. Brennan served as the Program Director of Affordable Housing for the County of Hudson. In this capacity, she directed affordable housing production, foreclosure prevention, fair housing, and lead-based paint hazard programs. Previous roles include serving as an Associate at Monarch Housing Associates where she worked to expand the supply, accessibility and variety of permanent supportive housing across New Jersey. This work included consulting with for-profit and nonprofit developers as well as public housing authorities and municipalities. Ms. Brennan has a Bachelor of Arts from Xavier University and a Master of City and Regional Planning degree from the Rutgers Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy.
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Amy Brown
Senior Policy Director, New Jersey Long-Term Care Ombudsman
Amy Brown serves as Senior Policy Director for the New Jersey Long-Term Care Ombudsman’s Office. In this role, she directs the advocacy and outreach for the I Choose Home New Jersey program, advocating for New Jersey’s most vulnerable nursing home residents who wish to return to community living. Much of her recent work focuses on younger, physically disabled nursing home residents with extremely low income, and in advocating for affordable and accessible housing for this population. Ms. Brown joined the New Jersey Long-Term Care Ombudsman’s Office as a staff attorney in 2010. Previously, she worked as a staff attorney in the Public Interest Advocacy division of the N.J. Department of the Public Advocate, with a focus on issues affecting the state’s most marginalized communities. Ms. Brown received her Juris Doctor from Rutgers School of Law – Newark and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish language from the University of Texas.
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Jef Buehler
Administrator, Neighborhood Preservation Program; Placemaking and Place-Based Revitalization Special, NJ Department of Community Affairs (DCA)
Jef Buehler has worked in facilitating place- and asset-based change since 1989 in American centers of urban poverty, Latin American rural areas, and more than 70 communities in New Jersey, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania and California. Currently, he serves as the Administrator of the Neighborhood Preservation Program (NPP) in the Division of Housing & Community Resources within the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, providing place-based revitalization, placemaking, and community and economic development assistance and training to numerous district management organizations and municipalities statewide. Mr. Buehler also provides place-based revitalization and improvement district assistance and presentations to communities around the state. Prior to running NPP, Mr. Buehler lead Main Street New Jersey for 20 years, was a community organizer and housing advocate in Camden, and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic.
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William Caruso
Managing Director, Archer Public Affairs;, Partner, Archer & Greiner, P.C.
William Caruso, Managing Director at Archer Public Affairs, and Partner with Archer & Greiner, P.C., has been active in New Jersey’s governmental and legislative affairs for nearly two decades. Mr. Caruso also leads Archer’s Cannabis Law practice group. He is a recognized expert in state and federal cannabis law, and has been an active advocate in the movement to end marijuana prohibition for nearly 10 years. He is a founding member of the New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform steering committee, a partnership of public safety, medical, civil rights, faith, political, and criminal justice reform organizations and individuals committed to changing New Jersey’s laws to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana for adults 21 and older. He is also a board member of the New Jersey Cannabis Industry Association, a nonprofit trade association dedicated to advancing the legalization of cannabis.
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Melissa Chalker
Executive Director, New Jersey Foundation for Aging (NJFA)
Melissa Chalker has been Executive Director of the New Jersey Foundation for Aging since 2018. However, she has been with the organization since 2008. Ms. Chalker has driven the success of NJFA’s Annual Professional Development Conference. She led the organization’s communications efforts, overseeing NJFA’s website and social media channels, and television program, “Aging Insights.” As Executive Director, she works to ensure NJFA continues to fulfill its mission of enabling older adults to live with independence and dignity. Ms. Chalker has long been an advocate for older adults in New Jersey and has helped shape public policy in the state on issues ranging from elder economic security to senior housing, elder abuse, ageism and hunger. She played a leading role in the development of the first NJFA Elder Economic Security Index, and she is a respected voice among her peers on the economic status of older adults in New Jersey.
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Courtney Christenson
Program Manager, Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH)
Courtney Christenson is a dedicated systems change advocate in the supportive housing and homeless sectors. Currently a Program Manager on the Corporation for Supportive Housing Metro Team, she focuses on building the capacity of the supportive housing and healthcare sectors to address the health and housing needs of aging and medically complex individuals. Prior to joining CSH, Ms. Christenson worked with United Way and PATH in Los Angeles County building the local Coordinated Entry System and designing the innovative community programs addressing pathways into homelessness. She holds a Master of Arts from the New York University Graduate School of Arts and Science.
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Sandy Cipollone
Senior Vice President of Managment, The Michaels Organization
As Senior Vice President of Management for The Michaels Organization, Sandy Cipollone has responsibility for more than 5,400 units in 60 communities and oversees four district property managers. Her portfolio has included HOPE V developments, including the award-winning Belmont Estates in Tampa, Fla., as well as tax credit and Section 8 project-based housing. She has over 36 years of experience in real estate accounting and property management. Prior to joining The Michaels Organization in 1983, she was a Senior Account with Shore, Avrach, & Co., Certified Public Accountants. Ms. Cipollone is very active in the Institute of Real Estate Management New Jersey chapter as well as JAHMA, the local NAHMA chapter. She holds a Master of Business Administration from Rutgers University. She is also a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Property Manager, holds a Specialist in Housing Credit Management Certification, and is a National Affordable Housing Professional - Executive.
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Christopher Coes
Vice President, Land Use and Development, Smart Growth America
Christopher Coes is Vice President of Land Use and Development at Smart Growth America. He oversees Smart Growth America’s real estate programs including LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors, Form Based Codes Institute, and TOD Finance and Advisors, Inc., a for-profit subsidiary of Smart Growth America. Previously, he served as a Consultant for government affairs and campaigns at M+R Strategic Services, and as Transportation for America’s Senior Campaign Advisor and Deputy Director. In addition to his work on transportation and real estate issues, he brings over 15 years of experience in government relations, advocacy and coalition building, and program management. He is a member of the Urban Land Institute, Real Estate Executive Council and serves as Treasurer and a member of the Board of Directors of African American Real Estate Professionals of DC. He holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in government and politics from St. John’s University.
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Steven Cohen
President, Excelsior Growth Fund (EGF)
Steven Cohen is President of Excelsior Growth Fund, a prominent Community Development Financial Institution providing small business financing and advisory services. Prior to joining EGF, Mr. Cohen was Executive Vice President and Deputy Commissioner at Empire State Development, where he led the Department of Small Business Services and Community Economic Development. Mr. Cohen has a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Master in Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School.
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Sheilah A. Coley
Director, Trenton Police Department
Sheilah A. Coley was named Director of the Trenton Police Department in 2019. She joined the Newark Police Department in 1989, and as a patrol officer, she was assigned to the West and East districts. In 1991, she was a detective in the Narcotics Unit and the East Detective's Squad. She also worked with the Newark Police Athletic League where she developed and supervised activities for the youth population. She was promoted to Sergeant in 1996, Lieutenant in 2000, and in 2002, she became the Executive Officer of the Criminal Investigation Bureau. She was promoted to Captain in 2004, and became Newark's first female Chief of Police in August 2011 and then the first female Newark Police Director in March 2014. Police Director Coley earned her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and master’s degree in administrative science from Fairleigh Dickinson University.
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Sheena C. Collum
Village President, Township of South Orange
Sheena Collum was re-elected in May 2019 as the Village President of Township of South Orange Village where she has concentrated her priorities around comprehensive planning, smart growth and economic development, affordable housing, infrastructure, citizen engagement and streamlining municipal operations through consolidations, shared services and the expansion of technology. Professionally, she is the Executive Director of the New Jersey Chapter of the American Planning Association, a statewide planning organization whose mission is to help build stronger, more equitable communities and provide more choices for how people work, live and play while meeting the challenges of both growth and change. An unapologetic, pussyhat-wearing progressive, she wants all municipalities to embrace their affordable housing obligations as moral imperatives and quit complaining. A proud alumna of Seton Hall University, she graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in public administration with a concentration in public policy.
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Harold Colton-Max
Chief Executive Officer, Jewish Community Housing Corporation of Metropolitan New Jersey (JCHC)
Harold Colton-Max is the Chief Executive Officer of the Jewish Community Housing Corporation of Metropolitan New Jersey, a nonprofit providing housing with services for senior citizens in Northern New Jersey. He oversees the organization’s four apartment buildings with 450+ units of independent and assisted living and memory care for those 62 or older. During his tenure, the JCHC refinanced all of its buildings resulting in millions for building improvements and the development of more affordable senior housing. Previously, he served seven years as Executive Director of the Fairmount Housing Corporation. He previously served as President of the Affordable Housing Professionals of New Jersey and the Jersey City Affordable Housing Coalition. Mr. Colton-Max serves as Chairman of the South Orange Planning Board and a management team member of the local age-friendly initiative. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Princeton University and a Master of Business Administration from Columbia Business School.
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Jonathan Cortell
Managing Director, Northern Markets, L&M Development Partners Inc.
As Managing Director, Northern Markets, Jonathan Cortell represents L&M Development Partners Inc. on multiple transactions, with a particular focus on extending the firm’s business beyond New York City. Prior to joining L+M in 2005, he capped nearly six years at the New York State Housing Finance Agency with a successful stint as that agency’s Vice President, Director of Development. Mr. Cortell has a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Public Administration from Columbia University as well as a Master of Business Administration from New York University’s Stern Business School.
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Christopher S. Cosenza
Associate, Looney Ricks Kiss (LRK)
Christopher S. Cosenza is a professional planner with 16 years of experience in urban design, master planning, redevelopment planning, zoning, community relations, design guidelines, pattern books and architecture, including eight years as a Zoning Officer in Metuchen during its revitalization period. He is currently the municipal planner for Metuchen and Highland Park, and briefly filled in as the interim planner for Princeton. As an Associate of Looney Ricks Kiss LRK in Princeton and Philadelphia, he has worked with developers, builders, homeowners and government agencies on a range of building types and has been involved in various planning projects in New Jersey, most recently with NJ Transit, Westfield, Hightstown, Evesham and Fair Lawn, as well as master planning projects in several states throughout the U.S., Canada and Panama. He has served for several years on the East Windsor Township Zoning Board of Adjustment.
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Amy F. Davis, Esq.
Assistant Director, Division of Purchase and Property, NJ Department of the Treasury
Amy Davis is an attorney and an Assistant Director at the Division of Purchase and Property in the New Jersey Department of the Treasury. She oversees the Contract Compliance and Audit Unit, and for the past two years has overseen the General Services Procurement Unit. Ms. Davis directs the effective operations of contract administration, requests for waivers from advertising of procurements, audits, and contract complaints, the EEO/AA Monitoring Program, debarments and Chapter 51 (Pay-to-Play) review. Previously, she was the Compliance Division Director at the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission. She also oversaw the administration of the Gubernatorial Public Financing Program. Ms. Davis has over 20 years’ experience working in all three branches of State government. She has a Bachelor of Science from the College of New Jersey where she majored in law and justice and a Juris Doctor from Rutgers University School of Law.
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Michellene Davis, Esq.
Executive Vice President and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, RWJBarnabas Health
A career built on excellence and punctuated by firsts, Michellene Davis has been named one of the most influential and powerful leaders in healthcare by entities such as Modern Healthcare, Becker’s Hospital Review and NJBIZ, among others. In her current role as Executive Vice President and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer of RWJBarnabas Health, she was the first woman and first person of color to ascend to the position of Executive Vice President. Before joining RWJBarnabas Health in 2009, she served the State of New Jersey in several inaugural roles including as the first African American Chief Policy Counsel and as the first African American Acting New Jersey State Treasurer. She was the youngest Executive Director of the New Jersey Lottery in history. She began her legal career as a trial litigator, is an honors graduate of Seton Hall University and holds a Juris Doctor from Seton Hall School of Law.
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Joseph Della Fave
Executive Director, Ironbound Community Corporation (ICC)
Joseph Della Fave has served as Executive Director of Ironbound Community Corporation since 1991. Previously, he served as a City Councilman in Hoboken and as Chairman of the History Department at St. Peter's Prep. Mr. Della Fave co-chaired Governor Murphy’s Housing Transition Committee and serves on many boards and committees, including: Newark Equitable Growth Advisory Commission; Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey; New Jersey Citizen Action; Newark Trust for Education; New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Environmental Justice Policy task force; Newark Community Development Network; Newark Early Education Providers Steering Committee; and RWJBarnabas Greater Newark Community Advisory Board. ICC organizes and advocates for justice and equity. During his tenure, ICC has led the development of Newark’s Riverfront Park; created a model state-of-the-art, nationally accredited Birth-5 Early Learning Center; developed 92 affordable homes; and guided the passage of Newark’s Inclusionary Housing, Right to Counsel, and Environmental Justice/Cumulative Impacts ordinances.
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Pamela W. DeLosSantos
Assistant Director of Technical Services, NJ Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA)
As Assistant Director of Technical Services, Pam DeLosSantos oversees the architectural review of all construction projects, including supportive housing, and is responsible for the review of sustainability and energy efficiency measures for multifamily housing at the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency. She helped create the Special Needs Design Checklist for Special Needs Housing Trust Fund-financed projects. She works in collaboration with multifamily and special needs professionals to improve the design and sustainability of New Jersey’s affordable housing stock. With over 23 years’ experience in the architecture and housing fields, she is a graduate of Rutgers College and Pratt Institute. She is a licensed New Jersey architect, member of the American Institute of Architects and a LEED Accredited Professional with a concentration in building design and construction. She is devoted to promoting accessibility features in affordable housing and striving to make those projects as sustainable and energy efficient as possible.
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Wilda Diaz
Mayor, City of Perth Amboy
Wilda Diaz was re-elected to her third term as Perth Amboy Mayor in November 2016. She was first sworn-in on July 1, 2008, becoming the first woman to hold that office and currently the only elected Latina mayor of Puerto Rican descent in the state. She has served the City of Perth Amboy for over 10 years and remains at the forefront of issues such as: expanding programs for children, youth and families; maintaining an open and honest government; business expansion; economic development; job creation; and preserving the city’s history. Most notably, she has taken an unwavering stance to stabilize the City’s financial condition. Her administration’s Capital Improvement Program and several other cost-cutting strategies reduced the overall debt by over $65 million. Prior to taking office, she spent 20 years in the banking industry where she started as a teller at a local bank after graduating from Perth Amboy High School.
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The Reverend Eric Dobson
Director of Public Engagement, Fair Share Housing Center
The Reverend Eric Dobson is the Director of Public Engagement for Fair Share Housing Center, whose mission is to end discriminatory housing patterns which have deprived the poor, particularly those in the inner city, of the opportunity to reside in housing that offers safe and sanitary conditions near employment and educational opportunities. He is a community organizer and specializes in community outreach. He has earned numerous awards, including the Camden County Board of Chosen Freeholders Community Service Award and the T. Thomas Fortune Social Justice Award. He is the co-founder of Open Communities LLC, which works to resolve simple and complex conflicts of race, ethnicity and socio-economics, and Planting Seeds of Hope, focused on youth development and education. In 2008, he joined Organizing for America as the Pennsylvania Black Clergy Outreach Director for the Obama campaign. An ordained minister, he holds a Bachelor of Arts in religion from Temple University.
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Matthew Doherty
Executive Director, Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA)
Matthew Doherty was selected to lead the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority as Executive Director effective July 1, 2018. In his role, Mr. Doherty is responsible for creating public-private partnerships and inter-governmental agreements to encourage local growth within the Tourism District. He will be utilizing opportunities to supplement CRDA’s financing of special events, leveraging state assets and attracting private capital to stimulate investment in brick-and-mortar projects. Mr. Doherty was recently named one of the Power 50, South Jersey’s most influential leaders by South Jersey Biz magazine. He is the former Mayor of Belmar, and during his tenure, Belmar was the only town in the state to have no tax increase for seven straight years, all while recovering and rebuilding from Superstorm Sandy. Prior to serving as Belmar mayor, he was a financial advisor for firms such as MetLife, MassMutual and Investors Bank. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Georgetown University.
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Nana Duncan
Principal and Founder, Thatcher Duncan Group LLC
Nana Duncan is the Principal and Founder of the Thatcher Duncan Group LLC. Named one of NJ Biz's 2017 50 Best Women in Business, Ms. Duncan has participated in, and secured funding and municipal approvals for the redevelopment of large-scale private and municipal-owned assets. At Thatcher, she is focused on redevelopment projects that combine affordable and market-rate housing with community assets that focus on education, health and economic development to deliver real social and economic value to residents. Her approach to development has focused on superior risk-adjusted returns through financial incentives and measurable social impact. Ms. Duncan is committed to community development and social impact investing. She started her firm, Thatcher, to focus on developments that catalyze investments and help cities grow while delivering high quality resources and services to residents.
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Kenneth M. Esser, Jr.
Vice President, Chief of Staff, Corporate Services, Governance and Government Relations, Hackensack Meridian Health
Kenneth M. Esser, Jr. serves as Vice President, Chief of Staff, Corporate Services, Governance and Government Relations for Hackensack Meridian Health. He is responsible for the central coordination of all activities of the office of the Chief Executive Officer. He also serves as the liaison to the Board of Trustees and leads the development of external relations strategy to elevate Hackensack Meridian Health and its executive leadership team. Mr. Esser joined Hackensack Meridian Health from PSE&G where he was manager, Program Growth and Strategy, and led the development and implementation of the organization’s utility of the future strategy and a host of other successful energy programs. Prior to PSE&G, he was a senior associate with Gabel Associates. He has also served in state government as chief energy advisor for the Office of the Governor and as policy advisor for Energy and Economic Growth for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
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Ricardo Fernandez
Business Administrator, City of Passaic
Ricardo Fernandez serves as the Business Administrator and Executive Director of the Redevelopment Agency and the Urban Enterprise Zone for the City of Passaic, where he develops and implements economic development strategies, and directs and supervises all Planning Department, Redevelopment Agency and UEZ staff. He is also the owner and Chief Executive Officer of J.I.A. Consulting, a firm specializing in land use planning and development, and a Planning, Zoning and Affordable Housing continuing education instructor at Rutgers University. He is a state-licensed professional planner and certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners. He is a member of the New Jersey Municipal Management Association, New Jersey Planning Officials, and New Jersey Association of Planning and Zoning Administrators, and Chairman of the Independence Township Land Use Board. He holds a Master of Applied Science in community development from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a mini Master of Public Administration from Rutgers University Center for Government Services.
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Jacob Fisher
Regional Vice President of Development, Pennrose
Jacob Fisher serves as Regional Vice President of Development for Pennrose and oversees all development activity in New Jersey. He has extensive experience structuring complex real estate transactions, particularly those that combine tax credits with state, local, and private financing sources. Since joining Pennrose in 2006, he has established a successful track record of working with partners from the public, private and nonprofit sectors to bring development projects to fruition. Mr. Fisher has secured financing and led award-winning development teams on more than 1,100 units of new housing, with a total investment well in excess of $300 million. Previously, he worked on community development from the public side as an Assistant Director for Policy for the Mayor of Philadelphia. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Wesleyan University and a master’s degree in government administration, with a concentration in public finance, from the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government.
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Christina Fuentes
Director, Small Business Services, NJ Economic Development Authority (NJEDA)
Christina Fuentes is the Director of Small Business Services at the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. She leads NJEDA’s efforts to foster a dynamic, supportive environment for the state’s entrepreneurs and small businesses, with a focus on more comprehensively assisting historically underrepresented firms and underserved communities. Under her leadership, the newly-created Small Business Services unit coordinates and manages the provision of technical assistance and other business support service and regularly engages in outreach to chambers of commerce and other trade organizations and community groups focused on small businesses. Christina most recently served as NJEDA’s Senior Garden State Growth Zone (GSGZ) Development Officer, where she focused her efforts on the five legislatively-created GSGZs: Paterson, Passaic, Trenton, Camden and Atlantic City. Prior to joining the NJEDA in 2015, she was a Project Development Officer with the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority. She earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from University of Kentucky.
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Michael J. Furrey
President, Agra Environmental and Laboratory Services
Michael J. Furrey is President and private consultant for his own company, Agra Environmental and Laboratory Services, after 12 years with a major public water utility. He is a 1987 graduate of Cook College, Rutgers University, with a Bachelor of Science in environmental chemistry. He served as the Chair of the Information Technology Committee for the New Jersey Section of the American Water Works Association (AWWA). He also served on the Advisory Board for Licensing of Water and Wastewater Operators and is the past chair for the NJAWWA Education Committee from 1996 to 1998. He currently holds a T4/W3 Water license and is an instructor for the introductory and advanced water treatment courses in New Jersey. He was the AWWA-NJ section chair in 2015 and currently serves as a legislative liaison for the section locally in New Jersey. He also serves as Environmental Commission and Greenway Chair for Vernon Township.
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Pearl Gabel
Digital Director, Office of Governor Phil Murphy
Pearl Gabel is the Digital Director for the New Jersey Governor's Office, overseeing day-to-day and strategic digital communications and special projects, and working with agencies to improve the state's digital footprint. Previously, she was Director of Video for the New York City Mayor's Office. She has a background in photography, video production and journalism.
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Elena Gaines
Assistant Director, Division of Housing and Community Resources, NJ Department of Community Affairs (DCA)
Elena Gaines brings 24 years of experience in rental assistance programs administered by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. Before becoming the Assistant Director, she was the Chief of Field Operations for the division, overseeing all the departments field offices throughout New Jersey, which administers a host of rental assistance programs for the agency. Prior to joining DCA in 1994, she was the property manager for a large management company In Monmouth County for many years. She brings dedication and devotion to providing low-income families with rental assistance through various programs.
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Carmen Gandulla
Director, Division of Community Development, City of Jersey City
Carmen Gandulla received her bachelor’s degree in liberal arts and science from Rider University leading to a successful career as a banker with JP Morgan Chase. There she specialized in business strategy, relationship management, business banking, investment banking, finance operations, consumer and business lending. As the Director of Community Development, she manages approximately $50 million of federal, state and local grant funding over the course of a five-year period. Ms. Gandulla is also the Chairperson for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund Review Committee, and serves on the Alliance to End Homelessness, the Homelessness Trust Fund Executive Board and the Board of the National Community Development Association for Region 2. Ms. Gandulla was recently recognized as a “Rising Leader” by the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey.
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Kerri H. Gatling
Chief of New Jersey Industry Partnerships, NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDLWD)
Kerri H. Gatling’s public service career spans more than 20 years with the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development. During that time, she has had the opportunity to serve New Jersey businesses, organizations, workers and residents in an array of roles that drive the workforce mission of the department. Currently, as Chief of New Jersey Industry Partnerships, Ms. Gatling oversees the department’s sector-based strategy and is responsible for building successful public-private partnerships with businesses in the state’s key industries. Previously, she served as the department’s public information officer where she oversaw the Communications Office. She earned a Master of Arts in public relations from Rowan University and a Bachelor of Arts in communication from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. She was recently selected as a fellow for the 2019-2020 Hudson County Workforce Leadership Academy to expand leadership in the workforce development field.
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Joe Getz
Founding Principal, JGSC Group
Joe Getz is the founding Principal of the JGSC Group, revitalization and economic development consultants in Merchantville. For more than 35 years, he has worked with developers, shopping malls, and cities and towns to help them find economic growth opportunities and attract new stores, restaurants, investment and development. His experience includes developing the strategic plan for the $350 million Rowan Boulevard redevelopment project in Glassboro, the creation of retail recruiting programs for the City of New York, and work with over 165 downtowns in 19 states across the country. He is currently working with communities in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois to help them navigate the changing markets caused by retiring baby boomers, struggling millennials and the ongoing retail revolution.
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Kym Gilchrist
Chairperson, City of Newark Homeless Coalition
Kym Gilchrist is a passionate advocate for the homeless. Recently appointed as Chairperson of the City of Newark Homeless Coalition, Ms. Gilchrist has been vital in reinvigorating the life of the coalition. The coalition, comprised of 100-plus agencies, works to build collaboration and leverage resources to more effectively address the need for long-term solutions to the homeless crisis. Most recently, she coordinated a film screening and panel discussion on affordable housing featuring, U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman. Ms. Gilchrist also coordinated the first City of Newark Mayoral and Council Candidate forum on Affordable Housing and Homelessness in 2016. She works tirelessly to advocate for affordable housing and systemic improvements in the homelessness delivery system. She is also the founder and Chief Executive Officer of KonsultingKym LLC.
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Frank M. Gilliam, Jr.
Mayor, City of Atlantic City
Frank M. Gilliam, Jr. was sworn into office as Mayor of Atlantic City on January 1, 2018. Highly regarded for his upright, enthusiastic and no-nonsense leadership style, Mayor Gilliam was previously elected as an Atlantic City Councilman-At-Large beginning in 2008. Born and raised in Atlantic City, he is a proud product of the public school system. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice from Stockton University, which also recently honored him with an award for professional achievement. He also holds a Master of Social Work from the University of San Francisco. As a small business owner, member of the Board of Directors for the Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce, and a member of the Board of Directors for the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, Mayor Gilliam understands the issues facing large and small businesses. Over the course of his political career, he has sponsored multiple initiatives to help spur development within Atlantic City.
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Margaret A. Gillis
Owner/Operator, McDonald's
Margaret A. Gillis owns 11 McDonald's restaurants in central New Jersey. She has been a McDonald's franchisee for 24 years. She started with her first store in Neptune. Ms. Gills was employed for 12 years by Manufacturers Hanover Trust, now known as J.P Morgan Chase, prior to McDonald's. She joined Chase as an International Management Trainee. She advanced up the ranks to become a Vice President. After hitting the glass ceiling, she joined McDonald's Registered Applicant Program. She trained nights and weekends while working at Chase. Ms. Gillis graduated from Douglass College of Rutgers University and Rutgers Graduate School of Management. Currently, she is a member of Rutgers Board of Trustee. Ms. Gillis is a big supporter of numerous community-based groups and has received various honors. She is a proud member of the National Black McDonald's Operators Association.
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Dr. Alejandro Giménez-Santana
Deputy Director, Rutgers Center on Public Security
Dr. Alejandro Giménez-Santana is Deputy Director of the Rutgers Center on Public Security and Director of the Newark Public Safety Collaborative. He has worked extensively in researching the association between unique contexts of social disorganization and crime risk on the spatial distribution of violence across various urban settings. Also, he has served as a consultant for the World Bank regional office in Bogotá, Colombia, and for the Inter-American Development Bank in Montevideo, Uruguay. Currently, Dr. Santana is directing a multi-stakeholder initiative that seeks to improve public safety in the city of Newark through the application of an evidence-based, data-informed community engagement effort.
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David Ginsberg
Vice President, WinnDevelopment
David Ginsberg is a Vice President at WinnDevelopment, managing the acquisition, financing, design, government relations, and construction of mixed income and mixed use real estate projects. His primary focus is to further expand the development portfolio of WinnCompanies in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. His specialization has been in the development and preservation of critically needed affordable and workforce housing utilizing federal and state tax credit programs and the adaptive reuse of structures on the National Register of Historic Places. He has overseen the financing and construction of over 2,000 rental units of high quality housing at more than $300 million in total development costs. He attended the University of California-Berkeley, graduating with highest honors in urban studies. Mr. Ginsburg attended Harvard University's Graduate School of Design (GSD) and was the recipient of the GSD Academic Excellence Award and GSD Award for Excellence in Urban Design while completing a Master in Urban Planning.
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Aisha Glover
President and Chief Executive Officer, Newark Alliance
Aisha Glover serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Newark Alliance, which plays a key role in leveraging the city’s corporate and anchor communities’ collective impact and helps carry out Mayor Ras J. Baraka’s vision for inclusive economic growth. She has over 15 years of experience as a convener, champion and agent for economic empowerment and social justice. Previously, she was the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Newark Community Economic Development Corporation where she led the city’s bid to attract Amazon for its second headquarters. Prior to coming to Newark, she served as the Vice President of External Affairs at the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Hunter College, City University of New York, a Master of Public Administration from Baruch College, City University of New York, and an executive leadership certificate from the Columbia Business School, School of Social Enterprise.
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Katone Glover
Assistant Director, Single Family Mortgage Servicing, NJ Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency
Katone Glover is the Assistant Director of Single Family Mortgage Servicing. He is responsible for the overall strategy and performance of the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency’s Single Family Mortgage Servicing department. He brings 12 years of experience with NJHMFA and more than 20 years of housing, real estate and property management experience. Mr. Glover also oversees the New Jersey Hardest Hit Fund Program, which has successfully assisted more than 10,000 New Jersey homeowners during the foreclosure crisis and is currently helping first-time homebuyers with down payment and closing cost assistance. He holds a Master of Jurisprudence in corporate and business law from Delaware Law School.
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Tracey Goldstein
Partner, Feinstein Raiss Kelin Booker & Goldstein LLC
Tracey Goldstein is a member of the law firm of Feinstein Raiss Kelin Booker & Goldstein LLC. She represents property owners, managers and developers and concentrates her practice in real estate litigation. She has participated in landmark New Jersey Court decisions affecting the rights of owners. She is a recognized legal authority on landlord tenant law and fair housing. Ms. Goldstein serves on the Board of Directors of the New Jersey Apartment Association (NJAA) and counsels NJAA on landlord tenant issues and key legislation. She also serves as a member of the Special Civil Part Practice Committee, which advises the New Jersey Supreme Court, and serves as a member of the Court Officer Advisory Committee. She lectures at seminars presented by the New Jersey State Bar Association, the Division on Civil Rights, the NJAA, Rutgers Law School, New Jersey Affordable Housing Management Association and the Property Owners Association.
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Jarrod C. Grasso
Chief Executive Officer, NJ Realtors®
As Chief Executive Officer, Jarrod C. Grasso leads NJ Realtors® in its mission to serve the professional needs of its members, develop programs and services to conduct business successfully and ethically, and advocate for private property rights and the real estate industry. Grasso joined the association in 1999 and was promoted to Vice President of Government Affairs in 2002. For nine years, he served as NJ Realtors®’ chief lobbyist before reaching his current role. In addition to his work in New Jersey, Grasso has maintained an active role with the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) and served as NAR Director and Chair of the Association Executives Committee in 2015. In 2006, Grasso was honored by NAR with the Realtor® association Certified Executive designation, and in 2013, Grasso was inducted into the NAR Association Executives Committee’s Dr. Almon R. “Bud” Smith Leadership Society.
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Donna Griffin
President, Community Capacity Builders, LLC
Donna Griffin is a community economic development professional committed to empowering communities for social and economic change in their work to bring about sustainable and equitable neighborhood revitalization. In 2010, she founded Community Capacity Builders (CCB) to support the transformation of people and places. The CCB team has taken a collaborative approach to achieving the goals and priorities of clients, building on their knowledge and ideas with the company’s expertise in community economic development, community engagement, organizational capacity-building, and project management. From 2003 to 2010, Ms. Griffin served as the Director of the City of Philadelphia’s Weed and Seed Project, a federal initiative designed to stimulate synergistic relationships among community and faith-based organizations, government agencies, businesses and residents to improve the safety, housing, economic, social and built environment. In 2008, she earned a master’s degree in Community Economic Development from Southern New Hampshire University.
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Dorothy Guzzo
Executive Director, NJ Historic Trust, NJ Department of Community Affairs (DCA)
Dorothy P. Guzzo was appointed Executive Director of the New Jersey Historic Trust in February 2008. Under the direction of a Board of Trustees appointed by the Governor, the Historic Trust is responsible for administering the historic preservation matching grant and loan programs. From 1995 to 2008, she served as the Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer for the state. As the federally recognized State Historic Preservation Office, she oversaw the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places; project certification to qualify for Investment Tax Credits; certifying local governments for implementing programs on the municipal level; historic and archaeological resource inventory; and resource protection through state and federal regulations. She previously served on the not-for-profit Board of Directors for the Crossroads of the American Revolution Association, ex officio to the New Jersey Historical Commission, New Jersey Historic Trust and Main Street New Jersey Board of Advisors.
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Bernel Hall
President and Chief Executive Officer, Newark Community Economic Development Corporation
The Reverend Robert Hargrove
Pastor and Founder, Christ Care Unit Missionary Baptist Church (CCU)
The Reverend Robert Hargrove, with the support of his wife, Paula, became the Pastor and Founder of Christ Care Unit Missionary Baptist Church in Sicklerville in June 1981. Membership has grown substantially. Dr. Hargrove and the CCU Community Development Corp. has built a 96-unit senior housing complex which opened in 2004. The CCU Day Care School has been opened since 2003 and 94 town homes were built in 2014 for low- to moderate-income families. Phase IV recently began in Jan. 2019 for new senior housing. By the "Power of God" his ministry is effective through salvation, spiritual growth, Christian fellowship, deliverance and a closer walk with God. Bishop Hargrove has a master's degree in theology and public policy from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary and Doctorate of Ministry from Covington Theological Seminary. He is author of three books and gives God all glory for the great things He has done.
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S. Airaj Hasan
Chief Executive Officer, Blackstone 360 LLC
Airaj Hasan’s pursuit of urban development was inspired by his time as a general contractor in 1996, when he founded Blackstone Group, a construction firm that served the public sector in the redevelopment of institutions and residences in the New York City-metro area. Concurrently, he began to invest in small-scale real estate, combining his passion for urban revitalization with an expertise in construction, to ultimately form Blackstone 360 in 2009. He set forth a vision for developing high-end multifamily real estate in transit-oriented secondary markets, where more established developers were overlooking prime opportunities. By capitalizing early on these untapped acquisitions, maximizing density through design development, and maintaining the core construction skillset in-house, he created a vertically integrated, 360-model with the capacity to deliver tremendous stabilized value compared to cost on completed developments. Today, Blackstone 360 has developed or is currently developing 800+ multifamily units and 40K+ square feet of commercial space.
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Kerry-Anne Henry, LSW
Program Lead, Keeping Families Together (KFT) Program, NJ Department of Children and Families (DCF)
Kerry-Anne Henry, LSW, serves as the Program Lead for the NJ Department of Children and Families' Keeping Families Together Program. Utilizing implementation science frameworks, Ms. Henry coordinates the implementation, scaling and sustainability of evidence-supported interventions that impact family outcomes. As the KFT program lead, she supports the statewide implementation of a research-informed supportive housing model for child welfare-involved families. She has over a decade of experience serving children and families in child welfare and clinical settings; ranging from direct service to management. Ms. Henry holds a Master of Social Work and a Bachelor of Science from Rutgers University.
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Jeanne Herb
Executive Director, Environmental Analysis and Communications Group, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers University
Jeanne Herb is the Executive Director of the Environmental Analysis and Communications Group at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. Ms. Herb works in multidisciplinary teams to conduct and deploy the outcomes of applied research on topics associated with environmental sustainability, climate change and integration of health in all policies. Prior to joining Rutgers, she was Assistant Commissioner for Policy, Planning and Science at the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection where she led cross-program efforts related to climate change and energy, environmental justice, smart growth and sustainable development, environmental health and science policy and coastal management. Ms. Herb is currently participating in the first cohort of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s national three-year Culture of Health Leadership Program.
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Alexander F. Hersonski
Staff Attorney, South Jersey Legal Services, Inc. (SJLS)
Alexander F. Hersonski has been a Staff Attorney with South Jersey Legal Services, Inc. (SJLS) since 2012. He began his career there as a volunteer, and was initially hired under a specialized Superstorm Sandy grant. Working under that grant, Mr. Hersonski assisted many storm-affected New Jersey residents on such matters as insurance denials, contractor disputes, and Sandy grant applications and appeals. Since 2016, he has worked as a housing law attorney, representing clients on numerous tenancy and housing matters. Mr. Hersonski is a graduate of the Rutgers School of Law (Camden) and was a Managing Articles Editor for the Rutgers Journal of Law and Public Policy. While in law school he was co-winner of the Honorable James Hunter III Moot Court competition. In addition to holding a law degree, Mr. Hersonski holds a Master of Arts from the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill and a Bachelor of Arts from Cornell University.
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Dr. Kimberly K. Holmes
Assistant Commissioner, NJ Department of Community Affairs (DCA)
Dr. Kimberly K. Holmes was appointed as Assistant Commissioner for the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs by Lieutenant Governor/Commissioner Sheila Y. Oliver in March. She graduated from Montclair State University with a Bachelor of Arts in political science with minor concentrations in public administration and paralegal studies. She earned her Juris Doctor from Seton Hall University School of Law and has been a practicing attorney since 1993. She earned a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry from Drew University. She has served as a municipal prosecutor and as an assistant prosecutor/section chief at the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office. She was a member of legal counsel for the State Commission of Investigation. She served as Chief of Staff for the state’s Division of Rate Counsel for 12 years. She was also an Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of Newark, concentrating on disciplinary matters for police officers and firefighters.
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Brenda B. Hopper
Chief Executive Officer and State Director, New Jersey Small Business Development Centers (NJSBDC) network
Brenda B. Hopper is the Chief Executive Officer and State Director of the New Jersey Small Business Development Centers (NJSBDC) network. The network is part of a national partnership between the state and federal governments, the private sector, and colleges and universities. The network consists of 12 full-service regional centers and 20-plus affiliate offices headquartered at Rutgers Business School, Newark and New Brunswick. The Small Business Development Center program is designed to provide the highest quality of business assistance services to established enterprises and promising new starts. Ms. Hopper has held several positions in small business, housing and economic development, including Senior Vice President of the Philadelphia Economic Development Corporation, Director of Small Business and Retail Assistance in Jersey City, and the owner of two small businesses. She holds a master’s degree in finance and marketing from Rutgers Business School with an undergraduate major in economics and business from the Rutgers College of Arts and Sciences.
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Karim Hutson
Founder, Genesis Companies
Karim Hutson founded Genesis in 2004 and under his stewardship Genesis Companies has grown rapidly and developed a reputation for building high quality projects that enhance urban centers while remaining accessible to the residents of these communities. This commitment to responsible and environmentally conscious development has allowed Genesis to grow as an effective and reliable, community friendly, for-profit real estate development firm. His dedication to community development extends to his personal life as well. A resident of Harlem, he is actively involved in a multitude of community and charitable organizations. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in economics and philosophy from Amherst College, a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School and a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School. Prior to founding Genesis, he was a Vice President at Full Spectrum of New York and an investment banker with Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs in New York City.
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Rosie Jackson
Assistant Director of Property Management, NJ Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA)
Rosie Jackson is the Assistant Director of Property Management and has been with the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency for 35 years. She is responsible for supervising the occupancy department within the Property Management Division. Ms. Jackson oversees the Agency’s portfolio of developments in relationship to TRACS and occupancy requirements. She has extensive experience in the housing industry, and currently holds the designations of Certified Assisted Housing Manager (AHM), Tax Credit Specialist (TCS), Housing Credit Certified Professional (HCCP), C6P and NCP-Executive. In 2010, Ms. Jackson was inducted into the HFA Hall of Fame in recognition of more than 20 years of service in the housing credit industry.
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Barbara George Johnson
Executive Director, John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy, Thomas Edison State University
Barbara George Johnson is the Executive Director of the John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy at Thomas Edison State University. She brings over 20 years’ experience as a public policy professional in New Jersey and has been a leading voice in shaping health and social policy in the region. Previously, she was a managing principal of GOVCONNECTIONS, LLC, a Senior Associate for MBI-GluckShaw, and also was the first Legislative Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey. In her current role, she manages the activities of the New Jersey Urban Mayors Association, and also oversees the Institute’s five policy centers focused on early childhood education, urban environmental issues, public health, civic engagement and leadership development, and capacity building. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in biology and technology from Cornell University, a Master of Public Health from Columbia University’s School of Public Health and a Juris Doctor from Rutgers-Newark Law School.
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Diane Johnson
Principal, DNF Consulting Group
Diane Johnson served as New Jersey's highest-ranking federal housing and community development official for over 30 years. She has an excellent relationship with state legislators, faith-based organizations, nonprofit agencies, mayors, housing developers and community leaders. As a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Director, Ms. Johnson managed federal housing and community development throughout the state. Under her leadership, many New Jersey neighborhoods were revitalized, and distressed public housing developments were replaced. After retiring on December 31, 2013, she was immediately appointed Chief of Staff for Acting Newark Mayor Luis Quintana. Ms. Johnson is often called upon to serve on transition committees regarding housing and economic development for mayors and governors. She is still involved in the state through DNF Consulting Group LLC.
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Peter Kasabach
Executive Director, New Jersey Future
Peter Kasabach is the Executive Director of New Jersey Future, a nonprofit statewide policy organization that advocates for better land-use practices resulting in environmental protection, community redevelopment and resilience, center-based growth and transportation choice. Prior to joining New Jersey Future, he served as the Chief of Policy for the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency and led all planning and real estate programs at the Trenton-based community development organization Isles. Mr. Kasabach lives and works in Trenton and has been actively engaged in the areas of planning, community redevelopment, finance and housing for more than 25 years. He is a licensed New Jersey professional planner, and holds a Bachelor of Science in economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
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Albert B. Kelly
Mayor, City of Bridgeton
After serving as Council President on the Bridgeton City Council in 2009, Mayor Albert B. Kelly was elected to his first term in May 2010 with 76 percent of the vote and assumed office on July 1, 2010, as Bridgeton's first African-American mayor. After an active and highly productive four years, he hoped to continue as Bridgeton's mayor and ultimately ran unopposed winning a second four-year term in November 2014. He was re-elected to a third term in November 2018. In the private sector, Mayor Kelly is also the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Gateway Community Action Partnership, Inc. a nonprofit social service organization serving over 56,000 low- and moderate-income residents in the Cumberland, Gloucester, Salem tri-county area. With an annual budget over $60 million, Gateway, which was founded in 1984, employs over 700 people throughout South Jersey and Philadelphia.
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Taiisa Kelly
Chief Executive Officer, Monarch Housing Associates
Taiisa Kelly is a dedicated advocate for social justice, who has worked with Monarch Housing Associates for 13 years and now serves as the agency’s CEO. Monarch's mission is to expand the supply, accessibility and variety of affordable, permanent supportive housing through development, planning, advocacy and partnerships. Working closely with local governments, non-profit agencies and community stakeholders, Mrs. Kelly has facilitated the development and implementation of strategies to end homelessness since 2008. Taiisa has assisted Monarch in expanding services offered to include strategic plan development, grant writing, system oversight, project monitoring, CoC grant administration, technical assistance and innovative program development. Monarch also assists communities in effectively using data through coordinating the statewide Point-in-Time Count and analyzing local data on homelessness. Taiisa has worked tirelessly on homeless planning to ensure everyone has access to the basic human right of housing. Through intentional action, beautiful transformation is possible.
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Cathleen Lewis
Outreach Coordinator, Office of Clean Energy, New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU)
Cathleen Lewis serves as the Outreach Coordinator for the Clean Energy Division at the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. The Office of Clean Energy manages and coordinates cross-cutting issues within the BPU related to energy and economic development. The Office of Clean Energy is responsible for statewide energy efficiency programs and the development of clean, renewable sources including offshore wind and solar. Ms. Lewis works with the Clean Energy team to ensure that the public, businesses and local governments are aware of and participate in the office’s broad portfolio of incentive and grant programs designed to encourage energy efficiencies and renewable energy. Prior to joining the BPU, she was active in creating and implementing policies that invested in infrastructure, encouraged safe, sustainable and multi-modal transportation and invested in Economic Development. Ms. Lewis is a graduate of Douglass College-Rutgers University.
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Vanessa Lombardo
Director, Assistive Technology Department, Advancing Opportunities
Vanessa Lombardo is the Director of the Assistive Technology Department of Advancing Opportunities. Prior to her current position, she was an AT Specialist and the Assistant Director for the department. As such, she was charged with overseeing statewide contracts with a variety of state departments, as well as providing 1:1 support to individuals with disabilities. Ms. Lombardo is passionate about working with individuals to determine what technology will best help support them in achieving their goals.
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Louis Manzione, Ph.D.
President and Chief Executive Officer, Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in New Jersey (AICUNJ)
Lou Manzione is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in New Jersey, and the President of the Independent College Fund of New Jersey. Before returning to New Jersey in 2018, he was the Dean of the College of Engineering, Technology and Architecture at the University of Hartford. Enrollment grew more than 50 percent during his time as dean, and he worked to develop many new business and industry connections. He was also the President of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering. He has a Bachelor of Engineering in chemical engineering from the Cooper Union, and a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Princeton University. Most of his career was spent with Bell Labs in Murray Hill where he worked in electronics, antennas and manufacturing. He has 18 U.S. patents, and a number of these have been commercialized into millions of products in use worldwide.
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Edward G. Martoglio
Co-founder and Principal, RPM Development Group
Edward Martoglio is one of three founders of the RPM Development Group and is now the sole principal of the company. RPM is a diversified real estate company with development, construction and management divisions. The company has been a leading developer of affordable housing and mixed-income housing since 1987 and takes great pride in creating high quality rental and home ownership communities throughout New Jersey. Mr. Martoglio has been privileged to work on a number of communities formed by both the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency and the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs whose goals have been to improve the delivery of affordable housing. RPM has been awarded the Governor’s Excellence in Housing Award 11 times and also has been the recipient of a number of awards for sustainable design, and construction and historic preservation.
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Mark McBride
Tax Credit Investment Officer, TD Bank
Mark McBride is a Tax Credit Investment Officer at TD Bank. He is responsible for the bank’s Low Income Housing Tax Credit and New Market Tax Credit investments within the TD Bank Mid-Atlantic market area. His background in community development investments is diverse, and in the past Mr. McBride has served as a consultant, syndicator, public official and investor. In addition, he has been employed at the housing finance agencies in both Maryland and New Jersey, developing and administering financing programs for affordable housing, including both for-sale housing and rental projects. Mr. McBride has a Bachelor of Arts from Rutgers College and a Master of Business Administration from Rutgers Graduate School of Management.
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Walter D. McNeil, Jr., Ph.D.
Executive Director, Housing Authority of the City of Orange
Dr. Walter D. McNeil is responsible for developing ideas to address the severe housing issues in the City of Orange. During his tenure, he redeveloped the severely damaged and underserved East Ward. He led the City as it demolished the infamous Walter G. Alexander Village, one of the worst public housing complexes in the country. This was followed by an unprecedented development of two tax credit properties with 114 units. This development changed the whole face of the community. Dr. McNeil has over 25 years’ experience in public service. He has served as a Union County Freeholder, City Administrator of Plainfield, and Executive Director of the Plainfield Housing Authority. He is currently an instructor with Rutgers School of Government. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Bates College, a Master in Public Administration and a Doctorate in Public Policy.
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Vonda McPherson
Restaurateur, Vonda K's Catering & Events
Vonda McPherson discovered first-hand the successful nuances of professional catering in the high-pressured environment of corporate America. During her career transition, Ms. McPherson experienced an epiphany of sorts and a restaurateur was born. With a leap of faith, she left the security of a successful corporate career for the uncertainty of entrepreneurship in the risky and sometimes volatile arena of restaurant ownership to pursue her own dreams. In 1998, Ms. McPherson opened her first restaurant venture, Shacks BBQ, in a bustling downtown business district in Elizabeth. She launched her second restaurant, The Greenhouse Café, in partnership with the Newark Housing Authority in Newark to reinvent the common cafeteria offering healthier, yet equally delicious options. Her third restaurant, Vonda’s Kitchen, was also launched in Newark. As the first African American-owned jazz super club in the City of Newark in nearly 40 years, Duke’s Southern Table Restaurant is her latest venture.
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Brett Meringoff
Senior Vice President, WinnDevelopment
Brett Meringoff, Senior Vice President of WinnDevelopment, is responsible for the company’s Mid-Atlantic development projects. Prior to joining Winn, Mr. Meringoff founded BEM Companies LLC and BEM Consulting LLC, Virginia-based real estate organizations that specialize in affordable housing development and consulting services for all areas of multi-family real estate. Prior to BEM, Mr. Meringoff was the Director of Development for Coalco International, a global real estate development and investment company. He began his career with Related Capital Company where he was directly responsible for equity investments in Low-Income Housing Tax Credit properties, in addition to the structuring and underwriting of several tax shelter funds.
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Wayne Meyer
President, New Jersey Community Capital (NJCC)
Wayne Meyer has served as President of New Jersey Community Capital, a nonprofit community development financial institution, since 2009. An attorney and CPA, he holds a Juris Doctor from Seton Hall University School of Law and Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting from Siena College. As President, he provides leadership, establishes strategy, raises funds, and promotes and advocates for policy change on behalf of NJCC, its borrowers, and the residents of its target communities. Mr. Meyer serves on numerous committees, including NeighborWorks America’s Community Stabilization Advisory Committee; the JPMorgan Chase Community Advisory Board; Wells Fargo Community Advisory Board for the Southern New Jersey Market; and is Chair for the FHLBNY Affordable Housing Advisory Council. He also sits on the Board of Directors for the National Housing Institute, and served on the Housing Transition Advisory Committee for New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.
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DeAnna Minus-Vincent
Assistant Vice President, Social Impact and Community Investment, RWJBarnabas Health
DeAnna Minus-Vincent serves as Assistant Vice President for the Social Impact and Community Investment practice at RWJBarnabas Health. She is responsible for coordinating the system’s community development initiatives; identifying ways to use data/technology to track progress and enhance health outcomes across SICI practice; and oversees the system’s efforts to incorporate a universal SDOH screening process. Her career has crossed sectors and spanned a broad range of issue areas. She served as the Chief Engagement Officer at Benefits Data Trust, a national social change organization. She served as the Assistant Commissioner for the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, as well as the Director of Planning and Operations at the Central Jersey Family Health Consortium. Ms. Minus-Vincent received a Master of Public Administration from Rutgers University, and a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from Morgan State University.
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Francisco "Frank" Moran
Mayor, City of Camden
Mayor Francisco “Frank” Moran is the embodiment of a hard-working family man who continuously works to improve the quality of life for others. He was elected Mayor in November 2017 and officially took the oath of office as the 48th mayor of the City of Camden on January 1, 2018. Mayor Moran is a life-long resident of Camden, a product of its public school system and a former city employee. He is committed to moving the city forward – to reignite its place as a strong economic, cultural and governmental player in the region. His life experiences have shaped a man with vision, dedication and determination to give back to the city that has given so much to him.
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Bret Morgan
Co-founder, Cowerks
Bret Morgan is an entrepreneur, real estate investor and software engineer based in Asbury Park. He is the co-founder of Cowerks, a coworking community of over 400 startups and small businesses with two locations; Fresh Markets, a series of farmers and makers markets at the Jersey Shore; and a partner at Humble Humans, a full stack digital shop specializing in web and mobile app design and development. He co-founded projects including the Jersey Shore Tech Meetup, the Asbury Agile conference, and Bands on a Budget, an online printing company for over 35,000 bands, brands, and businesses.
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Shoba Narayan
Manager of Subsidy Accounting, Contract Administration, NJ Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA)
Shoba Narayan worked for Sovereign Bank (now a part of Santander), as a financial consultant from 2001 to 2004. She joined the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency in 2004 as a Subsidy Accountant and was promoted to Senior Subsidy Accountant in 2006. In April 2015, she was named as the Manager of Subsidy Accounting. In all, she has over two decades of banking experience and almost 15 years at NJHMFA. Ms. Narayan’s strengths are her attention to detail and her deep knowledge of the entire process of reviewing and approving a Baseline Utility Allowance and rent increase request. She works tirelessly on behalf of the property owners to make sure that their requests are correctly evaluated. She also has made significant contributions to improve internal processes that will facilitate the work of the department and provide better customer service.
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Marco Navarro
Senior Program Officer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Marco Navarro joined the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 1995. As Senior Program Officer, he manages a $70 million+ New Jersey grant portfolio designed to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable populations. These grants support area universities, hospitals and other organizations, as well as the New Jersey Health Initiatives. Previously, he managed community improvement projects for 10 years, including developing affordable housing and a community-owned credit union in Newark. He earned a Master of City and Regional Planning from Rutgers University, a Public Health Graduate Certificate from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and a Bachelor of Science in business administration from Seton Hall University. He is a Leadership New Jersey Fellow, a Board Member of the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers, and was a Commissioner of the New Jersey Urban Enterprise Zone Authority for 10 years.
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Christine Newman, LSW
Director, Community Outreach and Volunteer Engagement, AARP NJ
As Director of Community Outreach and Volunteer Engagement for AARP NJ, Christine Newman works to advance AARP’s social mission of fighting for and equipping the 50+ population in New Jersey with tools and resources to live their best lives, specifically around AARP’s core areas of: livable communities, support for family caregivers and financial security. She leads AARP NJ's state-wide work around Livable Communities and Age Friendly initiatives, with a focus on engaging and empowering local communities and volunteers to effect positive social change where they live.
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Christopher C. Obropta, Ph.D., P.E.
Extension Specialist in Water Resources, Rutgers Cooperative Extension
Christopher C. Obropta, Ph.D., P.E., is the Extension Specialist in Water Resources with Rutgers Cooperative Extension, and he is a Professor with the Department of Environmental Sciences at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University. He has a doctorate in civil engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology and both a Master of Science and Bachelor of Science in civil engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Prior to joining Rutgers, he was an environmental consultant for 12 years at Omni Environmental Corporation. Dr. Obropta has a background in watershed management, water quality modeling, hydrologic and hydraulic modeling, and coastal engineering. He teaches Bioresource Engineering Design I & II, where he directs student design teams to develop solutions to complex real-life engineering problems. Dr. Obropta leads his highly specialized team of professional staff who are determined to create innovative solutions to water quality issues in New Jersey.
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Peter J. O'Connor, Esq.
Founder and Executive Director, Fair Share Housing Development, Inc.
Peter J. O’Connor is a longtime civil rights activist and co-counsel in the historic Mount Laurel litigation, which ruled that every municipality in New Jersey must plan, zone and take affirmative measures to provide its “fair share” of the region’s need for affordable housing. In 1975, Mr. O’Connor founded Fair Share Housing Center, a nonprofit public interest law firm that monitors and enforces the Mount Laurel Doctrine statewide. In 1986, he founded Fair Share Housing Development, a nonprofit affordable housing developer, to implement the Mount Laurel Settlement Agreement with the development of housing that would reach very low-income households. FSHD’s flagship development, the award-winning Ethel R. Lawrence Homes in Mount Laurel, sets the gold standard for quality affordable housing in high-opportunity communities and remains a national model for helping families overcome problems stemming from generational cycles of poverty, racial segregation, economic isolation and the lack of a good education.
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Julia Orlando
Director, Bergen County Housing, Health and Human Services Center
Julia Orlando is the Director of the Bergen County Housing, Health and Human Services Center, a nationally recognized and award-winning center. Ms. Orlando has over 25 years of clinical and managerial experience in social services in New York and New Jersey. In 2016, she provided leadership for the successful effort to end veteran homelessness in Bergen County as part of the Obama Administration’s Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness. Bergen County is the first county in the state, and among the first 28 nationally, to achieve this goal and was recognized at the White House for its contributions to the federal Opening Doors initiative to end homelessness. She also provided leadership that led to Bergen County becoming the first county nationwide in 2017 to successfully reach functional zero for chronic homelessness. She earned her Bachelor of Science in psychology from Fordham University and master’s degrees in counseling psychology and organizational psychology from Columbia University.
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Meghan O'Sullivan
Founder; Registered Nurse, At Home Technologies LLC
Meghan O'Sullivan is a Registered Nurse (RN) and received a master’s degree in nursing from Columbia University in 2001. After working in major hospitals and clinics around New York City she saw the pressing need for assistive technologies to maintain and increase independence in the home. In 2009 she felt that technology had advanced to a point where it could provide tailored supports to individuals and families so she founded At Home Technologies LLC. The company's mission is to assist families and organizations in the identification and use of assistive technologies that will support greater independence. At Home Technologies LLC is focused on technologies that address common barriers to independence in the home: medication management, individualized telehealth and remote supports including cooking safety, audible prompts for daily routines, general safety like falls, egress or other activity. The company partners with leading technology providers for example, SimplyHome, to provide customized solutions that can support greater independence.
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Christopher Paladino
President, New Brunswick Development Corporation (DEVCO)
Christopher Paladino has served as President of the New Brunswick Development Corporation (DEVCO) since 1994. Under his leadership, DEVCO has initiated, developed and managed nearly 5.4 million square feet in residential, commercial, academic and institutional development valued at over $2 billion. Mr. Paladino is currently leading the development of the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center and residential tower, in partnership with Rutgers University, George Street Playhouse, and Middlesex County among others. He is also developing the Innovation and Technology Hub in downtown New Brunswick. Successful projects completed under his leadership include the $300 million College Avenue Redevelopment Initiative and 15 Washington Renovation project (both developed in partnership with Rutgers University), the Stockton University Atlantic City Campus, and the Gateway Transit Village mixed-use development and many other major redevelopment efforts. He received both his Bachelor of Arts and his law degree from Rutgers University, where he was also an Eagleton Fellow.
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Karen Parish
Senior Project Manager, Mullin & Lonergan Associates
Karen Parish has been with Mullin & Lonergan Associates since 1989, and currently serves as Senior Project Manager. She began her career as an intern with the Lincoln, Nebraska, small cities program in 1977. She joined the City of Memphis, Tennessee, Community Development office in 1979 as a Community Development Specialist working on a range of neighborhood development issues. In 1981, she joined the staff of the City of Reading, Pennsylvania, becoming the Director of Housing in 1985 and the Community Development Director in 1987. Ms. Parish has worked closely with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s CDBG program, and has worked with both large and small clients in nearly every aspect of CDBG, HOME, ESG and other HUD programs. She holds a master’s degree in community and regional planning from the University of Nebraska, and a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from the University of Pittsburgh.
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Connie M. Pascale
Retired Housing Specialist, Legal Services of New Jersey
Connie M. Pascale is a retired attorney who has been involved with housing, homelessness and poverty-related representation and advocacy for more than four decades, primarily as a Legal Services staff attorney and administrator. Much of his legal work centered on defending tenants in eviction cases and litigating other matters involving the rights of subsidized and unsubsidized renters. Mr. Pascale served for many years as Chief Section Counsel (Housing) for Legal Services of New Jersey, and was the Executive Director of Ocean-Monmouth Legal Services from 1992 to 1997. During his career, he has also been affiliated with nonprofit groups dedicated to the production of subsidized and affordable housing. Since his retirement, he has continued to engage in policy advocacy as a member of, and volunteer with, several local, regional and statewide groups and grassroots community organizations focused on the housing and shelter needs, rights and concerns of low-income people.
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Matt Perkins
Senior Program Officer, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)
Matt Perkins, Senior Program Officer, is an expert in community-based crime reductions efforts and an advocate for resident-based crime prevention efforts. His work at LISC has included supporting community-based approaches to reducing crime and increasing safety through collaborative problem solving. The goals of this work are to help residents improve neighborhoods safety through community action in partnership with local police. He is a lead technical assistance provider on the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Innovations in Community Based Crime Reduction program, trainer for local LISC partners, and collaborator with criminal justice policy and research organizations. Previously, he worked with the federal Weed and Seed crime prevention program, provided crime reduction support to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and public housing agencies, and worked at DOJ’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. He has a master’s degree in criminology from the University of Missouri – St. Louis and a history degree from Towson University.
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Dana L. Redd
Chief Executive Officer, Rowan University/Rutgers-Camden Board of Governors
Dana Redd serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Rowan University/Rutgers-Camden Board of Governors. In this role, Ms. Redd is responsible for overseeing board operations and construction of a 95,000-square-foot Joint Health Sciences Center, and charged with developing programmatic and policy initiatives which reflect the board's mission and overarching objectives of education, economic development and civic engagement. She has worked in various positions from local government to the New Jersey State Senate, most recently serving as Mayor of Camden where she successfully transitioned the city from state takeover to local control.
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Matthew A. Reilly
President and Chief Executive Officer, Moorestown Ecumenical Neighborhood Development, Inc. (MEND)
Matthew A. Reilly has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Moorestown Ecumenical Neighborhood Development, Inc., since November 2001. MEND is a 50-year-old nonprofit organization that develops, owns and manages affordable housing for low/moderate-income tenants in the Burlington County region. Mr. Reilly worked previously at Wells Fargo Bank and its predecessors. He served at various times as Senior Real Estate Credit Officer for Community Development Lending, Commercial Real Estate Underwriting Head for Pennsylvania/Delaware and Commercial Real Estate Portfolio Management Head for the bank’s $3 billion loan portfolio in the Northeast. Prior to his banking career, he was the Director of Real Estate Development for New Community Corporation in Newark. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Rutgers University; a Master of Arts in sociology from Fordham University; and a Bachelor of Science from St. Peter’s University. He is a former member of the Governor’s Interagency Council on Homelessness.
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Peter S. Reinhart, Esq.
Director, Kislak Real Estate Institute, Monmouth University
Peter S. Reinhart, Esq., is Director of the Kislak Real Estate Institute at Monmouth University, New Jersey’s longest running university real estate degree program. He was Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Hovnanian Enterprises, Inc., from 1978-2011. During his tenure, K. Hovnanian was New Jersey’s largest home builder, delivering over 20,000 homes annually. He is a former President of the New Jersey Builders Association and the Community Associations Institute. He was a member of the state Council on Affordable Housing from 1993-2004. He also is currently Executive Vice President of Mixed Use and Land for R.J. Brunelli & Co.; Director of Four Springs Capital Trust, a private REIT; Of Counsel with the law firm of Greenbaum Rowe Smith & Davis; Chair of New Jersey Future; Director of Springpoint Senior Living; and a Trustee of Hackensack Meridian Health. He is a graduate of Franklin and Marshall College and Rutgers Law School.
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Donna Rendeiro
Executive Director, Office of Planning Advocacy, NJ Department of State, Secretary, NJ State Planning Commission
Donna Rendeiro was named Executive Director of the Office of Planning Advocacy in the New Jersey Department of State and Secretary of the New Jersey State Planning Commission in July 2019. Previously, she served as Chief of Administration for the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, where she was responsible for administrative and staff functions. She also oversaw New Jersey’s Homeless Management Information System. She was the Director of Community Planning at the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority, Acting Executive Director of the Office of Smart Growth, and Brownfields Policy Director. She has worked with the Governor’s Office of Economic Growth on urban policy. Previous experience includes redevelopment and shared services at the municipal and county levels. She also is a former Vice President at Citibank and Chief of Staff to the Senior Credit Officer in the credit card division and was a Branch Manager. She has a Bachelor of Science in marketing from Pace University.
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John Restrepo
Director of Housing and Community Development, Garden State Episcopal Community Development Corporation
For almost two decades, John Restrepo, Director of Housing and Community Development for Garden State Episcopal Community Development Corporation, has been involved in the planning, development and management of $150 million in investments from the private and public sector to revitalize under-invested communities. This includes the rescue of 200 abandoned or underutilized properties, including 80 foreclosed units, and the production of 600 new units that serve over 2,000 people. Mr. Restrepo is responsible for business planning, community revitalization strategies, identifying sites, developing all concepts, overseeing program development, financial structuring, funding applications, negotiations with lenders, securing financial commitments for acquisition, predevelopment, construction and permanent financing. Mr. Restrepo has contributed to the development of local and state policy including Jersey City's affordable housing plan and is currently the Chair of the Executive Board of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey.
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Diane Riley
Executive Director, Supportive Housing Association of New Jersey (SHA)
Diane Riley joined the Supportive Housing Association of New Jersey as Executive Director in 2017 bringing her many years of experience as a leading voice for the economically disadvantaged in the state. Joining the Community Food Bank in 2011, she led a coalition of stakeholders to raise awareness about hunger, engage in public dialogue, and influence policies that address underlying causes such as housing. In March 2016, Ms. Riley was recognized by the New Jersey General Assembly for her service leadership and commitment to improve the quality of life for citizens throughout the state. Ms. Riley is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of the Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey, which, as part of its mission, is dedicated to eradicating homelessness and creating affordable housing for all those in need.
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Alexandria Riley, LPC
Program Director, HomeSafe Program, FAMILYConnections
Alexandria Riley, LPC, has spent the last 10 years focusing on providing trauma informed intensive in-home therapy for children and families involved in the child welfare system. In her role as Program Director for the HomeSafe Program at FAMILYConnections, Ms. Riley is utilizing her passion for client advocacy to help parents with mental health and/or substance use history find permanent housing to achieve the goal of being reunified and stabilized with their children. Her goal is to build an empathetic and supportive therapeutic environment where clients’ strengths are used to foster hope and build motivation toward achieving their goals.
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Carol Sainthilaire
Senior Program Manager, Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH)
Carol Sainthilaire is Senior Program Manager for the Corporation for Supportive Housing. She led the homeless initiatives and programs undertaken by the Hudson County Division of Housing and Community Development. In this role, she served as the Chair of the Hudson County Alliance to End Homelessness, coordinating its multiple subcommittees and initiatives. Prior to joining the County of Hudson, she worked in the nonprofit sector overseeing various government contracts including U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Continuum of Care grants. She holds a master’s degree from the New School in urban policy analysis and management.
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Phyllis Salowe-Kaye
Executive Director, New Jersey Citizen Action (NJCA)
For more than 35 years, Phyllis Salowe-Kaye has served as the Executive Director of New Jersey Citizen Action, the state’s largest multi-issue consumer watchdog organization. NJCA has over 60,000 individual members and 120 affiliate organizations, including labor, senior, religious, environmental, women’s, civil rights, civic and community groups. NJCA coordinates statewide organizing campaigns that promote economic, social, and racial justice and provides direct services to thousands of New Jerseyans each year. She serves as a Board member of National People’s Action, and as a co-founder of Shelterforce, she also sits on the National Housing Institute’s Board. A former Newark school teacher, she was a tenant organizer and President of the New Jersey Tenants Organization for 14 years. She served as a Commissioner of the New Jersey Public Broadcasting Authority from 2005-2011, and was appointed to the Consumer Advisory Commission of the Federal Reserve Bank in Washington, D.C.
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Dean Santa
Director, Asset Management Division, N.Y. Northeast Regional Office, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
Dean Santa is the Asset Management Division Director for the N.Y. Northeast Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He oversees New York, New Jersey and Delaware, covering 2,500 assets, insured and/or assisted buildings representing over 310,000 units. Mr. Santa has worked in real estate for the last 30 years. He managed his own appraisal company and real estate sales office before joining HUD in 1997. He served as the Director of Multifamily for the HUD Newark Program Center and worked in the Asset Management Branch of Multifamily as a Senior Asset Manager for many years, where he was the point of contact for many complex programs. He studied business and real estate law at the College of Staten Island.
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André Sayegh
Mayor, City of Paterson
André Sayegh assumed the office of Mayor of Paterson on July 1, 2018, focusing his Administration on issues that resonated during his campaign - stabilizing property taxes, improving public safety, and driving economic development. He is determined to inspire a renaissance in the third largest city in New Jersey, driven in part through tourism and economic development around the city’s greatest natural resource – the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park. He served on the Paterson City Council from 2008 to 2018. Mayor Sayegh graduated with the highest honors from Seton Hall University with a bachelor’s degree in history and earned a master’s degree in public policy and administration from Columbia University. He is an adjunct professor at Passaic County Community College. Prior to his election to the City Council, he served on the Paterson Board of Education, as Chief of Staff for State Sen. John A. Girgenti, and as a Field Representative for U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell.
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Dr. Donald H. Sebastian
President and Chief Executive Officer, New Jersey Innovation Institute (NJII)
Dr. Donald H. Sebastian is the founding President and Chief Executive Officer of the New Jersey Innovation Institute and Senior Vice President of Technology and Business Development at New Jersey Institute of Technology. NJII, a 501(c)(3) corporation, is a new model for business innovation serving key industrial clusters that anchor the state and national economies. NJII serves the biopharmaceutical, civil infrastructure, defense, financial services and healthcare sectors, producing over a $1.3 billion annual impact on the state economy in 2018. He was a founder of the New Jersey Healthcare Information Technology Extension Center, New Jersey Homeland Security Technology Systems Center, New Jersey Nanotechnology Consortium and New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program. A 2006 inductee of the New Jersey High-Tech Hall of Fame and 2015 NJBIZ Healthcare Innovation Hero, he was named to the 2016 Made In New Jersey Honor Roll, 2018-19 NJBIZ Power 100 and as one of ROI’s top influencers for technology.
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Jonathan Seifried
Assistant Commissioner, Division of Developmental Disabilities, NJ Department of Human Services (DHS)
Jonathan Seifried has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a Master of Arts in instructional technology from Stockton University. He began his work in the field of intellectual/developmental disabilities in 1998 with a small nonprofit in New Jersey. He took a position with New Jersey state government in 2001 for the Division of Developmental Disabilities in the Department of Human Services. He has worked in various capacities for the division including, but not limited to: case management; community development; housing; institutional depopulation; asset management; policy development; etc. Mr. Seifried has been given the opportunity to take on the role of Assistant Commissioner for the division in October 2018.
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Jennifer Senick, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Rutgers Center for Green Building, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers University
Jennifer Senick, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Rutgers Center for Green Building at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University, and an instructor in the department. An experienced urban planner, Dr. Senick received her Ph.D. in Planning and Public Policy from Rutgers University, her Master of Arts in Political Science from UCLA, and her A.B. in Government from Bowdoin College. Areas of expertise include sustainable development, green building and environmental behavior. Current appointments include Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA), co-chair, Sustainable Planning Design and Behavior Network; coordinator, International Health Planning and Impact Assessment Initiatives, American Planning Association (APA) International Division; executive committee, American Planning Association-New Jersey Chapter; facilitator, New Jersey Health Impact Collaborative; invited member, Rutgers Sustainability Committee and Rutgers Energy Institute.
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Michael B. Simmons, CPM®, NAHP-e®
Senior Advisor and Broker of Record, Community Realty Management, AMO®
Michael B. Simmons, CPM, NAHP-e is Senior Advisor and Broker of Record at Community Realty Management, AMO® in Pleasantville. Community Realty Management is a full-service real estate management organization with a multifamily portfolio of over 8,700 units located throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, the Midwest and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Mr. Simmons currently serves as President-Elect of the National Affordable Housing Management Association (NAHMA). He is a member of the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) Federal Housing Advisory Board, a Member Emeritus of IREM's National Faculty and, in 1999, was honored to serve as IREM National President. Now serving on the Drexel University Real Estate Management and Development Advisory Board, he is a licensed real estate broker in the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania.
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Diane Sterner
Director of Community Strategies, New Jersey Community Capital (NJCC)
Diane Sterner serves as Director of Community Strategies at New Jersey Community Capital. She joined NJCC in August 2013 as Community Strategies Advisor to devise new ways to help local communities develop effective revitalization approaches, as well as identify resources to implement them. Previously, she served for 23 years as founding executive director of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey. As a 2006 James A. Johnson Fellow, Ms. Sterner also helped found the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations (NACEDA). She has served on the Board of Trustees of a number of organizations, including the National Housing Institute, New Jersey Policy Perspective, NACEDA, and New Jersey Citizen Action, and was a founding board member of the New Jersey Community Loan Fund (now NJCC.) She has a bachelor's degree in Spanish from Kalamazoo College and a Master of Social Work from Rutgers University Graduate School of Social Work.
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Jonelle Stewart
Manager of TRACS, Contract Administration, NJ Housing and Mortgage Financing Agency (NJHMFA)
Jonelle N. Stewart has been employed at the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency for the past 14 years. During her tenure, Ms. Stewart has held positions as Project Assistant, TRACS Specialist, and currently serves as Manager of TRACS. She has developed and conducted various workshops associated with special claims at the New Jersey Affordable Housing Management Association (JAHMA) Spring Management Events. In her capacity as TRACS Coordinator, Ms. Stewart is responsible for troubleshooting TRACS-related issues with owners and agents and conducts all staff training.
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Debra Tantleff
Founding Principal, TANTUM Real Estate
As Founding Principal of TANTUM Real Estate, Debra Tantleff operates a certified Women’s Business Enterprise boutique development and advisory firm focused on creating multifamily and mixed-use communities. Previously, she was an executive at Roseland Property Company. She serves on the Regional Plan Association New Jersey Committee, the Executive Board for Downtown New Jersey, and is active in New Jersey Builders Association. She has received numerous industry recognitions including ROI-NJ’s Real Estate Influencers (2018), and NJBA’s Distinguished Service Award for Outstanding Political Action (2017) and Special Service Industry Award (2018). An honors graduate from Rutgers University, Ms. Tantleff holds a Bachelor of Applied Science from the School of Communication and Information Studies and is a member of the Executive Committee at the Center for Real Estate at Rutgers Business School. She holds a master’s degree in real estate finance from New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate.
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Patrick Terborg
Founder and Managing Member, TD+Partners
Patrick Terborg is a Founder and Managing Member of the real estate development firm, TD+Partners. As a real estate developer, he has transformed large blighted and vacant sites into high quality multifamily housing and new businesses consisting of retail, distribution centers, urban farms and childcare centers. Over the last 10 years, his contribution to redeveloping urban communities has resulted in over $400 million in adaptive reuse and new development, and over a million square feet of new buildings. He has structured transactions that include the use of Low Income Housing Tax Credits, New Market Tax Credits, Tax Abatement (PILOTS) and CDBG funds. Previously, he served in various financial leadership roles. He is the former Associate Director of Fiscal Operations for New York University-Wagner, the Chief Financial Officer and head of Real Estate Development for Blackstone Group, and also served as Manager of Finance and New Business Implementation for Computershare.
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Francis Thomas
Senior Director, Property Management Division, NJ Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA)
Francis A. Thomas was promoted to Senior Director of Contract Administration from his prior title of Director in September 2018. As of January 2019, Mr. Thomas has taken on the additional task of the Property Management and Special Needs divisions. Mr. Thomas has over 30 years of property management experience as an employee of the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency. During his over 30 years with the Agency, he has held various position in the Property Management Division including, but not limited to, Housing Management Representative, Housing Management Officer, Manager of Asset Management as well as Assistant Director of Property Management.
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Sean Thompson
Director, Local Planning Services, NJ Department of Community Affairs (DCA)
Sean Thompson is the Director of Local Planning Services with the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. Mr. Thompson has been with DCA for over two decades. During his tenure, he has reviewed municipal master plans, housing elements and land use ordinances for compliance with the Fair Housing Act and New Jersey Administrative Code. He has also provided municipal officials, nonprofit organizations and private developers with the technical assistance to further affordable housing activities. Currently, Mr. Thompson leads a staff of professional planners who assist municipalities in achieving local land use and planning goals. He holds a Master of City and Regional Planning from Rutgers University, and a bachelor's degree from The College of New Jersey (formerly known as Trenton State College).
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Nicholas Toth
Assistant Director, Office of Apprenticeship, NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDLWD)
Nicholas Toth currently serves in Governor Murphy’s Administration as an Assistant Director where he is leading the recently created New Jersey Office of Apprenticeship and is overseeing the development and implementation of the New Jersey Apprenticeship Network. Prior to joining NJDLWD, Mr. Toth worked as a Project Manager with the Savan Consulting Group on projects with the National Science Foundation and Department of Education, and served as an appointee in the Obama Administration as the Special Assistant and Policy Advisor to former Secretary of Labor Tom Perez at the U.S. Department of Labor. He holds a Bachelor of Science in industrial and labor relations and a master’s degree in labor market policy and dispute resolution from Cornell University.
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Debra Urban
Chief of Legal and Regulatory Affairs, NJ Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA)
Debra Urban was appointed Chief of Legal and Regulatory Affairs at the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency in August 2017. Ms. Urban previously served as Senior Director of Programs beginning in August 2014. She has served the Agency in various other capacities for over 25 years, including Director of Tax Credit Services beginning in December 2002, where she was responsible for the administration of the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit program. As Chief of Legal and Regulatory Affairs, Ms. Urban works closely with the New Jersey Attorney General’s office on legal matters involving the Agency. She participates in rulemaking projects and provides advice on housing policy matters. She has a Bachelor of Arts from Rutgers University and a Juris Doctor from Rutgers School of Law.
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Jacob Walthour, Jr.
Chief Executive Officer, Blueprint Capital Advisors
Jacob Walthour, Jr. is Chief Executive Officer of Blueprint Capital Advisors, an investment firm he founded in 2015. Prior to founding Blueprint, he served as Vice Chairman in the investment management division of Cowen & Company. He has also held senior positions at Citadel Investment Group, Quellos Group, Moore Capital Management and Morgan Stanley. Mr. Walthour received his Bachelor of Arts cum laude from the State University of New York at Albany. He has served on the boards of the Robert F. Kennedy Center, New York Foundation for the Arts, New York Cares and on the investment committees of Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies, Girl Scouts of the USA and the University of Albany Alumni Foundation. Black Enterprise Magazine recognized him as one of the Most Influential Blacks on Wall Street. Mr. Walthour has been featured on CNBC and contributed to articles in Vanity Fair, The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg.
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Adonica Watkins
Manager of Asset Management, Contract Administration, NJ Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA)
Adonica Watkins has 28 years’ experience working in the housing industry. She currently works with New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency as a Manager of Asset Management with the Project Based Contract Administrator for 12 years, supervising the contract administrators. She previously functioned as a contract administrator for seven years within the division. Ms. Watkins holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and accounting from Glassboro State College.
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Evan Weiss
Senior Advisor for Public Finance, Office of Governor Phil Murphy
Evan Weiss is the Senior Advisor for Public Finance in the administration of Governor Phil Murphy. He focuses on finding creative solutions to New Jersey’s most pressing economic and community development problems, including financing affordable housing and water infrastructure, leveraging Opportunity Zones, and collaborating with hospitals and universities. He has published several articles on Opportunity Zones and has worked on early initiatives to use the incentive to build schools and invest in high-potential tech, life sciences, and small businesses. Prior to entering the Governor’s administration, Mr. Weiss was Director at PEL Analytics and HJA Strategies, where he specialized in developing and implementing turnaround strategies for distressed cities and school districts. He is a graduate of the University of Chicago.
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Sally White
Director, Business Development, New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program (NJMEP)
The New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program is a private, not-for-profit organization that improves the profitability and competitiveness of New Jersey's manufacturers. As the Director of Business Development, Sally White is responsible for business development and sales operations in support of 11,130 New Jersey manufacturers. She has been a New Jersey resident for 20 years. Originally from the United Kingdom, she relocated for business and became a United States citizen in 2008. As an international services and manufacturing executive, Ms. White has a focus on rapid change management and building global businesses. Her experience, beyond workforce development, includes: manufacturing, program and project management, mergers and acquisitions, and business transformation and globalization. Ms. White has worked in a broad range of sectors including: aerospace, semi-conductors, medical devices and life sciences.
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Janel Winter
Director, Division of Housing and Community Resources, NJ Department of Community Affairs (DCA)
Janel Winter is the Director of the Division of Housing and Community Resources at the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. She oversees the statewide public housing authority, which administers vouchers for more than 40,000 households annually, including one of the largest Housing Choice Voucher programs in the country, as well as DCA’s affordable housing production programs. At the Division, Ms. Winter also leads a variety of homelessness prevention, neighborhood revitalization, anti-poverty and community development programs. Prior to joining DCA, she led the Office of Housing at the New Jersey Department of Human Services and served as Associate Director for New Jersey at the Corporation for Supportive Housing.
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Barbara Allen Woolley-Dillon, PP, AICP
Director of Planning and Development, City of Atlantic City
Barbara Allen Woolley-Dillon currently serves as the Director of Planning and Development for Atlantic City. She has founded/managed a private engineering and planning firm and worked for several others, served as a Zoning Official, Code Enforcement Official, and Flood Plain Manager. She has also held the positions of Community Development Director, Redevelopment Planner and Planner for other New Jersey communities. She maintains certifications and licenses from the New Jersey State Board of Professional Planners and the American Institute of Certified Planners, and Environmental Certification relating to Wetlands Delineation. She is currently pursuing the Certified Flood Plain Manager designation. Additionally, she teaches the mandatory training class for planning and zoning board members and has been a guest lecturer in various planning topics. She holds an associate degree in architectural and interior design, a bachelor’s degree in urban studies from Rutgers University (Camden), a master’s degree in city planning from the University of Pennsylvania.
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Lisa Wright
Vice President, Strategy, Planning and Business Engagement, Prudential Financial
Lisa Wright is Vice President of Strategy, Planning and Business Engagement for Prudential Financial. She has responsibility for the Global Captive Strategy, Enterprise Technology Sourcing Strategy, Advisory and Business Engagement teams for Pramerica focused on service and growth strategies. Pramerica is the internal global service center for Prudential Financial, Inc., and operates in Ireland, Texas, New Jersey and through third-party relationships in India and Philippines. She joined Prudential in 2000 to establish Pramerica. She later took on increasing responsibilities including leading Prudential’s Enterprise Vendor Governance Office, set-up of Prudential’s shared service center in El Paso, Texas, and served as Chief of Staff to the Chief Executive Officer of Prudential Group Insurance. Previously, she was an entrepreneur leading multiple start-ups, including The Catalyst Group. She has also held several leadership positions for Procter & Gamble and Knight Ridder. Ms. Wright has a Bachelor of Science in marketing from Miami University.
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Shinyi Wu, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Social Work and Industrial and Systems Engineering, Dept. of Adult Mental Health and Wellness, USC
Shinyi Wu is an Associate Professor at the University of Southern California. With a Ph.D. in industrial and systems engineering, she holds a unique joint appointment in two schools, Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work and Viterbi School of Engineering. Dr. Wu is also a senior scientist of the USC Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging. Her scholarship focuses on health services and systems research. Her reports on projecting long-term prevalence and costs of chronical illness in 2000 and of Latino Alzheimer’s disease patients in 2016 contributed to public attention and understanding about these two issues. She has led evaluations and experiments of innovative systems’ redesign to improve quality of care and patient outcomes, including implementing the Chronic Care Model and the Collaborative Depression Care Model in safe-net healthcare systems. In recent years, she has designed, tested and evaluated information and communication technologies to improve population health for disadvantaged communities.
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Leah B. Yasenchak, Ph.D., AICP/PP, CEcD
Co-owner, BRS, Inc. (Brownfield Redevelopment Solutions, Inc.)
As co-owner of BRS, Dr. Leah Yasenchak oversees redevelopment planning efforts for environmentally compromised property and resiliency projects. She is the principal in charge of the firm’s environmental planning, outreach and grant writing and management services. Dr. Yasenchak has more than 27 years of experience at the federal and local levels in environmental policy, grant writing and administration, and brownfields redevelopment. Prior to establishing BRS, she spent 12 years working for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, including a four-year loaned executive assignment as the brownfields coordinator for the City of Trenton. She received her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in public administration of environmental policy from The American University, a Master of Science in environmental science from Johns Hopkins University, and a Doctorate in planning and public policy from Rutgers University. She is a certified and licensed planner and a certified economic developer.
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Maria E. Yglesias
Co-founder, M&M Development
Maria Yglesias was born and raised in Spain. At the age of 20 she immigrated to the United States and attended Montclair State University. Although her formal introduction to business was as a clothing retailer, Ms. Yglesias was always active in the world of real estate and construction mainly in residential rehabilitation work. In 1997, she co-founded M&M Development LLC in order to build Cathedral Homes, a mixed project of affordable and market-rate housing in Newark’s Central Ward. In South Jersey, the Coopers Hill Development in Camden broke ground in 2009 with a 25-unit condominium building in the Cooper Plaza neighborhood and was followed by a scattered site project of 30 single-family homes in the same neighborhood. In Newark, the Harmony Square project in Newark’s North Ward brought special needs housing, affordable rental apartments and luxury condominium buildings to a neighborhood that had been plagued by disinvestment and crime.
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Katie York, Ph.D.
Director of Senior Services/Lifelong Montclair, Township of Montclair
Katie York is the Director of Senior Services/Lifelong Montclair for the Township of Montclair and has worked in the field of aging for over 15 years. Dr. York has overseen Montclair’s aging in place initiative, Lifelong Montclair, since 2014. She has coordinated Montclair’s membership in AARP and the World Health Organization’s Network of Age-Friendly Communities since 2015, making Montclair the second community in New Jersey to join the network. Dr. York has a Bachelor of Science in biology from Haverford College; a Master of Business Administration from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst; and a Ph.D. in gerontology with a graduate certificate in developmental disabilities from the University of Kentucky.
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Ralph Zucker
President, Somerset Development
Ralph Zucker is President of Somerset Development, one of the New York metropolitan area's foremost real estate companies specializing in New Urbanism and Traditional Neighborhood Design development. Mr. Zucker is responsible for spearheading his firm's focus on creating sustainable, close-knit communities that promote pedestrian-friendly living experiences. During his career, he has worked hands-on in every facet of the building and development process, demonstrating diligence and a commitment to working with municipalities to create innovative communities based on the principles of New Urbanism. Under Mr. Zucker’s leadership, Somerset and its projects have earned numerous industry awards and recognition for their contributions to furthering responsible development practices, including the New Jersey Future Smart Growth Award for Wesmont Station, Somerset's 70-acre, transit-oriented, mixed-use redevelopment project in Wood-Ridge, and the New Jersey Chapter of NAIOP’s Chairman’s Award for Bell Works, the 2-million-square-foot redevelopment of the former Bell Labs property in Holmdel.
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Lauren M. Zyriek
Deputy Chief of Staff, New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way
Lauren M. Zyriek is the Deputy Chief of Staff for New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way. Before joining the Secretary’s office in 2018, she was the Deputy Clerk for the Office of the Bergen County Clerk, where she had the distinction of being the first Latina in her position, an advisor to the Guatemalan United Nations Mission, and a Specialist at the U.S. Census Bureau. Her education, along with her community involvement, have always been geared toward government, politics, and how they affect society. Ms. Zyriek has attained an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, and master’s degree, with a focus in government and administration. Additionally, she has an Executive Education Certificate in cybersecurity from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government; is a New Jersey Registered Municipal Clerk; and is nearing completion of her doctorate in public administration. She is a Board Member for the New Jersey American Society for Public Administration.
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