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Public Affairs & Political Professional

Dorcas Adekunle is a public affairs and political professional who previously worked as Policy Director for Bonnie Watson for Congress 2014. Dorcas’ passion for public affairs and politics developed during her undergraduate studies at Monmouth University where she served as a Model United Nations Delegate. Her passion evolved when she pursued her law degree at the Thomas Kline School of Law at Drexel University. While at Drexel she earned the Excellence in Oral Advocacy Award and maintained positions in several organizations.

Finance, Technology and Marketing Professional

Dini Ajmani is the Head of Asset Managers Marketing at Bank of America, JP Morgan and CitiGroup. Dini and a team of mutual fund managers built the bank's Equity Derivatives business, where Dini creates trust-based, long-term relationships with the nation's largest mutual fund firms like Blackrock and Fidelity. Dini has more than twenty years of combined experience in the finance and technology industries and is a champion for the advancement of women.

Social Work Professional & Educator

Cynthia Atkins is a Human Service Specialist II at Union County Social Services. She has more than ten years of experience which contributes to her verifiable track record in increasing performance through dynamic leadership, strategic planning, process design and customer satisfaction. Cynthia currently serves as an elected official on the Union County Democratic Committee and previously served as an adjunct faculty member at St. Thomas College in Roselle, New Jersey.

Marlene Baldinger is a registered nurse with experience in healthcare quality as well as risk management. Marlene serves as the Director of Risk Management and Corporate Compliance for Woods, a Langhorne, Penn., organization that helps those affected by disabilities and special needs.
Marlene previously served as Director of Quality, Risk Management, Patient Relations and Patient Safety for St. Mary’s Hospital.

Non-profit Professional

Shelly Bell is a non-profit professional who specializes in constituent relations, legislative affairs and leadership development. She has more than ten years of experience working with local and state government affairs, including service as a legislative aide and office manager for the New Jersey State Legislature. Shelly currently serves as operations manager for Leadership Newark, where she manages the operations as well as oversees recruitment and the training of participants. 

Educator and Communications Professional

Brenda Brathwaite is an accomplished educator, recently named Teacher of the Year at her school, and a seasoned educational advocate. She has advocacy experience spanning more than eight years at the local, county, state, and national level. Brathwaite celebrates her native Atlantic County roots and embraces the diversity of her county-wide neighbors. In addition to her role as an educator, Brathwaite is a grant writer for the Atlantic City Education Association and an Atlantic County Delegate to New Jersey’s Education Association (NJEA).

Fundraising, Finance and Community Development

Maureen Byrne is an expert in fundraising, finances and community development. She has experience leading several major fundraising events, including events for Friends of the Madison Public Library and Taste of Madison New Jersey. Maureen has also served for four years on Madison’s Downtown Development Committee. She was class valedictorian at Goucher College, where her senior thesis explored the support for and barriers faced by women who wish to run for public office. 

Public Administration and International Communications Professional

Alixon Collazos Gill is a Board Member of the LUPE Fund, a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate, empower and engage Latinas to promote leadership and civic engagement.  In her previous position as a Grant Manager at Millennium Strategies, Alixon was responsible for the research, communication and grant writing for the firm’s public sector’s clients.  She worked directly with municipalities to understand and identify the client’s individual needs and unique identity.  During her two years she was able to secure more than $900,000 in funding for the firm’s public sector clients in

Community Development Professional & Professor of Urban Development

Rosa Farias, a former Deputy Chief of Staff to former Newark Mayor and current U.S. Senator Corey Booker, has almost ten years of experience in government. In that office, Rosa was responsible for community development and constituent relations. She is currently a Senior Management Associate in the City of Newark’s Department of Law. Rosa also serves as an adjunct faculty member teaching urban development in the School of Public Affairs and Administration at Rutgers University.

Experienced Community Organizer

Kimberly Hurdman is an experienced community organizer with a professional background in corporate marketing communications. A dedicated organizer for both Obama presidential campaigns, she was a founding member of both NJ for Obama and Women for Obama. Kimberly also continues to be active as a Chapter Leader of OFA and as a Women's Rights and Issues Action leader for New Jersey. Kimberly currently serves as Associate Political Director for BlueWaveNJ, a non-profit, grassroots organization that uses advocacy and mobilization to better citizens’ opportunities and quality of life.

Scholar and Activist

Sadaf Jaffer is a scholar and activist focused on education, social justice and women’s rights. She has taught at Princeton and Harvard universities and worked for the United States Marine Corps and the U.S. Department of State. Sadaf serves as Somerset County Director for the South Asian American Caucus of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, where she graduated with honors.

Human Services/Non-Profit Management Consultant and Educator

Dr. Denalerie Johnson-Faniel is an educator, youth mentor and organizational development consultant, with a global non-profit background in self-sufficiency and youth development. Denalerie works with functional units to maximize internal and external resources to leverage involvement and foster connections within diverse communities. Denalerie’s innovative leadership and forward-thinking abilities enable her to drive results for clients and earned her the New Jersey "Global Woman of the Year" award.

Founder & Community Development Professional

Emily Manz is a Real Estate and Business Attraction Associate at Brick City Development Corporation. Emily’s vast experience in community development allowed her to create brand ambassadors for the City of Newark through her organization, “Have You Met Newark.” In two years, Emily’s brought approximately 200 people on fun, engaging and informative walks of Newark’s emerging developments and historic sites, generating revenue for small businesses and local restaurants.

Cross-Functional Leader & Health Professional

Nadia Moses is a health professional with more than fourteen years of experience and currently a Legislative Aide to Assemblyman Thomas P. Giblin. Nadia works at Atlantic Health System, as a coordinator for the Atlantic Accountable Care Organization. Nadia performs strategic event planning and coordinates functions among departments both internally and externally for the organization. She excels at engaging disparate groups to achieve corporate goals of maximizing quality outcomes and realizing true efficiencies within the healthcare system.

Insurance, Real Estate & Marketing Business Professional

Diane Murray is a motivated business professional with insurance, real estate, public relations and marketing experience. Diane is currently serving in two community positions, as a 4th Ward District Leader in Hillside and as a Trustee at Franklin - St. John United Methodist Church. In addition, Diane is a Community Liaison for the 13th Avenue School in Newark. President of the Diane L. Murray Insurance Agency, she was elected in November 2014, and is currenly serving on the  Hillside Township At Large Council seat in Union County.

Public Administration Professional

Shante Palmer is the Senior Vice President of Business Development at Trenton-based Capital Impact Group (CIG). Prior to joining CIG as Senior Vice President, Palmer served as Senior Projects Specialist for U.S. Senator Cory Booker. In her capacity as Senior Projects Specialist she acted as a liaison to federal, state, and local agencies, represented the Senator at public events throughout the state, maintained networks of contacts with organizations, legislators, and community leaders, hosted events, and formed effective relationships on behalf of the Senator.

Foundation Founder & Community Organizer

A native of Newark, Sara Pena graduated from Kean University and earned her MPA degree from Rutgers University. Her outstanding service as an Essex County employee has been honored with a Teamwork Award, and the Newark City Council’s Latin Heritage Month has honored her unwavering community involvement. A former fellow of the Leadership Newark, Sara recently founded the Boys to Leaders Foundation. She serves as a mentor at The Louise Spencer School and on the Board of Trustees for Roseville Community Charter School.

Attorney and Lobbyist

Grace Strom Power is an attorney at Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellot, LLC. She has extensive experience assisting clients seeking legislative and regulatory solutions navigate New Jersey government at every level including the Office of the Governor, New Jersey State Legislature, and numerous state and local regulatory bodies. Grace fostered her passion for public affairs and politics at Rutgers University.

Technology and business Executive

Carol Rizzo has had an extraordinary career as a technology and business executive. Carol is passionate about expanding economic opportunities for women and minorities, believing in the power of education and community support. Carol serves on the Neptune Township Zoning Board of Adjustment, the Economic Development Corporation and writes articles on economic and healthcare issues as a member of the Monmouth County Women’s Democratic Club.

Leadership Development & Customer Relations Professional

Jazmine Sandifer is a Manager at one of Verizon’s top Manhattan locations and Vice Preisdent of the Board of Education in Roselle, New Jersey.  Jazmine developed a program, “Project Professional” that enabled small business customers to attend a series of workshops that taught them how to integrate technology into their business in order to maximize productivity, profits and efficiency.  Jazmine’s role on the Board of Education, in addition to her successes in leadership development in corporate America enable her to prepare Roselle’s children for college, career and life.

Cross-Cultural Leader & Strategic Planning Professional

Erin Sweeney is a cross-cultural leader with experience leading employment and volunteer-based teams. She is also a former Foreign Service Officer for the United States Department of State. Erin currently serves as the Director of Strategic Initiatives and Executive Assistant to the Headmaster at St. Benedict’s Preparatory School. In this role, she is responsible for international recruitment and also directs the Board of Trustees through a strategic planning and restructuring process.

Non-Profit Professional & County Freeholder Board President

Timberlake is an experienced entrepreneur with knowledge related to grant writing and fundraising. She also has a background in leadership and contract negotiation. 
She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Essex Community Land Trust where she manages business, strategic, budget and program plans to help expand affordable housing. In this role she works closely with Essex County and the state government. in November 2014, Britnee was elected to the for Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders and is currently serving as its President.

Educator and Community Affairs Professional

Cathy Wilson, who is active in Morris Township community affairs, is a retired educator with more than twenty years working in the Arlington Heights School District in Illinois.  She worked as an Administrative Specialist in Curriculum and Instruction.  She trained mentors, new teachers, substitutes, and student teachers also directing all aspects of the district’s summer school. She is currently a candidate for the Morris Township Committee.

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