We are living in a time of rapid changes: some foreseeable, others unexpected. Real estate booms, technological innovation, workforce shifts and changing social norms – these are just some of the many transformations we could imagine coming as we moved into a new decade. But then we have 2020, a year that has been anything but predictable. A year marked by a global pandemic forcing a “new normal” on social behavior, mass marches in the streets for racial justice, and widespread unemployment & economic uncertainty like we haven’t felt in decades. These are a lot of changes to contend with – but more importantly, they are not felt the same way by everyone!
Newark is one city, but it beats with the blood of more than five generations. How can we communicate shared goals and values, especially if the tools we use to communicate are not the same? How can we keep together as a united community despite being affected by changes in different ways? How do we make sure that people of all ages benefit from advancements and are supported in times of struggle? Join us on November 7th as Leadership Newark hosts its first ever virtual Public Policy Summit “Boomer to Gen Z: An Intergenerational Commitment”.
Reflect on the experience at a virtual table talk with unabashed, outspoken representatives of five generations followed by local entertainment
(1A) Building Generational Wealth
This workshop will highlight the impact of building a nest egg to be carried on through familial legacies. Learn about vehicles that could help advance the financial healthy of a household and overall management of your assets. If you are persistent you will get it. If you are consistent you will keep it! Join us to gain insight.
(1B): What’s New?
Newark finds itself as a leading city on the cusp of innovation. While it provides equitable opportunities for individuals, businesses and the community, tapping into new and emerging technologies is changing the way we live, work and do business. This session provides insights into what makes Newark an ideal center for innovation, what’s currently in the pipeline and the vision for the future.
(2A): Inclusive Investing to Support Every Generation
As a real estate boom permeates the city of Newark, small business owners, families and artists ask: What does equitable economic development look like? This session will discuss inclusive, equitable and just approaches to real estate investment as a tool for economic growth that honors community cohesion, encourages intergenerational commitment and fosters a sense of belonging during and after the 2020 pandemic.
(2B) The Unique “You” at the Table
Professionals across practically every field may be familiar with “D.E.I.” – Diversity, Equity and Inclusion – designed to open up dialogue around differences and create spaces that reflect the unique nature of individuals. How do we show up unapologetically as our authentic selves and own our unique voices in the spaces we occupy and the policies we inform?
(3A) Organizing in the Modern Era
From protests to hashtags, we examine modernizing forms of grassroots initiatives as they relate to influencing changes in public policy. Join us as we discuss redefining the community’s role in effectuating change. We will also highlight the evolution and importance of civic responsibility for brands, movements, and the community at large.
(3B) Crucial Conversations
How do we facilitate conversations that transcend generational barriers, especially in the “new normal”? Join us as we discuss how to raise difficult conversations about evolving norms & expectations regarding major life transitions – like college searching, job hunting, promotion and retirement. How can we best leverage technology, social media and modes of communication to host inclusive, inviting and productive conversations?
Cap Off – Intergenerational Conversation
Panelists representing four generations come together to answer pressing questions of today!
Andrew Binger is an actor, director, arts administrator and educator from Newark, NJ. Andrew is the Artistic Director of Yendor Theatre Company (YTC) after co-founding the organization with his mentor Rodney Gilbert. YTC is dedicated to developing, producing and celebrating works by Black and Brown writers. As artistic director, Andrew launched YTC’s Summer Theatre Initiative, designed to bring theatre directly into the neighborhoods of Newark. He directed the inaugural production, If I Could, In My Hood, I Would… by David Lee White, with productions at the Newark Riverfront, Lincoln Park & The Soundstage at Clinton Avenue.
A firm believer in the power of collaboration, he has fostered partnerships with the Newark Public Library, the Newark Museum of Art, Ironbound Community Corporation, the City of Newark, Rutgers Newark among others. Other notable directing credits include workshops/ readings of Tiers by Grammy and Tony nominee, reg e gaines, She Like Girls by Chisa Hutchinson, Red Rooster by Pia Wilson and Lines in the Dust by Nikkole Salter. As an actor, Andrew has performed at venues including Two River Theatre, Green Space NYC, Hudson Guild & the North Carolina Black Repertory. Memorable credits include Sam in the world premiere of Down Neck, Shorty in the world premiere of Caged and Dr. Martin Luther King jr. in Katori Hall’s masterful, The Mountaintop.
Andrew spent 7 years as a history teacher. Building on his experience in the classroom he delivered his first workshop on the impact of mentorship, Helping Black Boys Achieve, at the Schools that Can National Forum in 2019. In summer 2020 he helped Marco Learning develop an antiracism workshop series and presented sessions on diversifying curriculum and creating inclusive classrooms. Andrew is a graduate of Leadership Newark and the Victoria Emerging Leaders Program (VELP) through the Rutgers Institute for Ethical Leadership.
He is currently spearheading the movement to have more reflective, inclusive theatre experiences in the City of Newark, for the City of Newark. Through his work in the arts and education, he strives to amplify the voices of those that have historically been denied opportunity and access, in turn, creating a more equitable, inclusive and vibrant society.
BYHAZE "The Architect of Healing Sounds" is a creative content entrepreneur dedicated to the progression of his community through sonic healing, visual evolution, and artistic philanthropy. BYHAZE emerged onto the scene gifting audiences with his ocular narratives as not only a model, but a photographer/ photojournalist. While in front of the camera BYHAZE effortlessly emits black boy joy, black boy style, and the black boy imprint on popular culture.
BYHAZE has been featured on a wide variety of publications such as Vogue, Afro-Punk, Essence, Allure and many more. BYHAZE has headlined noted venues such as The Delancey, NuBlu 151, The Knitting Factory, NJPAC and the legendary SOB's. BYHAZE's artistic lifestyle is heavily influenced by Ubuntu, a South African philosophy that wants for a world to prioritize human kindness and compassion above all else.
BYHAZE put this theory into practice, when he joined forces with femcee Jewell to create Hip-hop/R&B duo The Ubuntu Theory. This Duo, known for records like Chill Day and colorful performances that so eloquently blend the matriarchal and patriarchal vitality.
BYHAZE released his highly anticipated mitxape Clarity. This is an all encompassing body of work that details his journey to understanding. His grasp on healing, his Caribbean consideration for rhythm & blues, and the emotional intelligence needed to create a work that is honest and pure to his story. His combination of strong visuals that pay homage to the Black Atlantic culture and magnetic live performance experiences, BYHAZE reassures his audience of their personal creative power. BYHAZE is dedicated to the multi-dimensional efforts it takes to create so passionately for himself and intentionally for his fans.
Leah approaches most questions as if they are 50 percent math problem and 50 percent art project. Her training at the intersection of social psychology and law taught her that facts are rarely altogether factual, answers are seldom black and white, and the most fascinating explanations happen in that gray area in between. It's a mess in there, but it's worth it.
Georges is an assistant professor in Creighton University's doctoral program in interdisciplinary leadership, where she challenges herself and her students to explore complex, real-world problems and create data-driven and interesting solutions. As a leadership and research methods professor, Georges has been recognized as an award-winning educator and advisor by her students and peers.
Aisha serves as the Vice President of President & CEO of 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.
Ms. Glover has over 15 years of experience as a convener, champion and agent for economic empowerment and social justice. She most recently served as the President & CEO of the Newark Community Economic Development Corporation, where she led the city's bid to attract Amazon's second headquarters, strengthened the small business ecosystem, introduced innovative programs that provided resources to women and minority entrepreneurs, supported over $4B in real estate development and led the attraction of corporations and businesses to the city.
Prior to joining the Newark team, Aisha served as the VP of External Affairs at the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, the nonprofit organization that manages the city-owned Brooklyn Navy Yard, a national model for urban industrial development and job creation. There, she helped establish an exhibition and visitors center, oversaw strategic partnership development, community engagement, public affairs and fundraising and played a key role in supporting the Yard's growing economic development initiatives. Ms. Glover's impact there was informed by her tenure at the Center for the Urban Environment, New York City's largest provider of environmental education programs. There, she led a team that furthered the Center's environmental justice and education initiatives, helped create a local chapter of the nationally-recognized Small Business Alliance, and was instrumental in launching Green Brooklyn, the borough's first and largest sustainability event.
She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Hunter College of the City University of New York, a Masters of Public Administration from Baruch College of the City University of New York and an executive leadership certificate from the Columbia Business School, School of Social Enterprise.
Lawrence Hamm has been a relentless advocate for African-Americans and the cause of human rights and civil rights for all oppressed people for more than 48 years. He is currently a
U.S. Senate candidate for New Jersey.
Raised in Newark New Jersey, he attended public schools and emerged at age 17 as a forceful and articulate spokesperson for the educational needs and aspirations of Newark students and the community. He was appointed to the Newark Board of Education, making him at that time the youngest voting school board member in the United States.
He received his bachelor's degree and graduated cum laude from Princeton University in 1978. While at Princeton University Larry was an organizer of the campus anti-apartheid movement. He organized daily student protests and a sit-in of more than 200 students calling attention to Princeton’s financial investment in apartheid South Africa. These protests, and the rising tide of public indignation, resulted in Princeton University’s divestment in the apartheid South African economy. His impact as a student activist at Princeton is chronicled in the documentary film, “Blacks at Princeton.” He was given the honor of Addressing the United Nations Special Committee Against Apartheid. Upon graduation, he received various awards at Princeton for his activism and humanitarian efforts. He also has a master's degree in business administration.
After graduation, Mr. Hamm returned to Newark and has been active in the struggle for human and civil rights for more than 30 years. He has served as president of the 24th District Assembly, founder and director of the People’s Energy Cooperative, a community fuel oil cooperative, Director of the Community Organization Program of the United Church of Christ, Commission for Racial Justice, a leader in the New Jersey Anti-Apartheid Coalition, co-chairman of Jesse Jackson's presidential campaign in New
Jersey, president of the New Jersey Rainbow Coalition, coordinator of the Malcolm X Commemoration Coalition, chairman of the New Jersey Million Man March Coalition, and president of the New Jersey Chapter of the Conference of Minority Transportation
He is a founder and current Chairman of the People’s Organization For Progress (POP), a statewide, independent, grass roots organization. POP works for racial, social, economic justice and peace. As Chairman, he has consistently worked toward building
unity among community organizations. The struggle for quality education, employment opportunities, access to health care and against racial profiling and police brutality continues through the efforts of its Chairman and the activism of the organization’s
members. Under his leadership, POP conducted a 381-day campaign of daily protests for jobs, peace, equality, and justice. Currently, he has been leading POP's Justice Mondays protests against police brutality at the federal building in Newark every
Monday for the past 100 weeks.
Larry Hamm is quoted in the press, and interviewed on television and radio. His activities have also been discussed in several books including Nation Within A Nation by Komozi Woodard and Crashing The Party by Ralph Nader. He has appeared in documentary films, including "Revolution 67" which focuses on the 1967 Newark Rebellion.
Over the years he has received many leadership and service awards. More recently in 2015, Mr. Hamm received the Key To The City Of Newark from Mayor Ras Baraka. In 2016, he was a National Education Association Human And Civil Rights Award Winner, receiving the organization's Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Award. In 2017, he was placed on "The 2017 INSIDERNJ 100: Power" list of influential people in New Jersey. In 2018, he was included on InsiderNJ’s African-American Political Power List In Honor Of
Black History Month. Also, in 2018 he was the recipient of the Congressman Donald M. Payne Jr. Black History Month Award. In 2019, he has been included on "The 2019 INSIDERNJ 100: Power" list. And he has once again been included on InsiderNJ’s
African-American Political Power List In Honor Of Black History Month. Mr. Hamm is in demand as a public speaker and has addressed audiences throughout the United States and in other countries. He is the proud father of three daughters, Laini, Nia, and
Imani, all of whom are college graduates.
Natay Hayes is an active real estate agent, investor and business owner. As a first year agent Natay was awarded “Rookie of The Year” and “Million Dollar Sales Club”. To date she’s sold over 8M in real estate. As an investor she currently owns several multi-family units in Essex County. Providing safe and clean housing to urban residents and communities.
Natay is a proud Scarlet Knight. While studying at Rutgers, Natay competed on the Track and Field team and went on to double major and graduate with her B.A., in Labor Studies and Psychology. Human Resources background by profession, Natay worked at several Fortune 500 companies: Panasonic, Public Service Electric & Gas (PSEG), Siemens Corporation, Amerada Hess, and Schering-Plough to name a few.
As an avid proponent of building wealth through real estate she has since created Diva Keyz, LLC where she mentors beginner real estate investors and first time home buyers. Just two years young the company has helped over 30 families secure wealth through real estate. The company just created their first 1M portfolio owner. Currently the company is expanding into building residential buildings in the state of Ohio.
Natay along with two college friends founded S.O.C.E. (Sisters of Collective Economics) where they teach home ownership, important financial habits and wealth principles to students as young as 6 yrs old.
In her free time she enjoys running, working out and traveling. Her travels took her abroad for 7 consecutive months. Trekking through 16 different countries across Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Natay is a 2014 Leadership Newark alumnae. She was born and raised in the Bronx is the oldest of 3 siblings and loves sweet potato pie just as much as she loves stamping her passport.
Atiya Jaha-Rashidi, RN, has more than 20 years of experience leading and coordinating community outreach initiatives at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and CHoNJ where she held numerous leadership roles most recently serving as Director of Special Projects.
Ms. Rashidi has also served as Director of Clinical Engagement of the Community, Director of Patient Experience, and Interim Vice President of Community Relations. Most notably, she worked as the program administrator for the Hire Newark Employment Ready Boot Camp initiative, created by Newark Beth Israel and RWJBarnabas Health as part of Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka’s city-wide Centers of Hope initiative. This extremely successful program creates job opportunities for Newark residents, and fosters economic growth and income stability in the City of Newark.
“Newark Beth Israel has always been committed to diversity and inclusion, and Atiya Jaha-Rashidi has demonstrated a steadfast dedication to that part of our mission. Under her leadership, we look forward to continued success, increasing access to care for all residents of Newark and its surrounding communities,” said Darrell K. Terry, Sr., MHA, MPH, FACHE, President and Chief Executive Officer, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of New Jersey.
Atiya is a Registered Nurse and received her Bachelor of Science in Public Health Administration from Rutgers University.
Spring Lacy is VP, Learning & Assessment and Lead for the Prudential Skills @ccelerator. As a part of the Future of Work Capabilities team, she is responsible for leading a culture of continuous learning and development to prepare employees for the changing demands of the business. Prior to this role Spring was VP, Learning & Development for Prudential’s Global Finance Community where she oversaw learning, early talent development and engagement efforts. Spring joined Prudential in 2013 as VP, Corporate & Community Engagement. In this role, she led team responsible for identifying opportunities and driving programs and projects that address critical social needs while meeting business objectives. Spring provided leadership for signature company programs including The Spirit of Community and Prudential CARES.
Prior to her arrival at Prudential, Spring served as the Vice President of Employee Engagement & Volunteerism for JPMorgan Chase. In that role, she developed employee engagement opportunities in local markets around the world, provided consultancy to over 70 volunteer leadership groups and trained over 1,000 global coordinators.
Her accomplishments include developing and launching a successful coaching and mentoring program for volunteer leaders to help develop their leadership and professional skills, and designing and implementing new technology responsible for the disbursement of over 5,000 grants totaling over $3.5 million dollars annually. She also managed the firm’s employee giving campaign and the volunteer grant and matching gift programs.
Spring has experience in the government and nonprofit sectors having served as a Special Assistant at the Election Assistance Commission in Washington, DC and as the Director of Strategic Community Initiatives for Central Jersey Community Development Corporation. She also has a wealth of experience in human resources having served in various roles at NBC, Anderson Consulting and Merrill Lynch.
Spring earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Spelman College and a Master of Public Administration degree from New York University’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Administration. She serves the community as Vice Chair of Lead NJ and as a member of the board of the Taproot Foundation.
Calvin R. Ledford Jr. is President of the PSEG Foundation and Director of PSEG Corporate Social Responsibility. In this role, Mr. Ledford has oversight of the philanthropic areas of corporate citizenship: volunteerism, corporate giving and the Foundation’s programs operations. Prior to this role, Calvin’s over 30-year career at PSEG has allowed him to work extensively with communities and stakeholders all across our service territory.
The PSEG Foundation has been named one of the state's top foundations by New Jersey Monthly Magazine. It is the philanthropic arm of PSEG and an established 501(c)(3) charitable organization, prioritizing investments in the environment, safety, emergency preparedness and disaster relief, STEM education and workforce development, diversity & inclusion, and the communities served by PSEG. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, PSEG and the PSEG Foundation supported the efforts of the health care community and organizations that support vulnerable groups, committing $2.5 million to support medical, social and economic needs of New Jersey communities. In June 2020, PSEG and the PSEG Foundation announced the launch of the new Powering Equity and Social Justice Initiative, which includes a $1 million commitment to support organizations that address equity, racial injustice and human rights in communities of color.
Mr. Ledford is very active in the community. He serves as chairman of the Newark Regional Business Partnership. He is also a board member of the Foundation of University Hospital, Education Foundation of the League of Municipalities and Leadership Newark. Mr. Ledford is a graduate of Hampton University. He is also a distinguished alumni of Leadership Newark and Lead New Jersey.
Andrea McChristian is the Law & Policy Director at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice ("NJISJ"). In this capacity, she leads the implementation of the strategic vision and the direction of the law and policy program. Andrea oversees the programmatic function of the Institute’s three pillars of social justice: democracy & Justice, economic justice, and criminal justice reform. Prior to becoming Law & Policy Director, Andrea served as the Director of the Criminal Justice Reform initiative and was the primary author of Bring Our Children Home: Ain't I A Child, which forms the basis of the 150 Years is Enough campaign. Andrea's writing on juvenile justice and racial justice has been published in the Star Ledger, the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, and NJ Spotlight.
Before joining the Institute, Andrea served as a Litigation Associate at the New York office of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson ("Fried Frank"). During her time at Fried Frank, Andrea worked on complex commercial litigation and pro bono cases.
Andrea is a 2008 graduate of Yale University, graduating with distinction in the major of Political Science. At Yale, Andrea served as co-President of the Yale NAACP, co-reactivating the chapter after a years-long absence from campus. After graduation, Andrea joined Teach for America, teaching Head Start for two years in the Las Vegas Valley. Andrea then attended Columbia Law School where she participated in the Challenging the Consequences of Mass Incarceration Clinic, interned in Auckland, New Zealand as part of the law school's Human Rights Internship Program, and interned at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. After graduating from Columbia Law School in 2013 as a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar, Andrea clerked for Chief Judge Petrese B. Tucker of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
As a native and resident of Newark, NJ, Shennell McCloud serves as the Executive Director of Project Ready and has successfully channeled her experiences to become a social activist, empowering hundreds of New Jerseyans to take on leadership roles in their communities.
As the leader of Project Ready, Shennell has worked to close the opportunity gap and improve life outcomes for Newark’s children by empowering her community to demand excellence from local schools. Her work is centered on growing the base of local voters, mobilizing the voting base to turn out at local elections, and developing future leaders to improve the city’s schools and its future. In the last year, Shennell organized the 1,000 Newarkers Vote By Mail campaign to increase Newark’s turnout, and successfully advocated for the passage of bills to allow New Jersyans to register to vote online and expand access to mail-in ballots.
Shennell is also the co-founder of the New Jersey Parent Summit - an annual event dedicated to bringing together change-makers from across New Jersey. Since its inception in 2016, the event has seen its 400+ total parent attendees grow into elected officials, leaders of nonprofit organizations, and powerful grassroots advocates. It has demonstrated that when change-agents come together to advocate for our children and communities, there is nothing that they cannot accomplish.
For seven years, Shennell supported and directed recruitment for the KIPP Schools in Newark. Shennell officially became Director of Recruitment in 2011, where she led and developed a team of seven recruiters. The team was responsible for the recruitment and selection of over 300+ employees. In July of 2014, Shennell became KIPP NJ’s Director of Advocacy.
In 2019, Shennell organized the 500 Princess Dolls for 500 Princesses giveaway. Bringing life to a vision she’d held since the birth of her daughter Avon in 2016, she managed to procure 500 dolls in three different shades of brown, and gave each one to a young girl in Newark. Recalling the fact that her own childhood lacked female role models who looked like her, Shennell wanted each black and brown girl to know she is a princess, and to have a doll that reflects her boundless beauty and innate power.
Shennell and her husband live in Newark, where they are raising their two children: Avon and Adonis.
A strategist, creative designer and self-described culture broker, Medina sits at the center of Newark’s rapidly growing innovation ecosystem. He is a respected champion and connector whose legacy work is in the empowerment of multicultural founders.
“Technology saved my life,” says Medina, who was exposed to coding early growing up in Brooklyn, New York. He earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Fairleigh Dickinson University and began a career as a graphic designer and art director before becoming a visiting professor at Rutgers University.
In 2008, the hustler co-created design haus MEDINA = CITI, an agency that led campaigns for Hershey’s, Foot Action, Xbox, Pepsi and a number of other disruptive brands. Through his work in Creative Strategy Medina helped corporations see the value in cultural equity.
“Anyone can experience success by being their best self. It was such a personal revelation at the time and now I want to pass this on,” he says.
Medina achieves this today through his role as founder of EQUAL SPACE, the largest Black/Brown-owned co-working space in Newark. Since 2014 it has been a culturally affirming environment that creates opportunities for startups and techies to wealth build and win.
No stranger to building inclusive spaces, Medina joined forces with other local LGBT business owners to establish the NJ LGBT Chamber of Commerce, an organization devoted to economically empowering LGBTQIA-owned companies and harnessing the community’s combined $3 trillion in buying power.
Outside of all this, Medina is an advocate for health and fitness and explores his passion for design through the creative outlets of photography, social media and blogging for his platform www.citimedina.com. There, he shares his love of all things visual and writes glowingly about his adopted city of Newark.
Siree I. Morris graduated from Rutgers University in 2005 with a degree in Civil Engineering. He then worked for Edgewood Properties as a Site Design Civil Engineer. Among his list of titles, Mr. Morris surveys, grades, and designs storm sewer systems, utilities and landscaping. He has designed for clients such as Walgreens, Barnes & Noble, Costco, Pathmark, Wegmans, Bed Bath & Beyond, Lowes, The Home Depot,Wachovia, Chase Bank and Stop & Shop. While designing various developments, Siree began to understand the importance of sustaining the marketability of a development through adequate property management and quality construction. In a targeted effort to create a vertically integrated firm, he strategically incorporated MCI Construction Services, LLC. to provide General Contracting services, and to self-build his own developments. Next, he incorporated MCI Property Management to manage his portfolio of properties. Lastly, Mr. Morris co-founded real estate development firm, Ascension Capital Partners I to acquire multi-family housing and commercial real estate to develop. Due to the success of his real estate portfolio, Siree has been able to venture into other business industries. Most recently, he and his wife, Ayana are the owners of Newark Moonlight Cinema, New Jersey’s first Black-owned Drive-in movie theater.
Dr. Bahiyyah Muhammad is an Associate Professor of Criminology in the Department of Sociology at Howard University (HU) in the District of Columbia (DC). She is an expert on mass incarceration and the collateral consequences on families, spefically focused on resilience among children of incarcerated parents. Her recent work explores the culture among families and children who maintain bonds during long-term imprisonment and death by incarceration. Her future research agenda includes ethnographic methodologies to uncover the "culture of mass incarceration".
For more than a decade, Dr. Muhammad has been conducting groundbreaking research on the children of incarcerated parents and the consequences of parental incarceration on children. Dr. Muhammad has done hundreds of interviews with affected children and parents in the United States, Uganda, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates. She has published research on the impact of parental incarceration - from witnessing a parent's arrest by police to the physical and emotional separation resulting from actual incarceration - on children, their parents, and familial bonds, as well as children's success stories.
A’Dorian Murray-Thomas is the Founder and CEO of SHE Wins Inc., a leadership and social action organization for middle and high school girls in her hometown of Newark, New Jersey. A’Dorian founded SHE Wins to serve young women who share her story of losing a loved one to gun violence, and today, the organization has served more than 500 girls in the greater Newark area. A’Dorian has been recognized as a President Obama White House Champion of Change, Glamour Magazine “College Woman of the Year”, a Young Futurist in “The Root” Magazine, and was featured in ESSENCE Magazine’s “Black Girl Magic” docuseries. A’Dorian recently made history where at 23 years old, she became the youngest woman ever elected to the Board of Education in New Jersey’s largest school district. A’Dorian is a 2016 graduate of Swarthmore College and holds a B.A. in Political Science and Educational Studies.
Khalil AC Nassiruddin is a demonstrated strategic planner with cultivation and relationship management skills. An exceptional team leader adept at collaboration, Khalil has proven expertise leveraging his network of public/government officials, community leaders, and organizations at all levels. His daily work is driven by community centric development.
In early 2019, Khalil launched The Ridgeland Group, LLC (TRG) where he serves as Chief Strategy Officer. TRG is a company of innovation that provides clients strategic message development, community engagement, diversity & inclusion training and public resource capacity. Formed to offer specialized services to for-profit entities and not-for-profit organizations, TRG is well informed and positioned to respond rapidly to a broad range of project needs in organization, community, and economic development. The Ridgeland Group is devoted to finding the necessary synergy, strategic points of leverage and valuable collaborations to make each client’s project successful.
Khalil’s passion for protecting the legacy of communities is inherent; he was raised in an extremely civic and politically active family. Throughout his career, Khalil has developed the ability to work well with varied stakeholders, especially in a project management capacity. His knowledge of small community centric groups coupled with long-standing relationships with leadership of community organizations has shaped his innovative approach to community engagement. Khalil served for four years as Chief of Staff for Newark Councilwoman Chaneyfield Jenkins. There he directed outreach and external relations with community advocacy groups, non-profits, and the Newark corporate community. His time included leading strategic initiatives to develop and engage all segments of the constituency, facilitating policy development on economic development, senior relations, communication and health and human services.
A highlight was his work to develop and advance the passage of Ordinance -2211: A new Article 12 Newark Anti-Sexual Harassment Policy. Prior to his work in Newark government, Khalil held the role of Special Projects Director and later Director of Community Partnerships at Babyland Family Services. He was charged with establishing substantive community relationships with stakeholders and government entities. Mobilizing community partners to advance the organizational mission, Khalil played a pivotal role during the organization’s resurgence. He, along with the dedicated team at Babyland, secured a $500,000 congressional appropriation to construct and program a state-of-the-art community computer center and later a playground.
Khalil holds a Bachelor’s in Political Science and Master’s in Human Services Administration. Khalil is thrilled to continue supporting people and organizations that speak to his core principles: collective advancement, community development and people building. He lives, works and plays in the great city of Newark.
Taseen Peterson is a Newark Tech Entrepreneur and Founder of Gamefuly, a 2019 Voice Summit Award Finalist and Techstars backed voice-powered social media platform for gamers. Prior to founding Gamefuly in 2018, Taseen was the founder of TapFactory Apps a mobile development agency rated by Inc. Magazine as “One Of The 16 Coolest College Startups In America” and Notefuly, a SXSW National Startup Competition winner with more than 4.5 million downloads. In addition to running Gamefuly, Taseen operates an Innovation studio that assists local governments and non-profits with Digital Transformation, Community Engagement, and Data Strategies, Lectures Undergraduate students at Rutgers Newark within the Data Science Minor Degree and holds a 2nd Degree Black Belt in the traditional Japanese Martial Art of Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu. Taseen earned his Undergraduate Degree in Economics at Seton Hall University in 2014 and grew up in North Newark where he currently resides with his 12yr old daughter who is a Left Mid for the Ironbound Soccer Club.
Ladell Robbins is the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Investment Officer of Invest Newark, a NJ nonprofit corporation focused on inclusive economic development in the City of Newark, NJ. In these dual roles, Ladell is responsible for the financial well-being of the organization and mobilizing capital to support small businesses in Newark.
Prior to joining Invest Newark, Ladell was a Principal with African Capital Alliance (ACA), a private equity fund manager where he was responsible for Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) and Agribusiness investments. He led the investments into Beloxxi Industries Limited, one of Nigeria largest producers of cream crackers and Daraju Industries Limited, a leading manufacturer of laundry and personal care products. Ladell drove the firm’s target of investing at least $100m in FMCG and Agriculture businesses out of its current US$570 million fund CAPE IV. Additionally, Ladell served on the ACA Executive Committee which oversaw all aspects of the business and actively supported the firm’s expansion plans outside of Nigeria.
Ladell has over 20 years of experience in financial services in North America, Europe and Africa and has completed a variety of M&A, ECM, DCM and principal investment transactions. Ladell’s previous experience includes managing his own investment and advisory firm, BlueSky Partners LLC, which primarily focused on real estate and agribusiness investments in West Africa. During this period, he also provided leadership support to Doreo Partners, a Nigerian agriculture investment and advisory firm. Ladell has also worked in the investment banking departments of Renaissance Capital (London and Lagos), Credit Suisse (London), J.P. Morgan (New York) and the M&A department of Lucent Technologies (Murray Hill, NJ). Ladell has successfully originated potential investments and advisory mandates with an aggregate value of over $20 billion throughout his career.
Ladell holds a B.A. in Economics with a Minor in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Morehead Scholar) and an MBA from the Harvard Business School. He serves on the Board of Directors of Daraju Industries Limited and is a former Director of both Beloxxi Industries Limited and Dolce M8 Holdco (Mauritius). Ladell is the current Treasurer of the Harvard Business School African American Alumni Association and the previous Vice President of the Harvard Business School Association of Nigeria. Ladell enjoys running and has completed seven marathons and one ultramarathon. He was the inaugural Social Chair of the Road Warriors Fitness Club.
Business development and marketing propelled Ernest to the top of the business world in the early1990’s. Ernest started his career as a computer salesman for NCR Corporation where he sold Sea-Land Services, Inc $20M in hardware, software and professional services in over 14 countries in a three-year span. Ernest’s first business venture as an entrepreneur was Ruff’s Deli in Newark, NJ (1990). He then went on to start East Coast Sports Management Group (1995) where he provided marketing and management services to NBA and WNBA basketball players. He secured the number 1 (Joe Smith), 10 (Kurt Thomas) and 14 th (Eric Williams) picks of the 1995
NBA Draft as clients and the number 1 pick (Yolanda Griffith) of the 1999 WNBA Draft and quickly became recognized as the marketing professional to the stars for securing commercials, endorsements and sponsorship for his clients and their marketing programs.
Ernest added, a social media network for entrepreneurs www.hoodeconomix.co to connect entrepreneurs and allow them to market their companies globally in 2008. HoodEconomix member base is growing at a 20% mark each year and is updated by his students at Rutgers University.
Ernest hosted a Hip Hop Business Summit at NJ PAC in Newark, NJ September 2008 over 100 young people attended with many questions regarding starting and operating a business. Young Entrepreneurz Organization or YEO, now doing business as Young Entrepreneurz Solutions or YES because of trademark infringement issues. YES is a 501c3 non-profit organization teaching 6 – 12 th grade students how to turn their ideas into business plans working in teams in the summers also started in Newark, NJ. YES Business Plan Challenges are currently in 23 cities nationwide and in St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands. YES is an award winning program teaching 6 – 12th grade students the foundation of entrepreneurship and skills training in culinary, barista and carpentry. www.yngentrepreneurz.org.
Ernest is also an award-winning Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at Rutgers University in New Jersey where he brings real business experiences and lessons learned to the students at Rutgers and several of his students have gone on to start amazing companies. Ernest has an undergraduate degree in Accounting from Bloomfield College in New Jersey and an MBA from Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina. He has three children Victoria, Ghylian and Ernest III.
Halashon Sianipar is a Software Engineer at UTRS Inc. He has a B.S. in Computer Science from Rutgers University and an M.A.T. in Mathematics from Montclair State University. He has worked in software for 16 years with the majority of his career working in software testing and quality assurance. He transitioned to software development a few years ago to continue to expand his skill set and grow professionally.
Halashon is a LN Class of 2013 Alum and a former high school math teacher in Newark.
Kevin E. Taylor (Senior Pastor of Unity Fellowship Church Newark) and has been in ministry nearly 25 years, where he has stood for social justice from his pulpit and around the world. He's appeared on radio with Rev. Al Sharpton many times and has been featured on shows like OUT IN HIP HOP (VH1), America's Black Forum (WHUT), Evening Exchange and many other news and entertainment programs.
He is a lecturer and empowerment speaker, who has spoken at colleges, universities and community groups and has conducted a cadre of empowerment and enriching creative writing, television and development workshops for the last 25 years as well.
Kevin E. Taylor is also a noted author (JADED, UNCLUTTER, BECAUSE HE LIVES, IT’S TIME FOR SOME ACTION, ENVY: the darkest shade of green, GET OFF YOUR ASS AND DO SOMETHING and MEET THE HENDERSONS) and award-winning TV producer, who worked with the likes of Natalie Cole, Stevie Wonder, Lena Horne, Aaliyah, B2K, Brandy, Maxwell, Tina Turner, Patti LaBelle, Luther Vandross, DMX and many others during his nearly 3-decades-long career.
He has interviewed, produced and helped to shape the careers of many of music's finest icons and young superstars with such shows as ACCESS GRANTED, LYRICALLY SPEAKING and TESTIMONY, while producing some of BET's most successful specials.
Taylor recently released his own autobiography, titled NEVER TOO MUCH: this is my story of big words, big dreams and an audacious big life! He will soon release his latest empowerment work SELF-ISH: GET FULL OF YOURSELF, WITHOUT GUILT! and a new novel (“MOMMA, PLEASE!”).
Junius W. Williams is a noted attorney, educator, musician and community advocate. Williams is the founder of RiseUp North Newark, an interactive website that tells stories of the Black Resistance Movement, community building and black politics. Recently, Williams has served as the chairman of Newark Celebration 350, the organization that has planned and financed more than 200 activities to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the city’s founding.
Williams is also the founding Executive Director of the Abbott Leadership Institute (ALI), at Rutgers University-Newark, where he taught advocacy skills to parents and professional educators. Williams is the youngest person elected President of the NBA. As NBA President (1978-79), he presented a critique of the proposed constitution for the African Nation of Zimbabwe to the United Nations. His administration was called "The Year of Affirmative Action", in support of affirmative action in the wake of the Bakke case.
Williams was the first President of the modern day Young Lawyers Division. As an attorney in Newark NJ, Junius Williams successfully represented Rev. Jesse Jackson in the historic court decision making it possible to cast one vote for the presidential candidate and all of his delegates in New Jersey in 1988.
He has held positions such as the Director of Community Development and the Model Cities Program for the City of Newark (1970-72), and the University Heights Development Corporation (1988-93). As advocate, planner, administrator and developer, he is responsible for the construction of more than 2000 units of housing in Newark. Junius Williams served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Greater Abyssinian Baptist Church (1990-2003), and the Education Law Center (2000-2005). He was an Official Observer at the first South African National Election in 1994. In addition to his advocacy, Williams is an accomplished musician. He is co-founder, business manager and performer with the singing group, “Return to the Source.” As a writer and producer, he has created multi-media productions performed before local and national audiences.
Williams holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Amherst College and a Juris Doctorate from Yale University Law School. He has two daughters, Camille and Junea, and two sons, Junius and Che. He is married to Dr. Antoinette Ellis-Williams.
Kareem Willis is a dynamic scholar, activist and proud member of the LGBTQ+ Community. As a doctoral candidate currently enrolled in the School of Public Affairs and Administration at Rutgers University- Newark, Kareem is learning how to harness his passion for social advocacy, justice and empowerment for the betterment of the lives of other persons. Through his research, Kareem explores the underlying social equity and social justice issues and concerns (broadly defined) within Public Administration, Public Management, and Non-profit Management, Leadership and Philanthropy. As a nonprofit enthusiast, his focus is on researching methods that nonprofit organizations and others charged with fulfilling the public good can deploy to better maximize their impact. The essence of his work serves to strengthen disempowered and disenfranchised individuals and communities by providing access to and creating spaces and resources that will help them realize their limitless potential. His work afforded him a nomination for the Them Cloud Kids Ubuntu Awards in the “Love Is Love” category and was the recipient of the “Rutgers University Clement A. Price Human Dignity Award” as well as the “JanHerman Veenker Leadership and Vision Award” from Circle of Friends.