Councilman Donald M. Payne, Jr./City of Newark

Newark Municipal Councilman-at-Large Donald Payne Jr., a lifelong Newark resident, comes from a family of distinguished individuals dedicated to public service, including his father, the esteemed Congressman Donald Payne, Sr. Payne Jr. started his career in public service as a teenager, when he founded and became the first president of the Newark South Ward Junior Democrats. While studying graphic arts at Kean College (now Kean University), Payne went on to serve as president of the South Ward Young Democrats and advisor to the YMCA Youth in Government Program. In 1990, Payne took a job at the New Jersey Highway Authority in the tolls division. During his tenure with the Highway Authority, Payne suffered a back injury that forced him to seek less physically demanding employment. In 1996, he started working at the Essex County Educational Services Commission as a school bus monitor and eventually worked his way up to the position of supervisor of student transportation, a position from which he is currently on leave. Payne has been a South Ward district leader for 20 years. Also serving as Essex County freeholder-at-large, Payne seeks to provide the people of Newark and Essex Counties with continuity between county and municipal governments in an effort to minimize bureaucratic red tape and expedite crucial services needed by the people. As councilman-at-large, Payne has faithfully championed the issues of his constituency, and he also sits on the Health, Education and Recreation Committees of the Newark Municipal Council. Payne also is a member of the Board of the Newark Watershed and Preserve Our Legacy, Inc., a nonprofit organization whose mission is to increase awareness and education within the minority community about the benefits of adult stem cell research. Donald legislative priorities are affordable housing, children's issues, health issues, and economic and workforce development. He hopes that the Payne legacy of political participation will continue to thrive through his triplets Donald III, Jack, and Yvonne.

Modia Butler Chihef of Staff to Cory A. Booker

Modia "Mo" Butler is the Chief of Staff to Cory A. Booker, Mayor of the City of Newark, New Jersey. In this capacity, Butler is responsible for enacting Mayor Booker’s mission to ‘establish Newark as a national model for urban transformation’, on a daily basis. His responsibilities include, but are not limited to: managing special projects, facilitating and coordinating the work of all city departments, ensuring the successful implementation of the mayor's policies, and serving as a community liaison. Prior to becoming Chief of Staff in 2008, Butler served as Co-Chair of Cory Booker's 2006 mayoral transition team. Since 2006, Butler has served as the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners for the Newark Housing Authority (NHA). During his tenure, Butler has radically improved the $100 million agency's performance, removing it from the federal HUD “troubled list”. From 2003 to 2008, Butler served as the President and CEO of Newark Now, a civic leadership and empowerment organization, which services thousands of Newark residents annually. Under his leadership, the organization raised millions of dollars in support funds, financially and logistically nurtured community groups like the Newark Comprehensive Center for Fathers and the Family Success Centers, and implemented successful initiatives like the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, which benefited more than 3,000 Newark families annually. Prior to that, Butler led the Do Something after-school program as its first Executive Director. Under his direction, the program expanded its reach from 17 to over 60 schools and more than tripled its budget, turning it into Newark's largest youth development agency at the time. Butler is also a former board member at the Brick City Development Corporation (BCDC), an economic development catalyst for the City of Newark. Butler has received the Bank of America Neighborhood Excellence Award, the Gustav Heningburg Civic Fellowship, the Newark Little League Larry Doby Award, the Freedom Foundation's Best Men's Award, the Leadership Newark 2008 Distinguished Fellow Award, among others. He has also been featured in the Sundance Channel's Brick City television show for the past two seasons, and has been named to Politicker NJ's “Power 100” List in 2009 and 2010. Butler holds a Bachelors Degree from Franklin and Marshall College and a Masters Degree in Public Policy from the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers-New Brunswick.

Artie N. Collins/P.N.C. Bank

Artie N. Collins has established a reputation in the banking industry as one of the leading executives in the northeast region. She has risen to attain distinction among her peers with a proven record of career achievement, underscored with extensive years of experience in operations management, sales, marketing and community development activities. During her exceptional career, Ms. Collins has developed expertise in several disciplines including: community development, new product introduction, strategic planning to increase earnings/market share; compensation, incentives and performance evaluations; setting sales goals; event sponsorship; budgeting and forecasting and sales/service training and development. Currently, Ms. Collins serves as Vice President, Community Development Consultant for PNC Bank. She joined PNC Bank in 1998. Her responsibilities include: strengthening customer relationships through calling efforts on existing and prospective non-profits clients. While reviewing community partnerships she is responsible for identifying opportunities for community development loans (affordable housing, economic development, community/social services and revitalization projects) and investments. She works in partnership with community groups and the PNC branches within the Low to Moderate census tracts to deliver financial education classes.

LaVar Young/Newark Now

In October 2010 LaVar Young was tapped by Newark Now’s Board of Directors and its Founder Cory Booker to be the President and CEO of Newark Now. In his capacity as President, LaVar oversees the daily operation and budget of 3.5 million dollars and overall direction of Newark Now. Newark Now was founded in 2003 to provide Newark residents with skills, tools, and support to transform their neighborhoods. Prior to becoming President of Newark Now, LaVar served as Director of Fathers Now at the Newark Comprehensive Center for Fathers. During his time at Fathers Now, LaVar was instrumental in bringing national attention to Fathers Now for its exceptional outcomes with fathers in transition. Participants are men who have lost their jobs and homes, or who are re-entering the workforce following incarceration and seek to assume greater responsibility for and contribute to the lives of their children. During the past 8 years LaVar has held leadership roles for several Newark based organizations. Recently LaVar was highlighted in the “I AM NEW JERSEY” profile by the Star Ledger for his work in the City of Newark, and was invited to the White House for a round table discussion on fatherhood initiatives with President Obama. This past January LaVar received the Martin Luther King Visionary of the Future Award from the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. Fathers Now have been featured on CNN’s Building up America, USA Today, and Man Up, a documentary on a Fatherless Nation.

Jessica Ballew/Investor Savings

Jessica Ballew, Branch Manager of the Morris Plains Branch of Investors Bank has over 20 years experience in the Banking Industry beginning her career with First Union National Bank in Florida in 1990. She has had the opportunity to work in various positions in the Retail Branch Banking Division, and has assisted in the growth of many branches, both in Sales and in helping those on her team move along in their career path. At Investors Bank, Jessica focuses on Business Development, assisting those just launching their dreams as business owners to those looking to expand their business and take it to new heights. Her close relationship with her clients has also resulted in her partnering with them through each stage of their business and becoming their trusted financial consultant, offering a unique banking experience and value to her clients. Jessica resides in Sparta with her three children; Ivan, Jasmine and Alex. She is active with youth community services and owns her own company “J.E.S.S.I.C.A. Cares”, assisting at risk teen girls and is currently writing her first empowerment book. Jessica is a Senior at Berkeley College, majoring in Business Management. Jessica is a member of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce, serves on the Steering Committee for Women In Business, member of the Education and Professional Development Committee for the Chamber, Vocational Trainer for Jersey Battered Women’s Service, Community Relations Board member of Impactful Women’s Association, Corporate Committee Board member for Project Re-Direct and Financial Director for Purple R.E.I.G.N.

Shavar D. Jeffries

Raised by his grandmother, Shavar D. Jeffries grew up in the South Ward of Newark, New Jersey. He attended Seton Hall Preparatory School, after receiving a scholarship from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Newark. He then graduated from Duke University, after serving both as President of the University’s Black Student Alliance, and as a member of the university’s board of trustees. From there, Shavar went to Columbia Law School, where he clerked for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and graduated with several academic and public-interest honors, including recognition as a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar, Paul Robeson Scholar, and recipient of the Jane Marks Murphy Prize for excellence in civil-rights advocacy. After law school, Shavar clerked for federal appellate judge Nathaniel R. Jones, a former NAACP General Counsel who helped to integrate America’s public schools in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s Brown decision. Shavar then worked as an associate with the law firm of Wilmer Cutler & Pickering in Washington D.C., where, he defended the University of Michigan in affirmative-action litigation challenging its undergraduate and law-school admissions policies; represented Black farmers who for decades had been denied farming loans by the federal Department of Agriculture because of their race; and represented the NAACP and ACLU in defending federal affirmative-action programs expanding opportunities for women and minority businesses to obtain procurement contracts.

Mike Di'Bianco/Accounting Alternatives

A CPA with extensive experience with a wide range of small businesses and individuals throughout New Jersey and the surrounding area since 1986. Liaison between clients and government/commercial enterprises such as the IRS, many states, attorneys, banks and insurance companies. Flexible - Willing and able to be a total solution or a team player. Focused on development of services for small businesses to enable them to devote time and energy to growth and delivery of products and services. Specialties Small business accounting system development and implementation. Income tax planning. Payroll and sales tax compliance. General small business consultation

Anthony Caldwell/UNCF New Jersey Area Development

Mr. Caldwell is the New Jersey Area Development Director for the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). UNCF is the nation’s oldest and most successful minority higher education assistance organization in the U.S. In this capacity he is responsible for finding major gifts by identify funding opportunities with foundations, organizations, individuals and corporations. He has P & L responsibility for the office that handles the state of New Jersey. Previously, Anthony was the Northeast Regional Director for the United Negro College Fund supporting the effort to raise funds from the corporate workplace. His responsibilities included working with Area Development Directors located in Boston, New York, Newark, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. to support their fundraising activities. Mr. Caldwell has been with UNCF for the past six years.

Joyce Wilson Harley, Esq./Executive Director of Administrative Services for Essex County College

Joyce Harley is an attorney specializing in community development, economic development, and public policy initiatives. She is the new Executive Director of Administrative Services for Essex County College having recently served as the Essex County Administrator appointed to the post by Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo in March, 2005. The County Executive made history by appointing Joyce the fist woman ever to the hold the position. Prior to joining Essex County, Ms. Harley served as the Executive Director of the Newark Downtown District, New Jersey’s largest Special Improvement District. She is an honors graduate of Douglass College and Rutgers Law School. She has won many awards for her work as the Director of Community Development for First Union Bank and Fleet Bank in New Jersey where she held the corporate title of Senior Vice President. Joyce has taught courses on Community Development and Leadership Development as an adjunct professor at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. She designed, developed, and taught 2 courses on The Harlem Renaissance for the Montclair Adult School. She currently serves at a Visiting Associate at Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institute of Politics in New Brunswick, NJ. Ms. Harley’s lifetime of extraordinary achievement in academic, social, and business endeavors was recognized in 2008 when she was inducted into the Rutgers University African American Alumni Alliance Hall of Fame. In 2009 she was invited to serve on the University’s Board of Trustees where she currently chairs the Committee on Buildings and Grounds.

David Webb/Master of Ceremonies

David Webb - SiriusXM Talk Show Host, Television and Radio Commentator David has been entertaining and informing the public for over 20 years. David appears frequently on radio and television: Fox News Network, Fox Business Network, CNBC, WWOR-TV, across America and internationally. David has been featured in print by the Associated Press, NY Post, LA Times, Tribune Newspapers and many more. He is the co-founder of the American Forum now broadcast on SiriusXM Patriot, the Black Forum and Black Republican Forum. Active in politics on the local and national level, David co-founded TeaParty365 in New York City, a non-partisan, non-profit advocacy group for fiscal responsibility. He is the spokesman for the National Tea Party Federation. In September 2010 David was named to the Newsweek Inside The Tea Party Top 10 and in November 2010 in’s Satellite Radio’s New School of Conservative Talk Stars.

Mayor Wayne Smith/Honorary Chair

Promoting an aggressive agenda for the rebirth of the Township of Irvington, Wayne Smith was elected as the 20 th Mayor of the municipality in May 2002. His entire slate of council candidates—known as Team Irvington—was also elected, sealing the mandate for his leadership. Mayor Smith’s tenure has been characterized by bold, innovative leadership that has yielded significant progress for the Township of Irvington. His most noted accomplishments are: initiating the formation of the Anti-Crime Partnership that includes the NJ State Police, local, county and federal agencies; securing the $4.4 million agreement to rebuild the Irvington Bus Terminal, which opened in April 2005; demolishing dozens of dilapidated, abandoned properties to pave the way for redevelopment; and drastically increasing code enforcement that has resulted in about $1.5 million in fines of neglectful property owners. His outstanding stewardship has not only delivered tangible results but high hopes for the future revitalization of Irvington. In a nod to his undeniable popularity and the affirmation of the advancement of the Township of Irvington, Mayor Smith ran unopposed for a second term in May 2006 and assumed office in July 2006. He is the first chief executive of Irvington to accomplish the feat since Mayor Robert H. Miller in 1978. In November 2006, Mayor Smith was installed as the president and chairman of the 24-member NJ Urban Mayors' Association.

Councilman Ron C. Rice/Honorary Chair

Councilman Ron C. Rice has worked in a variety of public policy arenas for over 20 years having served as a Law Clerk in the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office and as a Law Clerk to a Superior Court judge in the Essex County Vicinage. Ron has also served as a Policy Analyst at the New Jersey Department of Education and wrote the regulations for implementing the Abbott decision that enabled the Newark school district to receive millions in additional funding for universal pre-school and classroom teaching. He also served as a spokesman with the state Department of Education.

Tara L. Dowdell/Chair of the Host Committee

Tara Dowdell is a highly accomplished political and business strategist. She is the Founder and Principal of the Tara Dowdell Group, a boutique communications and strategic advisory firm. Propelled by her work ethic, passion, emphasis on results, and extensive professional network, the Tara Dowdell Group has cultivated an impressive list of clients ranging from an award-winning real estate development firm to an Economic Development Corporation (EDC). In addition to her consulting practice, Ms. Dowdell is a noted commentator and speaker. She appears regularly on the Fox News Channel where she provides insight and analysis on a range of political, governmental, and business issues. Most recently, she received the “Outstanding Community Service Award” from the child advocacy nonprofit organization, Project Re-Direct. Ms. Dowdell is also very active in her community. She serves on the Steering Committee for the Center for American Women in Politics “Ready to Run” Conference and is a Trustee on the Board of the Partnership for a Drug Free New Jersey. She is also a member of Bethany Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey. Ms. Dowdell is a graduate of the University of Virginia with a BA in Government.


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