John E. Harmon, Sr.
John E. Harmon, Sr., IOM has served as the Founder, President and CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey, since 2007. Prior to his sixteen year career as a chamber executive , Mr. Harmon was previously employed at The Bowery Savings Bank in New York City where he managed the bank's Residential Real Estate Department overlooking major mortgage loan transactions; and Chemical Bank where he managed third party loan originations for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. While working at Chemical Bank, Mr. Harmon established The Affordable Housing Loan Program. Following his banking career, Mr. Harmon founded a transportation company in 1989, called Harmon Transfer, Corp. The company transported food stuff, perishable commodities, and produce throughout the Northeast United States and Canada. Harmon first acquired an interest in Business and entrepreneurship firsthand, while watching his father run Harmon Trucking, Inc. in Trenton, NJ. John Harmon also serves as the Regional Vice President of New York and New Jersey for the National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) (2008), and is the Founder and Chairman of the New York State Black Chamber of Commerce (2011). Additionally, Mr. Harmon is a Board member of The National Black Chamber of Commerce (2001), the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce (2013), and a former Board Member of the American Chamber of Commerce Executives. Lastly, he is a member of The US Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100 (2002). There are 150 Affiliate Chapters of the NBCC and over fifteen international affiliates.
Dr. Kevin R. West /Superintendent of Schools Roselle Public Schools
Dr. Kevin R. West was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey to the late Joseph and Mary Lou West. He is the second of three sons. Married to Mary E. West, together they have two beautiful daughters: Latisha and Arielle West. They also have two phenomenal granddaughters: Mikayla and Jailynn. Kevin is a proud product of the Newark Public Schools where he graduated from Barringer High School in 1978. He continued his education at Seton Hall University earning a Bachelor’s Degree with honors in Elementary Education in 1982, a Master’s Degree with honors in Educational Administration & Supervision in 1984, and a Doctor of Education Degree from Nova Southeastern University in Educational Leadership in 2003. Kevin also attended and completed the Princeton University Principals Center for Educational Leadership in 1994, the Harvard University Institute for Educational Leadership in 1985 and the Yale University School Development Program in 2001. Dr. Kevin West worked for the Irvington Public School District from 1982 – 2005 in several different capacities: Teacher at Union Avenue School from 1982 – 1989, Assistant and Acting Principal at Grove Street School from 1989 – 1991, Vice Principal of Irvington High School from 1991 – 1992, Principal of Augusta Street School from 1992 – 1995, Principal of Thurgood Marshall School from 1996 – 1999, and Principal of Chancellor Avenue School from 1999 – 2005. Kevin also worked in the Newark Public School District from 2005 – 2010 as Principal of West Side High School, Executive Assistant to the Superintendent, Associate Superintendent of Special Programs, and as the Assistant Superintendent of Special Programs, overseeing 15 departments. More recently, Dr. West served as the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction for the Roselle Public School District 2010 – 2011. He was promoted to Superintendent of the Roselle Public Schools on October 27, 2011 and is currently serving in that capacity.
Wendell Steinhauer/NJEA President
Wendell Steinhauer, a high school mathematics teacher in Riverside public schools, is president of the New Jersey Education Association. Steinhauer previously served as NJEA’s vice president and secretary-treasurer. He was elected to a two-year term as president effective Sept. 1, 2013. Prior to becoming an NJEA officer, Wendell held many posts in both the Riverside Education Association and the Burlington County Education Association and served as president of both associations. He has also served at the national level as an NEA Director. Wendell’s focus as NJEA president is on running an efficient, effective organization that advances the interests of members by advocating and working for great public schools for every New Jersey student. A graduate of Clarion State College in Pennsylvania, Steinhauer holds a Bachelor of Science degree. He and his wife Mary, an elementary school teacher in Riverside, have three grown children. Steinhauer has taught and coached in Riverside for 27 years.
Oronde Anthony Smith, MD
Oronde Smith was born in Queens, New York. He graduated from NYU School of Medicine in 1998 and successfully completed an emergency medicine residency program in 2002 from Bellevue Hospital Dr. Smith has held numerous prestigious positions throughout his career. He is currently the interim medical director of an ED in New Hampshire. Dr. Smith is also currently the music minister and an associate minister at the Gethsemane Baptist Church in West New York, NJ. Dr. Smith resides in Virginia. He is happily married and has one daughter.
Dr. Janice Johnson Dias/President of The Grass ROOTS Community Foundation
Dr. Janice Johnson Dias is the President of The Grass ROOTS Community Foundation, an anti-poverty and wellness organization that develops, supports and scales community health programs for women and girls who experience poverty. Johnson Dias holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Temple University with a specialization in urban and political sociology. She completed her postdoctoral study at the University of Michigan, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, and National Poverty Center. Johnson Dias has extensive experience working with a wide array of human services agencies across the US.
Michael Gray/Director of Constituent Services and International Liaison to Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr.
Michael Gray is a resident of Newark, New Jersey, he holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Seton Hall University, an MBA in Information Technology from New Jersey Institute of Technology and a doctorate student at Northeastern University specializing in Law and Policy. Gray has completed the Jurisdictional Crisis Emergency Management Training in Emergency Operations Decision- Making and Information Management sponsored by the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX). Michael Gray serves as the Director of Constituent Services and International Liaison to Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr., of the 10th Congressional District of New Jersey. Prior to this, he served as Chief of Staff to Hon. Donald M. Payne, Jr., President of the Newark Municipal Council and At-Large Member of the Board of Chosen Freeholders of the County of Essex, New Jersey. In his official capacity, Michael administered the affairs of the Council President of the largest city in the state of New Jersey, and managed the affairs of the Freeholder-At-Large in the second largest county in the state. He was also a mentee of the late Congressman Donald M. Payne Sr. Chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health. Gray is a notable community organizer and fighter of social justice. He is an advocate of numerous national and international causes. Through the office of Congressman Donald M. Payne, Sr., Gray has advanced good governance, educational and health policies and practices for the benefit of Africans, African-Americans and Caribbean peoples. He continues to help spearhead humanitarian assistance efforts for the people of Haiti, Ivory Coast, St. Lucia and other nations with a major presence in New Jersey.
Marleen Tredy-O’Connor/ Principal of Kenmare High School
Marleen Tredy-O’Connor is a native of Jersey City, New Jersey and a graduate of St. John’s University with both a BA and MA and also New Jersey City University with a second MA. She started her formal career in education in 1975 as a teacher in New York and then moved on to teach in Jersey City. During the next 17 years, she taught all subjects including the Junior High School Gifted and Talented program with her area of concentration being in Mathematics and Science. School, Supervisor of Guidance with Princeton Regional Schools, and District Director of Guidance and Assessment with Keyport Public Schools. This period of her career was in public education and covered a span of 35 years. Marleen then retired from public education but continued her career in the private sector as the Principal of Kenmare High School where she has been for the last five years and is presently employed. While her career in education has always been her focus, her related interests in science included being an executive member of the Young Astronauts of NJ, a member of the NASA/ NEWEST program, program presenter and coordinator of various aerospace programs and Science Coordinator for the Monmouth County Girl Scouts. She has also worked closely with the DARE program as a trainer, coordinator of programs, and program presenter. Marleen’s interest in education in her career and her community also brought her to serve for a number of years on the Hazlet Board of Education and where she held both the office of Board Vice President and Board President. Marleen’s diverse background in many educational and related programs includes development of curriculum for effective classroom instruction, coordination of the standards to daily instruction, and a vast array of implementing and evaluating assessments that include individual, district and program appraisals. To date she has been a member of two Middle States accreditation teams for high schools in the North East region. Marleen resides in Hazlet New Jersey and is married to Wayne O’Connor, a retired Captain for the Jersey City Fire Department. They are the proud parents of two daughters who presently both reside in the Nashville, Tennessee area. Erin, age 30, is owner of a marketing and promotion company, Spitfire Promotions, and Courtney, age 21, is a senior and an honors student at Belmont University.
Mrs. Remi Christofferson/Principal of Marion P Thomas Charter School
As an elementary school student in Petersburg, Virginia and as a secondary student in Plainfield, New Jersey, Mrs. Remi Christofferson knew early on that a career in education was her destiny. After completing her undergraduate degree at Rutgers University, Mrs. Christofferson continued on to earn a Master’s in Education from St. Peter’s College and is currently a Doctor of Education candidate at Kean University. Prior to joining the staff at Marion P Thomas Charter School, Mrs. Christofferson was an educator within the Plainfield Public School District. Within her tenure, she received the distinguished honor of Teacher of the Year as well as being the elementary literacy coach at Woodland Elementary School. As elementary principal of Marion P. Thomas Charter School, Mrs. Christofferson implemented the first Preschool and Single-Gender Program (SELECT) within a charter setting. She was responsible for receiving a grant from NJDOE for the implementation of Positive Behavior Supports in Schools (PBSIS) and the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. Mrs. Christofferson is the Scholarship Chair for the non-profit organization, Members of a Responsible Society (M.R.S.) Incorporated of Plainfield, New Jersey. Over the past 75 years, the organization has awarded over 160 scholarships to Plainfield High School students. She is a mentor through the NJ Leaders 2 Leaders Program, a member of the Board of Trustee for the Boys and Girls Club of Union County, Phi Delta Kappa member (Hillside Chapter) and a Core Team Member in the New Members’ Ministry at Agape Family Worship Center (Rahway) . Outside of professional interests, Mrs. Christofferson is extremely in love with her daughter Ava and husband Daniel. In her spare time, they relax, travel and enjoy each other’s company. To Mrs. Christofferson, family is the most important aspect of her life. She credits her mom, sister and grandparents for helping to keep her grounded
Dr. Alfred Davis
Dr. Alfred Davis received his Doctorate from New York Chiropractic College (NYCC). He went on to receive an additional 400 hours of Sports Injuries training and is a Diplomat of the American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians. He is also a Diplomat of the American Academy of Pain Management. He is certified to perform Manipulation under Anesthesia and has served on the medical staff at Montclair Community Hospital and Meadowlands Hospital Center. Dr. Davis is a member of the ACA Council on Sports Injuries and Roentgenology. He is also the past president of the American Black Chiropractic Association, the New Jersey State Board of Chiropractic Examiners, and the CCE. He has been in practice for over 33 years. He lives with his wife and his son in Montclair.
Taleana Williams Hurst
Inspiration: I’m the mother of twin boys and one is autistic. It was difficult finding an aftercare/recreation program while we worked. 2006-Advocated/Due Process for the multiple disabled classroom in Plainfield District and succeeded. 2009- Documentary for Children’s Specialized Hospital “Make Friends with Autism” sponsored by Kohl’s Cares 2010 and 2012–Parent Panel Speaker at Children’s Specialized Hospital Symposium 2012-2014--Parent Panel Speaker for “Navigating through the Journey for Children’s Specialized Hospital. 2012 -2013 -- WallynZavy’s Autistic Kids Workshop for summer. 2013—Formed WallynZavy’s Autistic Kids Can Do! LLC 2015--WallynZavy’s Autistic Kids Can Do! Inc. is now a nonprofit organization sponsored through Rutgers Law Clinic. **WallynZavy’s Autistic Kids Can Do! is also involved in helping other organizations and participating in Community Events as well, that are on our website: WallynZavys.com
Pat Balavender, of South Orange, New Jersey is a philanthropist and investor. For 35 years, she served in the luxury, watch and jewelry business, as a creative strategist and manager. Her life’s course is a testament to the idea that what the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve. Having retired in 2007 due to a series of investments, Pat has spent the last decade supporting entrepreneurs and faithfully serving and donating to at-risk children’s organizations. She is an active participant in the New Jersey newspaper Local Talk, and has served as a sponsor and judge at the Community Foundation High School Public Speaking Competition. A great event and party planner, Pat opens her home regularly to support worthy causes. At the crux of her humanitarian efforts are a humble spirit and a love for people. Given Project Re-Direct’s transformative interventions in New Jersey, Pat enthusiastically accepts this honor and looks forward to supporting this wonderful organization in the future.
Our Vision is to ‘Save the lives of children and Re-Direct them towards healthier lifestyles; while developing productive men and women who will pursue a better quality of life.”