Sheila Y. Oliver/Speaker of the General Assembly

SHEILA Y. OLIVER SPEAKER, GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF NEW JERSEY Sheila Y. Oliver took the oath of office as New Jersey’s 169th Assembly Speaker on Jan. 12, 2010. Speaker Oliver is the first African-American woman to lead a legislative house in New Jersey. She is also, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, just the second African-American woman in American history to lead a legislative house, following Karen R. Bass of California. Speaker Oliver, who presides over the 214th Assembly, was first elected to the Assembly in 2003, and re-elected in 2005, 2007 and 2009. In the 2008-09 Legislative Session, she served as Deputy Speaker Pro Tempore, chaired the Human Services Committee, and served on the Higher Education and Labor committees. She served as Assistant Majority Leader in the 2006-07 Legislative Session. She represents the 34th Legislative District, which includes Clifton, East Orange, Glen Ridge, Montclair, and West Paterson. She co-sponsored the law creating the Department of Children and Families, and sponsored legislation signed into law that requires that the Department of Human Services report physical assaults and deaths at state psychiatric hospitals on its website and report deaths to the Public Advocate.

Mayor Wayne Smith/Irvington, NJ

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.

Assemblyman Thomas P. Giblin

Assemblyman Thomas P. Giblin, Deputy Majority Leader, is in his 5th year in the NJ Legislature. Assemblyman Giblin serves as Vice Chairman of both the Higher Education and the Regulated Professions Committees, and also is a member of the Transportation and Public Works Committee. Giblin served as an Essex County Freeholder for 10 years as well as being Essex County Surrogate for 4 years. A 9 year Essex County Democratic Chairman, Assemblyman Giblin served as Chairman of the NJ Democratic State Committee from 1997 to 2001. Assemblyman Giblin of Montclair has five children and 5 grandchildren.

Senator Ronald L. Rice

Senator Ronald L. Rice, who is one of the senior ranking Senators in the state of New Jersey, was first elected to the New Jersey State Senate, 28th Legislative District by special election. He was sworn into office on December 4, 1986 and has since been re-elected to four additional terms. The Senator has served as the Senate Assistant Deputy Majority Leader, the Assistant Deputy Minority Leader, the Associate Minority Leader and Vice Chair of the Senate Law and Public Safety and Veteran Affairs Committee. Senator Rice is a Vietnam Veteran who served in the United States Marine Corps from 1966 – 1970. He was discharged with the rank of sergeant, with several honors, an honorable discharge, and a good conduct medal. Over the years Senator Rice has lead the fight, sponsored legislation and supported legislation that has literally brought millions of dollars into his district. He has sponsored legislation to address the needs of early childhood education, daycare and special education; legislation that addresses the concerns of grandparents, legislation that address the crime and quality of life issues plaguing many communities.

Council President Mildred Crump

Mildred Crump was sworn in as Newark 's first African-American councilwoman in the city’s 336-year history on July 1, 1994, bringing a much needed perspective to that governing body. A long-time community activist, she has been a consummate and consistent advocate for women, children, senior citizens, the disabled, working families, and those in need. In July 2006, she was again sworn in as councilwoman at-large. And she again made history when she was elected as the first female president of the Newark Municipal Council. As a resident of Newark, Ms. Crump has been active in the following organizations:

Bob Pickett, Esq.

Bob Pickett is an outspoken, articulate and fierce competitor. Outstanding, fearless and very incisive are the words often used to describe Bob Pickett. He is not afraid to take on stupid opinions either from the left or the right. He tells it like it is. Bob has been an on-air personality & co-host for KISS-FM’s Award winning Sunday morning public affairs program, OPEN LINE (10 A.M. to 12 noon), along with Bob Slade and Grammy Award winning music legend, James Mtume, and KISS-FM’s Sunday evening weekly news (11 P.M.) Program, WEEK IN REVIEW, with Bob Slade, Charles “The CutMan” Etheridge, III, and Peter “The Flamethrower” Noel for fourteen years. . Bob is also the Executive Producer, Writer & Producer of KISS-FM’s The Legend Series and Producer for KISS-FM’s Soul Beginnings Show – a nostalgic look back at R&B music and the events that shaped the music - - which won the NY Metro A.I.R. Award for Best Evening Show in NYC ---the Show airs Sunday nights at 10 P.M. A Newark native, Bob Pickett has been an attorney for 36 years. He received his Juris Doctorate degree from the prestigious The University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor, Michigan and undergraduate degree with honors from the Honors College at Kent State University where he was active on the campus and President of the Student Government Association. Between Kent State and Michigan Law School, Bob served as an Aide to U.S. Vice President Hubert Humphrey in the White House during the summer & fall of 1968, assisting in the development of urban policy, youth empowerment programs and campaign advance political planning for the Vice President at the time. Bob is married to the Marsha Pickett. Marsha teaches art at Science High School in Newark. They have two wonderful daughters – Sara Elisabeth Pickett, a model and actress and a graduate of Wesleyan University in 2005; and Samantha Taylor Pickett, Esq., an attorney and budding producer with Universal Pictures / Focus Features in Los Angeles, California, and a graduate of Cornell University and Rutgers Law School where she served on the Law Review.

Tammeisha D. Smith

As Vice President and Partner at the Alamo Insurance Group, Inc., Tammeisha Smith is responsible for driving the growth and expansion of the Company, helping to propel Alamo to its current position as the leading certified minority-owned full service insurance brokerage firm in the country. In addition, Tammeisha manages the firm’s community outreach programs, which partners with communities and organizations throughout the country to bring affordable medical and prescription services to underprivileged areas. Prior to joining Alamo Insurance Group, Tammeisha was an Account Vice President and later the Vice President of Operations for the human resources outsourcing division at Brown & Brown, the 7th largest insurance brokerage firm in the world. She is a member of Project Re-Direct/Youth & Family Services, Inc., Advisory Board Tammeisha attended Fairleigh Dickinson University and completed her studies at Trinity College and University of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration. She resides in Warren County, New Jersey with her two children.

Ms. Tara L. Dowdell

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). Ms. Dowdell’s accomplishments have not gone unnoticed. In 2005, after being selected out of over a million applicants, she had the distinction of competing for a job with real estate mogul Donald Trump on the third season NBC’s hit reality show “The Apprentice.” Furthermore, she has been recognized by the NAACP, the New York Times, and the Political Action Committee, BALLOT, to name a few. 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.

Tanisha Riley

Tanisha Riley MA,CHES -A public health professional has worked as a Teacher, Researcher, & Director of HIV Programs. A graduate from Howard University/Columbia University she is on the NJ CERT Team and is a DV consultant for Purple R.E.I.G.N. She has an extensive background in prevention programming & non-profit management. Participated on the Board of Directors for Project Re-Direct/Youth & Family Services. Successfully completed six years. She assisted organization in raising funds independent of the other fundraising initiatives and recruiting youth volunteers for the EY2K Saturday Academy

Carleton K. Lewis

Carleton K. Lewis is an Operations Specialist in the Office of Field Policy and Management for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in Newark, NJ. At HUD, Carleton has carried many titles including Regional Coordinator of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, Freedom of Information Act Liaison, and Community Builder. He has worked with cities and counties throughout New York and New Jersey fostering the development of ten year plans to end homelessness; assisting Empowerment Zones, and Enterprise Communities (EZ/EC); providing technical assistance to Community Development Projects, Public Safety and Special Collaborative Initiatives. He has been an active participant in HUD's Faith-based Initiatives and was one of three New York HUD employees assigned to work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on the response to the September 11 attack on America. Before joining HUD, Lewis served as the Weed and Seed Director in Orange, NJ, and the Vice President of Operations at the United Way of Essex and West Hudson. He is a graduate of Fordham University and served for many years as a grant writer, management consultant, and college administrator.

Vivian Lanzot

Ms. Vivian Lanzot has dedicated her entire career to community development and civic engagement. Vivian holds a Masters in Administrative Science (MAS) from Fairleigh Dickinson University and a B.A. in Psychology from Rutgers -The State University – Newark Campus, as well as Certificates in Human Resources Management and Law and Public Safety Administration. With an extensive background in Volunteer Management, Vivian is a firm believer that community service and civic engagement are prerequisites for leadership. Currently, she is an Assistant Director for Career Development Services at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). In that capacity, she manages Community & Public Services for the University student community and serves as a liaison for non-profit organizations.

Rev. Willie C. Tolbert, Jr.

Reverend Willie C. Tolbert, Jr. Rev. Tolbert is Senior Pastor of Yes Lord’ Ministries, in Newark, NJ and CEO of New Dimensions CDC. He served on the Fairmount Super Neighborhood Organization and Co-Chaired the West Ward Collaborative Faith Based Initiative Workgroup. Rev. Tolbert believes in partnering with entities that endeavor to Restore Hope to our Community. New Dimensions CDC 605-611 Central Avenue Newark, New Jersey 07107 (973) 399-0416 E-mail:

Don Viapree

For the past twenty-nine years, Don has dedicated himself to working in the telecommunications industry in Newark, South Orange, Elizabeth, Hudson County, Passaic County, Morris County, Sussex County, Monmouth County and Mercer County. He has worked his way up from a door-to-door salesman to his current position as Director of Government Affairs for Cablevision. Don Viapree was born in Aruba, schooled in Jamaica and graduated from Bowling Green State University, in Ohio, with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration. He is married to Claudia and they have one son, Kwame, who is now 37 years of age. From the time of his childhood, he was active in organizations, their goals and direction. Currently, he is a member of several advisory boards, committees and organizatons. He has been the recipient of many awards, citations, plaques, certificates, proclamations and resolutions from: The New Jersey State Senate and New Jersey Assembly, The United Way of Essex and Hudson County, The City News, The Mayor of Newark, The Newark City Council, The Newark Arts Council, VH-1 Save The Music, The March of Dimes – North Jersey Chapter, The Newark School District, University of Medicine and Dentistry, Aljira Art Gallery, First Class Championship Development, Inc., BRAINY, United Caribbean African Alliance, Liberian Community of North Jersey, Inc, The Puerto Rican Statewide Parade of New Jersey, F.O.C.U.S. Newark, Inc., The South Orange Chamber of Commerce, Newark Emergency Services for Families, The African-American Arts and Heritage Committee of New Jersey, The Newark African-American Heritage Parade Committee, The Newark Public Schools, The City of Bayonne, Bayonne Youth Center, Project Re-Direct,

Lawrence Crump, ESQ

Lawrence Crump joined Cooper Levenson Of Counsel in 2006 and is the lead attorney in our office in Newark, New Jersey. Larry is a life-long resident of Newark and specializes in Real Estate, Zoning, Land Use, Personal Injury and Workers Compensation. His primary concentration is Zoning and Land Use. Larry has represented numerous developers (for profit and not for profit) before Planning and Zoning boards in New Jersey. He has also assisted clients in obtaining the necessary financing (i.e. Tax Abatements, Tax Credits, etc.) to complete their projects. Additionally, Larry has represented clients in the public sector, including housing authorities and other governmental agencies. Larry is involved, and speaks regularly, in various civic and religious organizations, including Bethany Baptist Church. Among his many other community activities, he is a Fellow of Project Leadership, a United Way program, and also a Fellow of Leadership-Newark. Larry is a former board member for the University Heights Charter School and previously served on the Community Advisory Board for United Hospital in Newark. He is the former Secretary for the Garden State Bar Association and former Chair of its Young Lawyers Division. Larry is the past president of the Northern New Jersey Morehouse College Alumni Chapter. While in law school, Larry served as the National Executive Director of the National Black Law Students Association, which presided over all Black law student associations around the country. Larry also completed a clerkship with the Honorable Judge F. Michel Giles, J.S.C. in Essex County. A graduate of Morehouse College (Banking and Finance 1991) and Rutgers University School of Law – Newark (J.D. 1998), Larry was admitted to the New Jersey Bar in 1999. He is a member of the New Jersey Bar Association and the Garden State Bar Association

Tharien F. Karim Arnold

THARIEN F. KARIM ARNOLD Tharien Franklin Karim Arnold is Assistant Director of Neighborhood Services for the City of Newark. Tharien was recruited to the City of Newark in 2006 and has since been dedicated in several management roles. Prior to his leadership in Public Administration Tharien has served an extensive career in education. After graduating Rutgers University in 1995 with his Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice he served as Vice Principal of Marist High School in Bayonne, New Jersey. Eager to return to the college arena, after 4 years Tharien signed on as an Academic Advisor at Rutgers University, Newark, Dean of Students Office. His leadership was beckoned in the Rutgers Business School in which he served as Assistant Director/Assistant Dean of MBA Student Services for Rutgers Newark and New Brunswick campuses. Tharien is a Newark resident and currently serving as a Newark School Board Member and District Leader in his community and Founder of Newark South Ward Community Collaborative. He is a Former: Board Member of: Project Re-Direct, Board Member at Essex County College Advisory Board Business Division, Served five terms as President of Rutgers Alumni Association and Member of 10,000 Mentors, Inc. of Newark. Tharien served our country for four years in the United States Army attaining Rank of Sergeant. . Tharien is currently enrolled in the Joint MA/PhD program in Urban Systems at Rutgers University, Newark. He is a recipient of the Greater Newark Conservancy 2008 Nelson Mandella Freedom Gardening Award, and Grace Reformed Baptist Church, Inc., 2007 Rising Star Award. He is married with two children.

Reuben Fryar


Mary Thompson

Mary has been employed with Hudson City Savings Bank for thirty eight years She is presently the Assistant Vice President/Manager. Mary received an Associate Degree in banking from St. Peters College , Jersey City, NJ. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education from Canon Bible College. She is a student of Faith Fellowship School of Christian Counseling. Mary is very involved in her church, New Vision Ministries,, in Plainfield, New Jersey. She serves in the position of Elder. Mary is one of the ‘groundbreakers’ who laid a solid foundation for Project Re-Direct/Youth & Family Services. She is one of the first board members who served a treasurer to the board. Mary’s commitment, dedication and experience helped to give Project Re-Direct its early direction. She is one of the pillars of this organization, and she continues to support its events and campaigns.

Earl Best - The Street Doctor

Born Earl Best on December 26, 1947, in Newark Beth Israel Hospital in the midst of a great snow storm. He is affectionately called the Street Doctor. The architect and the founder of the Street Warriors Inc., he is known for his leadership, compassion, wit, and organizational abilities. Spending 10 years in solitary confinement, reading one book a day prepared me for this mission. I counted 1759 Rice Krispies in a box just to keep my sanity; I learned to make every minute productive (86,400 seconds in a day). I promised God that if he let me out of prison, I would never look back regardless of what takes place in my life. Like the Apostle Paul, who was once a chief sinner and blasphemer of Jesus Christ, yet became one of his greatest convert, because he refused to be chained and shackled by his sins. I am not perfect nor am I without blemish, I don’t claim to be; having been to jail is not a badge of honor, but it is something I am not ashamed of. It was where most of the preparation for my mission took place 17 years. I studied and taught basic education to fellow inmates, Boxed and developed a boxing team, served as a social aide worker, a jail house lawyer helping other inmates get released; teaching and inspiring many inmates on learning how to read. I myself have written many essays, poems, thoughts and other writing materials, enough to fill up a room. Many great minds have come out prison like Nelson Mandela, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Detroit Red, known to us a Malcolm X. Parts of the Bible were written from inside a prison wall, out of adversity.

Christine "Roz" Samuels

Christine ‘Roz’ Samuels is a product of the Newark Public Schools. She was born and raised in Newark’s Iron bound section. People always talked about Newark; therefore she was on a mission to prove them wrong. Roz attended Drake Business School N.Y., Broadcasting School, and Emily Miles Meade Modeling School. Roz exemplifies Unionism and Union Solidarity. Her credentials are impressive. A former shop – steward at Weequahic High School, she served her members with strength and courage. She was also Vice President of the Newark Teacher’s Union for fifteen years. She was the first woman to be elected Secretary – Treasurer of the Newark Teacher Union in 1995. Roz gears her energy towards the constant struggle for ‘human rights’, workers’ right and job equality for all regardless of gender, race, or religious beliefs. Roz was a super-delegate from NJ to the democratic convention in 2008. She was the first delegate to switch her vote to President Barack Obama in February 08.

David E. Berry, III

David is a native of Syracuse, NY, has earned a DMA at The Juilliard School where he was a pupil of Martin Canin. While at Juilliard, Mr. Berry has also studied chamber music under Jacob Lateiner and Jonathan Feldman. Before entering the doctoral program, Mr. Berry earned his Masters in piano performance from the Juilliard School and Bachelors from the Eastman School of Music, where he was a student of Douglas Humpherys. As a first prizewinner of the 2007 Bradshaw and Buono International Piano Competition, he recently made his Carnegie Hall debut in the Winners’ recital at Weill Hall. Mr. Berry has also been a prizewinner in the Thousand Islands International Piano Competition and has been heard live on WQXR New York Times Radio in the Nights in the Garden of Spain concert series hosted by author David Dubal. Some of his recent performances have also included appearances, as both soloist and chamber musician, at the Gateways Music Festival, the Kosciuszko foundation’s Chopin, George Sand and Their Circle concert series, the Redhouse and the La Jolla Presbyterian Church Concert Series in California. An avid learner, Mr. Berry is a lifetime member of the Golden Key International Honor Society. While he was a student at the Eastman School of Music, he was the 2003 recipient of the prestigious Links Scholarship for Academic and Artistic Excellence and graduated with high distinction. In addition to his academic pursuits, Mr. Berry has also served as a teaching fellow in class piano at the Juilliard School since 2006. His passion for education has also led him to bring classical music to students in both elementary and high schools in performance/lectures as well as work with summer music camps for middle school and high school students. Mr. Berry and his wife, Jennifer, currently reside in Manhattan.

Martha Chavis

Martha Chavis, M.A Ms. Chavis has over 30 years work experience with nonprofit organizations providing heath, education and social services. A native of Philadelphia, Ms. Chavis attended the City's best public schools as well as graduating from Beaver College with a B.A. in psychology and education. She completed her graduated work at Temple University in Developmental Psychology and taught as an adjunct faculty in the Department for 10 years. Ms. Chavis is also a long-time (33 years) adjunct faculty member in Behavioral Sciences at Community College of Philadelphia. She is one of only a few long-time African-American Behavioral Sciences faculty teaching at the college who in addition is in high demand by the students.

Georgia McClester

Martha Chavis, M.A Ms. Chavis has over 30 years work experience with nonprofit organizations providing heath, education and social services. A native of Philadelphia, Ms. Chavis attended the City's best public schools as well as graduating from Beaver College with a B.A. in psychology and education. She completed her graduated work at Temple University in Developmental Psychology and taught as an adjunct faculty in the Department for 10 years. Ms. Chavis is also a long-time (33 years) adjunct faculty member in Behavioral Sciences at Community College of Philadelphia. She is one of only a few long-time African-American Behavioral Sciences faculty teaching at the college who in addition is in high demand by the students.

Maurice J. Brown

Maurice J. Brown is an External Affairs Director for Verizon – New Jersey and specializes in urban development. Brown is responsible for carrying out Verizon’s commitment to New Jersey’s urban communities and helping to ensure that many of its distressed areas are better equipped for economic recovery through access to new technology. His responsibilities include community relations, local government affairs, economic, consumer, educational initiatives and media relations. Brown’s primary focus, however, is corporate philanthropy and public policy. Additionally, he works to enhance the state’s ability to attract and retain jobs and industries through Verizon’s workforce initiatives. He attended Newark College of Engineering, now known as New Jersey Institute of Technology, majoring in Electrical Engineering with a minor in Mathematics. In 1970, Brown co-founded the Black Association of Students Engineers (BASE), located at NJIT. In his honor, BASE established the Maurice J. Brown Scholarship Fund in 1993. Brown also has completed advanced management programs at the Wharton School of Business and Boston College. Maurice raised his daughter, Chekesha, as a single parent and interestingly enough is now raising is grandson, Kahron, as a single grandparent.


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.”