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NJCDC Board of Trustees Gathers for Retreat

NJCDC Board of Trustees Gathers for Retreat

June 6, 2023

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On Wednesday, May 31st, NJCDC's Board of Trustees met for a nearly all-day meeting to tour NJCDC facilities, meet our program participants, and undertake discussions regarding planning for NJCDC's strategic direction in the years ahead.

The weather cooperated as trustees boarded a van that took them to a number of destinations. The first stop was our Paterson Family Center preschool, where trustees listened to our three- and four-year-old students sing. From there, trustees walked to our Independence House, which is a residential program for 10 young men who have aged out of the foster care system and need additional support to make a successful transition to adult life.

The next stop was our Community Charter School of Paterson, where trustees were greeted by CEO Dr. Curtis Palmore and Madeline Paneto-Gonzalez, Principal of CCSP's Elementary Campus. Trustees visited a few classrooms to observe instruction and briefly chat with some of the scholars.

Barclay Place, the new 56-unit apartment building constructed in partnership with St. Joseph's Health, was the next destination. Trustees toured the building, which is designed to provide housing to individuals with chronic health conditions and provide them with supportive services to prevent their cycling in and out of the emergency room. When the group arrived at Unit 305, they were able to sit in a fully-furnished showcase apartment (with furniture donated by AvalonBay) and witnessed first-hand the first-class living arrangements that residents have begun to enjoy. They also enjoyed checking out the views from the rooftop terrace!

320 Main Street was the home of the First Presbyterian Church of Paterson, originally constructed in 1852. After Barclay Place, trustees went inside the historic church and saw its breathtaking sanctuary. They also heard from NJCDC staff about plans to transform the entire church property into a new venue for youth-serving programming.

No tour of Paterson would be complete without a stop at the newly-refurbished Hinchliffe Stadium. Don Buckley, NJCDC's Board Chair and Market President for TD Bank, was especially pleased to see the large TD sign adorning the outfield's wall!

The last stop was NJCDC's Great Falls Youth Center, where trustees met a number of our former and current students who use the youth center. They explained how it represents a safe place for them during non-school hours, and how staff assist them—and push them—to reach for the stars. The students also heard from trustees (many of whom grew up in Paterson), who talked about their roles and their own experiences.

When trustees returned to NJCDC's headquarters, they heard from three former students who utilized NJCDC's Great Falls Teen Center—and who just completed their freshman years at some of the best universities in the country. Isabella Gonzalez (Harvard), Juan Marrero (Johns Hopkins), and Stefany Morales (University of Pennsylvania) spoke about growing up in Paterson, the struggles they faced, and the optimism they now have after succeeding as freshmen at their prestigious institutions. Trustees asked them thought-provoking questions, and there was a good conversation about our youth-serving programs and ways in which NJCDC provides support for college access and college success.

The final portion of the day was an intensive discussion about NJCDC's new Neighborhood Plan, and how it will form the basis for a new organizational strategic plan. The Neighborhood Plan is the product of an 18-month process with local residents and stakeholders and represents our organization's ambitious plan for our place-based work. Trustees heard from NJCDC's senior team members about different areas of potential focus for a new strategic plan and offered good suggestions for ensuring that the plan is impactful and able to measure success.

Upon receiving a framed poster of Hinchliffe Stadium (which NJCDC had commissioned to celebrate its rededication), the meeting was adjourned, and trustees left with a much better understanding of our day-to-day work here at NJCDC, our impact in Paterson, and ways in which we can have an even more productive future!

Bob Guarasci, NJCDC's Founder and CEO, observed "NJCDC is very fortunate to have such a caring and dedicated Board of Trustees. I was proud to show our Board some of our work—work that they make possible—and to witness their enthusiasm for our mission and our impact. We're very fortunate to have such as talented governing body." Don Buckley, NJCDC's Board Chair, stated that "the board retreat represented an opportunity for the board to see NJCDC's work up close, and to listen to those benefitting from our programs and services. Combined with meaningful discussion on the organization's strategic direction, it was a very productive day.

Thank you to NJCDC's Board of Trustees:

Don Buckley, Chair Tony Coscia, Vice Chair David Berninger, Treasurer Carline Morrison, Secretary Eric Daleo Nita Das Etta Denk Robert Garrison Robert Guarasci, Ex-Officio Victor J. Herlinsky, Jr. William Pascrell III Kenyatta Stewart Martin Vergara II

We will also be welcoming Ulises Diaz of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey as a new trustee in September.

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