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Education Power 50 H-Z

Phoebe HaddonPhoebe Haddon

Haddon is the chancellor of Rutgers University Camden, where more than 7,350 students are enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs. In 2016, Rutgers–Camden received a signature honor when it was named as New Jersey’s first Purple Heart University by the Military Order of the Purple Heart in recognition of the university’s commitment to supporting its student-veterans. In 2015, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching awarded the school a Community Engagement Classification designation in recognition of its strength in civically engaged learning and community service. Haddon received the 2019 Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of American Law Schools Section on Women in Legal Education. The award honors people who have exemplary careers with contributions to the legal academy and the legal profession through their teaching, service and scholarship.

Merodie HancockMerodie Hancock

Hancock is president of Thomas Edison State University, which will launch a Doctor of Business Administration with a curriculum that begins in January 2020. The program, with specializations in general management, organizational leadership or human resource management, can be completed with 48 credits, including an end-of-course Scholar-Practitioner Field Project final degree submission. All requirements can be met online. The DBA degree is designed to enable business students and professionals to advance their careers toward becoming executive leaders, educators and consultants. The doctoral program will be the second for the university, which currently offers a Doctor of Nursing Practice with a specialization in Systems-Level Leadership.

Richard HelldoblerRichard Helldobler

Helldobler is the president of William Paterson University, where a new Pledge 4 Success program will provide grants to students covering the difference between tuition costs and government aid. “At William Paterson, we are proud to provide proactive programs that support our students as they reach their personal and academic goals on the path to college graduation, career success and community leadership,” he said. Like many William Paterson University students, Helldobler is a first-generation college student of immigrant heritage. This personal experience sustains his commitment to serving students for whom education is a means of social mobility and economic progress. During his first year on campus, he spearheaded the acquisition of the university’s new building at 1800 Valley Road in Wayne, which will help the university expand its School of Continuing and Professional Education and provide other revenue-generating initiatives. After the establishment of the university’s new Center for Diversity and Inclusion, and the Black Cultural Center, Helldobler’s focus now is on diversity and inclusion for Latino and LGBTQA students. He is challenging the university to rethink systems that create barriers for underrepresented populations in higher education.

Pat Hobbs and Chris Ash

Hobbs, Rutgers University’s athletic director, and Ash, the school’s head football coach, face a pivotal 12 months. After a poor performance by the Scarlet Knights on the gridiron last year and lagging ticket sales for the 2019 season, Hobbs and Ash likely need Rutgers to show some competitiveness against the Big Ten Conference’s national powers. Last year, Rutgers scored a single win against the Texas State Bobcats and their biggest loss came the next weekend in a 52-3 defeat at the hands of Ohio State. Ticket sales have slumped year over year as a dispirited fanbase opts to spend autumn weekends away from the newly renamed SHI Stadium in Piscataway. As of late 2015 when Kyle Flood left his post as the football coach, Rutgers had sold 31,000 tickets – the number slumped to 16,585 as of mid-August – according to a report from NJ Advance Media. That spells more ammunition for Rutgers’ unions and student activists who contend that the university is wasting money in the pursuit of big-time athletics. It will be up to Hobbs and Ash to make the case.

Anne HuntingtonAnne Huntington

Huntington is the vice president of business development and a board member of the Huntington Learning Center. She has also been honored by NJBIZ as a 40 Under 40 recipient. Based in Oradell, Huntington Learning Center is a tutoring and test prep provider with more than 300 locations across the country. According to the company, Anne Huntington brings 12 years of experience in sales and business development within the arts and education industries to her role. Prior to her current position, she served as head of strategic partnerships within the family business. Huntington was previously focused on the development and launch of Huntington Compensatory Education Services, a program designed to support special education students who have been denied their federal right to a free and appropriate education. This program has hundreds of active participants and is available at select Huntington Learning Centers nationwide. In her current role, she leads the expansion of the program across the Huntington system.

Ali Houshmand

Ali Houshmand

Too many New Jersey high school graduates leave for colleges in other states and, worse, do not return after graduation. As president of Rowan University, Houshmand has taken on the fight to reverse those dynamics. Using hot sauce, Houshmand established an emergency fund, with money raised outside Rowan’s normal course of operations, to help Rowan students solely based on emergency financial need. This emergency reserve is funded through the sale of his homemade hot sauce, t-shirts and other merchandise. In the summer of 2018, Houshmand grew about 600 pepper plants that collectively produced about 1,200 pounds of hot peppers. And because wearing the right clothes can make a huge difference in job interviews, Houshmand also spearheaded a professional clothing drive that provides workplace-appropriate clothes to Rowan seniors.

Tony IaconoTony Iacono

As the president of the County College of Morris, Iacono is partnering with the nonprofit New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program to place a priority on manufacturing education and skilled vocational and technical training. “Our work is to help others to do their work better,” Iacono said. “We love manufacturing and that is why we are here to support manufacturing.” The County College of Morris held a groundbreaking ceremony in January 2019 to mark the planned construction of an $11 million Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Center. The building, scheduled to open in spring 2020, will be funded by the state, Morris County and private donors.

Mila JaseyMila Jasey

As chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee, Jasey presides over many of Gov. Phil Murphy’s plans for revamping the state’s higher education landscape – as does her counterpart in the upper house Senate Higher Education Committee Chair Sandra Cunningham. The South Orange Democrat has been one of the main sponsors of a bill setting up a pilot program for later start-times at New Jersey’s high schools, which Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law. She put her name on legislation meant to boost rights and education opportunities for deaf and hard-of-hearing students in the state’s K-12 system, which has also been signed into law. Perhaps the most controversial measure Jasey has gotten behind is a proposal to end the religious exemption to mandatory childhood vaccinations. The bill came in January amid a measles outbreaks in pockets of Ocean County where parents have claimed the last action religious exemption.

Barbara George JohnsonBarbara George Johnson

The John S. Watson Institute For Public Policy isn’t just a think tank, says Johnson, who serves as executive director. It’s a think-and-do tank. Rather than focusing on abstract, theoretical issues, the institute focuses on developing real-world solutions to practical issues in the urban education and health spheres. The Watson Institute’s education policy and practice initiative hosts a conference for New Jersey’s urban mayors, superintendents, and school board representatives, educating them on how the policies affect education in their municipalities. It helps them use research to promote innovation and sustain improvement in urban centers around the state.

John KennedyJohn Kennedy

Kennedy is the CEO of the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program, which claims credit for more than $1 billion in product and services sold. Kennedy’s job is to set the organization’s strategic direction while striking partnerships and developing new initiatives. NJMEP helps manufacturing companies to improve their profitability and competitiveness. Backed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, NJMEP provides workforce development programs, supports entry-level training, provides credentials to state residents and offers employment to New Jersey’s underserved residents, such as veterans. Kennedy’s work focuses on what is one of the state’s most pressing issues: narrowing the skills gap and aiding in the expansion of the state’s talent pipeline.

Harvey KesselmanHarvey Kesselman

As president of Stockton University, Kesselman helped establish Stockton University Atlantic City in 2018. The campus includes a 56,000-square-foot academic center, a residential complex with 535 beds and a parking garage. The project developer, ACDevco, is proposing to build a new 405-bed residential complex on property adjacent to the campus on Atlantic Avenue. Stockton University has housing currently for 3,484 students at both the Galloway and Atlantic City campuses. In fall 2018 the occupancy rate was 98 percent. The residential complex in Atlantic City is projected to be at capacity for fall 2019. Based on current and projected enrollment it will need additional housing in the 2021-22 academic year.

Pamela LampittPamela Lampitt

As head of the Assembly Education Committee, Lampitt oversees state education policy along with her counterpart in the upper house, Senate Education Committee Chair Teresa Ruiz. Lampitt was the lead sponsor of a bill requiring universities to provide formal justifications for why they want to raise, enact or continue charging mandatory student fees – a heated subject amid the rising costs of tuition and criticism of how universities spend those fees. Lampitt and Ruiz were also lead sponsors of legislation meant to enhance the rights and education opportunities for deaf and hard-of-hearing students in the state’s K-12 system. She put her name on such laws as one that requires health insurance providers to cover depression screenings for adolescents and another that requires K-12 schools to conduct annual security audits with the use of a uniform checklist.

Reginald LewisReginald Lewis

Roughly 17 percent of Newarkers had an associate degree or higher in 2015, compared to 37 percent nationally. With more than half of all jobs requiring a higher education credential, for Newark to thrive, its educated numbers needed to go up. Enter the Newark City of Learning Collaborative, an initiative aimed at increasing the proportion of Newark residents with a higher education credential or degree to 25 percent by 2025. Reginald Lewis is its executive director. NCLC works collaboratively with Mayor Ras Baraka’s office and Newark’s public schools to build Newark’s college-bound culture, including a dual enrollment program between city schools and Rutgers that allows students to take three-credit courses on campus, affording them the opportunity to see what it’s really like to be a college student.

Phil LinfantePhil Linfante

Linfante is the chairman of the New Jersey Council of County Colleges. New Jersey community colleges, led by Bergen Community College and the County College of Morris, received two of the 23 grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor to expand apprenticeships, with a focus on the health care and advanced manufacturing industries. Two Scaling Apprenticeship Through Sector-Based Strategies grants total $16 million and will be used to provide apprenticeships for more than 6,600 individuals and will serve to expand New Jersey community colleges’ efforts to build career pathways that are driven by the needs of the state’s key industries.  Fifteen New Jersey community colleges are participating in these grant-funded initiatives. Bergen Community College received a $12 million grant focused on the health care industry and will serve as the lead working with 13 other community colleges in New Jersey, CVS health and five health care entities to develop apprenticeship models in the health care sector.

Brenda LissBrenda Liss

For more than 30 years, Liss has served as general counsel or special counsel to public school districts and boards of education as well as charter schools, independent schools, private schools for students with disabilities, and other parties who have disputes with schools and school districts. Her cases have involved novel issues, gray areas of the law and sensitive student matters. Liss was recently named general counsel to The Newark Public School District, the state’s largest, with 66 total schools and nearly 38,000 students. She has also represented clients in mediation, grievance hearings and arbitration proceedings, as well as in collective bargaining.

Peter Philip MercerPeter Philip Mercer

Mercer has been president of Ramapo College since May 2006. He has authored, co-authored and edited two books, numerous articles, book chapters and reviews. His recent publications have focused on the legal profession and professional standards as well as the unique features of higher education administration. Mercer has guided Ramapo in joining with Hudson County Community College in March 2019 with a new transfer initiative called The “Archway to Ramapo College” program. The agreement allows for students who earn an associate degree at Hudson County Community College to transition to Ramapo in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree. Application fees for students will be waived and students enrolled in the program will receive an assigned Ramapo advisor who is located on-site at Hudson County Community College. “This agreement is an extension of both colleges’ commitment to put students first,” Mercer said. “We know that intentional advisement and clear streamlined pathways to the bachelor’s degree are integral components of student success.”

Laura OverdeckLaura Overdeck

Overdeck chairs the Overdeck Family Foundation, which seeks to measurably enhance education both inside and outside the classroom, and is the president of Bedtime Math, a nonprofit that ignites kids’ curiosity and learning by unleashing the fun in math. She holds a B.A. in astrophysics from Princeton University, an M.B.A. from The Wharton School of Business, and an honorary doctorate from Stevens Institute of Technology. Overdeck is a trustee of Princeton University, Liberty Science Center, and The Pingry School, and serves on the advisory boards of Khan Academy, Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY), Stevens Institute of Technology, and Governor’s School of New Jersey.

Teresa RuizTeresa Ruiz

As chair of the Senate Education Committee, the Newark state senator was a key figure who applied the brakes to Gov. Murphy’s efforts last year to abandon the controversial PARCC standardized testing. She sponsors a now-stalled bill that would remove the test administered in the eleventh grade as a graduation requirement. Ruiz — a member of the New Jersey Legislative Latino Caucus — has also signed onto a controversial measure providing state higher education financial aid to undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, also known as DREAMers. And Ruiz, along with other top lawmakers such as Sen. Sandra Cunningham, are seeking the appointment of a woman as the next president of Rutgers University.

Donald SebastianDonald Sebastian

Sebastian became CEO of the New Jersey Innovation Institute, a corporation of the New Jersey Institute of Technology, after 15 years leading research at NJIT, during which time the R&D enterprise grew to over $110 million. That figure was good enough to place NJIT fifth among all polytechnic universities in the country and fourth among all universities in patent productivity. The NJII is providing government grant-funded research to local companies to help improve operations. As an example, it provided a detailed report from Fraunhofer MarketExplorer, a German provider of affordable applied research that small- and medium-sized firms could not otherwise afford. The NJII is assisting 140 New Jersey companies in this capacity.

Helen StreubertHelen Streubert

As the seventh president of the College of Saint Elizabeth, Streubert has embarked upon a five-year strategic plan, beginning in 2015, to continue providing high-quality education to those who may not have access. This included guiding the college to become fully co-educational in 2016 with a platform that continues a commitment to the development of women’s leadership. During this time, the college raised more than $14 million in capital funding and completed a number of significant campus renovations. Among the new programs launched at the college are the doctorate in Educational Leadership with a Higher Education Concentration (Ed.D.), Master of Science in Physician Assistant, Master of Science in Data Analytics and a four-year pre-licensure Bachelor of Nursing. Streubert holds a doctoral degree from Teacher's College, Columbia University, New York, N.Y.; a master of science in nursing from Villanova University, Villanova, Pa.; and a bachelor of science from Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Pa.

Dr. Medea ValdezDr. Medea Valdez

Valdez, the founding Program Director for the Master of Science in Physician Assistant degree program at the College of Saint Elizabeth, has more than 20 years of experience as a Physician Assistant educator at programs in New York and New Jersey. Valdez’s most recent accomplishment was obtaining provisional accreditation from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) for the PA Program at the College of Saint Elizabeth. This two-year endeavor included designing the mission, vision, and goals for the program and creating the entire curriculum.  She was instrumental in the design of the College’s Simulation Center, which will support the education of PA students as well as promote interdisciplinary education with students from other health care disciplines. Valdez looks forward to welcoming the first class of 35 PA students in the fall of 2019.

More from the 2019 NJBIZ Education Power 50:

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