BERNARDS TWP., NJ - When Somerset County honors ten Outstanding Women in Somerset County award winners for this year, half of those women to be recognized are Bernards Township residents. The awards dinner was to be held on Friday, March 10.
“We have many women in Somerset County doing amazing things every day,” Somerset County Freehold Patricia Walsh said in a news release this week. “It is most appropriate that during Women's History Month, we take the time to publicly recognize them and say thank you.”
The 2017 Outstanding Women in Somerset County awards dinner will be held March 10 at The Imperia in Franklin. Honorees are women who live in Somerset County. This year’s award recipients by category include five Bernards Township residents, who are:
Arts – Caren Frost Olmsted of Bernards is the owner and principal of CFO Design, an art and mural company she established in 2003. Her projects include large- and small-scale murals in corporate and educational settings, project management, and art direction. Her murals appear in supermarkets, schools, churches and hospitals across the country, as well as homes and businesses.
Her signature program is an artist-in-residency for schools called “We Are All Artists,” where she works with the entire school population to create murals that transform major portions of the school into works of art. She has worked with over 22,000 students and 2,200-plus adults, completing over 40 murals (including one at the Oak Street School in Basking Ridge) totaling 40,000 square feet in the past seven years alone. She has been nationally televised on The Learning Channel’s hit decorating show, “Moving Up” and received the prestigious “2015 Arts Educator of the Year” award from Morris Arts. She is the founding co-chair of “ARTsee,” an artist collective that provides an annual tour of local artists’ studios in Bernardsville and Basking Ridge.
Arts – Carolyn Kelly of Bernards is a former Bernards Township Committee member who served as the township’s mayor in 2005 and 2009. She currently is first vice-president of the Friends of the Kennedy Martin Stelle Farmstead, which is listed on the New Jersey and National Register of Historic Places. Kelly's focus is on fundraising and development. When she joined the board in 2010, she initiated the Friends Annual Appeal Program. She also is a founding member of Farmstead Arts.
Kelly also co-founded and served as a trustee on Bernards Township’s September 11th Remembrance Foundation. She also has served as a member of the Bernards Township Zoning Board of Adjustment, the Bernards Township Environmental Commission and the Bernardsville Junior Women’s Club. She holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial labor relations from Pace University and was director of human resources at Centenary College in Hackettstown.
Government – Carol Manuele Bianchi of Bernards served as Bernards Township’s mayor in 2016 and has been on the Township Committee since 2013. As mayor, she maintained the fiscally conservative policies that have earned Bernards Township a triple-A bond rating, one of the very lowest equalized tax rates in New Jersey, and zero debt in the municipal budget.
Bianchi served as the first female chairperson of the Bernards Township Planning Board. She got involved in government as an organizer and co-leader of a citizens group, "Citizens for a Clean and Safe Millington Quarry,” which successfully worked with the government to stop the importation of fill to the quarry and to require testing for contamination and state oversight. She is co-chair of the Somerset County Employer Legislative Committee and the Somerset County Business Partnership Legislative Committee and vice president of the Somerset County Governing Officials Association; she earned the association’s 2016 Elected Official of the Year award. She is a graduate of Rutgers University, a magna cum laude graduate of Seton Hall Law School, and a 2010 graduate of Leadership Somerset.
Hometown Hero – Jody C. D’Agostini, CFP®, CDFATM, of Bernards started her working life in the medical and pharmaceutical industries and now provides comprehensive financial planning and wealth management for individuals and closely held businesses using a goal-based, holistic approach to finances. She specializes in retirement and estate planning, having obtained a certificate in retirement planning from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. She received her CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM designation in 2002. She is a CDFA (Certified Divorce Financial Analyst) and belongs to the New Jersey Collaborative Law Group. She also serves on the Somerset County YMCA Board of Directors and the board of SWIM Inc.
D'Agostini is the founder of Community in Crisis, a nonprofit dedicated to taking the stigma out of addiction and to prevention and education aimed at the heroin/opiate epidemic. She is a member of the Morristown Chamber of Commerce and a frequent contributor to the Star-Ledger business section and NJ.com. She received the statewide YMCA Social Responsibility Champion Award and the Freedom House Citizen of the Year Award in 2015 and was recently given the Women of Leadership Award by the Boy Scouts of America.
Volunteerism – Kathleen I. (Kippy) Piedici of Bernards is a 21-year township resident whose volunteer activities are both municipal and political in nature. She is strongly committed to keeping Bernards Township one of the best places to live in New Jersey. She currently is vice-chairwoman of the Planning Board and president of Bernards Township Library Board of Trustees. She previously served on the Zoning Board of Adjustment and the Beautification Task Force. On the political front, she is a member of the Republican Municipal Committee and has been a local campaign manager four times.
Piedici serves on two executive boards, the New Jersey Library Trustees Association and the New Jersey Planning Officials, and is certified by the Election Law Enforcement Commission as a treasurer for candidate campaigns. She is director of strategic business analysis at Solix Inc., a business-process outsourcing company in Parsippany.