HACKENSACK, N.J. — Mary Blanusa has been named The Northern New Jersey Community Foundation’s new executive director.

The Hasbrouck Heights resident has 20 years of experience in both the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors, offering leadership in the areas of education, community organizing and development and advocacy.

"Ms. Blanusa brings to the Northern New Jersey Community Foundation an extensive background in the nonprofit sector to meet the needs of a rapidly expanding foundation," said Michael Shannon, president of the Hackensack-based nonprofit that works with area governments, school districts, businesses, nonprofits and citizen groups to improve community life. "Upon joining the foundation, she was confronted with the coronavirus pandemic and responded immediately to the community’s escalating needs by establishing our COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund. We look forward to her bringing this same resourcefulness and creative energy to the Northern New Jersey Community Foundation’s post-COVID regional economic recovery and job creation initiatives." 

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Blanusa has a track record of success. After earning her master’s degree from the Heller School of Public Policy at Brandeis University and her bachelor’s from American University, she kick-started her career as a Peace Corps volunteer teaching English and environmental studies to middle school students in Hungary. After her return from Serbia where she worked on community development projects as part of her master’s degree, she worked on environmental restoration projects in New York City and contributed to the initial Environmental Impact Assessment that eventually became American Dream in the Meadowlands. 

As a program officer at The Helmsley Charitable Trust, Blanusa led policy, advocacy and communications grant making. Among her other accomplishments, she served in several leadership roles at the Council for Economic Education, most recently as vice president of Government Relations and Partnerships.

She remains a local and national force. Locally, Blanusa is the municipal vice-chair of Bergen County Democratic Committee and a volunteer with the Hasbrouck Heights Green Team. Previously, she was the past-president of the Hasbrouck Heights Junior Woman’s Club. Nationally, Blanusa serves on the advisory board of the English Learners Success Forum and Seek Common Ground.