It is my pleasure to provide a letter of recommendation regarding Lisa McKnight. I have known Lisa through a six-year long affiliation with and later membership in the Community Service Association of New Providence (“CSA”). Four years of this period, Lisa served as the President of the CSA. This was an incredibly challenging period in the history of the CSA during which Lisa displayed outstanding leadership, citizenship, and perseverance.
The CSA was founded in 1954 as a 501 c 3 charity with a charter to help those residents of New Providence who are in financial need. During the prior decade, the CSA had diminished in scope and had become dependent upon a modest donation from the United Way for its funding. This funding came with unreasonable restrictions, including precluding the CSA from giving repeated financial support to the same family regardless of the need. The CSA membership diminished in size, and, lacking a challenge to raise funds, became less vibrant. As the need for the CSA to help neighbors grew, its ability to respond to the continuing needs of our residents waned.
As president of the CSA, Lisa McKnight was faced with the challenge to break away from the United Way’s limited funding and develop the CSA membership and fundraising ability. This really required a reinvention of the CSA, growing membership and changing the character of the organization into one that embraced a challenge - one that was capable of planning and conducting significant fund-raising activities. What the organization needed, most of all, was someone with vision and leadership skills. As in any volunteer organization, the leader must generate enthusiasm and inspire members to expend personal time and effort to the organization. This is particularly difficult as the leader, as well as the volunteers, must balance the needs of work and family, all competing for limited time and energy.
As a member of the New Providence Lions, and later a member of the CSA, I watched the organization plan an annual Pasta Dinner, an arduous fundraiser that required many planning hours and even more effort interfacing with the business community to develop prizes, advertising for the businesses and more. This was accomplished through a great deal of enthusiastic efforts by a growing CSA membership. As president of the CSA, it was Lisa's dedication, leadership, and character that attracted and inspired CSA volunteers. Her pleasant demeanor was essential in gaining and maintaining the support of a sister charity, the New Providence Lions, for the Pasta Dinner.
Throughout this period, the CSA became capable of providing expanded help to neighbors in need and grew into an active community participant in other events in New Providence, such as the Night of a Thousand Stars. Lisa has been an inspiration and community leader in her own right. It is with great confidence that I endorse her as a member of our town Council, she is not afraid of responsibility and has shown the ability to handle a challenge.
Thomas L. Montrone
President, New Providence Lions