Remarkable Newarkers is a series profiling people who live and/or work in Newark who are making a positive contribution to the city.
The impact of Leadership Newark CEO Celia King in the City of Newark has resonated since she took the helm at the organization's inception two decades ago.
Leadership Newark was created to engage and support Newark's community and civic leaders and borne out of a desire to strengthen the city's civic infrastructure through public policy enrichment and leadership development, with the organization now boasting a network of nearly 700 people who live, work or play in the state's largest city.
The organization has brought together key stakeholders in a variety of sectors including government, business, corporate, nonprofit and education that has helped bring about the city's renaissance.
King, who is the daughter of Panamanian parents and considers herself a Latina of African descent, has served on several boards at social services agencies, charter schools and arbitration committees within the judicial system.
"I stay civically engaged and encourage active engagement for everyone who crosses Leadership Newark's threshold," King said. "Simply put, in any community one must be both present and an active participant in order to know and learn what is happening and what matters may need to be changed or improved."
In 2014, former Newark Mayor Cory Booker publicly lauded Leadership Newark, noting that his administration had benefitted significantly from the organization.
"The impact of Leadership Newark is being felt throughout our great city," Booker said.
Leadership Newark has assisted organizations throughout Newark such as Focus Hispanic Center for Community Development, the Newark Community Economic Development Corporation and the National Center for Public Performance and Productivity.
The organization's public policy fellowship program has attracted a diverse group of professionals to actively participate in improving Newark communities.
In addition, Leadership Newark offers programs for youth, teens and adults including board service training, public policy summits, board match and placement and special initiatives to support local nonprofits.
"I feel I have one of the best jobs," King said. "Each and every day I have the opportunity to engage experts to share their knowledge and expertise with a group of committed individuals to being engaged in public policy and social justice issues for the greater good. The work never gets old because there is always something new to learn, be it a new issue or problem all together or a different angle."
A few years ago, Rutgers University-Newark conducted an assessment to determine if Leadership Newark was having a tangible impact in the city.
The study found that Leadership Newark's alumni network reported a deeper engagement in the city's public affairs, an increase in their social and cultural engagement within Newark and a strong level of personal growth through exposure to training offered by Leadership Newark.
"I classify those admitted as the 'human capital' of this community and investing in them makes for a stronger city overall," King said.