Education

Meet South Orange Village President Sheena Collum

5f04ebd1092692518cfc_sheena_collum_17.jpg
Sheena Collum, South Orange Village President Credits: Matt Peyton
5f04ebd1092692518cfc_sheena_collum_17.jpg

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - Sheena Collum had already made history before her term as South Orange Village President even began, as she is the first woman to hold this position in the Village's history.

Collum was elected Village President in May, 2015, having previously served on the Board of Trustees since May, 2013.

Prior to becoming the first female Village President in South Orange, Collum explained that she “didn’t really understand the significance of it," stating that she didn’t want to be compared to others based upon her youth or being a woman.  Collum added, "I felt I could go head to head with anybody. I didn’t want to promote myself in that fashion."

Sign Up for E-News

However, after being elected, Collum said she became aware of the significance of her having broken the gender barrier from the reaction both of younger women, including local girl scouts who told her that they also aspire to be the Village President, and from older women, such as one who had just turned 100 years old and marveled at Collum's accomplishments at such a young age.

Collum, who said she works about 40 to 50 hours in her capacity as Village President, attributes her achievements during her first year-and-half in office to having "a very good team." Collum said, "I'm only as good as the team around me," which includes volunteer boards, advisory committees, the governing board, and professional staff.

Collum shared that some of the projects she is most proud of are:

  • Baird building renovation to become ADA compliant (a full renovation of the Baird is also planned, including of the tennis courts).
  • The Centennial Celebration of the South Orange train station, which raised $20,000, plus a $10,000 match from the South Orange Village Center Alliance. These funds will be used for beautification of the station, including lighting upgrades and murals.
  • South Orange Police Department realignment, which had made it possible to provide better safety coverage for residents, while saving money with a reduction in overtime.
  • New radio communications equipment for the police, which was made possible through the efforts of South Orange Village Trustees Howard Levison and Jeff DuBowy, and the Safety Committee.
  • Sale of Village Hall, which saved the Village money and will result in a new, upscale restaurant occupying the space.
  • Redevelopment projects, including the Orange Lawn Tennis Club and the upcoming 4th & Valley development.

Collum, who has lived in South Orange since she was a student at Seton Hall University, has also made strengthening the Village's relationship with Seton Hall a priority. While at Seton Hall, Collum was president of the Student Government Association, founded the Village Liaisons Committee, helped create the SHUFLY shuttle service with stops throughout campus and South Orange, and started the Pirates Gold Card which helps students spend money at South Orange businesses. 

Collum graduated summa cum laude from Seton Hall, with a Bachelors Degree in Political Science and a Masters Degree in Public Administration with a concentration in public policy. Collum was Seton Hall University Alumni of the Year in 2006.

Collum feels that the relationship between Seton Hall and South Orange continues to improve, noting that she sees a lot of collaboration from Seton Hall student leaders, and that students "show up whenever help is needed," including fraternity and sorority service projects when students have raked leaves and provided snow removal to South Orange seniors.

Despite the challenges of the job, Collum said that being South Orange Village President is the "most amazing thing in the entire world," adding that her favorite thing about being Village President is that ”every day I get to meet somebody new."

Collum added, "even on controversial issues, I love seeing the passion and dedication people have about making the community a better place. It’s a great feeling to do this."

Looking ahead, Collum thinks it's possible that South Orange and Maplewood might merge one day, pointing out that the two towns already share a school district and a court room, and are looking into sharing fire and animal control services in the near future.

Collum added that between the two towns, "we’ve got three train stations, we have a major university [Seton Hall] that’s doing incredibly well and a state of the art performing arts center [SOPAC]… Maplewood has a brand new police headquarters, that’s absolutely beautiful that cost them over $20 million, we have a new fire department that cost us significantly. Both towns are lean on staff, so there’s no major funds to save in that area, but coordination of development and infrastructure is why it’s worth looking at it right away."

 "We work better together then separately," said Collum.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

SOMA

Maplewood Police Blotter - Three Thefts Reported, Including a Motor Vehicle

April 24, 2018

April 16 - Shoplifting; At approximately 3:15 p.m., officers responded to the 7-11 on Irvington Avenue on a reported shoplifter.  An employee reported that prior to officer’s arrival, a male entered the store, picked up several pieces of candy and then left without paying.

April 16 - Theft from Auto; At approximately 6:15 p.m. an unsecured vehicle parked on Van ...

Maplewood Police Blotter - Man Arrested for Package Thefts

April 5 - Shoplifting; At approximately 3:15 p.m. officers responded to the Extra Supermarket on Irvington Ave on a reported shoplifter. Jean Legerme, age 21 of Newark was detained by security for attempting to leave the store without paying for several items. He was arrested, taken into custody and later released after being charged on a summons.

April 5 - Shoplifting; At ...

Sunny Skies for the South Mountain YMCA Healthy Kids Day Celebration

April 24, 2018

MAPLEWOOD, NJ - The South Mountain YMCA celebrated Healthy Kids Day on Saturday, with lots of sun, activities, and healthy snacks, which were provided by the Stop and Shop of South Orange and Trader Joe's of Millburn,

The afternoon of fun included a climbing wall, an obstacle course, laser tag, bounce houses, and slides.

There was also an opportunity for kids to visit to the ...

41st Annual SOMA Interfaith Holocaust Service and March of Remembrance Held on Sunday

MAPLEWOOD AND SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - The 41st Annual SOMA Interfaith Holocaust Service and March of Remembrance was held on Sunday, April 15. The march assembled in Spiotta Park on Maplewood Avenue in Maplewood, and was called to order with the blowing of the shofar.

Local elected officials who attended included Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca, Maplewood Township Committee member Dean Dafis, and ...

Upcoming Events

Thu, April 26, 7:00 PM

Columbia High School Black Box Theatre, Maplewood

Janet Mandel: Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Arts & Entertainment

Thu, April 26, 7:00 PM

Columbia High School Black Box Theatre, Maplewood

Janet Mandel: Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Arts & Entertainment

Fri, April 27, 9:00 AM

Westfield

6th Annual Massive Tag Sale to Benefit Furniture ...

Carousel_image_982bc8344531b1a37c85_par_440

Fri, April 27, 7:00 PM

Par 440 Restaurant & Lounge, Short Hills

The Extra Rich In Class Dinner Show with E.R.I.C.

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink

Academy Heights Residents: No More Valley Street Development Until Master Plan Approved

April 22, 2018

This past Thursday, April 19th, the South Orange Development Committee considered a presentation from developers regarding the All Star Motors site on Valley Street between 3rd and 4th. The proposal is for a 61 unit dormitory/boarding house for college students, with 175 beds and limited parking on a lot that is partially zoned for two-family residential. About 20 Academy Heights neighbors ...

Gov. Murphy Announces Proposed NJTransit Funding Increase

April 25, 2018

NEWARK, NJ - Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday spread a message of hope regarding future improvements to NJTransit services and infrastructure due to a proposed $242 million increase in funding for NJTransit for the 2019 fiscal year. 

At a press conference held at NJTransit’s Central Maintenance Facility on Doremus Avenue in Newark, Murphy, Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka, and other ...

Women Need Better Treatment Behind Bars, Lawmakers Say

NEWARK, NJ - Middlesex County Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez and U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) held a roundtable discussion Monday with criminal justice reform advocates and formally incarcerated women to discuss legislation Lopez and Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle are introducing, modeled after legislation Booker introduced in the Senate, to reform the way women are treated behind ...

Cranford's Kurt Steiner, a Holocaust Survivor, tells Life Story as 106th Birthday Draws Near

April 25, 2018

CRANFORD, NJ – In a quaint white house near the border of Cranford and Garwood, 105-year-old Kurt Steiner sat at his dining room table, surrounded by cabinets that held his collection of Viennese glass and antique Limoge plates. At his table, he had his carefully taped together passport and exit papers from Vienna, Austria, stamped with a large “J” and “Jude,” the ...

Amazon Works to End Stigma of “Free and Reduced” Meals at School

FLORENCE, NJ – There is a widely unknown problem in schools all over America: a stigma among many children who are eligible for free or reduced lunch.

Rather than face the peer pressure of receiving breakfast or lunch through this federal program, many choose to remain hungry.

To help eliminate the practice, Amazon has partnered with Share our Strength’s “No Kid ...

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day at South Orange Police Station on April 28

April 25, 2018

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is on Saturday, April 28, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the South Orange Police Department, 201 South Orange Avenue.

South Orange Police is participating in the DEA's National Prescription Drug Take Back Program. The program aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general ...

Reduce Your Risk for Colorectal Cancer

Morristown Medical Center’s Carol G. Simon Cancer Center presents “Protecting Your Colorectal Health” on Tuesday, May 1, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at the Morristown Medical Center Health Pavilion, 333 Mount Hope Avenue in Rockaway. Admission is free.

This popular, educational program presents an opportunity to hear up-to-date presentations from leading ...

Strollers’ 2017–2018 Season Concludes With William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

The Strollers community theater will close out its 86th season with a presentation of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The Bard’s classic comedy will be performed for three weekends in May at the Burgdorff Center for Performing Arts in Maplewood, NJ. 

One of Shakespeare’s most popular works for the stage—and arguably his best-known ...