Giving Back

Soledad O'Brien Inspires New Jersey Women at Montclair State University


MONTCLAIR, NJ - Six New Jersey women were honored by U.S. Senator Robert Menendez Sunday on the campus of Montclair State University as part of his sixth annual Women's History Month celebration.

With Soledad O'Brien as keynote speaker for the event, hundreds of supporters packed into the auditorium to partake in the joyous occasion. O'Brien is an award-winning journalist, documentarian, news anchor and producer. 

O'Brien spoke of the influence her mother had on her life as she delivered an inspiring and sometimes comedic message to the honorees and audience. She said, "she made clear that people will be willing to tell you all that you can't do, should do or never be able to do, but actually, it's up to you...She was right."

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O'Brien said that her mother taught her to have courage and to be brave. O'Brien said that she and her five siblings were all raised to be successful. "If she taught me anything, it was to be a fighter, especially for opportunities for others."

The honorees each took the stage and had an opportunity to receive their award from Menendez, his son, and O'Brien. 

Bergen County Freeholder Tracy Silna Zur was emcee for the event and delivered the welcome address followed by Montclair State University President Dr. Susan Cole.

Guests were also entertained by Camden's dance troupe called The Sophisticated Sisters. The Sophisticated Sisters have performed on Good Morning America, Dancing with the Stars, and NBC News Rock, to name a few. 

Camden Mayor Dana Redd, Assembly Speaker Emeritus Sheila Oliver and Congressman Donald Payne were among the notable elected officials in the audience.

The honorees were presented with the Evangelina Menendez Trailblazer Award in honor of Menendez's mother.

This year’s ceremony will honor six pioneering women who have made significant contributions to the Garden State and our country in law, health care, education, community and environmental advocacy.  The awardees are:

  • Paulette Brown; President, American Bar Association
  • Kyung Hee Choi; VP Asian Health Services, Holy Name Medical Center
  • Chelsea Collins; NJEA Teacher of the Year, Woodstown Middle School
  • Michellene Davis; Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs for Barnabas Health
  • Siomara Sanchez; President, National Association of Cuban-American Women
  • Cindy Zipf; Executive Director, Clean Ocean Action

Davis, a West Orange resident who is the Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs for Barnabas Health, was overcome by emotion when she spoke of the kindness Menendez extended to her on the passing of her father. She said, "You called me...I will never forget that," as she choked back tears. 

The Evangelina Menendez Trailblazer Awards were created in tribute to the Senator’s mother, who came to the United States from Cuba to give her children a better life and who passed away in 2009 after a long, courageous fight with Alzheimer’s disease.   

“My mother, Evangelina, for whom this award is named, showed me the meaning of courage, integrity and the importance of fighting for what’s right, every single day of her life,” said Sen. Menendez.   “She blazed that trail for me and I will continue to honor her and all of the women whose strength, wisdom and tireless determination to stand up for the people they serve make our country and our state a better, safer, cleaner place to live, work and raise a family.”   

Davis is the first woman and first person of color to serve as an Executive Vice President in the history of Barnabas Health—New Jersey’s largest healthcare system—where she oversees the company’s strategic messaging and corporate communications, community partnerships, external affairs, policy and governmental affairs, healthy living, community and employee wellness, marketing and the Barnabas Health Institute for Internship. 

Prior to her tenure at Barnabas, Ms. Davis spent much of her career in public service.  Under Governor Jon Corzine, she became the first African-American to serve as New Jersey’s Acting State Treasurer—where she founded the Office of Supplier Diversity and Division of Minority and Women Owned Businesses to ensure that women and minorities were especially included the state’s contracting opportunities—and as Chief Policy Counsel.  Davis also led the $2.4 billion New Jersey Lottery as its executive director and CEO, and served as a senior policy advisor in the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services.

Brown is partner and co-chair of the firm wide Diversity & Inclusion Committee at Locke Lord, LLP and currently serving as president of the American Bar Association (ABA). Brown has held many positions throughout her career, including in-house counsel to a number of Fortune 500 companies and as a municipal court judge. She has also been recognized by the National Law Journal as one of 'The 50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America' and by the New Jersey Law Journal as one of the 'prominent women minority attorneys in the State of New Jersey.'

Kyung Hee Choi is Vice President of Asian Health Services at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck. Prior to taking on this role, she previously retired from JP Morgan Chase as Managing Director.

Collins, who currently teaches sixth grade Language Arts at Woodstown Middle School in the Woodstown-Pilesgrove Regional School District, was recognized by the NJEA as Teacher of the Year.

Sanchez serves as President of the National Association of Cuban-American Women (NACAW). Sanchez worked as a guidance counselor before becoming the director of NACAW's child care center in Union City.

Zipf  Is executive director of Clean Ocean Action (COA) and has served in the position since 1984. COA is the only full-time ocean advocacy organization dedicated exclusively to the New York and New Jersey region. She reviews and evaluates regional, state, and federal policies for impacts to Marine water quality and, through science and research, works toward solutions for issues of concern.

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Of Dull Elections, Pool Waivers and Vandalism

After a historic Township Committee election in 2017 that brought us the first openly gay member of the TC, and then a split vote for mayor in which Vic DeLuca retained his post in a last-minute surprise, 2018 could prove to be the dullest campaign in years.

That’s because incumbents Nancy Adams and Greg Lembrich are running unopposed in the upcoming Democratic primary, and no one is ...

Maplewood Police Blotter - Man Arrested for Package Thefts

April 20, 2018

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 ...

South Orange Police Blotter - Theft and Burglary Reported

South Orange Police Blotter as of April 19

Theft - An East Orange resident reported that on Tuesday, April 17, at approximately 9:20 a.m., actor(s) unknown stole some tools from a construction site on Valley Street. The stolen tools, valued at over $500.00 were a Makita brand drill set and electrical saw.

Burglary to Auto - An Irvington resident reported that on Thursday, April ...

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

April 19, 2018

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 ...

Water Main Break on Baker Street in Maplewood Wednesday Morning

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According to Maplewood police, they requested assistance from New Jersey American Water to shut off the water, but as of 7:10 a.m., ...

Upcoming Events

Sat, April 21, 10:00 AM

Maplewood Memorial Library, Maplewood

Spring Book Sale - Friends of Maplewood Library

Education Giving Back Other


Sat, April 21, 12:00 PM

Millburn Free Public Library, Millburn

Millburn Library Annual Book Sale


Sat, April 21, 12:00 PM

Sadie's, South Orange

Half Birthday Bake Sale for Take The Cake

Giving Back

Sun, April 22, 10:30 AM


Do Good, Feel Good, Have Fun!

Giving Back

Essex County Announces Partnership with Nine Local Charitable Organizations

April 20, 2018

WEST ORANGE, NJ – Essex County will participating in nine special partnerships to increase awareness about and help raise funds for the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, the Arc of Essex County, the New Jersey Children Alliance, Stop for Nikhil, The Valerie Fund, the Arthritis Foundation, the Saint Barnabas Medical Center's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and ...

Kiburi Tucker Sentenced to 38 Months in Federal Prison

NEWARK, NJ - Kiburi Tucker, a longtime friend of Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and the business partner of a Newark woman who admitted to tax evasion last year, was sentenced today to more than three years in prison for wire fraud and tax evasion, federal authorities announced. 

Kiburi D. Tucker, 43, of Newark, pleaded guilty in November before Chief U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares after ...

Atlantic Health Among Six Regional Health Systems Forming Clinical Research Consortium

April 18, 2018

PHILADELPHIA, PA - Seeking to bring clinical trials and innovations in medicine even closer to home, Atlantic Health System, parent company of Summit's Overlook Medical Center, is now part of a group of six regional health systems that are founding members of a nonprofit clinical research consortium – Partners in Innovation, Education, and Research (PIER Consortium) ...

Summit's Central Church, Willis Mission Fund Award $20,000 Grant to Bridges Outreach

SUMMIT, NJ -- Bridges Outreach has been awarded a $20,000 grant to provide case management services to individuals in Newark who are experiencing homelessness by the The Lena Willis Mission Fund of Central Presbyterian Church of Summit.

The grant will provide seven individuals with access to job readiness, internships, employment and rental assistance and ultimately, independence. Each ...

Weekly Specials at Ashley Marketplace & Cafe - April 20 to April 26

April 20, 2018

Shop Ashley Marketplace & Cafe for your everyday needs!

This week's specials are:          

Barbers 1833 Vintage Reserve $9.99lb (Cheese)
Mountaire Chicken Tenders $2.99lb (Meat)
Edy’s Ice Cream 2/$10
Mangos 3/$5
Housemade Premade Juice 12oz $3.99 (Bakery)
Grilled Asparagus $7.99lb (Prep Food)
Rana Pasta ...

New Jersey-Area Diaper Bank Selected as Recipient of National Funds For Change Grant

Moms Helping Moms Foundation, the community-based not-for-profit organization that distributes diapers to babies living in low-wage families in the New Jersey area, has been selected as one of 23 national recipients of a 2018 Funds for Change grant awarded by the National Diaper Bank Network (NDBN).

“NDBN’s Funds for Change grants help diaper banks reach more families by investing ...

Two South Orange Residents to Be Honored by Temple B’nai Jeshurun, Short Hills

South Orange residents Charles Oransky and Fredric Smith will be honored by Temple B'nai Jeshurun, Short Hills, at a gala celebration commemorating the synagogue’s 170th anniversary, May 10. The evening's theme, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, pays tribute to the temple's past presidents, the Interfaith Hospitality Network’s founding organizers and the ...