CRANFORD – A Union man is among five community members elected as new trustees to the Union County College Foundation board. 

Hernan Castro of Union joins Paul Belardo of Hamilton, Juan Carlos Dominguez and Michael Marino of Elizabeth, and Derek Michalski of Upper Saddle River. According to the Foundation, all five members are strong supporters of the mission of the Foundation and believe that education is one of the most important factors for promoting economic mobility. 

Castro is an alumnus of the college. He owns The Real Estate Company in Union where he leads the marketing and property management and its sales team. His community involvement includes serving as the parent representative for ARC Kohler Principals Action Committee (PAC) and fundraising for two special needs schools in the state. Castro also has experience working for a non-profit organization, where he held a position in quality improvement for Youth Consultation Services, a leading social service agency in New Jersey.

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“The Foundation is lucky to have these five community minded leaders join our Board. With their help, and the continued commitment of our other volunteers, we hope to expand our Foundation’s mission in the community and build upon our ability to support the students at Union County College,” said Doug Rouse, Foundation Executive Director.

Belardo is a member of Carpenters Local 254. Belardo helped organize the carpenter union and now is their Council representative. He also serves on the Board of Commissions for the Mercer County Improvement Authority (MCIA) and on its construction committee. He uses his constructions skills to build various projects for veterans.

Carlos Dominguez, of Elizabeth, is a self-employed business owner with more than 35 years of experience as a Hispanic/Latino health and beauty care distributor. He owns and operates the distribution company Essential Products. Dominguez also volunteers for two Union County organizations: as chairman of the Union County Workforce Development Board and as a member of the Union County Latino American Chamber of Commerce. He brings with him years of fundraising experience which will greatly benefit the Foundation.

Merino, of Elizabeth, is expanding his involvement at Union by joining the Foundation Board. He also serves as a member of the Union County College Board of Trustees.  Merino is the owner of Fresh and Clean Painting LLC. In addition to the time he gives to the College, he serves on the Planning Board for the City of Elizabeth. Mr. Merino is a veteran and served in the United States Marine Corps for five years in basic infantry as a truck and hummer mechanic and earned the highest rank of Corporal E-4. He is a member of the Marine Corps League Martin Danowski Detachment and is a Past Commandant and a lifetime member.

Derek Michalski, of Upper Saddle River, is employed as an Accredited Investment Fiduciary for LPL Financial. He has successfully run several financial offices in New York and New Jersey. Mr. Michalski also serves as a Wealth Manager for LPL Financial. He has leadership experience as a mentor, a community leader, and a pro bono activist. He has served as an ambassador for the Sierra Club, GreenUSR, and most recently, the Blockchain Initiative. Mr. Michalski pioneered a zero-waste community movement under GreenUSR.org in Upper Saddle River.