This article has been published as part of a series of profiles on West Essex Board of Education Candidates. All candidates will be featured individually during the week leading up to the November 2019 election.
NORTH CALDWELL, NJ — Meet Jill Marcus, a candidate running for West Essex Regional Board of Education in the upcoming election on Nov. 5.
Jill Marcus, a resident of North Caldwell for nearly four years, currently works professionally as a Yoga instructor. She and her husband, Jeff, have three children: Priya (7th grade), Axl (5th grade) and Declan (2nd grade). She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations from American University and an MBA in Strategic Marketing from Northeastern University.
Q: Why are you running for board of education?
A: My decision to run was driven by the lack of transparency I encountered when trying to become an informed parent last year as we prepared for my daughter to begin 7th grade. After hearing that the Middle School principal had resigned, I began attending Board of Education meetings and asking questions during public comment. I encouraged other parents to do the same.
I found many parents in the community echoed my concerns and they urged me to become an agent for change, to help shift the culture from a closed door to an open one. I’ve discovered that the only real way to affect meaningful change is to earn a seat at the table.
West Essex currently ranks 149th in New Jersey on USNews.com high school rankings. I believe we can and should aim higher. We need to prioritize academic excellence as much as athletic performance. By adopting and committing to a philosophy of continuous improvement, West Essex can make both incremental and breakthrough improvements on every level. Our children deserve the best educational experience we can offer. We should not settle for good enough.
Q: In what area(s) would you like to see more support?
A: Family involvement is critical for our children to reach their fullest potential and maximize the opportunities available to them. I want to invite parents to be fully informed and engaged in their children’s experiences at West Essex. I believe that it is the responsibility of Board members to keep the community informed of the District’s progress and challenges. I know that parent, student and constituent voices have an invaluable place in discourse and that strategic partnerships with community stakeholders are essential.
Q: Why do you feel you deserve the job? What qualifies you for it?
A: I am the dedicated mother of three children. My boys are in 2nd and 5th grades at North Caldwell elementary schools. My daughter is now a 7th grader at West Essex Middle School. I am personally vested in West Essex schools through 2030, when my youngest son will graduate from high school.
My children's experience at Grandview and Gould schools has been exceptional. The North Caldwell Board of Education and NCPE have set the bar high, being welcoming and responsive to parent concerns and maintaining open channels of communication with families. I am running to bring to West Essex the same level of positive engagement and accountability I experienced at North Caldwell elementary schools.
The hallmarks of my professional and personal life have been my communication skills and ability to connect with people as a leader. I earned my BA from the School of International Service at American University and MBA from Northeastern University.
As an investor and partner in a family start-up, I helped grow the business over eight years by 75%. I developed and implemented training programs for more than 100 employees. With this entrepreneurial mindset, I learned to see solutions rather than problems. For example, as I have discovered a lack of information exchanged between the school and parents, I visualize technological opportunities, like website improvements, to address this gap.
Q: Tell us about your other career and/or other ways you are involved in the community.
A: During my corporate career in Global Marketing Communications and Brand Management, I built value for companies including L’Oréal USA, Hewlett-Packard and M&M/Mars. Critical to my success was my ability to collaborate with management to bring new products to market in line with financial objectives, to communicate with and motivate consumers and to efficiently manage agency and team relationships.
I served as Committee Chair of my Townhome Owners’ Association, taking an active role in leading the legal and environmental regulatory research to pass new by-laws.
Through the breadth and depth of my experience, I have become a seasoned strategist and creative thinker with strong consensus-building skills.
Q: What should people know about you that they might not know already?
A: After my first child was born, I paused my corporate career to devote time to raising my family.
In the years that followed, my yoga practice that was once a casual hobby evolved into a way of life. I also became a registered yoga instructor (RYT-500). For me, yoga is a process of reflecting, processing and consciously deciding how to move forward. This is a critical and much-needed approach that I will bring to the Board.
I believe in listening to learn and inform, collaborating to solve problems, defining effective approaches to Board oversight, and providing leadership to stay focused on District goals.
On November 5th, I am asking for your vote. I believe West Essex can be a place where we put the needs of our children first- in the classrooms, the schools and the district. It will take courageous leadership and perseverance to meet our goals. I am ready for that challenge and would be proud to represent my North Caldwell neighbors.