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Warm Welcome

Warm Welcome

Friday, June 8, 2018

The story is told of a county commissioner of weights and measures, appointed for reasons other than expertise, facing hostile reporters on his first day. “How many ounces in a pound?” one reporter asked. “Yeah, and how many pints in a gallon?” asked another. To which the victim responded, “Fellas, gimme a break — it’s my first day on the job.”

I’m glad I got a warmer welcome my first day as Interim President of the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers. I participated in a well-attended, substantive conversation the Environmental Grantmakers Affinity Group had with New Jersey’s First Lady, Tammy Murphy, at Thomas Edison State University. We all left feeling that a productive relationship was beginning. A shout-out to Environmental Grantmakers Affinity Group Co-Chairs, Lucy Vandenberg of The Fund for New Jersey and Margaret Waldock of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, for moderating the discussion.

It's exciting to work with an organization I’ve respected for years, thanks to my connection with Nina Stack. To know Nina is to be awed by Nina.

We met when she was a Leadership New Jersey fellow and I was seminar director. Nina brought me in to speak on public policy issues at member events from time to time and to help plan last year’s Spring Conference. A few weeks ago, the Council reached out to Taft Communications, where I’m a senior director, to help keep things humming in the wake of Nina’s departure. So here I am, joined by my Taft colleague Connie Ludwin.

We both have deep nonprofit backgrounds. Connie spent 25 years in the social sector, culminated by her service as CEO of The Boys & Girls Clubs of New Jersey. There, she created an award-winning model for the first statewide collaboration of Boys & Girls Clubs in the country. She is vice-chair of the board of the Center for Non-Profits, with which CNJG enjoys a longstanding partnership.

I made my way to the nonprofit community after time as a journalist for The Record newspaper of Bergen County and in government. I founded New Jersey Policy Perspective and was president for 12 years, before joining the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, DC. Now, I’m on NJPP’s board and I previously served on the boards of the Center for Non-Profits and the Maryland Center on Economic Policy, which I chaired.

I’ll be the public face of CNJG, focused on government and public relations, networking, board and committee relations, programs, events, member stewardship, and staff oversight. Connie functions as operations manager, dealing with financial oversight, revenue development, and such human resources areas as recruitment and hiring, although not for the new President; that search is in the board’s hands.

Connie and I know many CNJG members and look forward to meeting the rest — and working with you and CNJG’s exceptional staff to keep delivering value to the membership and the people you so ably serve across New Jersey.

The days preceding the end of Nina’s tenure were packed, none so much as May 24, when the Spring Colloquium's Breaking Through in the New Media Paradigm panel provided food for thought about important shifts in how nonprofits can and should communicate. You can revisit the event through photos and social media posts. Thank you to our generous event sponsors: Signature Sponsor PSEG; Contributing Sponsor Campbell Soup Foundation; Gift Sponsor The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey; Program Sponsor FirstEnergy Foundation; Exhibitor Sponsor PKF O’Connor Davies; and Supporting Sponsor Educational Testing Service. We also appreciate additional support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The festivities ended with friends, CNJG members, board, and staff, offering warm words of tribute to Nina, including the most heartfelt rendition of The Beatles’  “In My Life” I’ve ever heard.

Jon Shure, Interim President/CEO
Council of New Jersey Grantmakers