Adrienne Kirby, a New Vernon resident, has been involved with Preschool Advantage for the last ten years and has served on a number of committees as well as on the Board of Trustees.
After a career in Human Resources at Chase Manhattan Bank, Kirby focused on raising her children, while serving on the Parent Association Board of Peck School and the Gill St. Bernard’s School Board. She just stepped off a successful Capital Campaign for the Gill St. Bernard School. Local past leadership positions include the P.G. Chambers School, Morristown Medical Center, and the Church of Christ the King. Kirby is a board member of the Garden Club of Morristown and enjoys the civic nature of her work, as well as the philanthropic goals of the NJ Committee of the Garden Club of America.
Kirby is a graduate of Fairfield University, where a Family Literacy program is endowed in her name to support low-income children. Along with her husband, Dillard, she has two adult children. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening, tennis, and travel.
Bette Simmons holds the position of Vice President of Student Development & Enrollment Management at County College of Morris. Reporting to the president, Dr. Simmons supervises the staff and programs in Academic Advisement, Admissions, Athletics, Campus Life, Career Services & Cooperative Education, Counseling and Student Success, Enrollment Services, Financial Aid, Health Services, Records & Registration, and the Women’s Center. In addition to her demanding job, Dr. Simmons is active in the Morris County, New Jersey community. In addition to her role as Vice President at Preschool Advantage, Dr. Simmons is involved with the Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey, the Morris County Human Relations Commission, the African American Wellness Coalition, the Morristown Juvenile Conference Committee, the Morris County Park Alliance, and the Morris County Sexual Assault Advisory Board. She provides training for the Volunteers for Morris County as well as the Seton Hall University Board Leadership Institute. Professionally, she represents her institution and profession nationally. Presently, she sits on the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) Foundation Board.
Carolyn Simpson has been actively involved in education for over 30 years, beginning her career as an elementary school teacher in Virginia and continuing as a substitute teacher and tutor after moving to the Morristown, NJ, area in 1992. In addition to her volunteer work at Preschool Advantage, Simpson has served as a member of the Township Twig of the Women’s Association for Morristown Medical Center and is a member the Garden Club of Morristown. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees of The Land Conservancy of New Jersey. In her spare time Simpson enjoys gardening, photography, travel, and of course, educational causes.
Ray Hawkins is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) with Wealth Enhancement Group. As Sr. Vice President of the Financial and Estate Planning division, Ray offers his clients the benefits of problem solving in the areas of wealth strategies, executive compensation plans, tax reduction alternatives, charitable planning, and asset protection alternatives. Previously he worked in investment banking as Managing Director of Institutional Equities Trading for 12 years at JP Morgan and Vice President of Institutional Trading at CS First Boston for 16 years. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Kean University, and is also a member in good standing of the National Financial Planning Association (FPA), FPANJ, National Association of Estate Planners Council (NAEPC). Ray holds the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®), Accredited Wealth Management Advisor (AWMA®), Certified Advisor in Philanthropy (CAP®), Accredited Estate Planner (EAP®), Accredited Domestic Partnership Advisor (ADPA®), and Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP®) professional designations.
Gail Reuther is the Executive Director at Mt. Olive Child Care & Learning Center in Budd Lake, New Jersey. She is responsible for managing a long-standing child care and education Center which is both accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and 4-Star-Rated by Grow NJ Kids: New Jersey’s Quality Rating Improvement System.
Children aged 6 weeks through 13 years and their families are served by the Center. Gail is an active member of the Morris County Child Care Directors Association and currently serves as the President. In addition, she maintains a membership in the Coalition of Infant/Toddler Educators (CITE). Gail serves as the Co-Chair of Preschool Advantage’s School Committee. Formal education includes attending Douglas College (Rutgers University) for her Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Correction and Spanish and Kean University for her Teaching Credential and Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education.
Mark Cardone, First Senior Vice President for ConnectOne Bank is the Director of the Bank’s Commercial Banking Division. In 2008 Mark created an Independent School Banking Division within the Bank (then Union Center National Bank) that focuses solely on the banking needs of Independent Schools, specifically the financing (taxable and tax-exempt) of capital improvements and effective cash management strategies and structure. Today Mark manages the banking relationships of approximately forty Independent Schools located in New Jersey and New York, as well as relationships with half a dozen Colleges and Universities. Mark is responsible for the creation and delivery of business cash management services at ConnectOne, and also serves on the Bank’s Asset – Liability Committee. ConnectOne Bank is a Corporate Sponsor of the NJAIS and the NYSAIS and Mark is a past presenter at NJAIS Business Officers Conferences. Mark has spent his entire 30-year professional career as a New Jersey Banker, with the last 15 years at ConnectOne Bank/Union Center National Bank. Mark Cardone is a graduate of the American Bankers Associations’ Stonier Graduate School of Banking at the University of Pennsylvania.
Lauren Diemar is the Director of Curriculum at Saint John’s Nursery School in Bernardsville. Lauren holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Gettysburg and a Masters in Education from the Bank Street School of Education. Lauren lives in Bernardsville with her husband and three children, where she is very active in numerous community organizations.
Christina Dorando is the founder and CEO of Cresthill Academy, a Reggio based holistic early childhood education center with two in Hoboken and one each in Lyndhurst, Harrison, and East Hanover. In establishing her business, Christina’s work included developing business plans, securing the necessary state and local licensing and funding, and managing the associated construction projects. She now oversees a large professional staff at the five centers and retains responsibility for all operational, financial, marketing and human resource matters. Christina graduated from Carnegie Melon University with a degree in Policy & Management and International Relations, and received her M.Ed in International Education Policy from Harvard.
Eugene Huang has been practicing with Wiley Malehorn Sirota & Raynes since his admission to the Bar of the State of New Jersey in 1995. He became a partner of the firm in 2001. Eugene’s practice includes business law, commercial transactional law, estate planning and administration, environmental law, real estate, and local government law. Eugene has given seminars in the areas of estate planning, guardianship and employment law. Eugene is a member of the Estate Planning Council of Northern New Jersey. He is the immediate past president of the Preschool Advantage Board of Trustees, past president of the Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association of New Jersey and a past chair of the IOLTA fund of the State of New Jersey. He is a graduate of the Lawrenceville School; Boston College, where he graduated magna cum laude; and the New York University School of Law. He has three school age children including one just starting kindergarten.
Denise Lanza is Assistant Deputy Director, Morris County Park Commission and Executive Director of The Alliance for Morris County Parks, a New Jersey nonprofit supporting programs and facilities of the Morris County Park Commission. She is involved with numerous local notfor-profits and community organizations, including the North Jersey Health Collaborative, New Jersey Healthy Communities Network and the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority. Other organizations she has worked with in the past have included the Coalition for a Healthy New Jersey, Morris County Human Relations Commission, and the Morris County Tourism Bureau. Denise graduated from Montclair State University with a BS in Recreation and Leisure Studies and received her Masters of Administrative Science from Fairleigh Dickinson University. She is an adjunct professor at Kean University teaching “Fundraising in Parks and Recreation” and “Programs and Facility Design”
Karen Lombardo is President of KHL Consulting LLC, a specialized consulting firm that works with corporate and non-profit companies on the executive level to ensure that they have the structures and strategies in place to reach their goals. Prior to forming KHL, Karen was Executive Vice President of Gucci Group for Global Human Resources. At Gucci from 1985 to 2010, she helped turn the family-owned business into the third-largest luxury group in the world. As the Executive Vice President of Gucci Group, she implemented strategic initiatives that led to the recruitment and development of executive teams for brands such as Bottega Veneta, Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen and Boucheron. She helped to bring more than 200 top decision-makers to Gucci during her leadership of the company’s global HR operations. Coaching and leadership training were integral parts of her role. Karen holds a degree in Business Administration from William Paterson University
Yvette Long is President of ASPIRE, a Teen/Parent Development Consulting Firm, and Executive Director of Platinum Minds, a not for profit organization. Her focus is helping young men acquire an appreciation of the importance of high academic achievement, make better decisions and the development of leadership skills, self-confidence and an entrepreneur spirit. Yvette stresses the importance of education as a means to a better life, with a firm understanding and appreciation of the challenges young men face in society. Yvette is involved in many community organizations, including the Morristown Unity Methodist Church, the Morris County Human Relations Commission, the NAACP of Morris County, the Morris County Urban League and the Market Street Mission. Yvette attended Linfield College, Thomas Edison College and Montclair State University. She holds a BA in Social Science and is a Certified Teacher and Guidance Counselor, and a certified teacher of Psychology.
Josh Mackoff is a commercial real estate appraiser based in Morristown, NJ. He has been a board member of Preschool Advantage since 2013 and is active in fundraising. Prior to this he was a trustee of Temple B’Nai Or in Morristown and chairman of its religious school committee; a trustee of the Morris United Soccer Club; and past trustee of The Darcy School (now Chatham Day School).
Ginger Michaels is a licensed Clinical Social Worker (retired), Ginger practiced for over 25 years as a Board Certified diplomate in clinical social work. Ginger holds a BA from Montclair State University, an MSW from Rutgers and a Certificate in Family Therapy from the New Jersey Center for Family Studies in Millburn, N.J.
Matt Mirett is an attorney with Sherman Wells Sylvester & Stamelman LLP, practicing in the Banking and Financial Services group. Matt represents financial institutions in a broad range of real estate and asset-based finance transactions across a wide variety of industries. Matt joined Sherman Wells in 2015, after beginning his career at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP, a large Wall Street law firm. He graduated from Fordham Law School and the University of Pennsylvania, each with honors. Matt is admitted to the state Bars of New York and New Jersey. Matt lives in Morristown with his wife and two young sons who attend preschool at Temple B’nai Or.
Bob Peterson retired in 2001 from his position of school psychologist with the Rochester (New York) City School District as a school psychologist. Bob worked for the school district for 35 years, and for approximately 20 of those years, he worked in and helped develop a preschool program for three- to five-year-old children with learning disabilities. He has also worked professionally with alcoholics and compulsive gamblers. In addition to his work at Preschool Advantage, he is involved with the Parsippany Democratic Committee, the Parsippany Historical Society, the HUB camera club, and the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship. Bob holds a BA from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and a Masters/New York State certification in school psychology from Alfred University.
Judy retired from teaching in 2014, after more than 40 years as a Kindergarten teacher at The Peck School in Morristown. At Peck, Judy was also a long-serving member of the Admission Committee. Judy has volunteered at Preschool Advantage for many years, and, in 2019, she joined the Board of Trustees. Judy participates on the Child and School Committees, the Marketing Committee and the Gala Committee, which she co-chaired for two years. She previously served on the Greater Morristown YMCA Board, the Cornerstone Board and the Morristown Field Club Board of Governors as well as serving as President of the Field Club. Judy enjoys tennis and golf, teaches aerobic classes at the Greater Morristown YMCA, and volunteers at The Bargain Box affiliated with Atlantic Health Care.
Rick Thoeni retired in 2009 from his career as a sales and marketing professional in the IT and Healthcare sectors. He is a former President of the Preschool Advantage Board of Trustees, having led the organization for over four years. He also volunteers for the Jersey Battered Women’s service and for Meals on Wheels. Rick has also volunteered for Cub Scouts and Youth Soccer groups.
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