Amy is an artist, the mother of two teenage boys, and a maker of magic who doesn't need a wand. She's the co-owner of The Creativity Caravan, a creative arts studio, gallery, and imaginarium located in Montclair. Amy and her partner, Maya Stein, believe creativity can change lives by building self-confidence, harnessing imagination, helping to practice problem-solving, and bridging differences. Their programs are centered on the joy of discovery and power of collaborative learning. Their business originally was started inside a vintage caravan, which still hits the road once in a while to bring large-scale community arts projects to locations all over the United States.
Brett Epstein is currently a senior at the College of Charleston due to graduate in May 2018. Brett has spent the majority of his college life devoted to helping those that struggle with mental health while he himself has made great strides with his struggle. An accomplished athlete, having competed at the highest levels in the hockey, both roller and ice, as a goaltender, his fight to remove the stigma around mental health, especially for male athletes has become paramount. Brett currently publishes a blog entitled BEHINDTHEMASKBLOG.COM in his efforts to keep the conversations going. He has been published on many sites, including NAMI.org, ProjectSemiColon.com, RevisionHockey.com, and was interviewed by the NY Times’ Frank Bruni for his piece entitled The Real Campus Scourge (9/2017). Brett is also a JED storyteller, having completed a training with The Moth. The JED Foundation is committed to protecting emotional health and preventing suicide in those transitioning into adulthood, a particularly difficult time in one’s life. Brett is committed to removing the stigma around mental health and is an advocate for all those suffering. It’s OK to not be OK are words he lives by and encourages those that need it to seek help.
Ms. Churgin is a NJ Licensed Social Worker. She received her Masters in Social Work at Rutgers University Graduate School of Social Work. Ms. Churgin has been working with parents and children in suburban and urban communities for the past 20 years. As a teacher, Student Assistance Coordinator, Parent Coordinator, and counselor Ms. Churgin's passion is facilitating the development of social and emotional skills needed for life’s successes.
Charles Rosen is the founder of Jersey Cider Works, makers of Ironbound Hard Cider, and New Ark Farms – a Newark-based social enterprise focused on workforce development and regenerative agriculture. In addition to New Ark Farm’s commitment to providing living wages to ex-offenders and other underserved members of the Greater Newark community, the company, in partnership with Columbia University, has developed a curriculum to educate employees in character development, conflict resolution, and communications skills. Charles believes that this “soft-skills” training will build a stronger workforce, while also arming his employees with the tools needed to better serve their own communities. As he builds this network of integrated companies, Charles draws heavily on his background as co-founder and former CEO of Amalgamated, a fully-integrated advertising agency and brand consultancy globally recognized for its proprietary strategic approach known as Cultural Branding – a methodology for establishing brands as cultural leaders. In addition to his duties as CEO, Charles led the agency’s efforts in social justice and political advocacy. Charles, a former attorney and movie producer, currently sits on the Mayor of Newark’s Corporate Advisory Council, the Newark Workforce Investment Board, and the Board of Advisors of Montclair State University’s College of Science and Mathematics. He graduated magna cum laude from Syracuse University College of Law in 1993.
S.O.F.I.A. is focused on helping women and children who have experienced Domestic Violence become self-sufficient, positive and successful. We offer a variety of workshops that encourages advocacy and outreach, a Support Group for those who have experienced Domestic Violence, Motivational and Financial Empowerment workshops for families. Cynthia Walker is the Founder, Visionary & Executive Director of S.O.F.I.A., a Certified Domestic Violence Advocate for the Clifton/Little Falls NJ Police Dept. Domestic Violence Response Team, past mentor with Sister to Sister, a teen mentoring program at Montclair High School, National Domestic Violence Advocate for Black Women Empowered based in Greensboro, North Carolina and wears a host of several hats within the community. Our newly formed, D’VINE (Domestic Violence Intervention Network and Education) Men’s group is currently seeking a few good men that discuss working solutions to "Break the Cycle of Domestic Violence" in the community. Join our outreach of males of ALL ages to teach and practice being "Well Meaning Man." In 2010 S.O.F.I.A. launched the S.O.F.I.A. Safe Dating Interactive presentations which consist of a series of Dating and Domestic Violence workshops to bring awareness, prevention and education to teens and adults in our community. These workshops were presented throughout New Jersey to over 4700 participants and we look forward to offering these workshops throughout the country. S.O.F.I.A. is the proud recipient of North Carolina based Black Women Empowered Community Service Award 2012, Montclair NAACP 97th Annual Thurgood Marshall Freedom Fund “The Julian Bond” Community Service Award 2013, Essex County New Jersey Board of Chosen Freeholders Proclamation Community Service for Domestic Violence 2013, Giblin Association Community Service Donation for 2013, Ambassador of the 25th Montclair African American Heritage Parade and Festival 2014, and The 2017 Circle Of Champions based in Brooklyn NY. We are truly dedicated and committed to our work within the community, beyond solely helping domestic violence victims. We are an organization that sincerely cares and is actively involved in changing the current domestic violence statistics. “God gave us two ears and one mouth and that is the exact order that we, as a community, should use them”. “Train yourself to be a good listener.” It could save a life. Peace and Blessings, Cynthia Walker
Diana worked in higher education for 12 years gaining experience in college counseling, student affairs and academic services before joining JED. She is a licensed mental health therapist and registered yoga instructor. Diana holds a B.A degree in Psychology from Central Connecticut State University and a M.S. degree in Mental Health Counseling from Pace University.
I am an alum of MHS and a current student at Cornell University, and I made a video for a homework assignment about my college transition. It went viral (which was very cool) and since then I have done a lot of interviews and advised groups on how to address loneliness for freshmen in college.
Ghana Imani Hylton has over twenty years of experience in Human Resources as a Manager then Director in New York City businesses. She volunteered at a number of non-profits: At City Kids she taught teens how to find, interview for, and succeed in a job. At the annual Bridge Street Women’s Empowerment Conference she helps women navigating career challenges such as returning to the workforce or downsizing. She is also a writer, poet & music aficionado. Her most recent essay can be found in We Got Issues! A Young Woman’s Guide to A Bold, Courageous and Empowered Life and she was recently quoted in The Cover That Time Forgot an article about Time Magazines 2017 Person of the Year, on TheRoot.com. She returned to her hometown of Montclair after residing for 20 years in Brooklyn NY, with her music-teacher husband and their three children.
Helaina Altabef is the founder of Tame the Teen, virtual coaching and education for parents of teens who want to do more than (barely) survive the teen years. She began her career in 2001 as a New York City Teaching Fellow, which provided the foundation for the role of teacher and mentor. Her teaching career is diverse: She has worked in both public and private schools in New York, Oregon, and New Jersey. Her expertise is in writing and reading. Since 2011, Helaina works privately as an educator through Pique Learning, which aims to prepare students with reading, critical thinking, communication, organizational and problem-solving skills. Her experience is that by fostering greater understanding, establishing boundaries and expectations and increasing clear communication, families become less stressed and remain connected. Helaina received a Bachelor’s degree with honors in English from the State University of New York, Fredonia, a Master’s degree in Education from Pace University, and a coaching certification from the International Coaching Academy.
Israel Cronk is a graduate of Montclair High School. However, before he came to Montclair as a sophomore, he had been in 12 different school systems throughout New Jersey, Florida, Virginia, and Puerto Rico. Being the "new kid" every year wasn't easy - especially with a name like "Israel"! Being an artist, athlete, nerd, a kid who had gone through two divorces, or even the "class clown" wasn't always the answer to creating great connections with other people. It did, however, play a big part in understanding who he was on the inside. Understanding that simple fact was the secret to wonderful success in the classroom and beyond. Join Israel on a journey to getting comfortable in your own skin and being proud about not fitting in!
After working in the Technology/Audio/Visual sector of the hospitality industry for over a decade, Jeff decided to open East Side Mags - a comic book/collectible/pop-culture novelty shop - in Montclair NJ. Having spent his post-college career managing multi-million dollar operations with the support and guidance of excellent mentors, Jeff realized the management skills he acquired were easily scaled down for a smaller enterprise. This realization coupled with Jeff's love for comics, pop-culture, and arts led him to make the decision to go for his dreams and open a retail shop that specializes in a "for all" approach both in management style and sales approach. The store is infused with Jeff's dedication and passion for finding success doing something he loves. East Side Mags doesn't cater to just one type of person, it is a place where everyone is welcome, anyone can find something new or interesting and, above all, everyone can have a great time!
Joseph Davis, Jr. is a deeply committed husband, focused dad, fitness center owner/operator, and community leader. A graduate of Rutgers University, he is a twenty five-year expert in pharmaceutical sales, certified personal trainer, and long-standing mentor to adolescent young men. Most recently he started Balanced Solutions Consulting which is designed to provide leadership and development for elementary, middle and high school students in grades 4 through 12. Joe who is no stranger to volunteering and mentoring has coached Kinderkicker’s soccer, T-ball, softball, baseball, football, and is a strong advocate for developing youth into responsible citizens. He served as Program Director of Brother to Brother mentoring a nonprofit organization for nine years and most recently became the Executive Director. Joe maintains a deep commitment to improving the lives of teenage boys who can use a positive helping hand to become productive citizens. Through his efforts, along with the mentors and volunteers, Joe has proven his ability to maintain a high-level of student attendance and retention, drive better mentor performance, and boost program improvement through quality initiatives. Joe has increased Brother to Brother’s community support, developed key coalitions, and has built local relationships with a shared sense of purpose. Over the past nine years, Joe has tripled the amount of student participation by increasing the amount of fun and educational activities; quadrupled the program’s fundraising goals, increased active student involvement in community events such as helping locals clean up after Hurricane Sandy, and increased family involvement in shaping and maintaining the program’s mission. Joe has also increased Brother to Brother’s emphasis toward uncomfortable topics such as bullying, diversity, the dramatic uptick in more dangerous forms of teenage drug and alcohol use, conflict resolution, violence against females, cultural sensitivity, and direct perils to their lives by making sometimes unwise and unhealthy life choices. Joe and his wife Donna have three children, Justin, Danielle, and Deja and a granddaughter Tyler. Despite juggling multiple commitments, family demands, and responsibilities, Joe’s passion for the Brother to Brother program is a source of strength for the organization, and his desire to "empower young men" has brought about important advancements to the teenagers he serves.
Kamillah currently is a full time mom to a five year old and works full time on Unilever’s Perfect Store Team focused on Market Development. She joined the company in June 2015 and is responsible for helping to expand Unilever’s market in convenience stores as well as around the Perfect Cities (PC) initiative. The PC initiative focuses on building brands like Hellmann’s mayonnaise, Country Crock and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spreads, Knorr, and Lipton tea, aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of underserved communities through access to fresh food and healthy cooking education. Kamillah is the co-lead in the Be the force pillar in Unilever Enactus, the company’s business resource group (BRG) for engaging students around the USLP with sustainable projects. Kamillah recently spearheaded an initiative called the Leadership Development Institute (LDI) ,through Black Excellence at Unilever (BE-U), another BRG at Unilever. The LDI program allowed high school students the opportunity to come into Unilever on a weekly basis, gaining exposure to the corporate setting while preparing them for challenges/obstacles that they will come to face in future college or work settings. The students worked on a case study focused on different departments in the business, listened to several senior leaders talk about their experiences and departments, engaged in community service, and networked with different people throughout the business. Kamillah has also helped to lead various sustainable initiatives within the company including Sustainable Sourcing trainings for ingredients suppliers, a move to reduce usage of disposable cutlery and cups on Unilever’s campus, and more. In Kamillah's spare time she serves on the Montclair Foundation for Educational Excellence board, as a registration chair for the Cornell Black Alumni Association, and as an ambassador of the Cornell Alumni Admissions Ambassador Network. Prior to joining Unilever, Kamillah was a student at Cornell where she received an MPA in 2015, during which she completed the Environmental Finance and Impact Investing program and the Sustainable Global Enterprise program. She also received a BA in Economics, a BA in Sociology and Spanish minor in 2013 from Cornell, where she concentrated on Business, Networks, and Institutions. At Cornell Kamillah served as a tour guide and a graduate student assistant, in addition to being a member of the Women's Rugby team. Kamillah has a strong background and tie to Montclair where she grew up. She was schooled in Nishuane, Hillside, Glenfield, and Montclair High School. Upon graduating from Montclair High School, Kamillah was in all AP courses and was a three varsity sport athlete in swimming, cross country running, and lacrosse. She was also the president of her class (09), the president of the National Honor Society, and the vice president of the NAACP's youth council. She was a member of the Black Student Union, the math league and the statistics league. She served as a math tutor at Ivy prep and a life guard at local swimming pools. Kamillah was also a senior girl scout, having completed her silver award.
Kristin is a trained Domestic Violence Response Team (DVRT) member, and volunteers with S.O.F.I.A. to run workshops on Healthy Relationships and Recognizing the Signs of Domestic Violence. She is also active in working to strengthen commonsense gun laws, especially as they intersect with domestic violence and the safety of women and families and the communities in which they live.
I wrote my first poem, “Papa Tree and the Seasons,” when I was 9 years old. It told the story of the life cycle of leaves, honing specifically on the fate of one little leaf who is the last one clinging to the branch before winter comes. I bound this poem into a little book, filled it with color pencil drawings, and proudly offered it up to my parents one evening. And I see now that this quite accurately represents the instincts behind most of my work to date – the desire to capture that which is most fleeting, to locate the heart of its beauty and power, sustain its life through language, and share that language with others. I have always believed that much of writing is actually about seeing, about paying attention, listening in, getting up close and personal with the details, and I have built a poetry practice - and a life practice - based on this.
Rochelle Carter-Wilson is a speaker, certified coach, public school advocate, and former Human Resources Executive currently working for a SaaS start-up. Endlessly curious, she looks for innovative ways to tell stories about the extraordinary and the very ordinary. Asked what she does professionally, she says, “I’m a writer. I help the world see things innovatively, because imagination can be as powerful as knowledge.”
Tessa Vining is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor at Mindsoother Therapy Center in Livingston, NJ. Tessa has over 15 years of clinical experience working with young people, and their families, who are struggling with a wide range of emotional and psychological issues, as well as, exhibiting harmful behaviors such as eating disorders and alcohol and drug addiction. In addition to her clinical practice, Tessa has extensive experience educating communities through panel discussions, presentations, seminars, small work groups and more. Topics include drug and alcohol prevention, education and treatment; cyber literacy and its effects on child/adolescent development; and mindfulness.