FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Anthony Puglisi March 19, 2010 973-621-2542 Lauren Shears 973-621-1590 ESSEX COUNTY EXECUTIVE DIVINCENZO HOSTED ANNUAL ESSEX COUNTY WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH CELEBRATION 2010 Althea Gibson Leadership Awards are Presented to: Marie Strumolo Burke, Belleville Councilwoman Kathleen DiChiara, Founder/Executive Director of the Community FoodBank of NJ Rev. Maria Ortiz, Associate Minister of Christian Love Baptist Church Deborah Terrell, Principal of Newark’s Harriet Tubman School Newark, NJ – Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr., hosted the County’s Annual Women’s History Month Program at the Essex County Hall of Records on Friday, March 19 th. During the ceremony, the 2010 Essex County Althea Gibson Leadership Awards were presented to the Honorable Marie Strumolo Burke, Belleville Councilwoman; Kathleen DiChiara, Founder/Executive Director of the Community FoodBank of NJ in Hillside; Rev. Maria J. Ortiz, Associate Minister at Christian Love Baptist Church in Irvington; and Deborah Terrell, Principal of the Harriet Tubman School in Newark. “Through their personal contributions and professional activities, Councilwoman Strumolo Burke, Kathleen DiChiara, Rev. Maria Ortiz and Principal Deborah Terrell, each in their own unique way, have had a profound effect on the lives of our residents. They all freely give their time and expertise to improve our community,” DiVincenzo said. “These remarkable women have made tremendous contributions to improve quality of life and have established themselves as influential leaders in their fields,” he added. “Women help to sustain us because they have the ability to do everything for our community. All that we experience today is because some woman never gave up,” said Newark Mayor Cory A. Booker. “Thank you to the honorees and all the women who work hard to ensure that we continue to progress,” he added. “I am truly blessed to have been raised in a family with strong women as role models and, because of this, the idea that there are limitations to what a woman can achieve is foreign to me,” said NJ Department of Community Affairs Acting Commissioner Lori Grifa. “I congratulate all the honorees today for the outstanding work they are doing in their communities,” she added. The Honorable Marie Strumolo Burke, long-time resident of Belleville, was elected to her first term as First Ward Councilwoman in Belleville in 2004 and re-elected in 2008. She has been the President and Co-Founder of the Silver Lake Civic Association for 17 years, Clerk of the Belleville Planning Board for 20 years, Chairperson of the Belleville Democratic Committee, and the author of “Life in Silver Lake” for The Belleville Times. Councilwoman Strumolo Burke is the recipient of numerous awards for her civic engagement throughout the community, including the Woman of the Year Award from the Kevin Kennedy Civic Association, the Silver Card from the Belleville Police Department, which is the highest civilian award, the Distinguished Service Award and many others from State and local organizations. She is a graduate of Central High School, where she was Valedictorian of her senior class. “I am thrilled to receive this award from the County Executive,” said Strumolo Bruke. “I truly believe that actions speak louder than words and that’s how I live my life and serve my constituents. I just do what has to be done as things come along,” she added. Kathleen DiChiara, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, began distributing food from her car trunk in 1975 with the vision of serving those in need. In 1978, she began the Emergency Food Program for the Archdiocese of Newark and in 1980 the FoodBank. In 1982, she formed the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, a non-profit corporation, housed in an old slaughterhouse in Newark that began with a staff of five and distributed 75,000 pounds of food to 80 charities that year. Today, because of Ms. DiChiara’s dedication and leadership, the FoodBank has grown to a staff of 144, over 25,000 volunteers, two warehouses and a small fleet of trucks, and they have distributed over 33 million pounds of food to more than 1,500 charities. The FoodBank also has a commercial-size kitchen, Kids Cafes and Thrift Shop; offers job training and food rescue programs; and distributes children’s clothing and school supplies out of the main warehouse in Hillside. At the FoodBank’s second warehouse in Pleasantville, there is a community garden, an emergency pantry and several food rescue programs are provided. Kathleen has received numerous awards, including those from three Presidents, three NJ Governors and the Pope. Ms. DiChiara was the recipient of the John van Hengel Fellow Award for her vision and leadership of one of the most innovative and productive food banks in the country. During her more than 30 years of involvement with food distribution to the needy, she has designed and implemented programs to alleviate hunger and poverty that have been replicated by food banks across the nation. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Education from SUNY- Oneonta and seven honorary Doctorate Degrees from universities in New Jersey and New York. “I am honored to receive this award, but I never could have done it alone. There have been so many people who have joined together to help over 750,000 people,” said DiChiara. “I cannot remember a time when so many people are going without such a basic need as food. We cannot continue to have our children, elderly and working poor going without food. We need even more people to help,” she added. Reverend Maria J. Ortiz relocated to Newark from the Dominican Republic in 1981 and attended the Newark Public Schools. She has worked for the Newark Public Schools for ten years and is currently the Vice Principal of the Rafael Hernandez Elementary School in Newark and an Associate Minister at Christian Love Baptist Church in Irvington. Rev. Ortiz earned her Bachelor’s Degree in English Writing and Teacher Certification with honors from William Paterson University in 2001, her Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Teaching with Summa Cum Laude honors from Columbia University in 2004 and is currently pursuing her Masters of Divinity Degree from Drew Theological Seminary. At Columbia, she was inducted into the Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society and received several scholarships and honorariums from the Columbia University Diversity Scholarship Organization. Rev. Ortiz’s unyielding commitment to serve has taken her around the world. While at William Paterson, she completed two study abroad programs in Portsmouth, England and Accra, Ghana and she has supported and visited foreign ministries in Latin America (Honduras, Dominican Republic, Columbia), Africa (Ghana, Liberia) and in the United States (Mississippi, Rhode Island). Rev. Ortiz serves on the Board of Trustees for LaCasa De Don Pedro, NPO. She has earned numerous awards and honors for her work as an educator and leader in the community, such as the Newark Public School Superintendent Grant Award, William Paterson University- EOF Outstanding Leadership Award, the Cambridge Award for “Who’s Who Among American Professionals” and the NJ State Thomas Kean Outstanding Leadership Award. Rev. Ortiz is currently resides in Newark with her family. “My mother worked hard every day and she taught me to value opportunity, education, leadership and love,” said Ortiz. “I am who I am today because of her and I truly thank the County Executive for this great honor,” she added. Deborah Terrell has been the Principal of the Harriet Tubman School for the past 10 years. As principal, she and her staff work to exemplify the school’s motto, “Excellence by Design.” Under Principal Terrell’s leadership, Harriet Tubman School was recognized as a 2007 National Blue Ribbon School and received the 2008 National Excellence in Urban Education Award. Harriet Tubman School was the only urban school in New Jersey to simultaneously receive both of these prestigious awards. Prior to serving as Principal of Harriet Tubman, Ms. Terrell served as the Vice Principal of Ann Street School and was a member of the administrative team that was recognized as the District’s first National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence. Principal Terrell is the only Newark Public Schools administrator to receive the National Blue Ribbon School recognition in her respective positions as Vice Principal and Principal. Principal Terrell is the President of the National Organization of African-American Administrators, Co-Chair of the Newark Public School/Charter School Collaboration and serves as an Executive Board Member of the City Association of Supervisors & Administrators. Ms. Terrell has established herself as a dynamic leader and educator and has been recognized for her leadership on several occasions. She was the recipient of the Benedetto Croce Educational Society’s Distinguished Leadership Award, the Organization of African American Administrators’ Educational Leadership Award and was recognized by the Newark Municipal Council, the Bronze Shields, Inc. and the Greater Newark Alliance of Black School Educators, Inc. for her leadership and commitment to educational excellence. She is a product of Newark Public Schools, having attended Hawkins Street School and East Side High School. She earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree from Rutgers University and her Master of Arts Degree from Montclair State University. “It is important that we not only plant the seeds for success in our children’s lives, but nurture them as well. I am proud to be a woman and a principal, but most importantly a keeper of children,” said Terrell. “I thank the County Executive for this great honor,” she added. The entertainment was provided by Kathy Brown of the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders Office, who sang the National Anthem, and the Arts High School Gospel Choir rendered two selections, under the direction of Arts High English Teacher, Scott O. Cumberbatch. The Annual Essex County Althea Gibson Leadership Awards are dedicated to the memory of the late professional tennis and golf legend, who was the first African-American to win the Wimbledon Tennis and U.S. Golf Championships. In 1957, Ms. Gibson became the first African- American to win the All-England Championship. That same year she became the first black to be voted by the Associated Press as its Female Athlete of the Year. The Althea Gibson Foundation exposes children in the inner city to the game of tennis and golf, and provides recreational activities for students during the summer. The Women’s History Month Celebration is part of a year long cultural series created by County Executive DiVincenzo to highlight the diversity and various ethnic groups in Essex County. Other cultural celebrations celebrate African American Heritage, Irish Heritage, Italian Heritage, Jewish Heritage, Latino Heritage and Portuguese Heritage.
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