In accordance with New Jersey School Boards Association bylaws, a proposed slate of officers selected by the Nominating Committee – as well as a candidate running by petition – will be presented to the delegates for their vote at the semiannual Delegate Assembly on May 13, 2023.
The Nominating Committee selected the following school board members for election by the delegates to serve as NJSBA officers from 2023-2025.
- President – Karen Cortellino, Montville Township Board of Education (Morris).
- Vice President for County Activities – Barry Fitzgerald, Lenape Regional Board of Education (Burlington).
- Vice President for Finance – Jonathan Castaneda, West New York Board of Education (Hudson).
- Vice President for Legislation/Resolutions – Chanta L. Jackson, Neptune Township Board of Education (Monmouth).
NJSBA bylaws also provide a process for candidates to be nominated by petition. This year, one such candidate filed a petition by the deadline: Tom Connors, vice president of the Piscataway Board of Education, is running for vice president for finance.
According to guidelines set by the NJSBA board of directors, candidates for NJSBA officer positions are to receive publicity in School Board Notes. The information below is provided by the candidates.
Karen Cortellino, President (Selected by Nominating Committee)
Candidate’s statement: I am currently completing my second term as the NJSBA vice president for legislation/resolutions. I have found the experience extremely rewarding. This has been a difficult time, yet I have learned a great deal. I have been privileged to learn of legislative actions in real time. I have had the opportunity to work closely with the skilled NJSBA Governmental Relations staff and have honed my parliamentarian skills.
Prior to my term as an officer, I served in many other leadership positions, including on my local school board and at the county association. I have developed relationships with state legislators in my capacity as president of the Morris County School Boards Association and as a member of the MCSBA Legislative Committee, as well as my service as the board president for the Montville Township Board of Education.
I am a candidate for the position of president of the Association because I believe I have the skillset to continue Dr. Timothy Purnell’s successful onboarding as executive director. I am always prepared, open-minded and willing to hear all sides. I am accessible and available. I am an active listener with a firm belief in servant leadership.
Member Montville Township Board of Education-May 2006-Present
- Nominated School Board Member of the Year four times by fellow board members: 2013, 2017, 2018 and 2019.
- Served on every standing board committee.
- Served on various ad hoc committees.
- Served on five MTEA teacher negotiations.
- Chaired last three successful negotiations with the MTEA.
- Served on MTAA negotiation.
- Chaired MTESA negotiation.
- Created and chaired a separate Communications Committee.
- Participated in three superintendent searches.
- Delegate to Morris County School Boards Association, 2006 – 2014.
- Delegate to New Jersey School Boards Association, 2014-present.
- Liaison to Cedar Hill Elementary School Home and School Association, 2010 – present.
President Montville Township Board of Education- May 2010 to January 2016
- Instituted board liaisons to parent teacher groups at all seven schools.
- Instituted small celebrations for board member birthdays.
- Instituted and organized board member “breaking bread” dinners.
- Increased board representation and visibility at school and community events.
- Improved communication during public participation portion of public meetings.
- Initiated Safety and Security Committee.
- Led two superintendent searches.
- Led strong advocacy efforts on various issues, including superintendent’s salary cap, unfunded mandates and school funding. We held many meetings with state legislators, in and out of Morris County; we met with the Department of Education; we passed relevant resolutions.
Morris County School Boards Association
- First recipient of the Irene LeFebvre Excellence in Boardsmanship Award, as presented by the Morris County School Boards Association, June 2022.
- Vice president, Morris County SBA – May 2010 – May 2013.
- Board of directors, Morris County SBA – May 2008 – April 2010.
- Present active member – May 2006.
President, Morris County School Boards Association 2013-2019
- Visited all 41 school districts in Morris County with our message “Learn, Network, Eat” to encourage participation in county activities.
- Strong, relevant programming.
- Introduced Good News and Sharing in our agenda to share an innovative or original student program, a best practice, an achievement or something else of interest in Morris County schools. A few examples include original science research, robotics, genocide studies gallery walk, elementary financial literacy, STEM pals project, a collaborative initiative between school districts.
- We were the first county to start a county specific Legislative Committee, improving legislative advocacy for Morris County.
- Our political advocacy was strong. We held many meetings with state legislators, in and out of Morris County; we met with the Department of Education; we passed relevant resolutions; and we spoke with one Morris County voice.
- We improved communication with the membership for meeting information, advocacy and other activities.
- Sent out an introduction letter and “Welcome Back to School” letters.
- Reminded board presidents of upcoming meetings.
- We provided Highlights of every meeting to recap and enhance interest in attendance.
- We provided for the PowerPoint presentations from our meeting programs to be uploaded to the NJSBA/MCSBA website.
- Moved meetings to a different, larger catering venue.
- We updated our bylaws to make them more current and relevant.
- Recognized those individuals or boards with perfect attendance with a certificate of appreciation.
- Overall, we improved communication with the membership for meeting information, advocacy and other activities.
- Our attendance at meetings has grown.
- To recap what I am most proud of is our strong voice and comradery as school board members.
- Featured in the July/August 2018 School Leader, A Salute to NJ’s County School Boards Associations.
New Jersey School Boards Association
- Vice president legislation/resolutions May 2019 – present.
- Chair, Legislative Committee, May 2019 – present.
- Chair, Resolutions Subcommittee, May 2019 – present.
- Board of directors, 2019.
- Certified Board Leader, March 2015.
- Master Board Member, March 2014.
- Certified Board Member, May 2008.
- Invited to participate in NJSBA Strategic Planning 2018-2020, Sept. 9 and Oct. 6, 2017.
- Invited to participate in a Leadership Weekend Conference, April 2018.
- Member and alternate, Legislative Committee, District 26, 2009 – 2017.
- Member and alternate, Resolutions Subcommittee, 2012 – 2017.
- Member, Emergency Resolutions Sub-Committee, January 2016.
- Alternate, Resolutions Sub-Committee, January 2012 – December 2016.
- New Board Member Orientation Group Leader Governance I, January 2015.
- Ad Hoc Committee on NJSBA Governance, 2013.
- Strategic Planning, 2020.
- Ad Hoc Charter Schools Committee, 2017.
- County Association Leadership, May 2008.
- Conducted an Action Lab “How We Make an Effective Board Work” with 3 other board colleagues, Workshop 2013.
- Invited to participate in a Mock Board Learning Lab “Public Participation at Board Meetings,” sponsored by Schwartz Simon Edelstein & Celso, Workshop 2013.
- Invited to participate in “Building and Maintaining an Effective Governance Team,” sponsored by NJSBA, Workshop 2014.
- Invited to participate in “Pitfalls in Ethics and Board Governance for Board Members,” sponsored by Schwartz Simon Edelstein Celso, Workshop 2015.
Vice-President of Legislation 2019-Present
- Transitioned to the virtual environment smoothly and effectively.
- Attracted participation by influential members of the state Legislature.
- Chaired efficient and fair Legislative Committee and Resolutions Committee meetings.
- Managed the resolution portion of the Delegate Assembly effectively and efficiently in the virtual environment.
- Improved after-meeting reporting with expanded detailed summaries, embedded links and PowerPoints.
- Participated in NJSBA strategic planning, 2022 – 2024
- Faithfully attended the meetings of the four counties assigned, Mercer, Morris, Somerset, Union, as well as other county meetings around the state.
- NJSBA Ethics Committee, 2021 – present.
- Featured in the Winter 2022 School Leader, Advocacy Toolkit: How local school board members can impact legislation and regulations.
National School Boards Association
- Virtual Congressional Hill visits conducted by NJSBA Governmental Relations staff, June 2021, March 2022.
- Advocacy Institute, Equity Symposium, Washington D.C., January – February 2020.
- First recipient of the Irene LeFebvre Excellence in Boardsmanship Award, as presented by the Morris County School Boards Association, June 2022.
- Carole E. Larsen Master Board Certification, June 2022.
- Montville Good Scout Award, Boy Scouts of America, 2017.
- Project Playground, 2000 Chamber of Commerce Volunteer of the Year.
- Chair 2018, 2019, 2021 Boy Scouts of America Montville Good Scout Award committee and master of ceremonies at awards dinner celebration.
- Board of trustees and charter member, Towaco Civic Association.
- Towaco Civic Association, Montville Township Chamber of Commerce 2020 Organization of the Year.
- One Montville-Acceptance, Respect, Kindness.
- One Montville Response Team.
- Boy Scouts of America, Patriots Path Council, executive board member, retired.
- Greater Montville Township Relay for Life – 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022.
- Physician specializing in radiology, with subspecialty in breast imaging and intervention.
- Pink Breast Center, Paterson, New Jersey.
- Post-graduate training: New York Medical College, Valhalla, New York.
- Medical school: Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara, Guadalajara, Mexico.
- Undergraduate College: Queens College of the City University of New York, New York.
Barry Fitzgerald, Vice President of County Activities (Selected by Nominating Committee)
Candidate’s statement: I applied for the position of vice president of county activities because I saw all the great things that Bruce Young has done for Burlington County and the county leadership. I look forward to continuing in his footsteps.
If I am elected vice president of county activities, my leadership and past experience as a board member can help the NJSBA county boards with ideas for funding issues, ideas for county meetings and help to guide their schools and children with the changing climate surrounding social justice. I also bring a background in school safety from my time on the Lenape Regional High School District building and grounds committee. I am very excited to be part of the NJSBA team and learn from all the awesome people involved with NJSBA.
Local Board Activities
- Evesham Township School Board, 10-year member.
- President for three years, serving on various committees, including negotiations, personnel, policy and building and grounds.
- Lenape Regional High School Board, nine-year board member.
- Past president for two years. Served on various committees, including executive planning chair, policy and public relations chair, negotiations chair, nominating, transportation and food services and building and grounds.
- Vice president of Burlington County School Boards Association.
- District 8 alternate on the Legislative Committee.
- NJSIAA Executive Committee.
- NJSBA delegate.
- Miller Truck Leasing, Lumberton, serving as the rental director for 27 years.
- Evesham Township Municipal Alliance board member for 15 years.
- Commissioner of Marlton soccer for 10 years.
- Evesham Celebrations Foundation board member for 14 years.
- Evesham Township Town Watch vice president for eight years.
- Marlton Rec Council coach for 14 years.
Jonathan Castaneda, Vice President for Finance (Selected by Nominating Committee)
Candidate’s statement: I am running for vice president of finance because our work as board members has a profound impact on the development of our children. A proud product of West New York public schools, of the Head Start program, and a graduate of EOF, I hold dear the countless educational investments that have helped pave the way for me and my family.
NJSBA’s continued advocacy on behalf of our students, especially on matters of diversity and inclusion, and the invaluable support that the organization offers our board members is essential to ensuring our schools and students continue to be top in the nation, and I look forward to working with NJSBA to accomplish just that.
Local Board Activities
- West New York Board of Education, 2016 – present.
- Certified Board Member, Master Board Member, Certified Board Leader.
- Vice President, January 2023 – present.
- Chair, Finance, January 2016 – present.
- Hudson County representative, 2016 – 2018.
- NJSBA delegate, 2017-2019.
- Hudson County representative, board of directors 2022 – present.
- BS, diplomacy and international relations, Seton Hall University.
- MPA, Master of Public Administration, Seton Hall University.
- MCRP, Master of City and Regional Planning, Rutgers University.
Employment/ Community Activities
- Special projects manager, town of West New York, December 2021 – present.
- Municipal administrator, town of West New York, May 2019 – December 2021.
- Chair, West New York Housing Corp., February 2017 – present.
- Member, West New York Planning Board, May 2019 – present.
Tom Connors, Vice President for Finance (Nomination by Petition)
Candidate’s statement: I’m seeking this position because it’s important to ensure that the Association maintains the proper resources to support our membership. From my professional work at a Fortune 500 company and as two-time president of the Piscataway Board of Education, I know how organizations’ budgets are developed and understand the complexities of public education. At the local level, I chaired our board’s Fiscal Planning and Operations Committee for seven years. As chairperson of the NJSBA School Finance Committee for five years, I helped districts understand the state funding formula law that impacts all types of New Jersey school districts. I have also served on the NJSBA Finance Committee, developing the Association’s annual budget. Also, from 2015 to 2020, I was a trustee and member of the Finance Committee of the New Jersey Schools Insurance Group. Most recently, I served on the Association’s Ad Hoc Dues Reassessment Committee that had the charge to develop a dues formula that was equitable for all school districts. Lastly, I ask a lot of questions and am known as “the numbers guy.” I think this is because of my science background. I would love to be given the opportunity to serve as our vice president for finance.
- Piscataway Township Board of Education.
- Type of board: K-12 district.
- Length of service: 14 years.
- Board president, 2022; vice president, 2023
- Committees served on include (served as chair in some cases): Fiscal Policy and Operations; Policy; Legislation; Curriculum and Programs, Community Relations
- Board liaison service includes Children’s Corner Preschool; Randolphville Elementary; Arbor Intermediate; Piscataway High School.
- Term expiration: January 2025.
County Positions/Committees and Dates of Service
- March 2011 to May 2014: Board representative to Middlesex County School Boards Association.
NJSBA Positions/Committees and Dates of Service
- NJSBA Board of Directors, alternate delegate.
- NJSBA Board Member Academy: Certified Board Member, 2013; Master Board Member, 2015; Certified Board Leader, 2018.
- Committees served on include (served as chair in some cases): School Finance; Finance; Legislative; Resolutions Subcommittee; Resolutions Emergency Subcommittee; Dues Reassessment, Bylaws Review; Governance Task Force; Nominations.
- Trustee, New Jersey Schools Insurance Group.
- Delegate, Delegate Assembly.
- 1987: Harold Spencer Schwenk Postdoctoral Fellow.
- University of Connecticut Institute of Water Resources.
- Connecticut State Department of Health.
- Laboratory Bureau, Hartford, Connecticut.
- 1986: Ph.D., analytical chemistry, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut.
- 1983: M.Sc., analytical chemistry, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut.
- 1980: B.A., molecular biology, Eastern Connecticut State College, Willimantic, Connecticut.
Connors is retired from the Technology Division of Colgate-Palmolive, a Fortune 500 global consumer products company. He worked at their Corporate Technology Center in Piscataway, New Jersey for 24 years from 1988 to 2012. He did global research and development and managed multimillion dollars budgets and projects. He did new product development, worked as a Ph.D. formulation chemist and helped commercialize many new products. He holds 41 formulation patents. He has been a member of the American Chemical Society and American Association for the Advancement of Science since 1982. In his research career, he authored/co-authored 33 scientific peer-reviewed publications and is an academic “Google Scholar.”
Connors is a former Piscataway Soccer Club executive board member and USSF licensed coach. He was also a youth sports coach in Little League and middle school recreation basketball. He was a coach when Piscataway Township received the Sports Illustrated “Sports Town USA” Award in 2003. He’s a former member of the High School Athletic Booster Club and on the executive board of the Superchief Band Parents Association. He is also a former member of the Piscataway Township Mayor’s Environmental Advisory and Open Space Committees.
Chanta L. Jackson, Vice President for Legislation/Resolutions (Selected by Nominating Committee)
Candidate’s statement: As a 25-year journalist and communications professional, I have been trained to be objective and accurately represent the views of others. I also have worked with all levels of government and understand the delicate balance that should exist. I have been a registered parliamentarian with the National Association of Parliamentarians since 2020. My desired focus areas include advocating for legislation to streamline the teacher certification process/expand reciprocity agreements, allowing traditional public schools to offer CTE programs independent of county vocational schools, teaching local boards to reduce reliance on aid, and expanding social-emotional learning supports.
Local Board Activities
- Neptune Township, February 2012 – December 2018; January 2020 – present.
- President, 2021 – present.
- Vice president, 2013 – 2017.
- Superintendent search chair, 2015.
- Former operations, personnel chair.
- Monmouth County School Boards Association, vice president of legislation, 2016 – 2017.
- Monmouth County School Boards Association, vice president, 2017 – 2018.
- Urban Boards, 2012 – present.
- Accountability Regulations Task Force, 2015 – 2017.
- Bylaws Committee, 2015.
- Nominating Committee, 2016.
- Certified Board Leader, 2016.
- Urban Board Alternate Delegate BOD, 2021 – present.
- University of Maryland College Park, B.A., communications (RTVF).
- Northwestern Maynard Management at Kellogg Fellowship.
- Communications officer/registrar, Asbury Park School District.
- Monmouth County Youth Services Commission, 2016 – present.
- University of Maryland New Jersey Alumni Network Board, 2022 – present.
- Monmouth County Alumnae Chapter Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.