Daniel Thomas Sinclair, who served as president of the New Jersey School Boards Association from 2017-2019, died Saturday, July 6 after a courageous fight with cancer.  He was 75 and lived in Wanaque, New Jersey.

A career educator, Sinclair, was born in Paterson and raised in Prospect Park.  He graduated from Glassboro State College, now Rowan University, with a degree in education and received a master’s in school administration from William Paterson University.  He retired as director of cooperative education at Bergen County Special Services school district, where he worked for 39 years.

Sinclair was a member of the Lakeland Regional Board of Education from 2016 to 2021; prior to that, he served on the Wanaque Board of Education from 1999 to 2016, including six years as the board president.

While NJSBA president, Sinclair was a tireless advocate for vocational education and the driving force behind NJSBA’s Task Force on Educational Opportunities for the Non-College-Bound Learner, which made recommendations to improve opportunities for students in career and technical education programs.

“Dan Sinclair dedicated himself to public education for his entire adult life, especially to the needs of the career-focused learner” said Dr. Timothy J. Purnell, NJSBA executive director and CEO. “He believed that New Jersey schools were not providing enough vocational-technical opportunities, and he worked diligently to change that. He will be missed. We extend heartfelt sympathies to Dan’s wife, Linda, and their children and grandchildren.”

“In addition to his work on his own board, and as a supporter of vocational technical education, Dan was a committed volunteer at NJSBA,” said Karen Cortellino, M.D., NJSBA president. “In his roles as president, officer, board of directors member, member of task forces and committees, and as a trainer of new board members, he made significant contributions to the New Jersey School Boards Association — and we are grateful for his service. On a personal note, Dan was a friend and mentor. He encouraged me to pursue leadership in NJSBA. He supported ideas and made you feel relevant. He contributed so much to new board members through weekend training, and as an educational professional he was an unwavering advocate for all students, in particular the career-focused learner. I will miss the banter on our rides to Trenton and his friendship. My heart goes out to Linda and the family. ”

Before his term as the president, he served as NJSBA’s vice president for county activities, as president of the Passaic County School Boards Association, on the NJSBA board of directors, and on several NJSBA task forces. He also spent several years as a trainer at NJSBA orientation programs for newly elected and appointed school board members.

Tributes from NJSBA’s Past Presidents   Several NJSBA past presidents paid tribute to Sinclair.

“Dan was an NJSBA superstar. Hundreds of board members knew him as an amazing small group leader at our weekend trainings. As president of the Association, he turned our focus to the career oriented – not immediately college-bound student. As a colleague, he led us all to be our best selves, so we could do the best for all the students of our respective districts. His untiring efforts at the local level brought positive outcomes for both Wanaque and Lakeland students. We will miss Dan — our gentle giant whose heart was big enough to embrace not only Linda and their boys but every board member who needed a mentor or a friend.”  — Irene LeFebvre, NJSBA president, 2021-2023 

“Dan was a very focused NJSBA president. He was going to make sure we did a report on the non-college-bound learner. His input on that report was heartfelt. It was my pleasure to work with him as vice president for finance.  When I was president, he was the best past president that anyone could have.”  — Michael McClure, NJSBA president, 2019-2021

“Dan was an advocate for all children in New Jersey, especially career-focused learners who were near and dear to his heart!”  — John Bulina, NJSBA president, 2012-2014

“Dan was a giant of a man in many more ways than his physical stature.   He leaves behind a legacy of dedicated participation and achievement in so many education-related areas.  As a teacher, Dan brought a passion for the best interests of our children to his leadership roles at NJSBA.  In particular, his advocacy for non-college bound learners was second to none.  Those who knew him and worked with him all benefitted from his leadership.   Even more remarkable is the fact that so many students and teachers who may never have had the pleasure of meeting Dan benefited from his character, leadership and achievements.  I am very proud to have called Dan a colleague and a friend.”  — Ray Wiss, NJSBA president 2010-2012.

“Dan was a true champion for vocational education and the need for 21st-century programs for non-college-bound learners. Those needs became the hallmark of his well-executed NJSBA presidency. Dan’s legacy lives on through the hundreds of school board members he mentored as a group leader in NJSBA’s Board Member Academy programs and the students they impact each day.” — Kevin Ciak, NJSBA president, 2006-2008

Sinclair is survived by his wife Linda (nee Cosgrove), sons Ryan (Alexandra) and Evan (Catherine), and three grandchildren, Jack, Campbell and Genevieve.

Calling hours are from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, July 10, 2024, at the Browning-Forshay Funeral Home, 557 Lafayette Ave, Hawthorne, NJ 07506. A Funeral Mass will be held on Thursday, July 11, 2024, at 11 a.m. at St Mary’s RC Church, 17 Pompton Ave, Pompton Lakes, NJ 07442.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Wanaque Haskell Education Foundation, in his memory. Sinclair was active in the foundation and retired as the foundation’s treasurer earlier this year. Please send donations to WHEF PO Box 22, Wanaque, NJ 07465.