Kerri Wright, a longtime member of the Chester Board of Education and a lawyer who specializes in education law and employment law, has been named the New Jersey School Boards Association’s 2021-2022 Board Member of the Year.

Given annually since 2005, the award honors an individual board of education member who makes significant contributions to public education, exemplifies leadership in the field of education with a strong commitment to the children of New Jersey, demonstrates a strong commitment to personal and professional development as a board member and shows active involvement in school governance at the local, county and state levels.

NJSBA President Irene LeFebvre (last year’s Board Member of the Year) and Executive Director Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod issued a joint statement, recognizing Wright’s impressive record of service.

“Kerri Wright has dedicated her adult life to helping school boards make thoughtful decisions that promote student learning,” they said.  “As a board member and lawyer, she has been at the forefront of promoting effective school governance. Her contributions to the Chester Board of Education can best be described as simply amazing. We congratulate her on this honor!”

Asked about the award, Wright — who was educated in Chester Schools — called it a tribute to the “phenomenal education” provided by Chester and the wonderful people dedicated to its students. “The length of my service on the Chester Board of Education and my drive to continue to serve is an outgrowth of the education we provide and my desire to continue to support that education and the creative initiatives that are implemented in our schools every day,” she said.

Dr. Christina Van Woert, superintendent of Chester School District, a K-8 district, noted that Wright is widely admired not only for her unwavering commitment to the children of Chester but for her legal work on behalf of all New Jersey children. Wright is a principal attorney at Porzio, Bromberg & Newman P.C., which specializes in education, employment and labor, litigation, data privacy and cybersecurity.

“Ms. Wright’s record of service, including in the areas of finance, curriculum and instruction has led to the many endless and creative opportunities we have for the children of Chester,” Van Woert said. “Her impact can be felt on the manner in which our district is a leader in technology implementation, social and emotional learning, professional development, etc. What is most important is that all of these areas and tenets lead to a powerful educational experience for our students – and Kerri Wright is one of the premier drivers of that experience as a board member of fourteen years.”

Wright served the Chester Board of Education as vice president from 2010-2012, as president from 2013-2015 and as chair of its Negotiations Committee for 14 years. She was elected to the board in 2007 and is an NJSBA certified board member.

“Ms. Wright is involved with many boards of education across the county,” Van Woert said. “As an attorney and as a sitting school board member, she brings a unique perspective to her professional life and to her work as a school board member. She is widely sought after for guidance and ideas from her many contributions to the field.”

Wright is an expert on reconfiguring school districts, including the creation and dissolution of regional school districts and the creation and termination of sending-receiving relationships. She has significant experience representing and counseling school boards, charter schools, private schools and colleges in a variety of areas. She has written numerous articles to help guide and assist school boards in their decision making.

In addition to her work as a Chester Board of Education member, she has played a part in numerous court cases that have shaped the educational landscape of New Jersey and the country.  She is a member of the Morris County Bar Association and has been admitted to the bar associations of New Jersey, New York and the United States Supreme Court. She is a member of the New Jersey Association of School Attorneys and a fellow at Lead New Jersey, which seeks to make New Jersey a better place to live and work. She is also a regular volunteer with the Morris County Battered Women’s Legal Advocacy Project, serving as team leader for a group of attorneys at her firm who volunteer to represent victims of domestic violence in obtaining final restraining orders.

Wright graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Seton Hall University, where she also earned a Master of Public Administration. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from Emory University School of Law. She has written articles for numerous publications, including NJSBA’s School Leader; Corporate Counsel Law and New Jersey Law Journal.

All eligible nominations for the annual New Jersey School Boards Association Board Member of the Year Award are forwarded to another state school boards association to ensure complete objectivity. The nominations were reviewed, Wright was selected, and the organization notified NJSBA of the choice.

“It is truly heartening to see someone honored in such a distinguished manner who deserves the honor as much as Kerri does,” Van Woert says.

As the 2021-2022 winner, Wright will be recognized at Virtual Workshop 2021 on Thursday, October 28 during the 9 a.m. time block. She will also be featured in a future issue of School Leader magazine.