Morning Keynotes

robinson-hi-resJeffrey A. Robinson, Ph.D.

Academic Director, The Center for Urban Entrepreneurship & Economic Development, Rutgers University, Associate Professor, Management & Entrepreneurship,
Rutgers Business School, 
Director, New Jersey Social Innovation Institute

Jeffrey A. Robinson, Ph.D. is an award winning business school professor, international speaker and entrepreneur.  Since 2008, he has been a leading faculty member at Rutgers Business School where he is an associate professor of management and entrepreneurship and the Academic Director of The Center for Urban Entrepreneurship & Economic Development.  Dr. Robinson is a passionate advocate for social entrepreneurship and economic development.  He is the author of books and articles on such topics as social entrepreneurship, African American women in entrepreneurship, and patterns of Black employment. He is the co-author with Dr. Randal Pinkett of Black Faces in White Places: 10 Game-Changing Strategies to Achieve Success and Find Greatness (AMACOM Press). His most recent work is a multi-year project to study social entrepreneurship and social innovation in the U.S., Australia, South Africa, Kenya, Russia and China.  Emerging from this pioneering research, the New Jersey Social Entrepreneurship Summit and the New Jersey Social Innovation Institute are national and international models for economic development and social problem solving using entrepreneurial approaches. He has been the keynote speaker at international events and conferences and has taught or presented his work on six continents. Dr. Robinson has five degrees in engineering, urban studies, management and entrepreneurship.

Follow Dr. Robinson on Twitter: @JRobinsonPhD.  Learn more about Dr. Robinson at the following websites:


eddielaporteEddie Laporte, Director of the NJ Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives

NJOFBI provides grants to FBCOs in the area of services to At Risk Youth, English as a Second Language, Services to Seniors, Social Entrepreneur and Social Innovation, and TANF Outreach.

Edward (Eddie) LaPorté was born in New York City.  His family moved to New Brunswick when he was 10 years old.  He has an older brother and sister and a younger sister.  He attended St. Peter’s Elementary and High School.  He is an alumnus of both Rutgers University, undergrad and Kean University, MPA program.

In 2007 Eddie was honored by the Metuchen Edison Area Branch of the NAACP’s 31st Annual Freedom Fund Award Gala where he received the W.E.B. Dubois Cultural Award.

Currently, Eddie is the Executive Director of the NJ Office of Faith Based Initiative where he has been leading its efforts for the past 8 years.  He is also an adjunct professor at Rutgers University where he teaches Social Entrepreneurship.  He also teaches a graduate course at Kean University, Nonprofit Management.

Eddie’s vision of moving the social sector into an entrepreneurial way of thinking is best highlighted by the changes in funding that are occurring in the NJOFBI since 2013.  The NJOBI has supported and encourages the growth of social entrepreneurship, social innovation, and social ventures designed to create innovative approaches to address social and environmental issues.

Eddie is the father of two children, Kyle LaPorte and Angel LaPorte


keithKeith Timko, Executive Director, Support Center|Partnership in Philanthropy

Keith Timko is the Executive Director at the Support Center|Partnership in Philanthropy (“Support Center”) which is dedicated to improving our society by increasing the effectiveness of nonprofit leaders and their organizations. Prior to joining the Support Center, Keith was the Director & CEO with Build with Purpose, a nonprofit real estate development organization with a mission of building healthy, vibrant communities.

Keith brings over twenty years of experience in community development including: involvement in educational reform issues with The Center for Collaborative Education in New York City; experience in leadership development and management programs as the former President of the Leader to Leader Institute (formerly the Peter F. Drucker Foundation); and exposure to policy and community development approaches across the country during his time with Living Cities: The National Community Development Initiative. Keith has a Bachelor’s degree in History and Russian from Rutgers University and a Masters in Business Administration from Columbia University. Keith currently serves as the Treasurer for the Board of the Center for Nonprofits (NJ) and the advisory board for the National New Markets Fund and “Letters from Within,” an international film project focused on volunteerism and cultural immersion.

Keith is a resident of Metuchen, NJ where he lives with his wife and two sons. Other interests include surfing, hiking, and earning Junior Ranger badges from various national parks with his two sons (ages 8 and 10).



leah-dadeLeah D. Dade – Featured Speaker Moderator

Leah is a graduate of Trinity College, in Washington D.C., with a dual degree in Political Science and Sociology. She also earned her Jurist Doctorate from Rutgers University School of Law.  In addition to serving as a Legislative Aide for the late Congressman Peter Rodino, she has also served as the Director of Social Services for Pilgrim Baptist Village, a non-profit housing development in Newark.

Leah is a professional in the nonprofit sector with more than 20 years’ experience, she served as the Executive Director of the New Community Gateway to Work Program, which was the largest welfare to work training program in the State. She also served as the Executive Director of Real Estate Operations, with responsibility for New Community Corporations 100 million dollar real estate portfolio.  In addition, Leah has served on the Essex County WIB, with responsibility for chairing the Welfare to Work Committee.

Leah Dade also served as the Executive Director of the Paterson Alliance, a collaborative membership organization, consisting of 70 nonprofits in the Paterson community. Here she provided leadership and worked with the members to bring intentional focus on the need for organizations to create community partnerships and collaborations that advanced a quality of life agenda for the City of Paterson.

She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Second Street Youth Center Foundation,  a multi-

purpose community organization founded in 1967 dedicated to growth: intellectually, emotionally, physically and socially of youth and families in the Plainfield community. Here she oversees a 180 student Preschool, Afterschool and Summer School Program.

She has served as an adjunct professor at Rutgers University, School of Public Administration and William Paterson University.  She has also been a featured guest on the One on One show and Caucus New Jersey with Steve Adubato Jr.

Leah is a mother with a 28-year-old daughter named Alanna, who shares in every aspect of Leah’s life. Leah is also very active in the Newark community and her church; First Baptist Church of South Orange, where she helped found their Faith Based CDC, the Eternal Light Community Development Corporation.

Leah believes that if you don’t know where you are going, every road will take you nowhere. Therefore she plans her work and works her plan.


Irene Cooper-BaschDr. Irene Cooper-Basch, Executive Director of the Victoria Foundation in Newark 
Victoria Foundation (established in 1924 by Hendon Chubb of Chubb Insurance) is one of the oldest private foundations in America.  Today, Victoria Foundation has a two-fold mission: to improve the lives of children and families in need in Newark, New Jersey; and to protect water resources and preserve precious open space statewide. The Victoria Foundation awarded more than $10 million in grants in 2015.


etta-denkEtta Rudolf Denk, Senior Vice President, NJ Market Manager, Enterprise Business & Community Engagement, Bank of America

Etta joined Bank of America as the Market Manager in New Jersey in 2008. She is responsible for the alignment and delivery of Bank of America’s marketing and charitable resources to meet constituent and community needs across New Jersey. She leads the planning and execution of all local sponsorship, philanthropic, community and business development initiatives. Working closely with the New Jersey leadership team, she coordinates the bank’s market and branding strategy. Etta is also responsible for overseeing the Bank’s community development efforts, particularly services to New Jersey’s low-income communities, as well as volunteer and employee engagement initiatives.

As an active champion for meaningful change, Etta’s leadership and advocacy for public and private partnerships has positively impacted many New Jersey communities. Etta’s accomplishments have been widely recognized and celebrated throughout her career. Notable awards include the Percy B. Menagh Award from the American Institute of Banking; the Distinguished Service Award from New Jersey Community Capital; and the Center for Non-Profit Corporations Chairperson’s Award.

Prior to joining Bank of America, Etta worked for nearly 25 years in the banking / insurance industry most recently with JPMorgan Chase where she was responsible for corporate philanthropy, sponsorships and community development activities.

She received her Master’s in Public Administration at Rutgers University and her BA in Urban Studies from the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University.

She is a resident of Maplewood, and is active in numerous organizations including The Council of New Jersey Grantmakers, the Center for Non-Profit Corporations, the New Jersey Theatre Alliance, Housing & Community Development Network of New Jersey, the Bergen County Workforce Investment Board and Project Live.

 Census Data – Part 1 and Part 2 (You may attend either as standalone or both)

Overview: Let us show you how to find and use Census data for your everyday uses including supporting grant proposals and research:
David Kraiker
Data Dissemination Specialist
New York Area Coverage & Outreach
Data Dissemination Branch
Customer Liaison & Marketing Services Office

Non Profit Resources

Co-Presented by Debbie Duncan, Director of Member Services, Center for Non-Profits

debbie-duncanDebbie joined the Center in June 2006 and is responsible for coordinating the Center’s workshops and events; promoting Center activities, managing member benefits programs, and maintaining member services including the HelpDesk (phone & e-mail information and referral service), resource directory and materials.

She holds a Bachelor’s in Spanish and Master’s degree in Public Administration and had over 25 years of experience as staff and volunteer with non-profits, in such diverse fields as: health prevention education, pre-school to adult education, vocational training, fundraising, community organization, mental health, parent training, and cultural competency.

Debbie has enjoyed extensive training in many program areas, including leadership, organizational development, fundraising, client services, conflict management, and much more.  Having lived abroad from the ages of 3 to 14, and later 2 years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Colombia, South America, Debbie is fluent in Spanish and a perennial student of human diversity and culture on all levels.

Since moving from New York State to New Jersey in 1999, Debbie has worked at the Hispanic Family Center in Camden as Prevention Education Coordinator and with the American Heart Association in Cumberland and Salem counties.  The parent of 2 adult children, and grandparent of one, Debbie enjoys listening to books on tape during commutes; traveling – mostly to visit family and friends; good foods and cooking of all varieties; museums, theater and music performances; discussing and learning about current events, theology, and the latest scientific discoveries; walking and good movies. In her spare time, she advocates for social justice, human equality and stewardship of the earth.

Co-Presented by Damien Jackson, Investment Specialist

damien-jacksonDamien has had a varied and accomplished career in the financial services industry over the past decade. His commitment to his clients and dedication to presenting the optimal strategies in the most trying of economic times, has created an environment of trust and loyalty among his clients. His experience has taken him from raising capital in
private placements for budding companies, bringing them to market, advising on capital restructuring, developing advanced planning strategies to some of the worlds most influential families and now delivering resolutions to complex financial hurdles for families of all walks of life. Damien prides himself in being cognizant of his clients needs and using the tools at his disposal to deliver the most favorable advantages.

At Northeast Planning Corporation, one of the largest individually owned financial services firms in the tri-state area, Mr. Jackson is the Lead Investment Specialist, supporting over 80 planners. Support ranging from portfolio construction and design, implementation, management and review for individuals, institutions and corporations.


Best Practices for Grant Professionals

Presented by Leah Dade

Partnerships and collaborations serve as the strategic alliances that can create collective impact and community change. Come join the discussion on why collaborative partnerships are an essential requirement for best practices in grant preparation and program execution. Learn the practicality of the good, the bad and the ugly of collaboration and how it is one of the most essential elements of grant preparation.

Congratulations! You’ve Been awarded: How to Stay Productive

celestePresented by Celeste L. Merriweather Ph.D. 

This workshop will share techniques and strategies of how to increase productivity once a grant is awarded. Regardless of how large or small the grant award, they all must receive the same amount of care so that all documents are received, stakeholders are notified and that the grant is moving in the right direction. Participants will be involved in an interactive session where they will discuss their own experiences as it relates to efficient program management.

A native of Camden, New Jersey, Dr. Celeste L. Merriweather has a diverse administrative background as she is currently the Director of Grants and Funded Programs for the Bridgeton Public Schools located in Bridgeton, New Jersey. Prior to her current post, she served in several different roles such as the Principal of a K-8 School and Early Childhood Curriculum Supervisor encompassing all PK 3 and 4 district classrooms. She began her career spanning 23 years in the Camden City Public Schools as a classroom teacher.

Celeste earned her Ph.D in Curriculum and Instruction with a Critical Theory emphasis from Pennsylvania State University, an M.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction with an Educational Leadership focus and a BA in Business Administration from Morgan State University. She has been an adjunct professor at Wilmington University teaching doctoral level Cultural Diversity courses as well as teaching at the Montclair State University in their Preschool to Grade Three Master’s level certification program.

Celeste is an avid reader who craves new knowledge and experiences both professionally and personally.  When not working, she can be found enjoying time with her family and friends, pursuing her passion for great cuisine and being ever in the search of the perfect getaway.

Ask the Experts, Logic Models, Measuring Outcomes, and More

jeffrey-lischinJeffrey Lischin, MA is a grantwriter, evaluator and education consultant with extensive charter school experience.  In the past decade he has written over $100 million in approved grant applications. Mr. Lischin was VP of Education and Youth Development at the Urban League of Hudson County. He is the Treasurer of the NJ Chapter of GPA.

Logic Models are frequently required or useful in grant applications.   “a logic model is a systematic and visual way to present and share your under- standing of the relationships among the resources you have to operate your program, the activities you plan, and the changes or results you hope to achieve.” (W.K. Kellogg Foundation) Participants will gain insight into Logic Models and how they are used.

Government Grant Funding has undergone multiple paradigm shifts in recent years. There is a significant reduction in available funds and the political climate is hostile to our clients’ needs. We are writing proposals in an era of growing competition for shrinking funds. CBOs face tremendous pressures and often lack the capacity to compete. Many make poor decisions while chasing dollars using resources they cannot afford to lose. This workshop will focus on reading guidelines with an eye for rightness of fit, making good decisions on when to compete and understanding how to compete.


Ask the Experts, Grant Consultants: Subcontractors

lydia-howie-2012-cLydia Howie is founding principal of Howie Marketing & Consulting, a consulting firm that provides grant writing, development support and marketing communications services to nonprofits. She has over 30 years of successful business experience in both the corporate sector and within the nonprofit arena, including experience in business development, management, marketing and fundraising. Prior she was Director of the Association of Development Officers, Executive Director of The Volunteer Center, and Marketing Director of Jefferson Valley Mall. She has raised over $30 million dollars for her clients who represent dozens of missions.

She possesses a M.S. in Marketing Communications from Iona College, B.A. in Communication Arts from the College of New Rochelle, and a Grant Professional Certification (GPC) from the Grant Professionals Certification Institute.  She founded the Grants Professionals of Lower Hudson in 2008 to advance the field of grant writing in the region.  She has been an Adjunct Professor at Pace University and SUNY Purchase, and guest lectures regularly on marketing, public relations, fundraising and grant writing.  Ms. Howie has received numerous awards and recognition including a Presidential Award for a Desert Storm fundraiser; the Visiting Nurse Association of Hudson Valley’s First Corporate Service Award; the Association of Development Officers’ 2007 Peter J. Gallagher Award for Leadership & Service.

Special Thanks to Our Conference Organizer

dana-2015Dana Y. Wilson, Resource Development Specialist,
President, Trinity Support Services, LLC
State Secretary, NJGPA

Dana Wilson is the Resource Development Specialist for This New York City based 501 (c )(3) non-profit stimulates economic development in underserved communities by providing innovative financial solutions and hands-on technical assistance to small businesses and not-for-profit organizations.

Ms. Wilson is also the President of Trinity Support Services, LLC, (TSS) a NJ-based consulting firm for community and economic development initiatives and faith-based initiatives.  TSS was established in 2008 and provides services to non-profits and small

Ms. Wilson is the founder of National Educational Network, Inc. (NENI), a small 501 c3 non-profit based in Edison, NJ which provides academic and cultural programming for mostly urban at-risk youth and their families. NENI is the host organization to the Non-Profit Executive Directors (NED). This peer group (established in 2015) has already grown to more than 350 Executive Directors across the country via social media and webinars. NED focuses on Best Practices, Professional Development, Resources, and Networking Opportunities for Non-Profit Executive Directors. and

Ms. Wilson is an administrator with more than 20 years of professional experience in the corporate and non-profit arenas. Ms. Wilson helped to bring in almost $5 million in grant awards (including $1 million in 2014) to schools and nonprofits in NJ. She has written grants for capital campaigns, program support, and general support/operating expenses. She has experience with government, corporate and foundation grants.

Ms. Wilson is the former Director /Grant Writer for the Mercer County Educational Technology Training Center for teachers, an initiative of the NJ Department of Education. She also has 8 years of journalism experience at Dow Jones, Star-Ledger and other newspapers.

She is the current and founding state secretary of the NJ Chapter of the Grant Professionals Association. She also serves on the website/social media and conference committees. She has served as a grant reviewer (judge) for the NJ Department of Education and the NJ Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives.

Ms. Wilson received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida in journalism. She has taken additional graduate coursework at Rutgers University, focusing on nonprofit management and urban studies.