►Sandra Karriem, Assistant General Counsel, Panasonic Corporation of North America; Community Volunteer & Activist, South Orange/Maplewood A native of Jamaica, Sandra Karriem is a testament to the difference a good education can make in one’s life. That’s why, for the past 25 years, she has dedicated her life as an active volunteer and leader serving the South Orange-Maplewood community, especially the schools. Karriem is a longtime member of Prospect Presbyterian Church in Maplewood and has served as president and executive board member of the parent-teacher associations of the schools her children attended. She also served as board member and president of the Achieve Foundation, an organization that supports educational excellence and innovation and fosters equal education opportunities for all children in South Orange-Maplewood. Karriem has more than 27 years’ experience practicing law in New Jersey and New York with major corporations. She is currently Assistant General Counsel at Panasonic Corporation of North America and has broad expertise in the areas of contract negotiations, real estate transactions, bankruptcy, and secured transactions. She also serves as Corporate Secretary of the Panasonic Foundation, whose mission is to facilitate systemic reform of K-12 public schools.
►Dorthaan Kirk, Director of Community Relations and Special Events, WBGO Jazz 88.3 Known in the local community as Newark’s “First Lady of Jazz,” Dorthaan Kirk has 30-plus years of experience in project management related to institutional development, public relations, music publishing, artists’ management, and development. She is the widow of the late saxophonist Rashaan Roland Kirk and, since his death in 1977, manages his image, music, and serves as administrator of the music publishing company, Rokir Music Corp. In 1978, she joined forces with Robert G. Ottenhoff as co-founder of the National Public Radio affiliate WBGO Jazz 88.3. Recently, Kirk curated and hosted a special series of jazz brunches at New Jersey Performing Arts Center, bringing together diverse members of the community to enjoy intimate musical performances. Kirk is also actively involved in the Bethany Baptist Church in Newark, where she serves as president of the jazz vespers committee, secretary of the lecture committee, as well as ad hoc committees.
► Carlos Lejnieks, President & CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson, and Union Counties Carlos Lejnieks was appointed President & CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Essex, Hudson and Union Counties in 2008 and, within less than three years, BBBS went from serving about 100 youth to more than 1,000. Lejnieks led the development of a five-year business plan that has seen the organization grow to be one of the top 10 largest mentoring agencies in the country. Prior to joining BBBS, Lejnieks was an administrator for Newark’s North Star Academy, a nationally recognized public charter school encompassing four campuses from elementary school to high school. During his tenure at North Star, every high-school graduate went to college. An engaged community member, Lejnieks recently served on President Barack Obama’s Regional Finance Committee, Governor Chris Christie’s Education Transition Team, Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s Transition Team, and Newark’s Youth Development Board. Lejnieks was elected Chairman of the NJ Charter Schools Association four years ago after having led a yearlong strategic-planning process that has given a new direction and focus on the expansion of quality charter public schools throughout NJ. Last year, Lejnieks was also one of 12 people selected for the Aspen Fellowship “Emerging Leaders” cohort.
About the American Conference on Diversity
The programs, services, and initiatives of the American Conference on Diversity are among the most important work focused on creating a more inclusive society. It is the unfinished business of living in a highly diverse nation: educating and empowering our next generation of leaders; enhancing our workplaces; and helping to create inclusive communities. The American Conference on Diversity, which has been serving schools, organizations, workplaces, and communities in New Jersey since 1948, builds on a historic mission and creates programs and activities relevant and vital to 21st Century life. It is a journey we can all take together. The American Conference on Diversity operates eight chapters to help us to educate and empower leaders and bring our messages of inclusion and respect to communities throughout New Jersey: Atlantic County Chapter, Bayonne Chapter, Central Jersey Chapter, Essex County Chapter, Greater Bergen Chapter, Hudson County Chapter, Jersey Shore Chapter, and Mercer County Chapter. Visit www.AmericanConferenceonDiversity.org
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