Photo Credit: Sue Barr
Author of “The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative
Florence Williams is a journalist, author, podcaster and public speaker. She is a contributing editor at Outside Magazine and a freelance writer for the New York Times, New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, The New York Review of Books, Slate, Mother Jones, and numerous other publications. She is also the writer and host of two Audible Original series, Breasts Unbound and The Three-Day Effect, as well as Outside Magazine‘s Double X-Factor podcast. Her public speaking includes keynotes at Google, the Smithsonian, the Seattle Zoo, the Aspen Ideas Festival, and many other corporate, academic and nonprofit venues.
Her book The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative is an intrepid investigation into nature’s restorative benefits. For centuries, poets and philosophers extolled the benefits of a walk in the woods: Beethoven drew inspiration from rocks and trees; Nikola Tesla conceived the electric motor while visiting a park. Intrigued by our storied renewal in the natural world, Florence Willaims sets out to uncover the science behind nature’s positive effects on the brain.
|Luis A. Quintana
Council Vice President/Councilman-at-Large
Luis Quintana is a pioneer of firsts—first Hispanic elected to the position of Councilman at Large in the City of Newark, first Hispanic of Puerto Rican Ethnicity to be appointed as City Council President, and first Hispanic to become Mayor of the City of Newark.
Born in Añasco, Puerto Rico on January 29, 1960, Quintana faced many difficulties when his family moved to Newark at the age of seven. Challenged by his new environment, young Quintana—who was neither able to speak nor understand the English language—was determined to learn and achieve his goals. In 1979 he graduated from Barringer High School and was named “Outstanding Youth of the Year” by ASPIRA, Inc.
After his graduation from Seton Hall University in 1983 and motivated by his belief that all Newark children regardless of race, creed, or color deserve a quality education, Quintana became a Youth Counselor at the North Ward Center in Newark. As an involved member of the community, he has served the City of Newark in many capacities, such as sitting on numerous nonprofit boards, founding The Newark Three Kings Celebration, Inc., and advocating for equality on the Newark City Council.
Over the years, Quintana has been honored with numerous awards including—but not limited to—the Men of Valor Award, the Legislative Award from the District 1199J, the 2008 Senator Weinberg Icon Ally Award, the Ambassador for Peace Award from the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace, the HOPE Organization Award, the Liga Roberto Clemente Award, and the Heroes Award from the American Red Cross. He has also received numerous Man of the Year Awards from the newspaper La Tribuna, Newark’s Fire Fighters Union, and the Black and Latino Clergy Coalition. Additionally, Anasco, Puerto Rico’s Saint Anthony Festival of 2014 was dedicated to Mayor Luis Quintana.
|J. Kenneth Pagano
President at Essex Management Company LLC
Mr. Pagano is a graduate of Seton Hall University with a B.A. in Business Administration. He is a New Jersey Licensed Real Estate Broker as well as a CPM with the Institute of Real Estate Management of the National Association of Realtors. Ken holds designations from the National Affordable Housing Association as a Professional Executive as well as a Specialist in Housing Credit Management. He is a Founding Member and Past President of 13 years of New Jersey Affordable Housing and Management Association where he still serves as a Current Board Member. He is a Current Board Member and Past President and Vice President of the National Affordable Housing Management Association. He is a Current Member of the New Jersey Housing Mortgage Finance Agency Management Task Force.
Mr. Pagano’s expertise in the field of housing has been recognized on the National level and he has testified several times before Congress on Housing Preservation and Affordable Housing issues. Mr. Pagano has always had a passion for giving back to the community and his charitable work over the years has proved his dedication. Mr. Pagano is President of the JAHMA Charitable Foundation and serves on the Board of Directors of the NAHMA Charitable Foundation, past member of the Medical Mission for Children Foundation, a member of the St. John Vianney School Finance committee, a current member of the Domus Catholic Housing Charity Board and is president of the non‐profit University Heights Development Corp. Mr. Pagano is also an active fundraising Chairman for the Newark Three Kings Foundation.
Mr. Pagano has received numerous awards and honors including the first recipient of the Walter E. Kreher Distinction in Housing Award 2014, the 2009 Man of the Year Award from the Luis Quintana Association, the 2006 National Affordable Housing Management Association President’s Award, the 2002 Medical Mission for Children Humanitarian Award, the 1994 IL Leone Di San Marco Business Award and the North Newark Jaycees’ 1976 Jaycee of the Year Award.
|Denise L. Taylor-Hill
National President at The Drifters, Inc.
Vice Principal at Belmont Runyon Community School
Newark native Denise L. Taylor-Hill is a devoted Vice Principal who has served Newark Public Schools for nearly twenty years. She currently serves at Belmont Runyon Community School supervising primary education and medically fragile students. Prior to becoming a school administrator, she was a Literacy Tutor and 3rd Grade Teacher at Madison Elementary School also in Newark. She received her Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Hampton University and her Master of Arts in Educational Administration and Supervision from Saint Peters College.
Taylor-Hill has been involved in community service and scholarship activities in various leadership capacities for almost 40 years. She currently serves as the National President of The Drifters, Incorporated. Under her tenure as the fundraising chairperson of the Montclair Chapter of The Drifters, Incorporated, her leadership assisted in raising over $125,000 over four years for local scholarships and programs. She is also a member of The Morris County Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, a charter member of the Omega Psi Omega Chapter and Past President of the Omicron Xi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. She is the Past National Vice President of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Incorporated, and a former Executive Committee Member of the Newark Unit for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Taylor-Hill is the recipient of numerous award including the Community Service Award from the National Organization of African American Administrators, the Wilma Holmes Tootle Educational Advancement Award at the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority North Atlantic Regional Conference, and the Master Teacher Award from Project G.R.A.D. Newark. She was also honored as one of fifty Women You Should Know by the YWCA of Montclair-North Essex. She is featured in the community service section of Newark Women: From Suffragettes to the Statehouse by Newark columnist and author Barbara Kakla.
Poet, Artist, and Teacher
As an ‘artsypreneur’—a moniker created for her work and drive—Kween Moore serves the community as CEO of Urban Creative Arts Workshops, a professional Visual and Performing Artist, and as an Art Teacher. Her creative programming and workshops were designed for children and adults across the tri-state area. Earlier this year, she partnered with Express Newark (Rutgers) and EvoluCulture for a community poetry Open Mic. She also had the pleasure of hosting Blue Theory Open Mic at Blue Print Café. As a professional artist, Moore is a curator for several art exhibitions and event hostings throughout New Jersey.
Moore is a fellow at Leadership Newark, a public policy fellowship program. In addition to her local community efforts, she is a member and instructor of Black Arts Retreat, a local and international program for creatives and artists. Recently, this brought her to Haiti to teach an intensive creative arts curriculum and she plans to return for a two-month program in June.
Moore published her first literary work with Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Since then she has partnered with Newark Arts, Newark Public Schools Summer Plus Program, Lincoln Park Music Festival, and NJPAC. Her 2018 performances include the Mayoral Inaugural Ball for Mayor Ras J. Baraka, the Domestic Violence Awareness Conference, the New Jersey Water Works Conference, the Women that Support Ras J. Baraka Brunch, Newark Museum’s “Live Out Loud” Tribute in memory of Jerry Gant, the opening of the Shani Baraka Women’s Resource Center, and the LGBTQ Press Conference at City Hall.
Follow Kween Moore on Instagram: @UrbanKweenBrand.
Malik Whitaker was born and raised in Newark, NJ. As a Jerry Gant protégé, he infused the City Bloom Luncheon title art with Gant’s immense love of the people of Newark and appreciation of the natural environment. From a young age, Malik’s parents recognized his talent as an artist and enrolled him in several workshops and art classes. His childhood experiences shaped his passion for creating and his artistic vision to inspire others to recognize the forgotten beauty of ordinary people and things.
Whitaker studied advanced art throughout high school and later attended Rutgers University and the Art Institute of America and used these experiences to develop his unique form. He uses this form to mentor inner-city students for the Newark Public School system, Charter School System, and students with disabilities.
From poetry book illustrations to murals, Whitaker’s work is well-known in the Newark community and throughout Essex County. He is most recognized for his Brick City Project, a collection of bricks with painted scenes of Newark, which is displayed in many galleries and exhibitions.
He currently serves as Gallery Director for City Without Walls, an inner-city nonprofit gallery that fosters the careers of emerging artists and brings contemporary art to urban communities. He is also the owner of M-Print Art studios in Newark, the centerpiece location for his mentorships and current projects.
President of the Montclair Chapter of Drifters, Incorporated
Tracy L. Munford has spent more than 25 years giving back to the community, through her work with a number of non-profit organizations and as a member of a number of Boards and Commissions. Tracy is completing a four-year term as President of the Montclair Drifters, Incorporated, where under her leadership, more than $100K has been raised and distributed to graduating seniors and to organizations serving Newark, the Oranges and other parts of Essex and surrounding counties. Tracy is also a member of The North Jersey Chapter of the Links, Incorporated, where she served as Health and Human Services Chair. Tracy also volunteers her time and expertise as a member of the Healthcare Foundation of the Oranges whose mission is to improve the health and wellness of the people of East Orange, Orange, Irvington and the West Ward of Newark.
In Newark, Tracy has served as the Chair of Executive Recruitment for Mayor Baraka’s First Term in office, placing many of his cabinet-level officials. In addition, she served as a Commissioner for the Newark Commission on the Status of Women, and currently serves as an Advisor; she is a member of the Newark Museum Business and Community Advisory Committee, and a member of the NJPAC Women’s Association. She is also a Life Member of the Newark NAACP and she serves as Public Relations Chair for her church, Metropolitan Baptist Church.
In New Jersey, Tracy has served under the McGreevey and Corzine administrations as Communications Director for three Attorneys General, and the NJ Board of Public Utilities and as a member of the Governor’s Roundtable on Communications.
Nationally, Tracy has worked with Congressman Donald M. Payne, Sr. in his role as Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, and she worked very closely with the Obama and Clinton White Houses, in addition to the National League of Cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Globally, Tracy was selected as the Public Relations Chair for New Jersey’s first trade mission to Africa (Ghana) by then Governor Florio. In addition, she has also represented women as part of the Asian Coordinating Committees Annual Summit of Women Leaders in Taipei.
Tracy has also held leadership roles with the Mayor’s Office of East Orange, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Essex Valley Healthcare/East Orange General Hospital and Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Barnabas Health. She currently serves as Executive Director of Communications for the Newark Board of Education. Tracy has been recognized for her work – she received honorary membership in Pi Alpha Pi by Rutgers University for her support of Rutgers students and advancing education and public service; Essex County Democratic Women, Essex County Freeholders, Bristol Myers Squibb, Barnabas Health and more. Tracy is a graduate of Rutgers University Newark.