On Wednesday, March 1st, WRI held its biannual Advisory Board meeting at the Rutgers Alumni House on Cooper Street in Camden. Gwendolyn Harris, Executive Director at WRI, opened the meeting by announcing her retirement and thanking the Advisory Board for their continued support. She then introduced Sarah Allred, WRI’s new Faculty Director, and Darren Spielman, WRI’s new Associate Director.

WRI staff, Tracy Swan, Senior Project Administrator and James Morgante, Research Analyst, presented to the Advisory Board summaries of two projects which have been showcased at national conferences this past year, Stationhouse Adjustment: Keeping Youth Out of the Juvenile Justice System; and Promoting Family Development Through Informal Supports.

During official business, each Subcommittee Chair reported on new developments. Jim Rhodes, Outreach and Engagement Committee Chair, discussed the Health and Wellness initiative and the Medical Patients’ Legal Needs partnership with the Rutgers University Law School. For the Health and Wellness initiative, the Outreach and Engagement Committee is going to convene stakeholders from health institutions to begin a discussion on population health and wellness and its impacts across South Jersey. The committee is also looking to support the Rutgers Law School’s effort in developing a medical legal partnership for the City of Camden by connecting the Law School to the appropriate resources.

Megan Griffault, Student Support Committee Chair, spoke on planning efforts for the 16th Annual Walter and Leah Rand Awards and Scholarship Dinner on May 4th at the Scotland Run Golf Club in Williamstown, NJ. Megan gave background on the honorees and stressed the importance of the fundraiser for the future of the student scholarships. The Advisory Board members unanimously committed to supporting the fundraiser. Megan also announced that Assemblymen Louis Greenwald will be the Master of Ceremonies for the fundraiser.

Michael Egenton, Public Policy Committee Chair, recounted WRI’s success at The Forum About South Jersey: Is South Jersey Getting Its ‘Fair Share’ of Public Goods presentation held at Rutgers University-Camden this past December. Michael thanked the Honorable Mayor Albert Kelly for his Op-ed piece, analyzing the report put out by Shauna Shames, posted on NJ.com, A Tale of Two New Jerseys. Michael stressed the importance of building on this momentum and encouraged the board to support Shauna Shames during her keynote speech at a New Jersey Government Relations special breakfast session. The Advisory Board will continue to engage with South Jersey legislators and other elected officials to ensure that positive action takes place. The Board was excited to hear that there will be more reports further analyzing economic disparities across New Jersey

Dan Lombardo spoke on behalf of Nomination and Board Development Chair Mike Moynihan, and presented nominations for three new Board Members: Joseph Kelly, Leah Murphy, and Cory Rand. All three were approved.

The Annual Meeting was an overall success.