Jennifer Willey: Beyond the Grant Member Spotlight

Meet Impact 100 Jersey Coast Member Jennifer Willey

By Janet Mazur Cavano

You’ve been a member of Impact 100 since 2018 – what inspired you to join?
The idea of bringing women together for good, so we can not only support and empower each other and build connection,  but to do that with the interest of helping to achieve change in our community – it’s the perfect combination of ways that I want to spend my time!

How did you hear of us?
Through my husband, who learned of it through Heather’s husband (Heather Burke, Impact 100 vice president and co-founder). Much of what I do focuses on women’s advancement and empowerment and as soon as I learned about what Impact does, I thought, this is totally my jam!

You are the founder and CEO of  Wet Cement – tell us about your company.
We help to unlock fearlessness to accelerate inclusivity and growth. We do a combination of services from keynote speaking to coaching and consulting, all based around work I started doing in my spare time, when I was an advertising and technology executive. I realized how important it was to empower and connect women.

We’ve been fortunate enough to work with Fortune 500 companies – I’ve been a keynote speaker for International Women’s Day at iCMS; I’ve done trainings and workshops for Johnson & Johnson, Novo Nordisk, Salix. It’s  about advancing women in those organizations, from senior executives down to entry level associates. Our approach is based on a combination of landscape analysis, peer reviewed information and research we did with fearlessness.

So, what holds back U.S. professional women?
We have less confidence in our abilities in the workplace. Yes, outside of work we are more confident in our skills and abilities. Yet at work we don’t advocate; we are less likely to share our most innovative and creative ideas. We are less likely to ask for a raise or promotion and less likely to have a mentor, one of THE most important things that will drive your career.

Do you work with women on an individual basis?
I don’t work 1:1 but we do have a program, Career EXCL, an online women’s leadership with remote, self-paced learning videos with activities and challenges to help women move their mission forward.  

What drove you to create your company?
Looking back, I had a lot of external variables that made me feel “less than.” For example, as a fitness instructor, having to parade around in front of my bosses in workout clothes — to being in male-dominated environments and feeling completely out of place. That, combined with  my own imposter syndrome, held me back from thinking about the leader that I was.

So, back to Impact 100. Tell us about your favorite memory or success story.
I helped as part of the Enrichment Committee to get New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Sheila Y. Oliver to speak about making an impact in the community. Getting to interview her for that experience really showcased how diverse we can and should be to make an impact. It was a very memorable night for me.

Also, we couldn’t have the Summer Soiree this year, so, in an effort to keep the event close as possible to normal, I hosted a virtual workshop for the women of Impact. The goal was to help us to connect and emotionally deal with the pandemic. We focused on defining our sense of purpose in line with the Japanese concept of Ikigai (pronounced Ick-ee-guy), meaning, “a reason for being.”  We provided women with something to focus on and allowed then to authentically build some relationships, talking about those four different dimensions.

What’s the most rewarding part about being a member?
It’s an opportunity for women to leverage the skills that they feel they’re not using all the time and put them to use for good.  Women in Impact are in different phases of their lives – they may have “off-ramped,” from a career, or they may be at a later stage in life, “down-ramping” and starting to think about retirement and “how will I use those skills and strengths?” With all the different committees at Impact, women have the opportunity to leverage those skills or build new ones.

It’s a mission-driven organization where everyone can find a sense of purpose.

What advice would you offer to a woman considering joining the 2021 cohort?
It’s as simple as this – if you love being surrounded by amazing women, you’ll find your crew. If you want to make a difference in the world, this is the best place to do it, You can be as committed or as involved as you choose to be.

What keeps you sane and balanced in these pandemic times and otherwise?
Zumba! Love me some Zumba! I’ve been doing it outdoors in parking lots these last six months. My husband and sons also keep me busy playing  football and wrestling – there’s a lot of activities here.

What’s the most recent book you read?
“The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women; why capable people suffer from imposter syndrome and how to thrive in spite of it,” by Valerie Young. It will change your perspective of who you are.

How about the best piece of life advice you’ve ever received?
This too shall pass.

Jennifer lives in Old Bridge, N.J. with her husband two sons.

Pamela Major: Beyond the Grant Member Spotlight

By Janet Mazur Cavano

This is your first year as an Impact member; what led you to join?
Some of the non-profit agencies I’ve worked with were grant recipients, and I kept hearing about the wonderful programs those grants provided. I wondered who ARE these wonderful people and what IS this organization that’s providing the grants? I later went to an Impact recruiting event at a private home and then to another in February at Langosta Lounge in Asbury, where I learned more. 

What inspires you about the organization?
My heart has always been to work with women; women are particularly powerful. We have a power that is unique to us and when we gather together, we can do wonderful things.

Meet more of our members at an upcoming event. Learn more about Impact 100!

When did you realize Impact 100 was making a difference?
I have worked with non-profits for nearly 20 years. When you get $100,000 that can go into programming that your agency can create – wow! These grants can do incredible things to keep great organizations going!

 You’re serving on the new Diversity and Inclusion Committee. What can you tell us about that experience?
I commend Impact 100 for being aware of racial disparities and asking, ‘Are we doing our best to be inclusive of everyone?”

As a  personal sidebar, it was women in the south, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, who kept the lost cause going to reflect their image of the Civil War (editor’s note: the group has been labeled neo-confederate by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups and extremists). To me, Impact 100 is looking to do the reverse. We are asking, how can we bring truth and light and opportunity to people of color? How can we rid ourselves, if we are suffering, from White privilege?

This committee is very, very new; it’s embryonic. Going fast will not be helpful. Finding out information, being sensitive to the membership and going slowly is key.

 What’s the most rewarding part of being an Impact 100 JC member?The strength that you get from meeting other women doing wonderful things in their sphere. Hearing other points of view sharpens your own and the women I have met have been amazing. 

What would you like to see Impact accomplish over the next few years?
By 2023-24, I would really love to see at least 1,000 women join! There are very meaningful, substantive non-profits in Monmouth County; it would be great to do something for them.

What advice would you offer to philanthropic-minded women who want to get involved with their communities but aren’t sure how?
When people are looking for purpose, I ask them, what makes you smile so big when you see it done that your face hurts? Or what annoys you so much that absolutely makes you sick? When you find out what makes you smile, you look for who or what in your community is doing that! If it’s not there, you start it!

As for what makes you sick, go to your city hall, your board of education or your town council, whatever is connected to ‘that thing,” and find out what you need to do. You’d be surprised to learn that many corporations have a foundation that might be doing the thing you are looking to do. 

Tell us about your business
I do life-coaching and training. My company is called Melia Bloom, building people, places and purpose. Melia actually means “honey,” which is what my name, Pamela, means!

I have a program, Her Harvest, in which I take five women who know it’s time to move on to the next level. Now that we’re virtual, we can go nationwide or worldwide!

Seeing the women grow and glow is amazing. The unemployed get employed and the employed leave and flourish.  I also work with faith-based organizations that are looking to connect with non-profits—like business to business matchmaking.

What’s your super power?
Love! I was a transition coach for a youth program, New Jersey Youth Corps at Interfaith Neighbors, and I still see some of those young people. Some of them say, ‘You really loved us and dealt with us, and we weren’t very nice to you!’ They love and appreciate me. Love wears you down. 

How about the most recent book you’ve read?
“White Fragility; why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism,” by Robin DiAngelo. It put language around things I’ve been thinking. It felt like a sigh of relief that it was written by a white woman who does the work to help people deal with the issue of race.

What’s a fun fact about you that not many people know?
I love to collage! I love to take bits and pieces of words or phrases and put them together to create something of beauty that sends a message. I’ve also done that with vision boards. Anything you are interested in or frustrated by – if you get it out there in a physical space, it helps to eradicate it from your internal space.

 An entrepreneur, author, speaker and community activist, Pamela lives in Asbury Park.

100 Impact Members Gather Virtually To Select And Celebrate This Year’s Grantees

By Joanne Colella, Impact Jersey Coast Member

Congratulations are in order – not only to this year’s Impact 100 Jersey Coast grant recipients, but also to all of you, our dedicated members! Thanks to your generosity, your volunteerism throughout the year, and your votes, we have presented transformational grants of $114,000 each to four outstanding nonprofits that provide important and inspiring services to the Monmouth County community. 

The joyful culmination of this unique and challenging year was held on November 17, when members gathered via Zoom for our exciting 2020 Impact 100 Jersey Coast Annual Meeting to raise their glasses, watch presentations by this year’s five amazing grant finalists, and hear remarks by Impact 100 leaders. There were also moving video highlights from last year’s grantees, illustrating initiatives and achievements in recent months that were made possible through Impact 100 funds.

Votes Are In…

The votes received from our 456 members – including those being cast live that evening as well as absentee votes submitted in advance – were then tallied as everyone waited in anticipation to learn who the 2020 grant recipients would be. The final grantees, categories they represent, and projects the funds will support include:

Monmouth Museum (Arts & Culture) – The museum will launch Making Art Possible, a program to bring personalized art programming to people with special needs, providing therapeutic benefits during uncertain times. Customized art kits will be delivered to participants’ homes and workshops will be taught online. At the end of twelve months, the program will be recognized with a community-based gallery exhibit to showcase their abilities and creativity in a public setting.

HABcore (Children & Families) – Their Independence Pathways Program will combine affordable housing with coordinated services to assist individuals and families struggling with chronic physical and mental health issues to maintain stable housing and receive appropriate support and employment services.

Aslan Youth Ministries (Education) – The hiring of a Director of Volunteers will enable recruitment and training of a new generation of Aslan mentors, teachers, and life coaches for the children in their care, with an immediate impact on those hurt by the learning loss caused by the pandemic. They aim to double the number of students reached in their one-on-one tutoring program within three years. The director position will also greatly impact the 140 students in the Right Choices character development classes, working to close the achievement gap in underserved communities.

Fulfill of Monmouth & Ocean Counties (Health & Wellness) –  Addressing Child Hunger program will provide 88,000 meals for at least 450 Monmouth County children at risk of hunger by allowing them to participate in the Kids Café, providing daily afterschool hot meals and homework help; the Backpack Program, providing children with weekend meals, or to receive meals as needed whenever children encounter pandemic-related barriers to participation in other vital feeding programs.

Runner Up Receives $2,500

The runner-up finalist, American Littoral Society (Environment, Parks, & Recreation), was awarded $2,500, thanks to the generosity of the OceanFirst Foundation. Additional thanks go to The Center for Women & Wealth at Brown Brothers Harriman, New Jersey Natural Gas, Grunin Foundation, Stillwell-Hansen, and Bayshore Recycling for sponsoring our annual meeting.


Deirdre Spiropoulos, Impact 100 Jersey Coast President and Co-Founder, noted, “We know that as a collective, we are stronger together. This evening encapsulates what can happen when women unite to pool our individual donations to help our community. We are truly Impact Strong!”

Eileen Greenlay: Beyond the Grant Member Spotlight

By Janet Mazur Cavano

Tell us about what you do for a living.
I’m the Director of development for the Mercy Center in Asbury Park. We are a ministry of the Sisters of Mercy. We provide programs and services for people facing socio-economic challenges – these include a food pantry, a family resource center, youth groups, parenting classes, counseling and referral programs for victims or witnesses of crime. We also run Sisters Academy, grades 5 to 8, for girls from economically-challenged families. I manage fund-raising appeals, social media, and many other things.

How did you find out about Impact 100 Jersey Coast?
Being in the non-profit world, I was very familiar with Impact. In early 2019, a few people recommended that I go to a membership drive. So I attended an event in Asbury Park, and joined immediately!

Wow. What resonated for you most?
I appreciate the simplicity of what Impact is. It’s a simple model. It’s very clear where the funds are going, who is benefitting and how the funds are being used. There’s no ambiguity. And it’s local in YOUR community. These are organizations I could walk to – they’re literally in my backyard.

What roles have you taken on at Impact?
I served on the environment Focus Area Committee (FAC) in 2019. I used this an opportunity to understand the inner workings of Impact. Going through the application process was very inspiring and very educational as well. We weren’t afraid to challenge the non-profits and make sure they were capable of answering tough questions. What I loved about it was that even though I was a new member, I served as a site leader; just because you’re new doesn’t mean you’re not capable!

What is one thing you learned about Impact in the last month?
In my role with the volunteer coordinator, I’m learning that we are not immune to the impact of Covid. We’ve been forced to be innovative and we’re also gaining strength as we are forced to be more humble. I’m seeing firsthand the behind the scenes stress of organizing the annual meeting virtually. Just like every organization and family, we’re adjusting and pivoting as best we can.

What have you personally gotten from your Impact experience?
You can leverage your membership as a personal development opportunity. You also mix and mingle with influential women in the community. This can benefit you directly or it can also just be a way to learn what’s going on in your community. A lot of the members are business owners, professionals, or are very savvy because they have children in the school system. You learn a lot more about the world that you live in.

In what other philanthropic or non-profit organizations are you active?
Since 1992, I’ve been involved with an international non-profit called Unbound.
I served on their board of directors for nine years and it was a wonderful experience!
One thing that’s very different (from other international relief organizations) is that Unbound helps people on a one-to-one basis. Every dollar I send to a 10-year-old child in India goes directly to meet her needs. Unbound partners with families living in poverty and empowers them to live in self-sufficiency.

Tell us a fun fact about you that not many people know.
I lived in Colorado twice! I lived in the heart of the mountains, very close to Breckenridge in 1994 and 1995 and then back again in 2001 and 2002. I worked at Copper Mountain Ski resort. The area is majestic, one of the most beautiful places in the country. I loved it but I missed being back east with my family and friends and did not see myself settling there.

What keeps you sane?
My dog Jedi. She’s a rescue dog, a Pointer-mix. She has provided my husband and me with so much joy and comfort and distraction and laughter – all the things a loveable pet can provide!

What’s the best life advice you’ve ever received?
Get a dog!

What’s the most recent book you read?
“The Giver of Stars,” by JoJo Moyes. It’s a really wonderful story that in a weird way reminded me of Impact 100. A group of women get together, overcome adversity and stick together through thick and thin. It’s a soothing read and the author pulls you in instantly!

Eileen, a native of Philadelphia, lives in Spring Lake Heights with her husband and their rescue dog, Jedi.

Judie Saunders: Beyond the Grant Member Spotlight

By Janet Mazur Cavano

When did you join Impact 100 JC and how did you hear of us?
Toward the end of 2017 when I was living in Holmdel, I was flipping through the town’s paper, “Community Magazine,” I saw an article about an event at Bell Works featuring a group of women doing wonderful things in their communities. My friend Carolyn Burtnick, (the publication’s editor, also a member) had been raving about Impact, so the first chance I got, I attended a reception and I joined!

I decided this is something that has all of the right elements – philanthropy, a direct impact on the community, the power of women pooling their money together – yet it felt intimate.

How involved have you gotten?
I just didn’t want to passively write a check, so I signed up for a Focus Area Committee (FAC) – Children and Family. The women on the committee were so well-organized and that was super helpful to me, as this was my first time doing anything like this. There were women from so many professional backgrounds and it was such a great thing to hear them speak as we weighed out all the options.

What is your favorite Impact memory or success story?
I was the FAC site captain and visited several of the applicants. It was so insightful to pull back the curtain, take a deep dive, and see the mechanics behind the machine.

It was also gratifying to work with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), one of our 2019 grant recipients, to coach them on presenting themselves at the annual meeting and beyond.

You’re also involved in the Diversity and Inclusion initiative at Impact. What changes would you like to see in the organization and how can we accomplish this?
At the annual meeting, I’d like to see the room filled with diverse individuals, women of all colors! I’d like to see more African American women represented in the grantees, too.

In the push for more diverse membership, I’d be open to something like taking on a student from an HBCU (Historically Black College and University) and offering her a junior membership, something that we would help to subsidize.

I am also open to really learning what the word diversity means. When I think of diversity, I may think of individuals of color but also of those with learning differences, physical differences or even the challenges faced by Native American women.

In addition to practicing law, with offices in both New York and in Red Bank, you serve on the board of a long-established area non-profit, Parker Family Health Center in Red Bank. Can you tell us a little about that?
The Parker Family Health Center is named after two African American physicians, Dr. James Parker Sr. and Dr. James Parker Jr. father and son, who served the Red Bank community together for more than 80 years. Both attended Howard University, as did members of my own family.

I am a member of the board and the governance committee. We meet frequently and work with area non-profits – it’s an extremely active board. The fun part though is being able to directly work with the center, through fundraising, or more recently, doing what we needed to do to keep the clinic running during the entire pandemic! We made sure the community got the services they needed.

It inspires me that we are carrying on the legacy of those two Black doctors who founded the center, back during a time when those doctors could not get privileges to any local hospitals. Instead, they were seeing patients in their office in the early morning hours or making house calls! That is wildly inspiring and resonates for me personally – 95 percent of the advanced degree holders in my family are from Howard University, as were the two founders. That’s why I am always excited to do anything I can to help Parker.

They offer 100 percent free health care and have a really good group of committed volunteers.

(From their website: The Mission of the Parker Family Health Center is to operate a free health care facility where Monmouth County residents who do not have health insurance or the ability to pay for medical care can be treated with dignity and compassion.)

What keeps you sane?
About five years ago, I started meditating. I was raised in a conservative religious home. I’m very versed in religion and theology — but I’m not fluent in spirituality. Whenever I feel unmoored, or uncertain, deep breathing is my parachute out of madness. My ‘gateway’ was the book, “New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle.

What’s the best life advice you’ve received?
This quote from Kahlil Gibran sits with me and shapes my parenthood journey:

“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.”

We are mere observers. We need to sit back.

What’s a fun fact about you – something people might not know?
I run marathons! I went from casually running to reading a “Runner’s World” magazine and getting so inspired I just said ‘I’m gonna run a marathon!” I’ve done a couple – the New York City Marathon and the Marine Corp Marathon in DC. It’s the training that kills me!

What is the most recent book you read?
I am just finishing up, “Your Money or Your Life,” by Vicki Robin

Judie lives in Avon-by-the-Sea, N.J., with her husband and two teen-aged sons.



Hot Off The Press: Asbury Park Music Foundation Grantee Update

Asbury Park Music Foundation Beat Bus

We are so excited to share this update from the 2019 Grant Recipient Asbury Park Music Foundation with you all! It is incredible how much they’ve accomplished so far with their Impact grant despite the very challenging circumstances.

The APMF #BeatBus is our mobile classroom; since schools have been closed and classes have become virtual, our students are learning differently, but they’re still ‘on board,’ even if we can’t be there with them in person.

While the program launched a month behind schedule due to more logistical requirements than anticipated and slower hiring of additional staff due to delayed background checks due to COVID, it quickly accelerated once launched and they even completed one creative project planned for 6 weeks in less than two weeks!

As Program Director Ryan Gaumond shared, “while we initially planned on rolling out remote learning in the later development of the program, COVID-19 has since pushed us to quickly start integrating blended learning practices immediately. This challenge has turned into a huge advantage for our program. Engaging students in remote collaborative projects is helping to minimize feelings of isolation and alleviate the stress caused by COVID.”

Check out this impressive list of accomplishments made possible thanks to Impact funding you all awarded!

  • Students received a standing ovation at the Paramount Theater for their “We Are Rising” Video/Live Production, which reached +1500 audience members. The collaboration project with the AP schools for Black History Month featured:
    –  Historical Lesson of Asbury Riots
    –  Collaborative, student-created musical composition across schools
    –  Field trip recording session at Lakehouse Recording Studio
    –  Hands-on music video shoots, including an on-location field trip to Asbury Lanes
  • Tribute to Class of 2020: Students completed a graduation video and are in the development of APMF’s first virtual music production. This video is one example of a student project that evolved due to COVID. Asbury Park High School was planning a virtual graduation and wanted to present a tribute to its students through media. Following is the URL of the student-produced video created for the community.

Watch the tribute here!


  • Project-Based Curriculum has been developed. Accelerated the expansion of the program’s curriculum to include more topics such as Virtual Reality, 3.D. modeling, Augmented Reality, and Interactive Design. This expansion into new technologies was originally anticipated for year 2 but was accelerated into the program given the challenge of teaching audio tech, which is hard to do virtually and was originally intended to support live music performances.
  • Audio, Video, Technology & Classroom equipment has been purchased. COVID has put a halt on some aspects of the intended programming, however, students are back in the classroom and are also being encouraged to work on project deliverables outside of class time, while offered remote support by their instructors.
  • The Asbury Park Music Foundation space has been redesigned including room painted and modular workstations installed. Both APMF and Boys and Girls Club are ready to host classes when social distancing rules are scaled back.
  • Professional volunteers have been identified at key businesses in Asbury Park to integrate into project-based lessons. In response to restrictions due to COVID, local musicians are being integrated into online collaboration projects.
  • Student recruitment goals have already been surpassed! A collaboration with the AP schools attracted a large base of 20 students who were onboarded into projects prior to COVID and further outreach is now underway thanks to the transition to online learning (an additional 10 students to date).
  • Wonderful World Project: With the reopening of the APMF space last month, their Music Business & Technology program is now being offered both virtually and in-person! They’re able to offer the program thanks to the grant that they received from Impact 100 Jersey Coast earlier this year! WATCH NOW!

Blog: Onward & Upward


By Joanne Colella

The COVID-19 pandemic did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm and inspiration shared by 56 women who attended the organization’s recent Zoom event, held on June 11. With a theme of Onward and Upward, the first-ever virtual meeting provided an opportunity for new and returning members to engage with one another, hear updates about Impact 100 initiatives from the leadership team, ask questions, and weigh in on future events.

Onward & Upward Event

The event was cheerfully moderated by Casey DeStefano, Enrichment Chair, who set the tone for the fun, upbeat evening. Impact 100 Jersey Coast Co-Founders Deirdre Spiropoulos and Heather Burke each shared opening remarks, leading off with Deirdre’s eloquent recognition of the pain and loss being felt by African Americans throughout our country and right here in our own community. “Impact 100 Jersey Coast hears that pain and sees that loss, and commits ourselves to truly understand what institutionalized, systemic racism is and how it affects all of us,” she said. “As a grantmaker and collective of givers, we believe that black lives matter. Impact 100 is not only committed in words to playing an active role to end institutionalized racism, but we’re committed in action. We stand ready to deploy our grant funds this fall to support local organizations working to create a more just, equal, and fair future.”

We are off to a Strong Start!

Heather gave an update on Impact 100’s recent donation of $17,650 to the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund, which was raised through members’ donations from part of their annual dues. “These dollars, excitingly, are already being deployed as part of the immediate response effort here in Monmouth County and across the state,” she stated. “In this first response phase, the fund has already made 150 separate grants, totaling $3.2 million, to recipients across all 21 counties of New Jersey. There is still so much work to do, but we are off to a strong start and we should all take great pride in being part of this collaborative effort, which is really in keeping with our mission to multiply our impact by coming together.”

Deirdre also shared images of Impact 100 members recently assisting on the frontlines and sidelines, making an impact in ways both big and small. Those images inspired the creation of the Members in the Moment campaign, highlighting members who are involved with various community efforts and sharing their stories. “This is not the time to be shy or humble,” she stressed, urging everyone to share their stories. “It’s so important that we hear these stories and really share how the women of Impact are making an impact. Stories of hope and positive action are what we need right now.”

For the benefit of those new to Impact as well as a reminder to returning members, there was a graphic of the organization’s annual cycle. March 15 is when membership donations are due and the annual grant fund is announced. April is the time for the membership reception and celebration, with an update from current grantees. From June through October, grant applications are submitted, the grant review process is conducted by FAC committee volunteers, and finalists are selected. Throughout the entire year, members are recruited and the grant fund grows; this year’s astounding total of $456,000 was lauded with a virtual toast. The annual meeting in November is the culmination of the year, with grant finalists making their presentations, members voting, and the four grant recipients announced.

Thanks were given to outgoing Membership Chair Allison Mayo, followed by remarks by incoming Membership Chair Lori Missig, who said, “It takes an army to get to 456 people. We are exploring new ways to reach women in a virtual setting and please continue to tell friends, family members, neighbors, and any other women you know about Impact. We are now accepting new members for the 2021 class.” Membership team volunteers have the chance to be ambassadors for this amazing organization and to meet other great women in our community.

Grants Chair Rowena Crawford-Phillips was excited to be kicking off our fifth grant review season, saying, “Thanks to all of you, it is absolutely fantastic that we’ll be funding four projects with grants of $114,000 each. We know from our grantees what a total game-changer that amount will be for them and it really highlights how unique a giving circle like ours is in the grant-making world.” A total of 106 Impact members volunteered to serve on grant review committees this year. Rowena also explained that as soon as the pandemic hit, one of the priorities was to check in with 2019 grantees and be as supportive as possible. This year promises to be a challenging one and it is expected that all or most site visits may be virtual. There were 61 applications this year, which was very encouraging since the committee didn’t know what to expect. On the one hand, nonprofits are really hurting, but on the other hand, the grant application process is quite robust and time-intensive, particularly for nonprofits dealing with so much. The grant committee felt that it was important to keep the process the same, except for one change: proposals would be accepted not just for expanded and new projects, but also to strengthen and sustain existing projects, which would be important for nonprofits just struggling to keep their doors open and continue what they currently do in the face of COVID.

Volunteer Coordinator Eileen Greenlay spoke about the great benefits of the “job” of being an Impact 100 volunteer, with rewarding results, flexible work arrangements based upon each woman’s skills and availability, and the joy of spending time with talented and fun coworkers, meeting new friends and professional contacts. Events Co-Chair Kristin Gruberg joined in by saying, “So far, what a year this has been! It’s interesting to be in charge of getting people together when technically we’re not supposed to be getting together.” The decision was made to cancel the Summer Soiree, which is usually in August, but the committee is exploring other ways to stay connected via Zoom and other virtual platforms. “November 17, 2020, will be our big night, so save the date!” she exclaimed. “We are still working through details on what the evening will look like, but you can expect an amazing and exhilarating night as we each cast our vote and choose our 2020 grant recipients. You personally will truly feel the impact of your individual donation and know how much you’re helping the community.”

A poll was conducted during the Zoom meeting, asking members to weigh in on what would be their first choice of the type of online activities to attend, what topics they would be most interested in, whether they were more likely to attend in-person or virtual events in the coming year, and what time of day would be preferable. “We are not making any decisions on the spot,” Kristin assured everyone. “We want to take time to hear from you and a lot will change over the upcoming months with events in general. We will continue to gather more information to help us plan in the months ahead.”

At the end of the festive and informative Zoom event, members had the chance to participate in a ten-minute Q&A session and were reminded to be sure to check the Impact 100 website, social media, and emails for lots of terrific information and important updates, including Impact’s COVID response and hands-on volunteer opportunities. The final moments of the evening were dedicated to asking members to offer the one word that comes to mind when they think of Impact 100. The responses were immediate, with words such as Unity, Inspiring, Caring, Impactful, Together, Gratitude, Hopeful, Empowerment, Influential, Dedicated, and Compassionate. For the members of Impact 100 Jersey Coast and those they assist, the organization is surely all of those, and so much more.

Linda Lautenberg: Member In The Moment

When COVID-19 struck, Impact 100 Jersey Coast member Linda Lautenberg knew she HAD to do something to help out in her community. But what?

At the first virtual meeting of her business school alumni group, she happened to learn about the newly-formed Front Line Appreciation Group (FLAG). The group’s mission is simple: feed the front line medical workers and equally important — keep the local restaurants in business. Two Morris county NJ women started the organization, which has since expanded to more than 100 nationwide chapters.

Immediately, Lautenberg knew it was a perfect fit and started recruiting helpers and soliciting donations from the community, thus forming the Holmdel-Middletown chapter.

“When I heard about FLAG, I thought, ‘I can do this!’,” she said. “It really resonated with me.”

Clearly, it resonated in the community too. Between the end of March and Memorial day weekend, the group raised $54,321 and delivered 4,650 meals from 20 local restaurants to staff at Bayshore and Riverview hospitals, area nursing homes as well as police, fire, and first aid personnel in Holmdel and Middletown, even doctor’s offices with testing facilities. Not only this but the group dropped off grab and go snack carts to front line workers with purchased and donated items as well as 1,000 hand-sewn masks! Topping it off were hundreds of colorful hand-made thank you cards created by local school children and delivered to front line workers.

As Lautenberg describes it, the experience “gave everyone an outlet.” FLAG documented its drop-offs via social media, allowing the community to see exactly where their donations were going and to keep up the momentum. In addition, their efforts raised the profile of the shuttered restaurants, “reminding people that those restaurants are still there, doing take out!”

A member of Impact 100 JC for the last four years, Lautenberg currently chairs the Children and Families Focus Area Committee. She credits a team of four other women, including Impact 100 JC member Doreen DeMarco, with FLAG’s success.

Mary Eileen Fouratt: Beyond The Grant Member Spotlight

Meet Impact 100 Jersey Coast Member Mary Eileen Fouratt

By Janet Mazur Cavano

Mary Eileen FourattWhere do you live? Asbury Park. My husband and I moved from Shrewsbury two and a half years ago when we were seeking someplace walkable and fun.

What is your occupation?

I’m a program officer for the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Previously, I was the executive director of Monmouth Arts.

How did you discover Impact 100 JC?

My first connection was as an applicant when I served on Monmouth Arts. My board chair asked if I could go to an information meeting at 8 a.m. the next day, and right off the bat, I was really impressed with Impact’s presentation! I thought, these people really know how to give out grants! The whole process was crystal clear. I knew it was a long shot, yet it almost didn’t matter because we were getting in front of all these women who are generous and wanted to know all about us!

When did you actually join and how involved have you been?

I joined the next year and have served on two Focus Area Committees (FAC), Environment, Parks and Recreation, and Health and Wellness. One of the nice things is you can do as much or as little as you want and no one guilts you about it! When you have life stuff going on and need to step back, it’s ok.

What inspires you about the organization?

In the non-profit world, you have to work very hard to get small grants. A huge grant like Impact 100’s can really change the trajectory of an organization and give you the opportunity to make a leap in a way you could never do with a bunch of small grants. It’s a way for organizations to dream big and plan strategically, that “blue sky” kind of thinking, like, “if you had a substantial grant, what would you do?”

What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

Learning more about what’s going on in the community and seeing where the grant can have the most impact. It’s also fun to meet other people — everyone comes from a different direction, yet they’re all interesting and committed women.

What would you tell a woman who is considering joining Impact 100?

Just do it! Try it for one year and do as much or as little as you can and you’ll be hooked. Not that you’re not still giving or contributing to other organizations, but with Impact 100 you’re bringing the power of the entire group to together. I remember my first meeting. I was so surprised because I thought I knew pretty much everyone who gave to the arts in Monmouth yet I didn’t recognize a single person! I wondered, who are all these women and where did they come from? Impact taps into women who had not been as visible.

What’s the best life advice you ever received?

When I was graduating from college (Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts) and panicked because I didn’t have a job, my dad said, “Don’t worry  — you’re going to do six or seven things in your lifetime!” He was right — I’ve either worked for museums or arts organizations my whole career.

What’s the most recent book you’ve read?

I listen to a lot of books in the car. The latest one was “The Testaments,” Margaret Atwood’s follow up to “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Tell us something about you that not many people know, a fun fact.

My husband Bob and I like to ride rail trails — bike paths built on old railroad trails. The closest one is Edgar Felix Memorial Bikeway in Manasquan It’s a short one, but there are others all over the country. One of our goals is to ride The Great Allegheny Passage from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C.  We’d have to break it up and probably have to wait until we are retired to do it. The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is working to create more of these trails and connect them. They’re easier for me because you’re not out on the road and there’s little incline — so it’s pretty safe.



Tammy Ward: Beyond The Grant Member Spotlight

Meet Tammy Ward (2020 Impact 100 Jersey Coast Member)

By Janet Mazur Cavano

Tammy WardWhere do you live?
Matawan, New Jersey

Tell us what you for a living.
I own Cambridge Club of Aberdeen, a project I created with my husband over the last 10 years. It’s a 9-acre property in the center of Aberdeen, a private family social club. Think of it as a country club without a golf course; we have a club house, a ballroom and five pools. We opened 18 months ago. One of the reasons we pursued this avenue was to make meaningful employment for adults with disabilities. I have seven to nine individuals with disabilities working here right now.

You’ve been an advocate for the disabled for decades now — how did that get started?
When my daughter was born with Downs Syndrome nearly 30 years ago, I didn’t know anything about it, so I went to the library and looked up some books, and was horrified. I thought, “OMG, how could this have happened?” My mom put me back up on my feet and told me, “This is the most precious gift you have ever gotten. . .now you go and fight whatever it is that’s upset you.” So when Jessie was three-months-old, I went to a conference in Florida and met other parents. I then joined Early Intervention in Middlesex County. Later I became active in Monmouth County at Family Resources and Associates. I became an advocate for children with disabilities in the school system, and I did achieve my goal of making early intervention inclusive-based, versus center-based.

How did you learn of Impact 100 Jersey Coast and why did you join?
I am a golfer, and a couple of my golfer friends are Impact members and they invited a representative to talk to us at a luncheon. Once I learned what Impact was all about, I realized it could keep me connected to the non-profit world — for many years, I was a part of this, but had to disconnect as I focused more on my business. I then went to a meeting at Bell Works and met so many great women! I just like the whole concept of taking the pressure off me. I can rely on the judgment of smart women to screen the candidates and then just vote.

You’re returning for a second year — what brings you back?
To know that I am still making a difference in my community without having to put in as much effort is very satisfying. And I’ve never felt any guilt! We’re all professional women looking for that one sweet spot, and I think Impact is that!

What would you tell a woman who is considering joining?
For a woman who finds herself busy in her career and also has children, I would tell her that it’s always important to remember how many gifts we have — and that there are organizations that enable us to still succeed while helping others in our community.
Also, there’s a warmth to the women at Impact — we all get it! There’s such an energy we have as a group and I’m proud to be a part of it!

What’s the best life advice you’ve received?
That advice came from my mother — she’s reminded me often of how blessed I am with the brain I was given and the love in my heart and that I was meant to make a difference. Also, I always knew what direction I was heading and that was forward. That is my favorite word. Forward. It’s the only place to go and I’m going to make a difference with every step forward I make.

Tell us something about you that not many people know:
I am an artist, a sculptor. I enjoy it when I do have time, which recently has been carving out unusual pumpkins at Halloween. It’s something that I truly love and glad it’s still there any time I pick up my tools. I still have my gifts!