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.



Claire Knopf: Beyond the Grant Member Spotlight

Meet Impact 100 Jersey Coast Member Claire Knopf

By Janet Mazur Cavano

Where do you live?

When it comes to philanthropy and service, your resume is beyond impressive! You’ve volunteered on multiple local organizations from chairing the Monmouth Medical Center Foundation to sitting on the board of the Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore and more. With all this on your plate and more, what on earth motivated you to join Impact 100 Jersey Coast in 2016?
I credit Bonnie Torcivia, a founding member of IMPACT 100 Jersey Coast, who was aware that I had been involved with several organizations in our community. She urged me to join. I was told that IMPACT 100 is a proven, credible, effective, national movement and how easy it is to simply write a check (the only requirement for membership) to affect change for a qualified non-profit organization.

Beside the ease of membership, what else do you find appealing about Impact?
I am definitely in favor of the prototype that invites all women to join and can volunteer on any committee she chooses or, not at all. That’s great – no one feels left out because all members are offered a position in the organization. There’s no “in crowd”. Everything is transparent.

What about Impact’s effect on the community?
I was aware of the needs in our community; or so I thought. I know of many organizations; or so I thought. When I attend an IMPACT meeting, I learn about organizations I know nothing about. Applications are open to all non-profits at the Jersey Shore and the grants really do affect peoples’ lives. All the funds go directly to the grants.

What drives you to be so active in philanthropy and service?
As a child I learned that service is important. Many of my extended family have been involved in their community; one a Councilman; another the son of a mayor of a large city. My family history of cancer also drives me. Having experienced my grandmother, mother, and father dying young from various cancers, and having an aunt and four cousins as survivors, I knew I needed to help.

Tell us about your favorite Impact memory or success story.
I am so impressed with how Impact reacted to COVID-19 – the fact that every member was asked in a timely and diplomatic way to contribute (to the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund). It was done seamlessly and successfully.

What’s the best life advice you’ve ever received?
Upon my college graduation, which my father did not live to see, my uncle told me, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” (Seneca the Younger, b. 65 AD).
For me, this really ties into education. It’s so important that children are educated and have access to health care and quality food.

What is your superpower?
I don’t have a super power (laughs). I’m honest. I have integrity. I have compassion. I have the ability to motivate. I also treat each challenge as if it were a for-profit organization and in a professional manner.

How are you managing during quarantine?
I’ve had 13 people living in my house since March! The house looks like a coworking space with everyone working in their own corner. We’ve learned not to pressure each other to be together all the time; everyone needs their own space. Everybody is healthy — that’s what’s most important.

Claire and her husband, Woody Knopf, have three grown children.

Rose Anastasio: Beyond the Grant Member Spotlight

Meet Impact 100 Jersey Coast Member Rose Anastasio 

By Janet Mazur Cavano

Where do you live?

What do you do for living?
In my first career, I was an assistant vice president at Merrill Lynch. I was also an independent consultant and did design and coding work on Wall Street. Today, I don’t have a 9 to 5 job, but I do hold a certification in holistic health. I’ve coached for many years, working with individuals on how to eat well.

I’ve also battled Lyme Disease and I often get calls from people who’ve been diagnosed and don’t know what to do or how to feel better. There’s a lot of controversy surrounding the disease and many doctors don’t know how to treat it. I don’t want anyone to go through what I went through, so I will help who ever I can!

You’re also involved with the Lyme disease community on a bigger level; can you tell us more about that?
I am actively involved with Global Lyme Alliance. It’s a large non-profit “dedicated to conquering Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses through research, education, awareness and patient services.”

I mostly fund-raise for them and chair a “Taste for a Cure” wine-tasting event in Monmouth County, for the last three years. I also attend seminars, meetings and sit in on research symposiums.

How did you first become involved with Impact 100 JC?
I was invited to a recruiting luncheon by a founding member, Paulette Roberts. Deirdre (Spiropoulos, president and co-founder), sat down with six of us and explained the organization. I was so inspired by the wonderful work and I knew immediately I wanted
to be a part of it and I wrote a check right there. That was three years ago.

What inspired you about the organization?
I just believed in the mission. I like the concept of women coming together and helping people in a local community. There’s nothing else out there like it!

When did it dawn on you that Impact was making a difference?
Not until I attended my first annual meeting did I realize there was so much need in our community. What an emotional and inspiring night, especially when the grant applicants were presenting their pitches!

I had no idea Impact was filling such a void!

Being able to say that I am a part of something like this, something so much bigger than myself, and that we can change the course of so many people’s lives — it’s very empowering!

What would you tell a woman who is considering joining?
If you want to be a part of something remarkable, share the experience with other like-minded women, change the lives of people in our area and have a voice in directing where the money goes — join! It’s a pretty compelling argument!

What’s the best life advice you’ve ever received?
I was recently sitting next to a doctor at a seminar and he said, “To stay healthy, you have to stay away from people who bring negativity into your life and don’t respect your friendship. It’s a pure waste of your time and energy!” I agree!

Tell us something about you that not many people know. A fun fact.
I’ve been a golfer for the last 10 years, on and off, and three years ago, I was the women’s club champion at my golf club!

What’s the most recent book you read?
“Let There be Water” by Seth M. Siegel. It’s about the creation of a water system in the desert areas of Israel and how people all take responsibility for its use. It’s an “off the beaten path” read, but it just caught my fascination!

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!

Christina Zuk: Beyond The Grant Member Spotlight

Meet Impact 100 Jersey Coast Member Christina Zuk

By Janet Mazur Cavano

Christina ZukWhere do you live?
Long Branch, New Jersey

What do you do for a living?
I’m a lobbyist. For the last five years, I’ve worked for a firm in Trenton called Princeton Public Affairs Group, and our clients range from non-profits to education groups to health care organizations, hospitals, and businesses.

How long have you been a part of  Impact 100 Jersey Coast and how did you hear about us?
This is my second year. I’ve worked in and around politics my whole career, and I love it, but I was looking for something that was not related, but would still enable me to make a difference.

My friend Amy Quinn (Deputy Mayor of Asbury Park) invited me to an event, the summer soiree. It came at the right time for me and I loved that it was an all-women organization. I was so energized listening to Deirdre (Spiropoulos, President and Co-founder) speak — she does such a great job — she really sold it for me.

How involved have you gotten?
My first year, I served on the Environment, Parks and Recreation Focus Area Committee (FAC) and I got so much out of it. It’s great for members in their first year to do, because you really get a sense of exactly what the organization is all about. Also, I got back as much as I gave. I actually experienced a lot of personal growth — I’d never sat on a grant committee before and it was challenging. But it gave me the confidence to know that I can do things that are totally different and outside of my comfort zone.

What has been your favorite Impact moment?
Since I joined later in the season, I came to my first Annual Meeting as a non-voting member to get a sense of what Impact does. I went by myself and had no idea what I was walking into. I work in politics and I hear a lot of speeches, but I was so unexpectedly moved, literally to tears, by the presentations that night. It sticks out in my mind at how it really moved me, and I consider myself hard to move.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering?
I’m a very results-oriented person and I think this organization is a great vehicle for having the most impact from a single individual donation. It’s rewarding to see precisely where your money goes, and it gives you a measure of control over both the time and money you contribute.

What other non-profit or volunteer groups are you involved with?
For the last year, I’ve sat on the board of 180 Turning Lives Around, an organization that empowers survivors and families affected by domestic violence and sexual assault. I’m also on the Planning Board in Long Branch, and I serve on the board of PAM’s List – an organization that helps elect Democratic women to the New Jersey State Legislature. I also volunteer on the Asbury Park Women’s Convention planning committee – and our next convention is March 14th and 15th in Asbury Park – so I’m shamelessly plugging it here!

What keeps you sane and balanced?
I work out very regularly — this is the best way for me to stay sane. I also started meditating over a year ago. I use an app called Head Space — it’s a great way to start your day.

What’s the last book you read?
I always re-read “The Alchemist,” every few years. It’s tempting to try and control things in life and that book helps me to adjust my mindset, and take a breath. I find it really comforting.

Tell us something about you that we don’t know — a fun fact!
I was ordained online to perform a wedding back when I was in college, and have performed several weddings since then.

Linda Lautenberg: Beyond The Grant Member Spotlight

Meet Impact 100 Jersey Coast Member Linda Lautenberg

By Janet Mazur Cavano

Linda LautenbergWhere do you live?
Holmdel, New Jersey

What do you do for a living?
I’m the co-founder of Evolve, a professional development company I launched in November for women who’re at a transition point in their career or looking to make a shift in their personal life. What makes it special is that we’re not career coaches. Our signature program focuses on bringing women together — we lead them through five full days of programming. The real magic is the women go through this together, getting inspiration and confidence from each other. It’s been really well received! I’m a returner (to the workforce) from a finance background and both my partner and I found the pivoting, the freelancing, the trying-to-figure-it-out on our own to be very isolating.

How did you discover Impact 100 Jersey Coast?
When I was starting to return to the workforce, I got involved with the alumnae online group for Harvard Business School. A member told me about a philanthropy group in New Jersey and pointed me to her sister, who was a member — it was everything I was looking for and I joined in 2017.

What inspired your about the organization?
Initially, it was the energy and enthusiasm in Impact’s numbers — the level of organization and professionalism was incredible! I wanted to be a part of something that was going to have an impact on the lives of others! I also love that it shines a light on non-profits all over the county.

How have you been involved in Impact and what has it meant for you?
The first year, I was all IN! I was on a Focus Area Committee (FAC), served as a leader for the site visit, and then as a liaison to the finalist. In the second and third years, I chaired the Environment, Parks and Recreation Committee. Not only are you doing something amazing, but it is a great way to gain professional experience.

Selfishly, I got some of ME back! I’m sure it’s a thing people don’t think of much, but women who’re staying at home, or are on career breaks, can gain so much experience and confidence from their involvement. The women leading Impact JC do so much work to make it so possible and so comfortable to take on a leadership position!

You keep renewing your membership; tell us why.
When I see the impact we’re having at the end of year – the joy and gratitude on the faces of the recipients at the annual meeting — it’s so worthwhile.

Also, all the wonderful women I’ve met; it’s great to meet people from around the county and also to work with an intergenerational group – this really gives you a range of perspectives. In fact, my 78-year-old mother-in-law is going to join this year – she has so much knowledge and background to offer!

What’s the best piece of life advice you’ve received?

Breathe. I  got that advice recently. A speaker at an event who just launched her own business was giving everybody in the room this advice. It’s something I forget a lot of times. Just stop and take your time. Everything else will all still be there. Just breathe.

What keeps you sane and balanced?

My family and my friends! I have an incredibly supportive husband — he’s an ophthalmologist with a practice in Toms River — and once I decided to launch my business, he really stepped up. So have my three kids! My business partner and I work amazingly well together, too. Having the support grounds you and makes you really grateful.

What’s one thing about you that most people probably don’t know?

I have a bright and beautiful six-year-old therapy dog, a King Charles Spaniel called Archie. He has his own hospital volunteer credentials and he’s been a therapy dog since he was three. You go through a rigorous training process — we both are trained — and then you can bring them to nursing homes and school programs. Archie lives in my house with my two cats, a rabbit and the four rescue kittens that my daughter is bottle-feeding!

Holly Lyttle: Beyond The Grant Member Spotlight

Meet Impact 100 Jersey Coast Member Holly Lyttle

By Janet Mazur Cavano

Where do you live?
Oceanport, New Jersey

Describe your occupation
I’ve had two careers. I was originally an in-house organizational consultant for AT&T, specializing in leadership and team building. I retired when my kids were in school. I then volunteered for various non-profits, and eventually got a master’s degree in non-profit management from Columbia University. I’ve also chaired three local boards over the years — The Junior League, the Monmouth County Arts Council and Family and Children’s Services. I have 25 years of board experience.

When did you join Impact 100 Jersey Coast and how did you discover us?
I heard about it mainly through word of mouth and I liked the idea right away! So many of my friends were joining. This is my fourth year — I joined in 2017.

How active are you in Impact Jersey Coast?
I’ve served on two Focus Area Committees (FACs) — Children and Families as well as Environment, Parks and Recreation for which I am now the vice-chair. I’ve gone on a number of site visits and talked to the people running the non-profits and that’s where you truly see the need out there! That’s the importance of being on a committee.

So, what keeps you coming back/rejoining?
The grants are so transformational! Your contribution does work; it’s an exponential thing. Also, when you hear the reports at the annual meeting and see exactly what the grantees have done with our contribution — it’s amazing! There are so many good causes in the world — Unicef and other global organizations — but we need to remember our local community. If we are not going to step up and take care of the most vulnerable in our backyards, who will?

What would you tell a woman who is thinking about joining?
Your contribution combines with others in the best possible way AND you will meet the most amazing women, one after another! I am awestruck with everyone I’ve met, and we all learn from one another.

What’s the best piece of life advice you’ve received?
When I was in the 8th grade, my grandmother told me, “Always smile.”  Things are going to happen to you in life, good and bad, yet if you smile and keep a positive attitude, people will treat you better no matter what. And it works.

What’s the most recent book you read?
I just finished Mitch Albom’s “Finding Chika.” It was a quick, easy read about helping people in Haiti. The author and his wife adopted a Haitian orphan.

What’s something about you that most people don’t know, a fun fact or two?
I can juggle! I led a class in creativity at AT&T and taught people to juggle! I don’t have a lot of hand/eye coordination, but I learned it for the course.

Also, when I was on the board of the Association of Junior Leagues International in 2002, I took a personal tour of the West Wing of the White House. We weren’t actually allowed to step into the Oval Office, but I did peek in and I found that it’s a lot smaller than you would think.

Alison Ertl: Beyond The Grant Member Spotlight

Meet Impact 100 Jersey Coast Member Alison Manser Ertl

By Janet Mazur Cavano

Alison Manser Ertl
Alison Manser Ertl

Where do you live?
Brielle, New Jersey

Tell us about what you do for a living
I’m the publisher of Star News Group, a family-owned business. We publish two weekly newspapers, The Coast Star and the Ocean Star, and Night and Day Magazine. We cover local news in 16 communities and our reporting staff is one of the largest in New Jersey! I oversee the day-to-day operations, everything from changing the light bulbs to picking up the mail and keeping everything running from circulation to ad sales. We have offices in Manasquan and in Point Pleasant Beach.

When did you join Impact 100 Jersey Coast and how did you discover us?
I joined in October, 2018. I had heard about Impact from the press releases that were sent to our newspaper, and I thought “Wow! This is really interesting. What a great concept!” I had done research beforehand and then all it took was one meeting!

A representative from 180 Turning Lives Around, Impact 100 Jersey Coast’s inaugural grant recipient, made a presentation about the Family Justice Center and I was struck by the fact that Impact made that happen! Also, the members were a smart, knowledgeable, friendly and caring group – that just sold me. I joined on the spot!

How active are you in Impact Jersey Coast?
What’s funny is that the “no-guilt” aspect is very appealing to me. I’m pressed for time – I have a young family and I’m running a business, plus I’m involved in Chamber of Commerce activities. Yet, when they were looking for someone to host a membership event, the energy and excitement caught me off guard and I said, “I’ll do one!” We hosted it at a restaurant, invited a bunch of friends, and had a really nice turnout!

What would you tell a woman who is thinking about joining?
It’s the best bang for your buck! It’s a great opportunity to maximize your dollars and your time to truly make a difference in your community. You can make your voice heard, make your contribution and network with like-minded women -it’s all that rolled into one!

Your favorite Impact 100 moment?
My first annual meeting – that night really solidified it for me. Hearing all the applicants making their pitch and being so passionate! And I could not believe how packed those rooms were with members…it keeps getting bigger and bigger, like a groundswell, picking up more and more women as we go along. I even got my mother to join!

What’s the best life advice you’ve gotten?
My dad has been my mentor; we work together and he’s given me a lot of practical advice over the years and the one thing he has instilled in me, is that “You’re more capable than you realize!” It’s an underlying theme to the way we run our organization. You can always exceed your goals and expectations. You are capable of so much more than you think!

What keeps you sane and balanced?
I try to carve out small amounts of time for myself every day. I also have a weekly yoga practice and I recently started a 21-day meditation practice. It’s led by Oprah and Deepak Chopra and you do it on your phone. I also try my best not to add to a plate that’s already so full, but I don’t always succeed!

Tell us something people may not know about you!
I’m involved in the gluten-free and celiac disease community as a mom to two girls with celiac disease. My girls and I enjoy baking and re-creating dishes as gluten-free at home. I’ve become passionate about educating myself about autoimmune disorders, such as celiac disease, as well as being an advocate for better research and options for those who have an autoimmune disease.