Lee Bashe, Randolph
If there is anyone who knows their way around our grant review process, it is Lee Bashe.
Since joining Impact 100 in 2015, Lee has been involved every year on a grant review committee, and this year she served as the Coordinator of Grant Committee Member Recruitment. This means being responsible for recruitment and communication with all potential grant committee members. She managed a committee to hold telephone interviews with all potential new members, assigned members to grant committees, and made sure there was a balance between new and returning members. Additionally, she assisted grant committee training coordination.
Raised in Queens, NY, Lee attended Vassar College, majoring in mathematics. After graduation, she worked as systems engineer for IBM in Chicago while her husband attended graduate school and transferred to the Newark office when her husband’s work at Exxon relocated them to Morris County. Several more moves, domestic and international over the next dozen years provided great broadening experiences for her and her family. Returning to Randolph Township with 2 grade school daughters, she got involved in local education and ran for the school board, serving 3 terms (9 years). She also worked for the United Way of Morris County, Northern NJ as their database administrator. In her early years with the United Way, the organization used community volunteer action teams that would review grant application and make funding decisions, much like the recommendations from Impact’s grant review committees. This early work with non-profits provided her with invaluable experience that she has shared with us.
Like many of us, Lee attended one of our socials at the home of a good friend, joined, and has served on grant committees ever since.
Lee enjoys what she does for Impact 100 Garden State. “It’s a truly wonderful way to give back, and to understand where your money is going and what it is doing – to help local non-profits in your community.”
One of Lee’s daughters, who lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia, is a member of Impact 100 Philadelphia and served this year on a grant review committee. Wouldn’t it be nice to think that there is an Impact 100 gene?
By Debby Seme
Wendy Aresty, Morristown, Art Dealer
Wendy Aresty is a modern Renaissance woman – successful business woman, mother of two adult sons, non-profit board member – and soon to be, bride!
Raised in Morristown by a single mom, Wendy had a hardscrabble childhood and had to work hard for the things that mattered to her. Self-taught and motivated, Wendy held jobs in retail, banking, banquet management, and event planning before turning her love of books and paper into a successful business called The Artful Unicorn.
Starting with the purchase of an art historian’s private collection of lithographs, Wendy began collecting both vintage and contemporary works and selling them on consignment. After a move to Aspen, Colorado, she took her business a step further and opened a gallery, Prints Charming, which became so successful she opened a second. After ten years in Aspen, she moved back to Morristown in 2014 “because it’s home” and joined Impact 100 through her friendship with charter member Sally Epstein and member France Delle Donne. Wendy will be closing her Morristown gallery in the next month, making The Artful Unicorn completely digital via Etsy, the online marketplace for crafters and sellers.
Wendy is on the Executive Board of the Morristown Festival of Books, which was started 5 years ago by Impact 100 members Linda Hellstrom and Laurie Siegel. Wendy is also a Board Trustee for the Mayo Performing Arts Center, serving as a co-chair of the Starlight Ball Committee with Impact 100 member, Marylyn McLaughlin, which raises money for educational programs for MPAC.
But the most important planning committee that she chairs is the planning of a September wedding to artistic painter Chris deVries who proposed to her in front of a Jackson Pollock painting at MoMA!
Wendy appreciates Impact100’s ethos and values and believes in giving back to the community that has been so good to her. The inscription inside the handmade locket she wears sums that up: “The only things we get to keep are the things we give away.”
By Debby Seme
Bette Schultz, Chatham, Pharma Exec and Entrepreneur
Just when we think that Impact 100 Garden State has garnered every terrific woman in the area, along comes someone like Bette Schultz to set the standard even higher. A graduate of Brown University and Harvard Business School, she currently resides in Chatham and has been a member of Impact 100 since 2015. Her resume fills several pages and reflects a stellar career in the pharmaceutical industry. She has been on advisory boards, negotiated globally for licensing initiatives, was Senior Director at Schering-Plough, has been Vice President of Business Development at Novartis, and founded her own company, Business & Licensing Strategies, LLC in February, 2008.
Despite a demanding schedule, Bette found time to help others through Dress for Success in Morris County where she originally served as Vice President of the Board. She first heard about Impact from a fellow Board member who suggested Dress for Success submit a grant proposal. “Unfortunately, we didn’t receive a grant but through the process, I learned about the Impact organization and their mission. I joined a few years later.”
As a member of the Health & Wellness Grants Committee in 2015 & 2016, Bette’s skill set was profoundly valuable. Her pharma experience helped the committee to analyze grant applications with regard to the populations they serve, the outcomes they hope to achieve, and the metrics with which to measure them. Her general business experience helped determine if a proposed project is achievable financially and tied to an overall strategy that promotes the group’s mission. She served as co-chair of the Environment, Preservation & Recreation Grants Committee in 2017 and will serve as a co-chair of a Grant Committee in 2018.
“I’m still on the Board of Directors for Dress for Success (now expanded to 10 counties in Northern NJ) and serve as the Immediate Past President.” She describes one memorable client who had just completed a program at Passaic County College and was delaying job interviews for three months while she paid off a $25 suit on lay-away at Walmart. “We provided her with a suit and accessories and she started interviewing right away.” Another client grew up in poverty and was homeless as a child. After receiving professional clothing and attending career services programs, she developed skill and confidence. “She went on to earn an advanced degree, got a good job, and is now a role model for her children.”
“Being involved with Impact 100 has been revelatory. Reviewing grant applications made me even more aware of the incredible need in our state, which can be overshadowed by the prosperity in NJ.” Bette enjoys a role reversal of sorts, giving funds to worthy nonprofits rather than raising them — the usual responsibility of the many Boards on which she has served. “It’s been nice to be on this side of the equation as well.”
by Marion Filler
Victoria Leone, Mendham, Writer, Equestrian
Victoria Leone moved to New Jersey in 1966 and has lived in Morris County ever since. She currently resides in Mendham and was introduced to Impact by former president and friend, Elisabeth MacDonald, during a membership event at her home. “Elisabeth gave me a folder with membership materials. I read them and joined almost immediately.”
She has a B.S. in marketing from NYU and worked in sales and marketing for 10 years before she was laid off from a small software company in 1994.
In 1999, a life-altering, severe stroke during pregnancy turned her life upside down. Full-time motherhood with two small children was an enormous challenge, but she met it head on by taking on another challenge that transformed her life yet again.
With no previous experience whatsoever, she followed the advice of her physician and learned how to ride. “I was depressed and I was terrified, but I decided to try. It has been just a wonderful experience.” She takes lessons at Mane Stream Stables in Oldwick, a facility dedicated to serving children and adults with physical, emotional, and developmental disabilities. In addition to winning numerous ribbons and awards, Victoria has expanded her social life as a member of the equestrian community.
A prolific writer in the blogosphere as Vanessa Leonard, she writes about everything from her early days as a gymnast who realized there was something “weird” about her trainer (yes, even then!) to an African safari with her family.
The obstacles she continues to face have not deterred her desire to help others. “Impact 100 has given me an opportunity to be involved in awarding meaningful financial grants to important nonprofit organizations in the community. My involvement has also strengthened some friendships I have had with other members.”
Since 2014, Victoria has been on the Grants Committee and currently serves on Membership.
“Amazing” and “special” are adjectives that do not begin to describe Victoria Leone.
by Marion Filler
Carol Delia, Nonprofit Advocate, Martinsville
Within five minutes of having a conversation with Carol Delia, one thing becomes immediately apparent – this woman has a 24-karat heart of gold!
So, it was almost an inevitability that Carol would join Impact 100 Garden State – an organization she calls “an inspiring group of dynamic women who want to make a real difference in their communities.”
Growing up in rural Virginia, it was Carol’s grandfather who instilled in her a social consciousness and taught her that you must try to lift up others in your own backyard. That outlook led Carol to studying political science in college and an early career working for Congress as a legislative aide for her hometown Congressman. She worked mostly on judiciary issues, which touched on many of the pressing social issues of the early 90s, and she expanded her interest in foreign affairs. What she learned during those early days of her career has continued to inform what she does today.
After marrying her husband, Dave, a job opportunity took them to Tampa, where she worked to expand international economic development in Tampa Bay and she worked in the immigration arena. While living in Tampa, she co-founded the Tampa Bay chapter of the Organization of Women and International Trade (OWIT), which is still a vibrant group expanding business and leadership opportunities for women. She then delved into fund-raising by creating a political action committee for the local Congressman seeking to run for Governor of Florida.
When she and her husband moved to New Jersey over ten years ago, Carol lent those skills to the nonprofit community. She worked in fund-raising for the Somerset County United Way and the American Cancer Society, which led her to join the Morristown Rotary Club, where she met our president, Merle Johnson. Since joining Impact 100, Carol has served on the Membership committee and has hosted social gatherings at her home. In this role she finds that she is “enjoying putting my community outreach hat back on.”
When not acting as a passionate advocate for these nonprofits, Carol juggles the schedules of her teenage daughter, Alex, and her third-grade son, Andrew, in their Martinsville home and shore home in Allenhurst.
Currently, Carol is working to help a Syrian refugee family in Elizabeth get the resources they need to acclimate to their new lives in New Jersey. She is also an officer of Gift of Life NJ, a nonprofit dedicated to providing life-saving heart surgeries for disadvantaged children from around the world.
It’s no surprise that the woman with the heart of gold would want to help cure the hearts of children around the world.
by Debby Seme
Clare McCoy, Wealth Director, BNY Mellon
For more than 25 years, Clare McCoy has helped people navigate critical transitions in their lives, both personal and financial. Having previously served as a member of the Grant Committee for Impact 100, Clare is now an Ambassador, serving as a mentor to new members as they begin to familiarize themselves with the organization. “I’m grateful to be able to serve as an Ambassador for Impact,” she says. “I was drawn to the group because of the ongoing positive impact it has on New Jersey’s underserved. It’s a privilege to be a part of this great group of women who work so hard to make a difference in people’s lives.”
As a Wealth Director at BNY Mellon Wealth Management, Clare assists women entrepreneurs and business owners in developing strategies that provide for their long-term financial stability and security. Having helped to build and operate a multimillion-dollar business herself, she understands the challenges and opportunities that women entrepreneurs face as they try to juggle their personal and familial needs alongside their business obligations. Working with amazing, entrepreneurial women inspires Clare, and she enjoys being able to help them grow, protect and manage their financial lives so they may leave a legacy for the next generation. This extends beyond her role at BNY Mellon — she also serves on the Women of Leadership Committee for the New Jersey chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth, helping women in senior-level leadership positions share their experiences and build connections from which they can draw support when needed.
Clare is also deeply passionate about helping women and children in need, and has devoted herself to several organizations dedicated to ending domestic and sexual violence, including Healing Abuse, Working for Change (HAWC) in Massachusetts and 180 Turning Lives Around in New Jersey. These organizations provide both immediate and long-term support for clients who have experienced trauma. She is also a member of the Thursday Morning Club in Madison, which sponsors programs and projects tackling a diverse array of subjects, including women’s health, conservation, literacy and equality.
In addition to being a Certified Financial Planner, she is also a Certified Health and Wellness Coach, helping to guide and motivate others in achieving their health goals. In her spare time, Clare enjoys gardening, yoga and spending time with her husband of more than 30 years, William, and her two daughters, Catherine and Caroline.
Leigh Schaeffer, Wharton, Social Worker
Leigh was introduced to Impact 100 Garden State by a friend, President Merle Johnson, became a member in 2016, and quickly became an active volunteer. She is currently in charge of the Impact Ambassador program.
Leigh says, “It is a simple concept where new members are assigned an ‘ambassador’ to help them navigate the Impact world and provide possibilities for their participation.” The goal of the program, initiated by Merle, is to help members stay connected to the Impact process and meet other like-minded members. New members receive phone calls and emails to alert them to upcoming events and will have an Ambassador to greet them when they attend large events. To date, there are 15 Ambassadors working with Leigh.
A graduate of Rutgers, Leigh served as a Social Worker at Morristown Memorial Hospital from 1988 to 2002. “Seven years ago, my husband John and I started Caring Transitions, a senior move management company that provides a wide range of services for (mostly) seniors who are downsizing and moving into a new phase in their life. Whether they are going to a senior residence, assisted living, or simply moving to a more ‘right sized’ environment to meet their current needs, we provide floor planning, sorting, ‘editing’, packing and resettlement services as well as overseeing their move and helping with disposition of unwanted items.”
Leigh adds: “Since leaving a traditional social work environment after many years, Impact was a natural draw for me. The selfless team effort that personifies Impact is proof that all of our efforts can make a huge difference.”
by Marion Filler
Lisa Barsky Firkser, Nonprofit Executive Director, Springfield
When Lisa Barsky Firkser was a little girl, her mother used to invite orphans from a nearby orphanage to their home for holidays. Little did she realize then that her mother’s acts of kindness to children in need would imprint on Lisa and inspire her to a lifetime of service to children.
Lisa began her career as a special education teacher, working with deaf children, later directed pediatric healthcare centers at Saint Barnabas Medical Center, which led to her appointment eight years ago as the Executive Director of CASA of Morris and Sussex Counties. CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates and in her role Lisa works with a staff of 13 in both counties. Their mission is to be “a strong voice for the best interests of vulnerable children who have been removed from their homes or are under court supervision due to abuse, neglect or abandonment.”
She first learned about Impact100 from Carole Rogers, our founder, who with her husband had started the Gift in Time program for CASA, and once Impact100 was off the ground, Lisa applied for a grant for her organization. She was intrigued by the incredible caliber of women who were members, and soon found herself becoming an active member. She has chaired many grant committees, and last year created our new training program for grant committee members on how to evaluate grants so that all our applicants will be reviewed following the same standardized process.
When not working at CASA or chairing grant committees for Impact100, Lisa and her husband make frequent trips from their home in Springfield into Manhattan to see Broadway shows or travel to Philadelphia to visit their daughter Sara.
“I love how my life at CASA and my work with Impact100 cross-pollinate each other. Many of the people who I know through CASA are also members of Impact100.” We love that Lisa has become not only an advocate for children in foster care but a dynamic advocate for Impact100 as well.
by Debby Seme
Gina Pontoriero, Attorney, Watchung
Anyone who has ever said that women “can’t do it all” has never met Gina Pontoriero of Watchung.
She is an attorney, the mother of four young children, is socially engaged in her community, and still finds time to be an active participant in Impact 100 Garden State. Gina serves on the Membership Committee, a Grant Committee, and as an Ambassador to new members. She recently hosted a reception for 40 new and old members. Her attention to so many extra details—like gaily wrapped favors for all guests–earned her the title of hostess with the mostest. “I was first introduced to Impact in 2015 and immediately knew it was the perfect fit. I was honored to host a gathering to introduce my personal network to this organization and the incredible women that serve it.”
Before her current position as VP and Corporate Counsel for Crum & Forster, Gina was Assistant General Counsel at Travelers and in private practice as a litigator at the prestigious firm of Greenbaum Rowe Smith & Davis. “I focus my practice in complex commercial litigation, regulatory counseling and the quickly evolving field of data privacy. I love practicing law and designing strategies to achieve optimal results!”
Her 24-month old twins and daughters nine and five years old, have barely slowed her down. Gina serves as Trustee of the Watchung Educational Foundation and is a dedicated class mom. “I live to make my children and family happy. My days are non-stop and as long as needed to give 110 percent to my family and job. I am uber-busy and incredibly blessed in every facet of my life.”
Blessed with boundless energy and inexhaustible enthusiasm, Gina makes it all look easy. “Impact 100 embodies so many of the values I treasure. When I learned women were collaborating to make a difference by providing transformational funds to local charities, I had to be part of it!”
by Marion Filler
Nancy Dougherty, Maplewood, Architect
She relaxed against the sleek black banquette, her soft gray scarf creating a perfect contrast to the minimalist surroundings. Nancy Dougherty seemed right at home, anticipating lunch at Common Lot, one of the many restaurants her firm, Studio 1200, has designed.
A graduate of Barnard College and The Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University, Nancy has lived in Maplewood for 24 years and been a principal of Studio 1200 in Millburn since 2008, when she joined designer, Sandee Markwith, a former colleague and friend, as a partner of the firm. Together they have expanded the business and now employ a staff of 30. The Studio 1200 portfolio includes projects for corporations, the hospitality industry, including both hotels and restaurants, and private residential clients.
Nancy has lost none of her enthusiasm for her work as their reputation has grown. She loves seeing the vision her clients have and then making it happen. “Putting all the pieces together challenges my brain,” she says.
Despite her demanding career, Nancy also has a commitment to her community. She has served on the boards of Kent Place School in Summit and Grace Counseling Center in Madison. In 2013, when she first heard about Impact 100, she was “all in.” She has served on a grant committee for all four years. She says, “Impact creates an environment where as a working woman you can personally have an impact within the specific time parameters you may have.”
by Carole Rogers
France Delle Donne, Morristown, retired Public Relations VP, Banking
France Delle Donne, a charter member of Impact100 Garden State, came to New Jersey by way of Antwerp, Belgium, where she was born. She moved to Ridgewood when she was ten, returning to Europe after college where she worked in Paris and Brussels for Merrill Lynch. After meeting her future husband there, she came back to the U.S. and lived in Atlanta, Philadelphia, and San Diego before ultimately settling and raising a family in Morristown where she has resided for 25 years.
If her travels don’t leave you breathless, her professional credentials surely will. She retired in September, 2016, as Senior V.P. of Community Relations at ConnectOne Bank after serving in a similar capacity as Senior V.P. of Communications and Public Relations at Center Bank Corp and Union Center National Bank, Inc.
While a past Trustee on the Board of the Peck School and the Junior League of Morristown, she continues to volunteer there. And she previously served on the Boards of the Morris County Tourism Bureau, Morris Arts, and the Friends of Morris Museum.
Her involvement with Impact began four years ago after a membership event at a friend’s house. “I pledged to join on the spot,” she says. “I believe I am innately drawn to compassionate, dynamic, generous, interesting, positive and productive women who aren’t afraid to take steps forward.”
France immediately began working on the Membership Committee and is currently also on the Communications Committee. Her vision for Impact’s future: “to one day reach 500 members and continue making a positive, transformative impact in the lives of NJ’s underserved.”
by Marion Filler
Melisa Fluhr, Mendham, Co-Founder of Project Nursery
It can be difficult to combine motherhood and a full time career, but Melisa Fluhr, a member of Impact 100 Garden State since 2015, makes it look easy. The co-founder of Project Nursery, an on-line design resource for nursery and children’s products, Melisa lives in Mendham with husband Josh and three children.
Project Nursery proved to be the perfect fit for Melisa, who employs 12 work-from-home mothers across the country in addition to an array of international contractors. Through her blog, newsletter, and website, she and her team actively engage with over 1.5 million moms every month.
“I joined Impact 100 because they make it so very simple for a working mom like me to be a part of something special.” Currently a member of the IT and Communications Committees, she shares her much-needed expertise in web design, graphic design and social media. However, after attending the annual meeting last November, Melisa hopes to eventually serve on the Grants Committee. “I am still fairly new to Impact but after listening to a few speeches, drying a few tears and enjoying wine with a few friends, I began to see the full impact of these grants and what they meant to the finalists that evening. I look forward to learning what this November will bring!”
by Marion Filler