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.
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!”
Lori Wilson, Nonprofit Advocate, Morristown
Lori Wilson, a 17-year resident of Randolph who recently moved to Morristown, has been a member of Impact 100 since 2015.
In addition to a background in journalism, human resources, and information systems management, Lori’s former position with Family Promise of Morris County honed her skills in writing grant applications, press notices, and social media posts. In hindsight, her segue to Impact was only a matter of time. “Our executive director encouraged me to familiarize myself with Impact 100, and we considered applying for a grant. In addition, a long-time Family Promise volunteer, who was also a member of Impact, encouraged me join.” Fortunately, she took their advice, bringing with her the unique ability to facilitate the grant process from both sides.
Until the end of last year, Lori was also the Community Relations Coordinator at the Diabetes Foundation, Inc. She is passionate about diabetes advocacy. “My 27-year-old son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age nine, and I have long sought opportunities to support families living with diabetes.”
For Impact, Lori served on the Environment Grant Committee in 2015 and co-chaired the Education Grant Committee in 2016. Her work on the Grant Document Review Committee last year was instrumental in developing a much-needed scoring system to evaluate and assess applications. This year she will again serve as a grant committee co-chair and also as Grant Liaison with Membership Engagement.
Lori says, “I am inspired by a variety of impressive nonprofit organizations that passionately seek to strengthen communities. That is my most enduring take-away from my association with Impact 100. I’m thankful that we give women a collective opportunity to support nonprofits in life-changing ways.”
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.”
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.”
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!”
The Reverend Janet Broderick, Rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Morristown
From the time she arrived at St. Peter’s in 2009, Janet Broderick has brought a resounding level of enthusiasm to her role as rector. Worldly, articulate, and well informed, she grew up in Greenwich Village, one of three children of Patricia Broderick, a writer and painter, and James Broderick, the actor.
Show business was a familiar part of growing up, but unlike brother, Matthew Broderick, Janet chose to follow another path.
Rev. Broderick serves St. Peter’s with compassion. She has also become a resource for the larger Morristown community—through her personal empathy but also through activism, drawing on her 30 years of experience as a community organizer.
When a fire in Morristown rendered a family with young children suddenly homeless and the family had no other resources, Janet took them in to her home until they could manage on their own.
On Wednesday afternoons St. Peter’s hosts a weekly food market that distributes fresh meat and vegetables to families in need. The Free Farmer’s Market grew out of a 2014 Impact 100 Garden State $100,000 grant to the Community Soup Kitchen of Morristown and America’s Grow-a-Row.
Most recently she has become one of the leaders of Morris Area Refugee Partners (RAMP), a new nonprofit organization that is working to welcome vetted Middle Eastern and other refugees to Morris County, helping them to construct productive new lives.
Like other members of Impact 100 Garden State, Rev. Broderick wants to make a difference in people’s lives.
Barbara Curran, retired Judge and NJ Legislator
When Impact 100 Garden State first came to NJ in 2012, a friend invited Judge Barbara Curran to a Membership Tea. She joined that afternoon. Since then, she serves with enthusiasm on the Grants Committee and assists with legal advice upon occasion.
Barbara’s career is a stellar example of a lifetime of service to others. She is the first woman to serve in all three branches of NJ government. Admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, she is a former NJ Superior Court Judge, served as member of the Cabinet for two NJ Governors, and was elected to four terms in the NJ legislature. She is equally busy in retirement, sitting on the boards of St. Vincent Academy in Newark, Roots & Wings, CASA of NJ, and is a member of the North Jersey Health Collaborative.
Her current position as pro bono counsel for the “No Greater Sacrifice Foundation” enables her to advocate for veterans and their families.
Although she does not consider herself to be a pioneer, she remembers the days when she was the only woman on a legislative committee. “In my grandmother’s day, many women didn’t even know how to manage a checkbook. It’s great to work with women who are now CFOs of companies issuing those checks.”
Impact is all about empowering women.