“Above all things, I wish that thou may be prosperous and be in good health” 3 John 1:2
“Public health is the intersectionality of prevention, treatment, collaboration, and leadership; what other field allows you to combine these disciplines while addressing socially complex problems that will shape the health and well-being of this country?”
Darrin is the Executive Director of the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance. Darrin lead private and publicly funded statewide initiatives in partnership with 36 Y’s and various community organizations across the state. Major initiatives include: Healthy U (funded by the Horizon Foundation of NJ), The New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids (funded by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation), Start Healthy / Stay Healthy (funded by Nestle), Ready, Set, Healthy! (funded by Novo Nordisk) and The New Jersey Healthy Communities Network. The Alliance is also responsible for co-hosting the NJ Culture of Health Conference, as well as leading a Social Responsibility Conference and advocating for state and local policies to improve health, educational and social outcomes for children and families.
Since 2009, Darrin served as the Associate Executive Director for the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance and State Deputy Director for New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids (NJPHK), He was also instrumental in expanding the NJ Healthy Corner Store Initiative to more than 200 statewide corner stores/bodegas and partnered on various statewide initiatives that led to more than 400 environmental and policy and system changes across the state. He also co-led the creation of the NJ Healthy Communities Network and the annual statewide Culture of Health Conference attended by more than 500 public health professionals across the state. Under his leadership, NJPHK received one of the first NJ Department of Health Population Hero Awards and was a recipient of the Black Issues Conference 2014 Community Change Award.
Before joining the Y, Darrin was the Executive Director of the American Diabetes Association, State Health Alliance Director of the American Heart Association, and Clinical Exercise Physiologist at Christiana Care Health System’s Eugene DuPont Preventive Medicine & Rehabilitation Institute (Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation). He has served on the Governor’s Council on Lifestyle & Fitness (DE), Hope Commission (Special Task Force for Positive Youth Development & Violence Prevention (DE), and was Vice Chair of the Rotary Club of Wilmington, Delaware, Community Service Project.
A recipient of the University of Delaware Presidential Award for Minority Students, he received his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in health and exercise science from University of Delaware and his doctorate from Temple University (Kinesiology) and is adjunct faculty at Springfield College and Richard Stockton University. Darrin’s research interest is in nonprofit leadership development, strategic initiatives, exercise science, and community-clinical linkages in chronic disease prevention with a focus on public policy, at-risk youth, and communities of low income.
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Jumping in the waves
“Everyone has the right to thrive — mentally, physically, emotionally and nutritionally. Let us provide people the opportunity to do so.”
Marissa convenes, connects and empowers Trenton stakeholders and residents to use policy, environment and system changes to create healthier places to live, work, eat and play. She serves as a regional coach to six NJ municipalities through the NJ Healthy Communities Network. Her work in Trenton has resulted in significant improvements throughout Trenton including two school playgrounds; salad bars in five schools; a Wellness Loop and a middle school workout room; the Greenwood Ave. Farmers Market; policies for complete streets, district wellness, and faith-based wellness; walkability audits; the coordinated food pantry and healthy corner store initiatives; and the Trenton Healthy Food and Fitness Network, a collective impact initiative.
Prior to joining NJPHK, Marissa worked for Habitat for Humanity-Trenton, NJ, and the Red Clay Consolidated School District in Wilmington, DE.
Marissa has been certified as a Boundary Spanning Leader through the Center for Creative Leadership. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in women’s studies and Black American studies from the University of Delaware.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” - Proverbs 3:5-6
Mangos & figs
Playing with my kids
“I always loved the health field but knew that being a doctor or nurse wasn’t for me. I did, however, feel compelled to concentrate on improving the health of urban communities and communities of color because I grew up feeling like we lacked the basic health needs in my community like access to healthy foods, quality health care and safe, accessible places to play.”
Valeria provides leadership to the Get Healthy Camden initiative through the Cooper’s Ferry Partnership and Camden Collaborative Initiative. Get Healthy Camden seeks to advance policy, systems and environmental changes that create equity and sustainability for a healthier Camden. Valeria’s work has resulted in the adoption of school wellness policies in the Camden City Public Schools and in several charter schools and childcare centers; a Breakfast-in-the-Classroom program for Camden City School District; and a joint-use agreement with the City of Camden for the use of physical activity in city parks. She has leveraged over $480,400 in grants to support Get Healthy Camden. Her work has been recognized with the “Best Collaborative Effort of the Year” Award from the NonProfit Development Center of Southern New Jersey.
In 2015, South Jersey Magazine named Valeria both Woman of the Year and an Exceptional Women Entrepreneur & Executive. The Camden County Board of Freeholders recognized her as a Sustainability Champion, and the South Jersey Young Professional Association awarded her the Angel of the Year Award. She also received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Rutgers University and the Healthy Communities Partner Award from the Campbell Soup Company.
Valeria holds a B.S. in public health from Rutgers-New Brunswick Bloustein School of Public Planning and Public Policy and an M.S. in health education from St. Joseph’s University.
Peaches and grapefruit
Cabbage and tomatoes
Yoga, cross-country skiing
“When I was in college, I spent a summer volunteering at a clinic in Arequipa, Peru. Children who lived far up in the Andes were coming in with serious illnesses and permanent disabilities that could have been prevented by immunization. That is when I came to understand that prevention really is a basic human right.”
Janet provides technical assistance and coaching to local coalitions in eight north Jersey communities working to promote policy, systems and environmental changes to prevent chronic disease. She facilitates initiatives ranging from corner stores, farmers markets and buyers’ co-ops for local fruits and vegetables to changes in policy and practice in early care and education centers by providing policy-relevant research, connecting like-minded partners, troubleshooting challenges and nurturing innovation through candid feedback and brainstorming.
Previously, Janet was responsible for CDC-funded obesity prevention grants as an Obesity Prevention Specialist for the New Jersey Department of Health. She founded the community grants program that eventually became the New Jersey Healthy Communities Network. Earlier in her career, Janet was an independent consultant to philanthropy and public health clients and served as a Program Officer for The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focusing on physical activity-friendly community environments, teen drinking prevention, and gun violence prevention.
Janet has a B.A. in history from Harvard University; an M.H.S. in international health from Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, and an M.B.A. in management from The Wharton School of Business.