January 5, 2014

On Saturday, November 2nd, 2013, Leadership Newark held its first annual public policy summit at the Paul Robeson Center in Rutgers University—Newark.  Attendees poured in from all around the nation and all spectrums of professional and academic industries to participate in the discussion of rebuilding the vibrant city of Newark, which speaks to the theme of Rebuilding The Dream That Is Newark.  Attendees were able to learn more about various policy issues from professionals within the industries, attend panels that promoted action steps and problem solving and alas were given motivation to take action.

The event began with a welcome by executive director Celia M. King discussing the importance of continuing the discussion behind rebuilding socially and economically viable cities like Newark.  Following King’s welcome address was the opening keynote by North Star News Editor-in-Chief Walter L. Fields, Jr.; then remarks from State Director to Senator Cory A. Booker, Modia Butler; followed by Business Administrator for the City of Newark Julian Neals, Esq.; and Rutgers Professor Dr. Robin Eubank, who provided an overview of the Leadership Newark Summit Community Action Guide, the tool developed to assist attendees “LEARN, ACT & CHANGE”.  Once the essential points were outlined, the attendees were off to an amazing start.  They experienced engaging, and up close and personal workshops with various panelists including, but not limited to Craig Levine, Senior Counsel & Policy Director at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice; Michael G. Meyer, Director of Housing and Real Estate, City of Newark; Junius W. Williams, Director, Abbott Leadership Institute at Rutgers – Newark; Tiffany Aliche, Author, The One Week Budget; Rodney Brutton, Chief Administrative Officer/Director of Workforce Development, New Community Corporation; and Dr. Roger A. Mitchell, Jr. MD, Northern Regional Medical Examiner, Office of the State Medical Examiner.

By the afternoon, attendees continued to gain momentum around resolving issues affecting Newark such as crime, education and economic recovery by an empowering speech by keynote speaker, Van Jones, who is also a host for CNN’s Crossfire, author of Rebuild the Dream and Former Green Jobs Advisor To The Obama White House.  While most attendees believed a change was needed to rebuild Newark, Jones challenged the audience by stating that the general thought process around change is wrong. “Change isn’t coming, change is here,” he said. “We’re in the middle of multiple revolutions in human society in genetics, brain science, robotics, technology…every field of human endeavor…we don’t need to make change, we need to make change our friend.”  As a final statement Jones urged the attendees to continue building plans for the future.  Instead of speaking on what was once Newark, Jones encouraged everyone moving forward to think as futurists and creative innovators that take charge of all that can, will and is done to continue building the dream that IS Newark.

The Summit ended with wrap up plenary session headed by Rutgers-Newark Joseph C. Cornwall Center’s Dr. Roland V. Anglin and The Victoria Foundation’s Dale Robinson Anglin.

The first annual Leadership Newark Public Policy Summit provided a medium where Leadership Newark can continue to play a neutral, inclusive and collaborative role in helping to shape Newark’s future. It served as a launch pad for the intense follow up, impending six-month follow up and next year’s second annual summit.  Until then….everyday is a new day to dare to be great! Join us! Continue to check our website, www.leadershipnewark.org, and join our mailing list for more details on what’s next.