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Higher Education Student Assistance Authority Board Members


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Executive Committee
/HESAABoardMemberPhotos/ChristyVanHorn_02.jpg Christy Van Horn, Chairperson
Public Member, term expires May 24, 2021

Ms. Van Horn has over 25 years' experience as a mediator, facilitator, manager and policy analyst in private and public sector organizations. As a mediator in private practice, she has worked with a wide variety of public and private organizations. She was a senior manager at New Jersey Transit. She was the founding executive director of New Jersey Future, and was appointed to the State Planning Commission by Governor James Florio. She served as director of Urban Programs at the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and director of the Edison, New Jersey, Economic Development Authority. Ms. Van Horn taught in public schools in Oregon and led teachers in collective bargaining, mediation and arbitration. She earned a bachelor's degree in education from the University of Oregon and a master’s degree in public policy from Rutgers University. She also holds a graduate certificate in labor and management relations from Rutgers.
http://hespapp00/HESAABoardMemberPhotos/BeatriceDaggett_01.jpg Beatrice Daggett, Vice-Chairperson
Public Member, term expires July 1, 2023

Beatrice Daggett currently is the Director of Strategic and External Affairs at Paper Mill Playhouse. Together with her development team, she has been responsible for all development activities at the theatre for more than four years, raising $3.5 million of contributed income annually. Previously, Ms. Daggett had extensive public relations experience over a 30-year span.  Early in her career, Ms. Daggett served on numerous education boards, including as an elected member of the Bernards Township Board of Education from 1992 to 2000. She founded the Bernards Township Education Foundation in 1996, and served as chair of the Bernards Area Scholarship Committee and the Millicent Fenwick Fund for nearly 15 years. She also served on the board of Preschool Advantage, formerly Project Acorn, and as a member of the Vassar College Alumni Committee, Jersey Hills.  Ms. Daggett graduated from Vassar College with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science.
David J. Socolow, Secretary-Treasurer
Executive Director, ex-officio (non-voting)

Mr. Socolow was appointed Executive Director of the New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority by Governor Philip Murphy in February 2018. Throughout his career in federal and state government and in the private sector, he has worked to advance the success of students and working families. Immediately prior to joining HESAA, Mr. Socolow was the director of the Center for Postsecondary and Economic Success at CLASP, a national non-profit policy advocacy organization, where he led initiatives to help low-income individuals attain the credentials they need to secure high-quality jobs by developing comprehensive career pathways and improving access and affordability of postsecondary education and workforce training. He served as Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development from 2006-2010, and previously served as director of New Jersey’s Unemployment Insurance Division and as senior advisor to the deputy secretary in the U.S. Department of Labor. He also worked as vice president for corporate affairs at the New Jersey headquarters of Pinnacle Foods, Inc., and chief of staff for former Congressman Robert E. Andrews. Mr. Socolow earned his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and his master’s degree in public administration from Rutgers University.
http://hespapp00:2421/HESAABoardMemberPhotos/muoio-300.jpg Elizabeth Maher Muoio
State Treasurer, ex-officio

Elizabeth Maher Muoio was sworn in as State Treasurer on April 17, 2018. Prior to joining the administration of Governor Murphy, she had served as a member of the New Jersey General Assembly, representing the 15th Legislative District in Mercer and Hunterdon counties since February of 2015. Ms. Muoio also served as Director of the Mercer County Office of Economic Development and Sustainability from 2008 to 2018. An attorney, Ms. Muoio received her JD from Georgetown University in Washington, DC and her BA from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT. To learn more, click here
http://hespapp00/HESAABoardMemberPhotos/MariaTorres.JPG Maria Ivette Torres
Public Member, term expires May 24, 2020

Ms. Torres worked as a guidance counselor at Oakcrest High School at Hamilton Township in Atlantic County, from 1980 until her recent retirement.  Ms. Torres has a passionate interest in education, and has worked with students in grades 9-12, including special populations such as limited-English students, migrant and special education students.  She is certified in New Jersey in both special education and student personnel. Fluent in both Spanish and English, her experience includes teaching elementary school pupils and teaching social studies to high school students in Puerto Rico. She is extensively involved in community activities, including serving as a board member of the Hispanic Alliance of Atlantic County, of which she is chair of the Education Committee.  She also serves as a member of the Atlantic County Chapter of the American Conference on Diversity. Ms. Torres has been a member of the Board of Trustees for the Atlantic Cape Community College since 2003, currently holding the office of treasurer.
Dr. Jon Larson Dr. Jon Larson
Representative, County Colleges, term expires May 24, 2015*

Dr. Jon H. Larson has been President of Ocean County College since August 2000. Prior to his present position Dr. Larson served as President of Luzerne County Community College in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania; Vice President for Administration at Frederick Community College in Frederick, Maryland; and a Research Associate at the University of Maryland's National Center for Post-Secondary Governance and Finance. He also served as a Platoon Leader/Company Commander in the United States Army’s 63rd Armored Battalion – 1st Infantry Division. Recently, Dr. Larson served on the Executive Committee of the New Jersey Council of County Colleges. Dr. Larson received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Government from Norwich University and a Master of Arts degree in Government and Politics and a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Maryland. Dr. Larson has been honored with many awards for his dedication to education and his community service. He has also had more than two dozen articles published and has given a number of professional presentations and speeches along the Eastern Seaboard and California.
Board Members
http://hespapp00/HESAABoardMemberPhotos/Brian-Bridges.jpg Brian Bridges, Ph.D.
Secretary of Higher Education, ex officio

Governor Murphy nominated Brian Bridges, Ph.D., as New Jersey’s Secretary of Higher Education on October 30, 2020, where he is responsible for policy development and coordination of other higher education activities for the State. He comes to New Jersey from his position as Vice President of Research and Member Engagement at the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) in Washington, DC, where he led UNCF's Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute (FDPRI) and the Institute for Capacity Building (ICB).
Prior to joining UNCF, Dr. Bridges was Vice Provost for Diversity, Access, and Equity at Ohio University. Previously, he was Associate Director of the Center for Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Equity at the American Council on Education and has held various other roles, including Associate Director at the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). He is a former Adjunct Assistant Professor of Higher Education Administration at George Washington University. Throughout his career, Dr. Bridges has served on numerous panels and advisory committees on issues related to student engagement, HBCUs, learning environments at minority-serving institutions, and success factors for African American college students at predominantly white institutions.
Nelly Celi Nelly Celi
Representative, Educational Opportunity Fund, ex officio

Ms. Celi was elected Board Chair of the New Jersey Equal Opportunity Fund (EOF) State Board of Directors in October 2020. She currently is the Program Manager for the Paterson Education Fund in Paterson, NJ, and overseas the Paterson Reads Program to assure every child is reading on grade level by 3rd grade. In addition, Ms. Celi has been a Commissioner on the City of Paterson Library and Museum Board of Trustees for eight years, serving two years as President. She serves on the NJ Higher Education Restart Advisory Committee as a member, is a Board Member for the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey, and a Committee Member for the Peru Square Street Naming Initiative.
Jean McDonald Rash
Representative, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, term expires May 24, 2006*

Ms. Rash is presently university director of financial aid at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. She began her career as an information technology project manager for Rutgers Computing Services in 1981, before moving into financial aid administration in 1988. Ms. Rash earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rutgers University, and a Master of Arts from New York University. She also graduated from the Chubb Institute of Technology.
Stephanie Berdugo-Hernandez Stephanie Berdugo-Hernandez
Chair, Student Advisory Committee, ex officio

Stephanie Berdugo-Hernandez has been elected to serve as chair of the 2019-2020 Student Advisory Committee.  Previously she was the chair for the 2017-2018 term. Stephanie is currently enrolled in Rowan College at Burlington County (RCBC) majoring in Biology. She is in the RCBC 3 plus 1 program and aspires to become an Orthopedic Surgeon. She is also involved in the Student Government Association as the 3 plus 1 liaison.
Dara Dandrea-Giannotti
Vice Chair, Student Advisory Committee, ex officio

Dara Dandrea-Giannotti is currently entering her senior year at Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences -School of Health Professionals. She earned her Associates of Applied Science degree in Health Information Technology with honors at Camden County College in 2019 and is currently enrolled at RBHS in their Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management program. She hopes to continue onto their Master’s program after graduation in 2021.

*Holdover/Term Expired. Board members serve until a successor is appointed.