Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Skip Navigation LinksBoardMembers


Higher Education Student Assistance Authority Board Members


​​​​ ​​​
Executive Committee
Christy Van Horn, Chairperson
Public Member, term expires May 24, 2013*

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.
Maria Ivette Torres, Vice Chairperson
Public Member, term expires May 24, 2012*

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.
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
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://hespapp00:2421/HESAABoardMemberPhotos/Ellis1.jpg Zakiya Smith Ellis
Secretary of Higher Education, ex-officio

Zakiya Smith Ellis was confirmed as New Jersey's Secretary of Higher Education on June 7, 2018, where she will be responsible for policy development and coordination of other higher education activities for the state. She previously led work at Lumina Foundation, the nation’s largest foundation focused solely on higher education, to advance federal policy to increase attainment and to develop new postsecondary finance models, focusing on issues of affordability. Prior to her work in philanthropy, she served as a Senior Advisor for Education at the White House Domestic Policy Council, where she was tasked with developing, informing, and promoting President Obama's higher education policy. She also served in the Obama administration as a senior adviser at the U. S. Department of Education, where she developed programmatic, policy and budget solutions to respond to pressing challenges in college access, affordability, and completion. Dr. Ellis holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and secondary education from Vanderbilt University, a master’s degree in education policy and management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a doctorate in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania. To learn more, click here.
Bader Qarmout Bader Qarmout
Representative, Educational Opportunity Fund, ex officio

Mr. Qarmout currently works in the real estate and food industries. In addition, he enjoys teaching at the County College of Morris and Centenary College. Mr. Qarmout received his Bachelors in Psychology with a minor in Political Science from the University of Hawaii at Hilo in 1991 and later received a Master's degree in social work with a Drug Counseling minor from Rutgers University in 1993. He hopes to continue working toward his Doctorate degree. In April of 2014 Governor Chris Christie appointed Mr. Qarmout to the New Jersey Educational Opportunity Fund Board of Directors which appointed him to serve as the EOF Board's representative on the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority Board.
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.
Stephan Lally Stephan Lally
Chair, Student Advisory Committee, ex officio

Stephan Lally has been elected to serve as chair of the 2018-2019 Student Advisory Committee. Stephan is a junior at Ramapo College majoring in Political Science.
Michael Scardina Michael Scardina
Vice Chair, Student Advisory Committee, ex officio

Michael Scardina has been elected to serve as vice chair of the 2018-2019 Student Advisory Committee. Michael is in his junior year at Rutgers University where he is majoring in Public Policy.

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