Ms. Tracy Munford
Tracy is the Vice President of Public Relations and Community Affairs at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of New Jersey, a Barnabas Health facility. She has more than 25 years of diverse experience in public relations and community engagement, having worked in the healthcare, government, pharmaceutical, transportation, media and non-profit industries. She has worked for WRKS-KISS FM Radio & Channel 9 News, New Jersey Transit, City of East Orange, Essex Valley Healthcare/East Orange General Hospital, Bristol-Myers Squibb, the State of New Jersey, the Community Service Society of New York, and Ms. Foundation for Women and Magazine.
Tracy has extensive experience in local, state and international government – she served as a member of the Governor’s Communications Roundtable under Governor Jim McGreevey. She has also served as Communications Director for three Attorney’s General and the NJ Board of Public Utilities.
In addition, with her own Public Relations firm, NuView Communications, Tracy served as Congressman Donald M. Payne, Sr.’s speechwriter for two years until his passing and she served as a Crisis Communications Consultant for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. Tracy’s career has taken her far and wide, having served as the public relations representative for New Jersey’s First Trade Mission to Africa. She was also selected to be a guest of the Taiwanese government to participate in the North American Coordinating Council Women’s Mission to China, in which she and a select group of nine women from across the U.S. met Chinese women leaders and officials in Taiwan. At the time, Tracy was the youngest person to participate in this international women’s exchange program.
Tracy has a heart for service. The roots of Tracy’s service are based in a large extended family from East Orange, with more than 60 first cousins and more than 40 second cousins; and her commitment to her home for the last 15 years – the city of Newark and the County of Essex. Tracy’s greatest work is not only her professional advancements, but also in her commitment to the community. Her passion for community service began nearly 30 years ago with the passing of her mother and her membership in the North Jersey Unit of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc. and continues today in her role as the former Program Chair and Vice President of the Montclair Drifters. Since that time, Tracy has donated hundreds of hours of service to homeless shelters; The Apostles House in Newark and Isaiah House in East Orange, to soup kitchens at her home church, Metropolitan Baptist Church and to New Hope Church in Newark, she has conducted holiday giveaways, food for Thanksgiving and gifts and toys at Christmas. Tracy continues to volunteer and donate time, energy and resources to many non-profits in Essex County. Through her work at Newark Beth, she has extended her life of service to programs and projects benefiting residents of the greater Newark area through her role overseeing community affairs at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, one of the anchor hospitals of the Barnabas Health system.
Tracy has received numerous awards for community service and professional advancement. For service to the community, she has been recognized by Drifter’s Inc., a national women’s community service organization. In 2014, she received the organizations NOW BLACK WOMAN award for her life and leadership in service – the Nefertiti around her neck is a symbol of her commitment – the award is presented to one member of the national Drifter organization every year. She has also been recognized by the Newark Unit of the NAACP, of which she is an Executive Board Member and LIFE MEMBER. Tracy has also been recognized by the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders during Black History Month. Professionally, in 2014 Tracy was selected as 1 of 25 women across New Jersey to receive the prestigious EXECUTIVE WOMEN OF NEW JERSEY AWARD. She has also been recognized professionally by the following organizations: New Jersey Transit, National Council of Women, Essex Valley Healthcare and Bristol Myers Squibb, to name a few. Just weeks ago, Tracy was honored to be inducted into Pi Alpha Alpha at Rutgers, University. Pi Alpha Alpha is the National Honor Society for Public Affairs and Administration. She delivered the keynote address at the induction ceremony.
Tracy is a graduate of Rutgers/University College. She is a member of Metropolitan Baptist Church in Newark, where she chairs their public relations committee as well.
Finally, if you visit Tracy’s office, she is pictured with Congressmen, Mayors, Jesse Jackson, Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver, community advocates, colleagues and her greatest love – her family. Three of her proudest moments pictured are captured in her meetings with President Clinton, President Obama and the President of Ghana, Jerry Rawlings.
One of Tracy’s favorite quotes is: “When you’ve worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you, you reach back, and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.” Michele Obama
Mr. Marcus Johnson and Rochelle Brown-Johnson
Southern Comfort Cafe is the brain- child of husband and wife entrepreneurs, Marcus Johnson and Rochelle Brown-Johnson. At Southern Comfort café, we strive to epitomize Southern Hospitality. Our tag line, “Celebrating the Spirit of the South” extends to our food, service, and atmosphere. The bottom line is that no matter who you are or where you come from, we all enjoy good food!
SoCo is located in The Valley, of Orange NJ. The Restaurant prides itself on fresh home-cooked meals and desserts that are cooked with lots of love. “We just wanted to create a place where our Peers could come out for some good food, that is served up fresh everyday. We wanted to build a place that reminded us of our Grandparents cooking back in the day, where people took the time to cook fresh food and gathered to share great experiences around food!”
“It gives us great pleasure to be able to serve our Community top-notch food, music, art, and culture with Southern Comfort.” We also enjoy giving back to our community and supporting other community organizations, local artist, and entertainers at the restaurant. SoCo has really become a community gem for the city of Orange.
Assemblywoman Sheila Y. Oliver
Sheila Y. Oliver took the oath of office as New Jersey’s 169th Assembly Speaker on Jan. 12, 2010. Speaker Oliver is the first African-American woman to lead a legislative house in New Jersey. She is also, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, just the second African-American woman in American history to lead a legislative house, following Karen R. Bass of California.
Speaker Oliver, who presides over the 214th Assembly, was first elected to the Assembly in 2003, and re-elected in 2005, 2007 and 2009. In the 2008-09 Legislative Session, she served as Deputy Speaker Pro Tempore, chaired the Human Services Committee, and served on the Higher Education and Labor committees. She served as Assistant Majority Leader in the 2006-07 Legislative Session.
She represents the 34th Legislative District, which includes Clifton, East Orange, Orange and Montclair.
She co-sponsored the law creating the Department of Children and Families, and sponsored legislation signed into law that requires that the Department of Human Services report physical assaults and deaths at state psychiatric hospitals on its website and report deaths to the Public Advocate.
She has also sponsored legislation creating paid family leave, amending the state’s wrongful death law, providing specialized social services and medical treatment for persons in the criminal justice system with mental health issues, and providing low-cost auto insurance for individuals with low incomes.
Speaker Oliver was born in Newark in 1952. She graduated cum laude in 1974, with a Bachelor’s degree in sociology from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. She earned a Master of Science degree in community organization, planning and administration from Columbia University in 1976.
For much of her career, Speaker Oliver has been a non-profit administrator, specializing in program development, grantsmanship and training. She is a former faculty member of several colleges and universities, and taught a course in non-profit management at the Rutgers Graduate School of Business Administration in Newark.
She is Assistant Essex County Administrator, and previously served as director of the Essex County Department of Citizen Services and the Department of Economic Development Training and Employment.
Prior to joining the New Jersey Legislature, she served on the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders from 1996 to 1999, and on the East Orange Board of Education from 1994 to 2000, including as president from 1999 to 2000 and as vice president from 1998 to 1999. In 1997, she ran for mayor of East Orange, losing by 51 votes.
Speaker Oliver has served on a number of civic boards and commissions and remains an active volunteer.
Mrs. Vickie McDuffie Thomas
My name is Vickie Thomas marry to Randy Thomas with 2 sons Derrell 23 and Darius 14. Three years ago I was diagnosed with Stage 2B Breast Cancer. After being hospitalize twice with 3 blood transfusion along with Chemotherapy and Radiation it became very frustrating and depressing seeing myself change in a way that I never would have expected. Physically and Mentally it has been a tremendous struggle for me, but through it all I am truly blessed to say that I am a SURVIVOR.
Taking this opportunity to thank God for giving me the strength to be with my Mom during her last days of struggling with Breast Cancer and to thank all of my family and friends for just being there. To My Husband, “A Perfect Marriage” is just two imperfect people who refuse to give up on each other. Thank you for always being supportive, encouraging and never leaving my side. Loving You Always!
In closing my inspirational thought to myself and to others is that “Know Matter How You Feel or How You See Yourself’, “Never Look Like What You’re Going Through”.
Ms. Evelyn McDuffie
In 2006 I was diagnose with Stage 3 Breast Cancer. It has been a tremendous struggle throughout my time of sickness, but I refuse to let cancer bring me down. With the help of my family and friends and being a single parent of 2, I’m so grateful and honor to say that I am to a Breast Cancer Survivor.
God has restore my strength and the ability to let others know that the fight is not over until you become a Survivor
Diane Jane Wood
Diane Jane Wood was a passionate educator and life-long learner. She found her love for teaching after many years of working in other fields and co-raising a family of five daughters. In 1999, at the age of 53, she accepted a position as paraprofessional at Althea Gibson Academy in East Orange, NJ. It was there that she found her heart’s passion in the eyes of the early childhood students she served. Recognizing her gifts, Diane was inspired and encouraged by her principal to continue her education to become a classroom teacher. First on the list was getting her CDA license, which enabled her to become a teacher assistant. From there, she began to take night classes at Essex County College, where she received her Associate’s Degree.
As she continued on her educational path, she was anything but selfassured. The advancements of computer technology- email, word documents, power point presentations, etc. scared her immensely! If she could’ve typed her assignments on a typewriter, she would have! But, day by day, with every class and every assignment, her confidence grew in ways that she never anticipated. Her fearless drive and motivation fueled her desire for a higher college education. She went on to graduate Suma Cum Laude, receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree and certification in Early Childhood Education from Montclair State University, at the age of 65, in 2011. The seed was now planted to pursue her Masters degree, a dream that was within her grasp, but was unfortunately cut short due to her illness. She did get to experience the fruit of her hard work; one of her proudest accomplishments was on September 6, 2012, the first day she stepped into her own classroom as the lead teacher! She taught with love and dedication, even in her final days, when she insisted on completing her lesson plans from her hospital bed.
The same way she embraced everything that came her way–with strength, courage, and faith in Jesus Christ, Diane dealt with her diagnosis of breast cancer in September 2011. She underwent a mastectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation to contain and kill the cancerous cells, which, for a time, did exactly that, enabling her to get back to teaching, which she loved so much. Unexpectedly, however, living out her dreams was cut short when the cancer cells rapidly spread to her bones. Her departure from this life on Good Friday, March 29, 2013, reminds us that her journey didn’t end, but rather is the beginning of her eternal life, as God so promised.
Her family continues to honor her memory by living life to the fullest, as she exemplified in her life’s work. Her daughters have all been active in education in various aspects and three of her nine grandchildren are currently pursuing their college education. Her love and dedication to Christ, family and education will live on for generations to come.
Joanne L. Brannon
Joanne L. Brannon was born January 5, 1955 to John H Brannon Jr. and the late Shirley L. Brannon. She was the 3rd born miracle child who in turn became the big sister of 9 additional siblings. Joanne was born and raised in Orange, NJ where she attended the Orange Public Schools and graduated from Orange High School in 1973.
After earning her degree in Business Administration from Essex County College, Joanne landed several jobs but made her career in the medical field. She served as unit clerk in various hospitals but planted 34 years of service at Clara Maas Medical Center as Head Unit Clerk. Working closely with different doctors, nurses, surgeons, and other medical staff, Joanne had learned the basis of caring, sharing, and volunteering.
As years went on, Joanne developed a passion to help and nurture children from all walks of life and became a foster parent. This passion led her to adopt two of the many foster children that was in her care. She knew God was pleased with what she had done to steer these children in the right direction and give them a second chance at life. During these years, Joanne also participated and supported many fundraiser events, community service activities, and was a dedicated supporter of the Fight Against Breast Cancer and World Aids Walk along with many other cure for the cause campaigns. Joanne had also adopted a boarding home in Newark, NJ that housed men and women. She would gather family and friends who would make food and purchase gifts (to include clothes, socks, personal hygiene products, hats, gloves, etc.) and take them to the boarding home during the holiday season. She had even dressed as Santa Claus one year to make it more fun.
Joanne was recognized by her employer and other non-profit organizations many times in her life. One of her proudest moments was when she received the “Foster Parent of the Year Award”. She knew at that moment that she was doing the will of God. Further accomplishments includes but not limited to “The Service Award’ presented to her at our annual family reunion for her sacrifice and service to many foster children. It was definitely a joyous moment for her. Joanne was a free spirited, selfless, kind, and dedicated individual who was always the life of the party. The genuine smile on her face was magical and her love for people was unmeasurable.
The AAngelsNJ, Joanne L. Brannon “Hope” Scholarship has been named in her loving memory.
Greetings, I am so thankful and appreciative to be honored by AAngelsNJ with a Community Service Award for myself and Sisters Network Essex County (SNEC), A National African American Breast Cancer Survivorship Organization, which represents the many accomplishments that we have made in the African American community helping women to cope with the challenges that I/we have encountered with Breast Cancer. Currently, serving as President for the last five years and being a member of SNEC since December 2009, I am committed to using SNEC as a resource to help all women, whose lives have been impacted by breast cancer.
I was 45yrs old when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in October, 2000. I remember coming home from work and my neighbor, Rita, rang the doorbell. As we were talking she told me that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and had undergone surgery. She asked if I’d had my annual mammogram and I had not. After our conversation, I scheduled my mammogram. Several days later, I was diagnosed. I was terrified and afraid, the word Cancer, affects you like hearing a death threat. I remember having, consultation, surgery/lumpectomy and prayer. It was only through my faith and my connection with God, that I knew that I was going to be ok. Several weeks later, I visited my neighbor. I hugged her and thanked her for encouraging me to get my mammogram. I felt she was a “God Send or My Angel”. I thank God for her and pray that we both stay well.
After the lumpectomy, I had chemo and radiation therapy. Again, I was terrified and could not imagine how I would survive. The saying “there is light at the end the tunnel” helped me to be strong and endure the necessary treatment. After my first chemotherapy session, my doctor told me she had some good news and some bad news. She explained that my chemotherapy would be administered in lower dosages requiring six treatments instead of four. This meant that all my hair would not fall out. I had prayed to God not to not let that happen, again he showed me how faithful he is. Today, I am 14 years cancer free and a survivor!!!!! Living everyday as my last and taking nothing for granted.
When I meet women who have been diagnosed they are often surprised that I am so upbeat, I quickly tell them that I believe the first step in your survivorship journey is making the decision to not only survive, but to live and thrive. I am honored, proud and totally committed to continue to be the voice for my Sisters’ who fought a good fight, but didn’t beat the odds, work to elevate breast cancer awareness and assist in providing mammography access and support for my sisters who are beginning their journey of survivorship. My suggestion to you is to stay involved and be your sister’s keeper.
Yours in sisterhood