The club meets on the 2nd and 4th Fridays of the month at the Upper Montclair Presbyterian Church located at 53 Norwood Avenue, Upper Montclair. There is informal Socializing beginning at 10:30 followed by a presentation from an invited speaker at 11:00. The topics vary from meeting to meeting. Attendees pay for lunch prior to the presentation. Lunch and additional informal socializing begin at noon.
1/10/20 Seton Hall professor David Opderbeck will speak about the legal issues of Artificial Intelligence.
1/24/20 Dr. Peter Kingstone, Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Montclair State, just arrived from King’s College, London, will speak about Brexit and the English elections.
2/14/20 Speaker for the Feb. 14 meeting is Prof. Alison Beringer, Associate Professor of Classics and General Humanities at Montclair State. She prepared for her career with an MA in Classics from the University of Victoria, and a PhD in German Studies from Princeton. She will draw upon her background in texts and manuscripts and their transmissions from Latin through the Middle ages and Early Modern in the mid-17th Century. She has taught European literature and culture and the translations at Emory, Colgate, and British Columbia Universities and also held an appointment as Reader at Princeton University’s Index of Christian Art.
2/28/20 Speaker at the Feb. 28 meeting is Montclair resident and attorney George Kendall. He earned a BA degree in Philosophy and Government from the Univ. of Richmond, and a Bachelor of Law degree from Antioch School of Law in DC. He is currently Director of the Public Service Initiative at Patton Squire Boggs., headquartered in NYC, with 44 offices globally.
He was attracted to the field of criminal justice, and has spent time with organizations such as the ACLU, the NAACP, and argued cases before the Supreme Court. Cases too numerous to mention have often led to reversal of conviction. He has taught at law schools such as Yale, Fla. State, St John’s, Brooklyn, and Columbia. He has received awards from criminal justice institutions, and is currently on the board of the Equal Justice Initiative, whose Exec.Director presented to us 3 years ago, and whose founder, Bryan Stevenson, is featured in the current film “Just Mercy”.
His clients have often gone on to write books about their prison experiences, and one of the most recent, Mr. Albert Woodfox, wrote a book entitled “Solitary” about his 41 years in solitary confinement, and was picked by a NY Times reviewer as one of the 10 best in 2019. That experience inspired Mr. Kendall’s topic: ”The Power of Hope and Opportunity for Those Incarcerated, and Preparing Them for Re-entry”.
3/13/20 The speaker for March 13th is Linda Corliss. Harrison was appointed eighth director and CEO of the Newark Museum of Art in January 2019. The Museum is nationally recognized for its collections, architecture, and historic commitment to education and access. Ms. Harrison will build on the strong legacy of the Museum and continue its record of innovation, excellence, and impact. Working with the Board and staff, she provides strategic vision, direction, executive and administrative leadership for an organization that serves its community and has national and international influence—through its collections and programs.
Ms. Harrison is the former director and CEO of the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco, where she expanded the museum’s mission, advocating for contemporary art through its artistic programming, making it an anchor arts institution in San Francisco. She is a Getty Leadership Institute Foundation Fellow, is exceptionally skilled in organizational transformation and strategic planning. Ms. Harrison’s is credited for the redesigned the Museum of the African Diaspora – with the assistance of the Gensler Architect Team – doubling the number of galleries. She increased fundraising by 60 percent and raised museum attendance by 25 percent.
Ms. Harrison is equipped with over 20 years of leadership experience in both the for-profit and non-profit sector, including Senior leadership positions with Eastman Kodak Company, Business for Social Responsibility and Sotheby’s International. She enjoys living in Newark’s downtown district with her wife, Ellen. They love attending film festivals and traveling on ships with funny names to faraway places.
4/24/20 Spring Luncheon
5/15/20 Anthony DePalma a former N.Y. Times journalist and author will discuss his latest book about Cuba which is based upon his longtime interest and experience in the island nation.”
5/29/20 Golf luncheon
7/10/20 Summer luncheon
12/4/20 Holiday luncheon
1/11/2019 Speaker for the first meeting of 2019 on Jan. 11 is Seton Hall Law Professor Thomas Healy. He received a B.A. in Journalism from the Univ. of No. Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a J.D. from Columbia Law School, where he received a number of awards and was Essay Editor of Columbia Law Review. Prior to joining Seton Hall, he clerked for Judge Michael Hawkins on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and practiced appellate litigation as an associate for a Washington, D.C. law firm. He also worked as a newspaper reporter in No. Carolina, and as Supreme Court Correspondent for the Baltimore Sun.
At Seton Hall, he teaches the required course in Constitutional Law, and in courses involving the First Amendment, Federal Courts, and Criminal Procedure, and has been named Professor of the Year, and Faculty Researcher of the year. He has also taught at the Hutchins Center for African American Research at Harvard as a Ford Foundation Fellow, and is a visiting fellow at the Center for the Study of Law and Culture at Columbia Law School.
He has written extensively for The Atlantic, The Nation, The L.A. Review of Books and will discuss with us his recent book entitled “The Great Dissent: How Oliver Wendell Holmes Changed His Mind – and Changed the History of Free Speech in America”, which won numerous awards. He is also working currently on a book discussing a forgotten chapter of the civil rights movement, and has won a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for that work.
1/25/2019 NJPAC & the Future of Downtown Newark
The speaker for the Jan. 25 meeting is Mr. John Schreiber, the second President and CEO of New Jersey Performing Arts Center. He has served for 7 years, and just in the 2018 season, they have presented more than 600 events, serving over 550,000 patrons, and the arts learning programs have reached over 100,000 children and families.
The NY Times has termed Mr. Schreiber “a visionary producer” and his career has encompassed award-winning theater, television, concerts, festivals, documentary film, and a host of other cultural and cause-related events. We could fill paragraphs with specific concerts and causes that you are aware of, but leave it up to him to identify some of his experiences with them, and will note in passing a few movie titles with which he has been involved: “An Inconvenient Truth, Good Night and Good Luck, The Help, Waiting for Superman, Food Inc, Lincoln, The Kite Runner, and Syriana”.
He will discuss NJPAC & the future of downtown Newark and will share with us some of his experiences in selecting topics, and implementing programs that inform society, as well as entertaining its citizens.
2/8/2019 Our speaker for the Feb. 8 meeting is Giselle Smisko, co-founder, with her husband, and director of the Avian Wildlife Center in Wantage, New Jersey. Her instincts for the natural world were already apparent in her choice to major in biology at Bucknell, and her career has kept her on that path. The center was created in 1993, and serves to receive injured and orphaned birds, returning them to their natural habitat whenever possible, educate the public through a variety of programs, and even advance scientific knowledge and perform field research. The center is licensed by the state and federal government but is funded through individual donations. She has taught or been affiliated with numerous organizations, including the Morris County Park Commission, Union County Dept. of Parks and Rec., the Raptor Trust, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, among others.
Her presentation will not only describe her efforts at working with the birds entrusted to her, but she will be accompanied by a variety of those that have become part of her extended family, and will give attendees a chance to see up close, many species we are able to see only if we are lucky, and usually from a great distance.
2/22/2019 John Zinn is an independent historian with special interest in the history of baseball. The title of his talk is: Charles Ebbets, Longtime Brooklyn Dodger Owner. John is the chairman of the board of the New Jersey Historical Society and was the chair of New Jersey’s Committee on the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War. John is the author of four books including three about the Brooklyn Dodgers including a recently published biography about Charles Ebbets, as well as numerous essays and articles. He also writes a blog on baseball history entitled A Manly Pastime. John holds BA and MBA degrees from Rutgers University and is a Vietnam veteran. John lives in Verona, NJ with his wife Carol.
3/8/2019 Universities and Economic Development Jack Shannon is Vice President for Strategic Partnerships at Montclair State University, having served in similar capacities at Johns Hopkins University and The University of Pennsylvania. Having worked as Deputy Director of Commerce for the City of Philadelphia and President of the East Baltimore Development Corporation, Jack has a great deal of experience in public/private partnerships and university anchored development. A native of Camden, Jack graduated from La Salle University, received a masters in public policy from the Kennedy School at Harvard and has a law degree from The University of Pennsylvania.
3/22/2019 Speaker for the March 22 meeting is Mr. Amol Sinha, Executive Director of the ACLU of NJ. Executive Director of the ACLU of NJ, having taken the helm in 2017. Mr. Sinha will address the club about developments in criminal justice reform , immigrant’s rights , and racial justice.
Prior to joining the ACLU-NJ, Amol was a policy Advocate at the Innocence Project, where he led state-level policy campaigns nationwide to address wrongful convictions. Amol is also an Adjunct Professor at Marymount Manhattan College where he has taught courses in constitutional law, civil rights, media Law, and Criminal Justice. Additionally, Amol is the President of the South Asian Bar Association of New York and co-chair of the public Interest Committee of the South Asian Bar Association of North America. Amol holds a BA in journalism and economics from New York University and a law degree from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law where he was a Public Service Scholar. Most importantly, Amol grew up in Lawrenceville New Jersey and is a proud product of the Lawrence Township Public Schools. His role at ACLU-NJ merges two Central passions, advocating for constitutional rights and New Jersey.
4/12/2019 Our speaker for the April 12 meeting is NJ historian Nolan Asch. Nolan Asch is a 1971 graduate of Columbia University with a minor in history. He is 1 of only 7 official national Hamilton advocates per the Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society ( AHA ). AHA was 1 of only 3 consultants Lin Manuel Miranda used in the 6 year project which ended in the 2015 musical HAMILTON.
4/26/2019 Spring lunch: Montclair Golf Club
5/10/20109 Montclair Township: A Conversation Montclair Mayor Robert Jackson will be the speaker at our May 10 meeting. In the May 2016 election, he ran unopposed and became the first Mayor reelected in Township history. Mr. Jackson also served as Mayor in 1987-1988.
Since taking office in July 2012, Mayor Jackson has been hailed for dramatically reducing Montclair’s debt and raising its bond rating from AA- to AAA. Montclair is now one of the few municipalities in New Jersey with this prestigious designation and the only one in Essex County. The financial turnaround has been achieved while making substantial infrastructure improvements, enhancing service delivery, minimizing property tax increases, and creating unprecedented increases in property values.
Mr. Jackson is a leader in local and state affairs. His board memberships have included the Montclair Art Museum, Montclair Public Library, Montclair Planning Board, New Jersey Council on Affordable Housing, Montclair Community Hospital, Montclair Kimberley Academy, and the St. Paul Baptist Church. A Montclair native, Mr. Jackson graduated from Montclair Kimberley Academy, Princeton University, and the Harvard Business School. Mr. Jackson enjoys reading, music, and sports. He and his family are members of the Fountain Baptist Church in Summit, NJ. He is married to the former Cheryl Stephenson. They have four children: Danielle, Taylor, Carter, and Chase.
5/17/2019 Our speaker on May 17 will be James Smethurst, Professor of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is the author of a number of books and articles, including The Black Arts Movement: Literary Nationalism in the 1960’s and 1970’s, The African American Roots of Modernism: From Reconstruction to the Harlem Renaissance, and the forthcoming Brick Songs, featuring contributions from Amiri Baraka, and he co-authored Radicalism in the South Since Reconstruction.
Inspiration for his talk about Amiri Baraka came from his attending the wake and funeral of Mr. Baraka, in 2014, the latter in Symphony Hall in Newark, in what he felt was one of the greatest outpourings of sentiment for any poet in history, including those for James Baldwin and Langston Hughes in New York City. The representation was community-wide, drawing from the teachers Mr. Baraka had inspired, to competent crowd control with the Newark police working smoothly with the Nation of Islam, nationally known musicians, poets, scholars, rappers, theater workers, activists and politicians, and most movingly by the all-white Newark Fire Dept. pipe band playing an elegy to a native son. As evidence of Mr. Baraka’s interest in music, Prof. Smethurst’s visits to Mr. Baraka’s home would find him tuning in to WBGO in Newark, one of the leading jazz stations in the area. He will review all of these events in his presentation to us.
5/31/2019 Golf luncheon: Montclair Golf Club
7/12/2019 Summer lunch
9/13/2019 Speaker for the September 13 meeting is Professor John V. Jacobi, the Dorothea Dix Professor of Law and Health Policy at Seton Hall Law School, a position he has held since 2005. He is extraordinarily well versed in all aspects of health care, acting as Faculty Director for the Health Law & Policy Program. He teaches courses in health law, health finance, health care fraud, public health law, mental health law, torts, and disability law. Earlier in his career, he was Assistant to the Commissioner of the New Jersey Public Advocacy, held a Fellowship in Public Interest and Constitutional Law at Gibbons, PC, a law firm in Newark, and as Senior Associate Counsel in the Office of Counsel to the Governor of New Jersey. His educational background included a BA in Mathematics and Philosophy from the State University at Buffalo, and a degree from Harvard Law School, with high honors from both institutions.
He will address a number of aspects of the health care field, which remains at the forefront of current political discussions, with arguments about the appropriate form still main topics of discussion.
9/27/2019 Eric Diamond, Professor of Theater at Montclair State, will discuss musical theater in America, as both a reflection of changing times and a deeply rooted repository of our country’s lasting values. With a BFA in Music Composition, and an MFA in Theater, Eric is a very popular professor at Montclair State, co-founder of the nationally recognized program in Musical Theater. Many of us have had the good fortune of attending the programs which are open to the public. Eric specializes in the work of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern and George and Ira Gershwin, and he will accompany his talk on the piano with a number of songs that have become part of the American songbook.
10/11/2019 Our speaker for our October 11 meeting will be Jane Eliasof, Executive Director of the Montclair History Center. The History Center is comprised of four separate structures in Montclair, the most historic of which was built by Israel Crane House in 1796, and moved to its present location in 1965 after 45 years as a YWCA for African American women and girls. As a YWCA, it housed women and served as a gathering spot for clubs, classes and dances during a time when many places and activities in town were off-limits to Black people. Eliasof assumed her role as director about 10 years ago, and under her leadership, the History Center’s scope has expanded beyond the stories of the white founding fathers to more fully embrace Montclair’s diverse history. As part of that commitment, the History Center has also undertaken a series of public programs about continuing civil rights issues, and is a participant in Montclair’s activities in support of the nationwide commemoration of the 400th Anniversary of the arrival of slaves in Jamestown. She will speak briefly about the overall initiative and outline Montclair’s activities, and in greater detail about a program that the Montclair History Center is collaborating on with Montclair State that explores the lives of two former enslaved workers in Essex County who were quoted in a 1884 New York Times article.
Speaker for our Oct. 25 meeting is Professor Mike Mascio, of Seton Hall University. He is a lecturer in Classical Studies, and Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, and also teaches in the University Honors Program. Specific courses include Latin, Greek, and a wide variety of Classical Studies classes including those focused on philosophy, literature, history, and film. He is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University with a BA in Classics, and a Humanities Honors Thesis, and had begun his studies for a PhD at Princeton. Many of us go through graduate studies, but with little genuine passion. Prof. Mascio was inspired enough by a visiting professor from NYU teaching a Hellenistic philosophy, that he transferred to that school from which he received his PhD. He also delves into comparative literature, with work on Milton, and Joyce, and is currently writing on Emotion Regulation in Stoicism and Modern Psychology, and Stoic perspectives on meaningful work. His teaching proficiency is reflected in his being named Faculty Teacher of the Year for the College of Arts and Sciences in 2017.
Prof. Mascio will talk with our group about the role of liberal arts in the modern academy in light of his recent examination of meaningful work. What gives work it’s meaning in our lives? He will explore several philosophical perspectives on this question and then ask how the academy should develop students who do not simply regard their college years as stepping stones to careers, but rather students who derive meaning from their chosen careers inspired and informed by their undergraduate studies.
11/8/2019 Mr.Edwin H. Stern will be the speaker for November 8. He had been on assignment to the NJ Supreme Court until his retirement, and prior to that was the Presiding Judge for the Appellate Division of the NJ Superior Court. He authored more than 3,600 written decisions and more than 400 published opinions. He applied his expertise as a member of the NJ Supreme Court Advisory Committee, which reviews complaints against judges, and the Civil Practice Committee, which recommends changes to the rules of civil and appellate practice and procedures in NJ courts. Nationally, he is a member of the Council of Chief Judges of State Courts of Appeal, and an elected member of many Bar organizations. He displayed leadership abilities early, graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Rutgers, where he was also elected Student Council President, and President of the Honor Society, and subsequently graduated from Columbia Law School.
He will informally share some of the many experiences he had during his 40 years of public service in New Jersey, starting as First Assistant and Acting Prosecutor of Hudson County, Director of Criminal Practice for the Administration Office of the Courts, and Deputy Attorney General in charge of appellate litigation the State Division of Justice. He will lead a discussion and thoughts about present efforts in the State to achieve criminal justice reform and the work of the Sentencing Commission.
12/6/2019 Holiday lunch: Montclair Golf Club
Photo credit: 85th Meeting, Robert A. Cumins