Board of Directors – Executive Committee
Karen Delk, Board President, has 25 years of diverse experience in corporate leadership and executive management. Karen is recognized for designing and leading organizational change, developing sustainable leadership, and leadership development initiatives enterprise-wide. She gained senior level experience as a consultant and executive coach in financial services, consumer packaged goods, and manufacturing industries. Her field experience includes designing and facilitating global talent development programs; strengthening leadership and team effectiveness; coaching executives to develop critical skills; assisting new and emerging leaders to integrate into organizations; conducting individual/team assessments; and improving team dynamics.
Karen is known for designing, managing, and delivering business solutions that support growth and new business development. Karen coaches women who are business professionals preparing for responsibility as CEO or senior level, senior corporate or non-profit executives preparing for the next level and newly promoted to senior management. In 2016, Karen joined Yale School of Management Executive Education Program to coach participants attending the Women’s Leadership Program.
Finance Chair and Treasurer
Ann Strootman is a financial professional with 25+ years of experience in leadership positions within the Finance Industry. She has been a member of the Finance Committee since 2014 and joined the YWCA of Princeton Board in 2016. She previously spent 6 years at Merrill Lynch is a variety of financial and business roles, including Director, Planning & Analysis – Retirement Group, Business CFO of the Client Solutions Group, Treasurer and CFO of the Merrill Lynch Variable Insurance Trust and Controller of the Merrill Lynch Life Agencies.
Prior to Merrill Lynch, she served as Vice President and Controller of the Penn Mutual Insurance Company and was a Senior Audit Manager at PriceWaterhouseCoopers. She has previously served on the Boards of Directors of the Pennsylvania Life & Health Guarantee Association and the Sargasso Mutual Insurance Company. She has a BS of Accounting and Finance from the University of Delaware.
Fredi Pearlmutter is a legal professional with more than 40 years of legal experience. For many years she was a partner with Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper, P.C. where she concentrated her practice on environmental and public health issues. A graduate of Brown University and Harvard Law School, Fredi served as Chair of the Environmental Law Section of the New Jersey State Bar Association and taught New Jersey Environmental Law at Seton Hall Law School. Before moving to Princeton in 2018, Fredi lived in Warren Township, NJ. She served as a Commissioner of the Warren Township, NJ Environmental Commission and as a member of the Ad Hoc Committee to Advise the Warren Township, NJ Planning Board on land use issues and to review zoning and planning. She was also counsel to the Warren Township, NJ Board of Health. Fredi presently serves on the Facilities Committee and is the YWCA’s representative on the Community Board of Trustees of Princeton Community Housing. Fredi is also a member of Princeton Area Newcomers & Friends.
In addition to her environmental and public health interests, Fredi has a strong interest in the professional advancement of women. She has mentored many women through Lindabury, McCormick’s Women’s Business Initiative and as part of Brown University’s Women’s Launch Pad Program, which pairs female students in their senior year with alumnae such as Fredi to assist the students in transitioning to the next phase of their lives. Fredi was also a long-time member of the New Jersey Society of Women Environmental Professionals.
Leslie Straut Ward
Leslie Straut Ward, Vice President/Capital Campaign Co-Chair, was born and raised in Princeton, received her BA from Hobart/William Smith Colleges, and her Masters Degree in Education from Harvard University. Leslie joined the Board of the YWCA in June, 2016, in honor of her mother’s long-standing dedication and work on behalf the YWCA Princeton. She proudly serves on the facilities, nominating and development committees.
Leslie has also served on, or continues to serve on, a number of other boards and committees in Princeton, among them; Corner House Foundation, Morven Museum & Garden Fundraising, Princeton Day School Alumni Board and Annual Fund, The University Medical Center, Pretty Brook Tennis Club, Contemporary Garden Club and many more. Professionally, Leslie has served as the Director of Nassau Nursery School since 2005, as well as a member of its Board of Trustees.
Professionally, Leslie has served as the Director of Nassau Nursery School since 2005, as well as a member of its Board of Trustees. Beyond her professional and volunteer commitments, Leslie’s greatest joy is spending time with her three children, Walker, Sophie and Mason and her husband, Grant.
Melanie Lowe Hoffman
VP at Large
Melanie Lowe Hoffman, has over 15 years of experience in non-profit organizations and higher education institutions, focusing on youth development, gender-based violence and social work education. Within the non-profit environment, Ms. Hoffman has executed a number of leadership programs for teenagers and young adults. Additionally, she has supported non-profits in program development, event management, and fund-raising. Within higher education, Ms. Hoffman was a member of the leadership team at the Center on Violence Against Women and Children at Rutgers University. Currently, Ms. Hoffman is an instructor and advisory for graduate Social Work courses. She has taught Social Welfare and Policy II, Practice II (Macro Social Work Practice), Women’s Issues, Violence and Abuse in Adulthood and Macro Community Practice.
Ms. Hoffman serves as co-chair of the Development Committee and member of the mission committee. Ms. Hoffman has two young children and lives in Hopewell, New Jersey. In her spare time, she enjoys running, reading and cooking.
Vice President and Governance Chair
Eileen is a Princeton resident who recently returned to the area from Ithaca, NY, where she was Cornell University’s Work/Life Consultant for 10 years supporting faculty, staff, students and retirees with navigating their work and personal lives. She specialized in Elder Care and working with caregivers of aging and disabled loved ones as well as supporting young families and their needs such as childcare, adoptions, lactation issues, special needs, domestic violence, and LGBT concerns. Eileen served as President of the Board of Directors of the Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes, taking the lead in developing and implementing a multi-year Strategic Plan, as well as focusing on long range fundraising development and program development for direct client services. Eileen served as a Board member of Foodnet Meal on Wheels in Ithaca and served as the Chair of the Personnel, Education and Program Committee. While previously living in the area, Eileen was for many years a Head Teacher at the University League Nursery School in Princeton, developing and implementing a developmentally appropriate curriculum for multi-lingual and multi-cultured children. She is currently involved with TASK (Trenton Area Soup Kitchen) as an adult education tutor and is also a member of the YWCA Princeton Newcomers & Friends.
Vice President and Mission Chair
Laila Wilson, Vice President/Mission Committee Co-Chair, is an experienced professional in various development and administrative operations roles and is skilled in donor relations, fundraising, and process management. Prior to becoming the Manager of Organizational Initiatives and Planning at Centurion Inc., Laila was the Resource Development Manager at Isles, Inc., and the Development Director at the Waldorf School of Princeton.
Prior to Laila working in the nonprofit industry, she spent over a decade overseeing the US, Puerto Rico, and Mexico fleet operations at C. R. Bard, Inc., a global pharmaceutical medical device manufacturer. During that time, she also held the position of co-chair of the Bard Volunteer Council, organizing employees to achieve annual fundraising goals and volunteer events for various established non-profit and local organizations.
In her spare time, Laila is a review committee member for Cooperman College Scholars and the VP at Shareef Professional Services, where she helps local nonprofits with their fundraising needs. She is the mother of two children, Brie, who resides in NY, and Rell, who is currently in high school.
She earned her BA in psychology at Thomas Edison State University.
Chair of Nominating Committee
Sandra Toussaint-Burgher serves as the President and CEO of United Way of Greater Mercer County. She provides executive leadership and vision to the organization. Prior to that Sandra held the position of Vice President of Resource Development.
Sandra has over fifteen years experience in fund development, strategic partnerships and marketing. She’s held senior positions at local and national organizations including Youth Communication, Inc., Special Olympics and Twenty-First Century Foundation. Before coming into the non-profit sector, Sandra worked in insurance.
Sandra is sought-after speaker on such topics as corporate employee engagement, board development, cultivating donors and finding your passion – transitioning from for-profit to non-profit. She serves on the Board of Center for Non-profits and on the Advisory Board for the Trenton Superintendent. Sandra also Chairs the Steering Committee for the NJ Employees Charitable Campaign. She is a member of Association of Fundraising Professionals and Women in Development. Sandra is very active with the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce and is a recipient of the Champion for Business Award. This award recognizes outstanding business leader for growing their business and demonstrating the values of being a good corporate citizen.
Sandra is originally from New York City and holds a Masters of Public Administration from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School and a B.A. from Hunter College.
Toni-Anne M. Blake
Toni-Anne M. Blake, is the Director of Communications at the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission. Her more than 20 years in integrated communications strategy includes serving as Corporate Communications Director at the international broadband manufacturer Antronix, and as Media Relations Liaison with Miami-Dade County in Florida. She has also taught public speaking and mass media as an adjunct professor at Mercer County Community College. She is also a media coach and crisis communications expert.
Toni-Anne has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English and Communications. She lives in West Windsor and also sits on the board of NonProfitConnect.
Ms. Chopra is an international businesswoman and self-made visionary who believes in God to accomplish the very best results, every time. She started at the age of 25 and acquired 5 properties by the time she was 33, using the power of leverage and negotiation with banks and key players. She is the founder of Chopra Real Estate Developments Inc. Competitive by nature, she truly believes this company will reach amazing heights due to the positive force behind it. Geeta brings over 20 years of negotiation, sales experience, and specialized real estate knowledge to the audience. As an investor, landlord, developer, and licensed realtor, she was registered with Toronto Real Estate Board for 10 years as a board member. She attributes her success to the ability to negotiate and taking advantage of money being cheap.
As a previous small business owner, she employed 35+ individuals. This includes a development from scratch; negotiation with the SBA for a $1,000,000 build-out of the Johnny Rockets restaurant in Princeton, New Jersey. As the owner operator of Johnny Rockets, she managed a team of 35+ employees at the franchise restaurant, and mastered the art of communication, employee retention, and development in individuals. During this time, Geeta managed all aspects of the company from hiring, training, payroll, vendor negotiations, day to day operations, and accounting / legal.
Ms. Chopra has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the prestigious University of Toronto, and a master’s degree in international business and global communications from The George Washington University, Elliot School of International Affairs, where brilliant minds such as Colin Powell graduated.
Wendy Cohen, is a paralegal with Hill Wallack LLP in the Princeton, NJ office. She has been with the firm for 24 years and specializes in the area of plaintiff and defense litigation.
Wendy is committed to serving her community and enjoys doing so. She has served on a variety of boards over the past two decades of her career, including sitting on the Board of the Domestic Violence Task Force (Project S.A.R.A.H)at Jewish Family and Children’s Services of Greater Mercer County, as well as the Mercer County Commission for the Status of Women, where she was the chair for over 10 years. Wendy has two grown children, and they currently live in Boston and Cleveland. Wendy is a resident of Lawrenceville, New Jersey. She has a BS Industrial Relations from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Strategic Business Leader with demonstrated success in for-profit and nonprofit business organizations. Financial Executive with leadership roles overseeing fixed asset investment portfolios. Extensive operations management experience and extensive experience on a Bond trading floor. Leadership roles with large Regional Chamber of Commerce growing membership, economic development and implementing strategic planning programs. Tactical thinker delivering goal orientated growth impacting business direction with forward thinking leadership decisions. A strong motivational executive who values individuals, leads teams and has a track record of working and engaging with volunteers. A collaborative workstyle with a deep understanding of membership driven organizations and the demonstrated ability to work with diverse communities, legislative leaders, and community organizers.
Betsy is a former trust officer in the wealth management division of several major banks, including Wells Fargo and Bank of America. She also has provided editorial services for New Yorker Magazine and provided administrative work for the League of Women Voters. As a board member of the Presbyterian Healthcare Foundation in New Mexico, Betsy participated in the organization’s successful $20 million campaign to build a new hospital. She co-chaired the organization’s Finance Committee.
Betsy is a member of Newcomers & Friends, where she has served as secretary and then treasurer. Betsy currently volunteers at Sustainable Princeton, is an advocate for sensible gun legislation with Moms Demand Action, and participates in Not In Our Town meetings.
Betsy spent her childhood in Cuba and is fluent in Spanish.
Cecily Johnson, is a Manager within KPMG’s Development and Exempt Organizations practice. She has over 17 years of experience in not-for-profit operations, internal audit, enterprise risk management, risk assessments, internal controls reviews, operational reviews, process improvement, policy reviews, and succession planning.
Prior to joining KPMG, she was a manager in Grant Thornton’s Not-for-Profit and Higher Education advisory practice where she exclusively served clients within the nonprofit and higher education sectors.
Beyond her work at KPMG, Cecily has over a decade of leadership experience in non-profit management serving in several not-for-profit leadership positions, including Chief Financial Officer for a national not-for-profit organization.
Cecily received her BS in Economics and MACC in Accounting from Rutgers University.
Cecily is a long time member of the Mercer County area. Where her family runs a church and food pantry (Trenton Deliverance Center). She is also the mother of two children, Queen Divine, a recent Howard University graduate, and Messiah Divine a junior at Wagner.
Dariel Marius is an educator, community advocate and entrepreneur. She is currently a Title 1 Culture and Climate Specialist for the Hamilton Township School District. In this capacity, Dairel create and facilitates Family and Community Engagement Programs. Prior to that role, Dariel has served as second grade schoolteacher. Dariel has also worked at the Hillsborough County School District as Basic Skills Teacher/6th and 7th Grade Math and 8th Grade Writing.
Dariel has a Master of Arts, Certified NJ Reading Specialist from Rider University. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Northeastern University. She was named New Jersey Governor’s Teacher of the Year in 2014.
Dariel is active in the community. Her volunteer experience includes Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority and NACCP. She is also an independent business owner in fashion.
Lorine Murray-Mechini, is a registered architect working as Senior Program Manager with Princeton University’s Office of Capital Projects. Prior to this, she was a principal at a local architectural firm. Lorine previously served on the YWCA Board from 2004 -2013. She has a Bachelor of Architecture from the Pennsylvania State University. Lorine resides in Skillman with her husband Fred.
Tara Oakman, PhD, is a deputy director at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, working on health and health care systems transformation. Prior to joining the Foundation in 2013, Oakman spent many years working at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on implementation of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) and earlier on the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Oakman received a BA in political science from Brown University, a Masters of Public Policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and a PhD in health care policy from Harvard University. She has written and lectured on the uninsured, Medicare, health care reform, and a host of other issues.
Tara lives in Princeton with her husband, Jeffrey, and children. She has been active in the Community Park Elementary School PTO serving as past president and is now a Vice President in the Princeton Public Schools PTO Council.
Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson is a product of the Trenton public school system and has obtained advance degrees from Trenton State College/The College of New Jersey, Central Michigan University. Her career as a Social Worker coupled with a commitment to public service led her to the elected position of East Ward Councilwoman and Council Vice-President where she legislated laws for the City of Trenton.
Assemblywoman Reynolds-Jackson proudly served 7 ½ years on City Council before being elected to fill the vacant New Jersey Assembly seat in the 15th Legislative District. Ms. Reynolds-Jackson currently serves as Deputy Majority Leader and Vice-Chairwoman of the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee. She is a member of the Assembly Budget Committee, the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee, the Joint Committee on Public Schools and the Joint Committee on Economic Justice and Equal Employment.
The Assemblywoman also serves as a Commissioner on the State of New Jersey Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission. Since graduating from college the Assemblywoman has continued her education through the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority and Rutgers University. For the past 10+ years, Verlina Reynolds-Jackson has been committed to serving her constituents through public service. She has achieved great satisfaction working with various populations, including her neighbors, the homeless, elderly, children, and people with disabilities. Her work has focused on social justice, enforcing business and landlord responsibility, environmental protection, demanding accountability for students, and working with the police regarding crime prevention.
Verlina holds a Master of Science in Administration, Central Michigan University; Bachelor of Arts, Sociology, Trenton State College/The College of New Jersey;State of New Jersey Certified Municipal Finance Officer
Verlina resides in the City of Trenton with her wonderful husband, Lorenzo Jackson.