Board of Directors – Officers

Leslie Straut Ward

President

Leslie Straut Ward 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. 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.

Fredi Pearlmutter

Vice President and Co-Chair of Facilities

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.

Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson

Secretary

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.

 

Nikki (Etheridge) Jones, SHRM-CP

Treasurer 
Accomplished leader with expertise in diversity & inclusion, talent management, employee relations and financial acumen. Nikki joined the HBA in 2009 as the first HBA staff director of finance, building a high-performing team and has since held roles of varying strategic and management responsibility spanning finance, marketing, communications, technology, and most recently HR & talent management supporting the HBA staff. Prior to her not for profit experience at HBA, Nikki held management roles at Johnson & Johnson supporting the financials of the consumer care business and the former healthcare business of Prudential in the accounting and finance area.

Board Members

Geeta Chopra

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.

Cameshia Caldwell

Headshot and bio coming soon

 

Karen Delk

Karen Delk, 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.

 

Reinaldine (Reina) Fleury, M.B.A, SHRM-SCP

Reina Fleury is an accomplished, results-oriented hands-on leader with over 20 years of progressive Human Resources experience in the nonprofit and for-profit sector. Proven ability to lead across multiple functional areas in Human Resources including Talent Management, Change Management, Performance Management and Employee Relations. Team builder and people developer able to maximize talent at all levels. Seasoned presenter and public speaker who can motivate and influence diverse audiences.

 

 

 

Melanie Lowe Hoffman

Development Co-Chair
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.

 

 

Kendra Lee

Kendra Lee is a community champion and the Deputy Director of Programs of Mercer County One-Stop Career Center and Workforce Development Board. She dedicates her time to translating vision into comprehensive strategic plans to improve the performance and productivity of the local workforce development system. She is committed to finding creative ways to assist diverse populations in pursing life changing opportunities, with a particular focus on New Jersey’s most vulnerable citizens.

Kendra  recently served as a panelist for YWCA Princeton’s Stand Against Racism Thought-Provoking Talks and is a 2022 Tribute to Women Honoree.

Dariel Marius

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.

 

 

Sheila Nall

Sheila’s professional career in interior design and architecture spanned over 45 years, the past 21 years of which were as  Principal and Director of Interior Design at KSS Architects here in Princeton.  In that role, she managed  millions of square feet of corporate and higher education projects for clients including Disney, IBM and Princeton University.   Sheila counts her happy clients as her greatest success.   She also served on the board and as president of CREW New Jersey (Commercial Real Estate Women), an organization based upon the idea of women helping women in a traditionally male-dominated industry.
Now retired, she believes that the most important skills she brings to her role as a board member of the YWCA  are her abilities to work as a team and to listen to others, parlaying that information into workable solutions.  As a woman who built her career starting  in the 70’s, she experienced first hand  the importance of women helping women.  Joining the board of the YWCA gives her the opportunity to pay back those who helped guide her and to give back to the Princeton community she calls “home”.

Tara Oakman, PhD

Mission Co-Chair

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.

 

Leena Shah

Leena Shah is a passionate and results driven pharmaceutical director with 15 years of global drug development expertise including scientific due diligence of pre-clinical to launch-ready business development opportunities and operational implementation of global Phase I to IV programs. She is currently the Executive Director of Oncology/Tumor Strategies for Bristol-Myers Squibb. Leena is recognized for leading and mobilizing large, highly engaged, collaborative, multidisciplinary, global teams that respectfully challenge each other’s conclusions to deliver high quality results. She also has a track record in project leadership, strategic thinking, project management, problem solving, line management, clinical operations, business and clinical development planning in multiple therapeutic areas. Her specialties include Business Development, Clinical Development, Clinical Operations, Project Management, Global Medical Affairs.

Sandra Toussaint

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.

 

Laila Wilson-McCoy

 Mission Co-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.