Board of Trustees
President, Northern New Jersey Community Foundation
Michael Shannon is founding president of the not-for-profit Northern New Jersey Community Foundation (NNJCF) located in Hackensack, NJ. Mr. Shannon holds a B.A. in Architecture from Princeton University, an M.A. in Adult Education from the department of Organization & Leadership at Columbia Teachers College, and a M.A. in Anthropology from Columbia University. His professional background includes corporate management as President, Northwood Corporation; Director, Design & Marketing, at Dunbar Furniture Company; and Director of Design, Formica Corporation. His self-employed experience includes design management consulting, free-lance furniture design, and pre-K-12 educational consulting in the fields of Design & Technology Education, 3-D Design, and Service Learning.
Lynne Harwell Algrant
Vice President of Planning, Development and Communications, Greater Bergen Community Action
Lynne Harwell Algrant is Vice President of Planning, Development and Communications at Greater Bergen Community Action. In addition, she is the founder of H 10 A Consulting, a practice focused on issues of leadership and effectiveness. Her clients include: the Association of Black Foundation Executives; DeLaSalle Academy (NYC), a 6th through 8th grade independent school for children from low-income families; the Cleveland (OH) Fire Department and the Brick City Development Corporation in Newark.
Her career began in independent school education when she worked at the Northfield Mount Hermon School in admissions and in the summer school program. She then moved to New York City to work at DeLaSalle Academy as director of high school placement and director of development. Lynne spent seven years at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in admissions and diversity and served as one of the class deans. For five years, she served as Executive Director of The Albert G. Oliver Program, a program dedicated to placing and supporting students of color in independent schools. While at Oliver, Lynne helped to found the Independent School Placement Association, a national consortium of organizations serving students of color in independent schools. As Executive Director of an educational non-profit, she took the organization from bankruptcy to solvency in two years.
Ms. Algrant was awarded the Loeb Fellowship at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University and is a member of the Englewood Rotary Club.
Kenneth D. Bland, Jr.
Assistant Vice President of Community Lending,
Valley National Bank
Kenneth D. Bland Jr. is Assistant Vice President of Community Lending for Valley National Bank in Northern New Jersey. In this role, he is responsible for origination, underwriting, closing, and portfolio management; for building and developing relationships with real estate developers, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations. Ken is a community banking professional with over eight years of experience in lending and community development. Throughout his tenure, he has worked across several lending sectors including community development lending, SBA lending, Middle Market lending, traditional commercial and industrial lending, and traditional commercial real estate lending. While working in these sectors, Ken has also been the point of contact for charitable foundation grant submissions, for corporate sponsorship requests, affordable housing First Time Home Buyer programs, financial literacy programs, small business financing seminars, and Young Professional development and training programs.
Ken has served on the Board of Directors for several community organizations including Meals on Wheels as the Chair of the Communication’s Committee, New Brunswick Education Foundation as the Chair of the Finance Committee, Eric B. Chandler Health Center, and the Franklin Township Chamber of Commerce, where he launched and served as the President of the Young Professional’s Committee. Currently, Ken serves on the Credit Committee for the Greater Newark Enterprises Corporation.
A New Jersey resident for 30 years, Ken currently resides in Edison. In his leisure time, Ken enjoys traveling, volunteering, reading, and spending time with family and friends.
Director of Grants Information and Management, The Leona M and Harry B Helmsley Charitable Trust
Christopher Percopo is Director of Grants Information and Management at the Helmsley Charitable Trust. As one of Helmsley’s first staff members, he has served in a variety of capacities in collaboration with staff, external consultants, and the Trustees. As Director of Grants Management, Chris oversees the entire lifecycle of Helmsley’s grantmaking, and his team provides technical assistance to internal and external audiences, ensuring that all grants remain compliant and are monitored. Prior to joining Helmsley, Chris worked for various nonprofits on fundraising and other critical endeavors, such as developing key performance indicators (KPIs) for social service programs, developing and executing strategic plans, and assisting with the drafting of bylaws and governance for board development.
Chris graduated from the George Washington University with a B.A. in Human Services and Social Justice (Nonprofit Management) and has a Master’s in Public Administration from Baruch College. A lifelong New Jersey resident, Chris currently lives in Hoboken where he enjoys cooking in his free time and is a licensed marriage officiant.
Mary Call Blanusa
Director of Public Policy at The Alliance for Decision Education
Mary Call Blanusa is Director of Public Policy at The Alliance for Decision Education, a national nonprofit and field builder leading the growing call to have Decision Education a part of every student’s learning experience. Before joining the Alliance, Mary served as Executive Director at The Northern New Jersey Community Foundation. Among her activities, she is a member of the Bergen County Democratic Committee and a volunteer with the Hasbrouck Heights Green Team. Currently, she serves on the board of directors of Seek Common Ground and as Board Chair of The English Learners Success Forum. Previously, she served as president of the Hasbrouck Heights Junior Woman’s Club. Mary holds a Master’s degree from the Heller School of Public Policy at Brandeis University and a Bachelor’s degree from American University.
Leslie J. Lipka
Executive Director in Clinical Safety and Risk Management, Merck & Co.
Leslie J. Lipka, MD, PhD, FACC is a cardiologist now working as an Executive Director in Clinical Safety and Risk Management supporting oncology products at Merck & Co. where she also chairs the cardiovascular safety board. She has worked in the
pharmaceutical industry both in Clinical Development as well as in Clinical Safety and Risk Management.
Leslie holds a BA from Lehigh University and both MD and PhD (cardiovascular pharmacology) degrees from the Medical College of Pennsylvania (now Drexel University). She performed her internal medicine training at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in NYC and postdoctoral work in pharmacology at Columbia University. Her cardiology and clinical cardiac electrophysiology training were performed at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center where she was subsequently on staff.
Leslie and her husband are 25-year residents of Bergen County, where they raised their 2 children. In her free time, Leslie enjoys spending time with family and friends, outdoor activities, reading and the arts.
John Devol is a professional musician and licensed educator, with a BA degree from Ohio University and a MA from University of Maryland. While pursuing an active musical career and serving in the pit orchestra for the full run of Broadway’s “A Chorus Line,” Mr. Devol devoted his daytime attention to reaching children through the beauty of the arts. In 1978, he founded Arts Horizons, which has since served over eight million children in ten states. Mr. Devol provided the vision and direction, which has made the organization a key player in the field of arts education. In 2010, he stepped down as Executive Director, but remains involved as a trustee and assists in resource development.