The South Orange Board of Trustees bade a warm farewell to Village Clerk Kevin D. Harris this week, as he heads for an exciting new position at Kean University where he will serve as the Director of Affirmative Action Programs and the University’s Title IX Coordinator.
“Reporting to the University’s President Dr. Lamont Repollet, Ed.D., my duties include, but are not limited to: being responsible for overseeing and maintaining programs regarding diversity, equity and inclusion,” Harris explained in an email. “I shall also be serving as the University’s Title IX Coordinator which means that I shall be in charge of compliance with observance and enforcement of the Federal and State Discrimination and Harassment laws. In addition, I shall be investigating complaints of harassment and discrimination and presenting my findings and recommendations to the President and the Board of Trustees.”
But before Harris could depart for his important new work, South Orange Village President Sheena Collum and the Village Trustees took the opportunity at Harris’ last Board of Trustees meeting on August 10 to laud him for his accomplishments over the past three years in South Orange.
Collum said Harris is “one of the nicest people you will ever meet.” Several Trustees agreed and were equally complimentary. Trustee Steve Schnall credited Harris’s professionalism, upbeat demeanor, and ability to lift others’ spirits. Trustee Walter Clarke echoed both of their comments, saying that Harris was “always polite, always gracious, and that just makes the working relationship so much easier. Thank you.”
Other Trustees expressed how much Harris had helped them. “Anytime I needed something, I’d step into your office… You will definitely be missed,” said Trustee Summer Jones.
Trustee Donna Coallier added, “It’s been good to have [Harris] as a newbie, because…I hadn’t had any experience in municipal government [prior], and [he’s] been a very steady hand in helping me figuring it out.” Coallier also complimented his “incredible professionalism and kindness.”
Trustee Bob Zuckerman told the group that he had enjoyed working with Harris in two different capacities, as a staff colleague and a Trustee. “In both cases, there was just nothing but tremendous professionalism shown by you,” Zuckerman said. “I just want to wish you the very best of luck.”
Harris himself thanked residents for allowing him to serve the community. “Serving you has been a privilege, and seeing you satisfied has been one of the greatest rewards I’ve seen as a municipal clerk and the highlight of my career.” He asked that the Board of Trustees and the community remember him “when COVID is over, and we can meet in fellowship again.” In response, several Trustees told Harris that they looked forward to seeing him at future holiday parties, and wished him luck in his new position.
Harris referenced the earlier statements of the MAPSO Youth Coalition favorably. To him, they served as evidence that “this is a great place, and committed to– among many other things — diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
In an email followup, Harris continued his effusive praise of his now former colleagues and the people of South Orange: “My time and duties here in South Orange have greatly assisted in preparing me for the new position which I look forward to with enthusiasm and excitement. However, I leave South Orange with some degree of sorrow. As I said last evening, it’s disappointing not being able to finish what we started, but I am extremely proud of Village President Collum, the Board of Trustees, the Village Administration and my co-workers for their work and their fight to make South Orange a wonderful place to live and work. I have enjoyed my time here and I have met wonderful people (both residents and colleagues alike). I take with me only the fondest of memories. My family and I have enjoyed being part of this community, we thank South Orange and we wish the residents and the municipal government only the best.”