From Toshie Davis of Think Work Thrive Together:
I grew up in Jersey City and South Orange, went to Columbia High School, and moved on — first to Philadelphia to attend the University of Pennsylvania, then to NYC to work in banking and Northwestern University, just outside Chicago, for my MBA. But I came back home 16 years ago, both to help raise my then-15-year-old niece, and to take a position in finance at Johnson & Johnson.
I had the benefits of boundless curiosity, a loving family, a great education and a deep appreciation for how those things contribute to success. Just as clear to me was that the benefits that led me to key roles at a Fortune 500 company were not universally shared. Raising my own son, Christian, who’s now 10, helped elevate my concern for social justice, and I left J&J to work in the non-profit sector. I was CFO and headed up operations for City Harvest, managing a $112 million annual budget for an organization that delivers healthy food to New Yorkers in need. In 2015, I became the Chief Financial and Administrative Officer of Turnaround for Children, an organization devoted to providing educators with the tools, strategies and services they need to help underserved students reach their learning potential. Currently, I am CFO at Education First which delivers experience-based solutions to prepare students — particularly low-income students and students of color — for success in college, career and life.
I became deeply involved in the South Orange-Maplewood School District as my son entered school, and led the Marshall School PTA as president. Defining a mission to serve our children, negotiating among the many stakeholders, raising funds, balancing budgets and maintaining focus in your family and work lives — these things all went with the job. And now I’m stepping up to run for the South Orange Board of Trustees.
My deep financial experience would be unique on the South Orange Board of Trustees. As the uproar over the plan to merge the fire departments shows, our heavily taxed community faces bottom-line questions that call not just for common sense, but for compassion and creative thinking. We face challenging issues of downtown redevelopment, restoring the South Orange Public Library and Baird Center, addressing seniors’ desires to age in place, improving public safety and backing up our civic boast of truly respecting diversity.
I’ve come together with Bobby Brown and Ed Moore — my extraordinary colleagues on Line D slate — to commit to addressing these and the other crucial issues facing South Orange for the next four years. We’re uncommonly qualified as a team to address these challenges head on, and will bring to the BOT a mandate to think, work and thrive together.