How It All Began

The Children’s Home Society of New Jersey was founded in 1894 and our mission was to find loving families for children, to protect children from harm, and to help parents find better ways to be parents so they can keep their children. It is our vision that all children have secure, caring families, good health, and function well cognitively, emotionally and behaviorally. To this end, our programs include; behavioral health/ mental health, permanency planning, community/ neighborhood based services, school based services, and early childhood and parent education services. We provide services for children and parents at risk, including prevention, support, childcare, referral, and treatment. Our programs address the developmental continuum from pre-natal to adult. In conjunction with the federal Adoption and Safe Families Act, we have contracts that serve many children in the state foster care and adoption system, providing a range of services before adoption, during the state placement process, and after adoption (post-adoption services). Our mission remains core to us today and always. We believe we are saving children’s lives and building healthy families.

Our History

In the late 1800’s a kindhearted man witnessed a scene that would change the lives of countless children over the next 100 years. He watched quietly as a group of people dressed in rags walked out of a local poorhouse. He noticed a mother and her young five-year-old daughter. Why, he thought, did this child need to grow up with no hope for the future? His heart was instantly touched, and a national movement called The Children’s Home Society was born. That man was the Reverend Martin Van Arsdale. He started the first CHSofNJ in Chicago and found junior reverends (children’s advocates) to take his progressive ideas to 26 states. In 1894, the Reverend Martin T. Lamb was sent to New Jersey, and thus was born The Children’s Home Society of New Jersey, who in its inception served all of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

From its beginning, CHSofNJ has adhered to the philosophy that each child should be cared for in a family home and loved the same as a child born to a family. Our founders did not agree with the prevailing practice of warehousing children along with adults in almshouses. Nor did they believe in loading New Jersey’s local children onto orphan trains and sending them to the mid-west for placement with farm families.

Reverend Lamb and his staff worked tirelessly to organize concerned people across New Jersey. Slowly, they convinced local poorhouses that children would be better served if they were placed in family homes. As children were released from New Jersey poorhouses or found to be abused or neglected, they were placed first with Reverend Lamb and his wife, Ermina, and then as soon as they could, with private homes in New Jersey, later called foster homes. Reverend Lamb and his wife were themselves the first foster parents for CHSofNJ. The understanding was that any family who took CHSofNJ’s children must treat them as they did their own.

CHSofNJ continues to offer its traditional services, while other services expand, and new ones are added. Despite the changes over the years, the mission has remained the same; Saving Children’s Lives and Building Healthy Families.

View our full history here

ADMINISTRATORS

Donna C. Pressma, LCSW, President and Chief Executive Officer

Donna Pressma has been President and Chief Executive Officer of The Children’s Home Society of New Jersey (CHSofNJ), Trenton, NJ since 1986. In 2018, CHSofNJ has a budget of $20,000,000 and a diverse staff made up of 300 multi-disciplinary professionals including clinical social workers, school-based youth workers, early childhood specialists, nurses, WIC nutritionists, and Head Start teachers. CHSofNJ is a statewide not-for-profit agency with a board of 23 trustees. The agency founded in 1894 and now serves every NJ County with community-based services. In 2020 CHSofNJ served 100,000 infants, children, youth, parents, and grandparents with services in child welfare, behavioral health, school-based, early child care, maternal-child health, head start, and kinship. 80% of the lives we impact are black and Latinx.

Ms. Pressma was previously CEO of the Jewish Family and Children Agency of Philadelphia, CEO of the Jewish Children’s Bureau of Chicago, and she oversaw the child welfare services for the State of Connecticut under Governor Ella Grasso. Ms. Pressma has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Antioch College and a Masters of Social Work from Smith College. She completed her Master’s Thesis (published) research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is a New Jersey Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

Ms. Pressma represents CHSofNJ, a member agency of the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA), Washington, DC. She chaired their National task Force on Child Care and in 1988 initiated and chaired their National Task Force on Children and HIV Infection. She testified to United States Congress and helped secure funding of the Ryan White Act along with Senator Metzenbaum, Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, and Dr. Norman Orleski. She was a member of the New Jersey Child Welfare Transition Policy Group for Governor Jon Corzine. In 2013 she was then awarded the National David Roth Leadership Award by the Child Welfare League of America.

She, her managers, and her board have always created meaningful pioneering services for the Spanish-speaking communities especially since the 1990’s as their needs have greatly evolved. CHS of NJ has been serving the black community since its founding in 1894. All of our services work to establish the knowledge, skills, and access needed for all our children and parents to equally become successful in life.
dpressma@chsofnj.org.

Bruno Cellucci, CFO

Bruno Cellucci, CPA recently joined CHSofNJ as Chief Financial Officer bringing over 14 years of experience in leadership roles in non-profit and corporate finance environments, including contributing to the growth of Catholic Charities of Trenton in becoming a $40MM organization. Bruno earned a BBA in Accounting from Temple University, having graduated Magna Cum Laude. He is a member of the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants, a member of Beta Gamma Sigma and a member of the Golden Key National Honor Society. Over his career, Bruno has directed, managed, and developed financial strategies and operations with successful outcomes. He looks forward to building on the agency’s meaningful relationships with critical stakeholders in Mental Health, Education, Disabilities, and Senior Services, among others. 

Karen Courtney

Karen Courtney, COO, Director of Grants and Program Development

Karen joined The Children’s Home Society of New Jersey in 2012. Her career has been focused on bringing resources and high quality services to at-risk communities. As Director of Planning for BronxWorks for 14 years, she developed grant proposals to launch day care centers, child and youth services, homeless shelters, senior centers and career counseling programs for that agency.

Under her leadership, BronxWorks became an employment services provider helping more than 1,000 New York City residents secure employment each year. Karen’s prior experience was with the Community Development Research Center and the U.S. Department of Energy. She helped the Community Development Institute of Southern New Jersey secure seed funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Wesleyan University and a Master’s Degree in Urban Policy Analysis from the New School. Contact Karen at kcourtney@chsofnj.org.

Dolores Ijames Bryant

Dolores Ijames Bryant, Vice President of Trauma Informed Child Welfare, Kinship & Clinical Services

Dolores has over 20 years experience working with children and families and has worked at Children’s Home Society of NJ for almost 15 years. During her tenure at CHS she has successfully developed and implemented several start-up projects including the federally funded Kinship Connections Program and the Mercer County GrandFamily Success Center.

Dolores is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Douglass College, a Masters in Social Work degree from Rutgers University and is a graduate of Leadership Trenton, John S. Watson Policy Institute.

She’s a member of the Trenton School Based Advisory Board and Trenton Early Childhood Advisory Board. She enjoys reading and working as a community volunteer. She is the mother of one daughter and has been kinship caregiver for several nieces and nephews. Contact Dolores at dbryant@chsofnj.org.

Maritza I. Raimundi-Petroski, Vice-President of Strategic Initiatives, Prevention Programs and Community Engagement

Maritza I. Raimundi-Petroski is CHS of NJ’s Vice-President of Strategic Initiatives, Prevention Programs and Community Engagement.  She has worked in the field of non-profit management for over 20 years and have expertise in organizational development, program design, program implementation and contract management. Most recently, she served as the Chief Program Officer for a county-wide Community Action Agency in Middlesex, NJ and she worked for 13 years as CHS’s Division Director for Maternal Child Health, Family and Community Support Services in Mercer County. In the capacity of VP, she’s responsible for contract management and administration of programs in Mercer, Ocean and Monmouth Counties.  She received a Master in Public Administration with a concentration in non-profit management from the Graduate School of Public Affairs and Administration at Rutgers-Newark and a Graduate Certificate in Non-Profit Management from the same institution. She is a graduate of Thomas Edison State College’s Leadership Trenton Fellowship Program at the John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy. Maritza is proud to be a graduate of the New Jersey Latino Leadership Institute at the Center for Urban Development at Rutgers University and the Governor’s Hispanic Fellowship Program at the NJ Center for Hispanic Policy, Research and Development. mraimundi@chsofnj.org

Isaac Dorsey, Director of Head Start/Early Head Start

It is with great pleasure and excitement that we welcome Isaac Dorsey as our new Head Start Executive Director. Isaac brings over 20 years of successful experience being the Director of Head Start programs that were both Center Based and Home Based in New Jersey, Arizona, and South Los Angeles, California. After serving 3 years in the Army Signal Corp., he graduated from Rutgers University with a BA in Urban Planning & Political Science and with a Master’s in Public Administration. He is further credentialed in Advanced Management from the Head Start Johnson & Johnson Management Fellows program at UCLA. Most remarkably, Isaac Dorsey is himself, a Head Start child who will be a role model for our children and parents. Isaac is a nationally recognized Head Start teacher and consultant, and he has had many years of collaborative experiences with local community partners, schools, and agencies. Contact Isaac at idorsey@chsofnj.org.

Pamela Cipriano

Pamela Cipriano, Director of Corporate Development & Volunteerism

Pamela Cipriano, Director of Corporate Development and Volunteerism, has over 16 years of experience working for Merrill Lynch in the Human Resources and Training Departments recruiting and training financial advisors and mentors. In 2009, she made the switch from the private to the non-profit sector as the Manager of Community Connection at Princeton HealthCare System where she organized and worked with over 200 volunteers who helped advance their mission through advocacy and fundraising. Pam played a key role in the rebranding and reorganization of the department into Community Connection.

Throughout her career, Pam has been involved with Parkway Elementary school in Ewing, the Auxiliary at University Medical Center at Princeton, B.I.G. (Believe, Inspire, Grow), has served the Social Chair and Swim Team Representative at Cranbury Swim Club. She is an active member of Networking & More and the Mid Jersey Chamber of Commerce. Pam enjoys meeting new people and wants to continue making a positive difference in people’s lives. Contact Pam at pcipriano@chsofnj.org.

Angela Garcia

Angela Garcia, Director of Information Technology

Angela has been an IT Professional for more than 17 years working in many diverse roles including as a Software Program Developer and Systems Engineer. Angela served as an Information Management Analyst at Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. prior to joining The Children’s Home Society of New Jersey in 2004. At CHSofNJ, she leads the team responsible for all technology equipment, extranet connections and World Wide Web connections as well as intranet administration and IT security.

Angela is bilingual in English and Spanish has a Bachelor’s Degree in Systems Engineering and an Associate Degree in Applied Science-Computer Systems and Network Administration. Contact Angela at agarcia@chsofnj.org.

Mary Graycar

Mary Graycar, Director of Human Resources

Mary has been with CHS for twelve years overseeing staffing, employee relations, compensation and benefits and ensures CHS is compliant with state and federal employment laws. Previously, Mary was the Director of Human Resources at the Hun School of Princeton and an HR Generalist for 10 years at AC Compacting in New Brunswick, NJ. Mary holds a degree in Business Administration and is currently studying for SPHR certification. Contact Mary at mgraycar@chsofnj.org.

Maureen Lawrence

Maureen Lawrence, Director of Ocean County Child Care Resource & Referral

Maureen has a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education from William Paterson University and has worked for CHS of NJ since 1996. Maureen is the agency representative for NJACCRRA (New Jersey Association of Child Care Resource and Referrals Agencies) and recently served as the Treasurer for four years. She sits on several committees for this professional organization. Maureen often serves on state committees for her expertise in CCR&R programs and administration. She was honored in 2012 for her many years of steadfast leadership in the field of Child Care Resource and Referral. Maureen is an avid reader and a sports enthusiast. Contact Maureen at mlawrence@chsofnj.org.

Joan Martin

Joan Martin, CHSofNJ WIC of Mercer County Program Administrator

Joan O. Martin is CHSofNJ WIC of Mercer County Program Administrator, managing all program operations including supervision of staff, main office and satellite sites; client intake and certification and distribution of checks; and nutrition and breastfeeding education and support. Ms. Martin holds a Masters of Public Health and has 27 years experience as a WIC Nutritionist/Supervisor, Head Start Nutrition Manager, Health Education Collaborative Coordinator and Public Health Consultant. Her WIC experience prior to leading the Mercer County program was at the Health and Hospitals Corporation in Brooklyn, New York. Her 23 years of Head Start experience was with Newark Preschool Council, the largest Head Start provider in Newark serving 2,400 children. Ms. Martin implemented, managed, assessed and evaluated a collaborative partnership between WIC and Head Start in Newark. Contact Joan at JMartin@chsofnj.org.

Michael Roseborough, Director of School-Based Programs

Michael Roseborough joined CHSofNJ as Program Administrator for the Positive Impact 21st Century Community Learning Centers in June 2022. Mike has been a passionate mentor and advocate for youth for over 15 years. He received an MBA in Nonprofit Management from Springfield College and a BA in African American Studies, with a Minor in Communications from Northeastern University. As Project Director for Princeton YMCA, Program Director of a Boys & Girls Club and Program Director for Neighborhood and Community Services, he oversaw a $3MM grant-funded budget, the operation of an after-school and summer program with more than 400 participants and over 30 staff, all while increasing enrollment and garnering sustainable collaborators. Mike comes with years of progressive experience working with at-risk children and youth at several community centers in New Jersey and Virginia. He understands the social and emotional needs of young people. His most recent work allowed him the opportunity to advocate for minority students in the Princeton Schools by implementing resources to help them feel more at home. He has mentored, coached and developed young people throughout his career. His greatest satisfaction comes from making a positive difference in a young person’s life. 

Director of Marketing, Communications & Funds Development

Lisa joined CHSofNJ in early 2022, bringing three decades of marketing communications, media relations, issues advocacy and digital storytelling experience. Recently, Lisa served as Assistant Vice President of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs for TD Bank, helping to elevate the bank’s commitment to corporate citizenship through a diverse mix of special events, employee engagement and internal as well as external earned media. Prior to joining TD, Lisa served as Communications Manager at Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton, where she increased engagement among the organization’s internal and external stakeholders through the development of a more accessible website, led a branding campaign “Hope Starts Here” that unified the multi-service agency and increased support as well as demand for services; earned opportunistic media placement equivalent to more than $10MM of advertising in 2017; managed crisis communications and enhanced positive awareness of the organization’s initiatives and thought leadership through successful placement of op-eds in The Star Ledger (NJ.com), Trenton Times and Philadelphia Inquirer.  Lisa is passionate about the CHSofNJ mission and looks forward to building collaborations and relationships to expand services and help ensure the agency’s sustainability. She may be reached at LThibault@chsofnj.org.

Senior Executive Administrator to the CEO

Valerie has proven capable assistance to the Executive Director of Trenton  Head Start & Early Head Start for the past six years after prior years of successful experience in a number of other positions.

Valerie holds a BA in Political Science from the University of Delaware and a Masters in Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.   (from 1986 to 1987 Valerie interned in the office of Senator Joseph R. Biden)

BOARD of TRUSTEES

Board Chair
James T. Shea

Immediate Past Chair
Tim Ryan

Vice Presidents
Kati Chupa
Strategic Planning

Tim Ryan
Fiscal Affairs

Cordelia Staton
Community Relations

P. Alan Zulick, Esq.,
Policy

Treasurer
Christine Benitez

Secretary
Valerie Kouras

Donna C. Pressma
President & CEO, The Children’s Home Society of New Jersey

Members of the Board

Mustafa Abdi 

Miranda Alfonso-Williams 

Zain Ali

Eva Alicea 

Poonam Bhuchar

Marilyn Carroll   

Meredith Domzalski     

James A. Graham, Ph.D. 

Pastor Brian Joyce 

Crystal Moore

John Martorana 

Deborah B. Musick   

Micah Parker  

Jennifer Landis Pizi   

Pastor Jose Rodriguez

Tamar Shelov

Burton J. Sutker   

Honorary Board

Hunter W. Allen

M. David Atkin, M.D.

Ruth Bartasawitz

Richard Bilotti

Patti Daley

Rosalind Hunt Doctor, Ph.D.

Jeffery M. Hall, Esq.

Leola Ford

Nancy Longenecker

Kevin J. McKenna

Dorothea Coccoli Palsho

Charles S. Papier, M.D.

Vivian B. Shapiro, Ph.D.