Building a legacy of service in the Central Jesery Shore
We believe in the power of connection, relationships, and collaboration. Every member of our team is committed to our mission and a process of continuous improvement. We value working with our community to identify and support equitable strategies for economic excellence.Our History
Heather Barberi is the Executive Director of the Grunin Foundation. With a background in fundraising, marketing, strategic development, and management, Heather uses her experience to lead innovative projects and partnerships that bring meaningful, transformative change to the community.
For over 20 years, Heather has served both the for profit and non-profit industries. She has always had a passion for making a difference, and began her career fundraising for a national non-profit organization. Heather then made the transition into the for-profit arena, working in both the technology and financial services industries. As Vice President of Field Marketing at TD Bank, Heather spent nearly seven years managing local marketing initiatives in the NJ, PA, DE, and Washington, D.C. areas. She engaged and negotiated with non-profits and business organizations on sponsorships, events, tradeshows, advertising, and marketing promotions. Most recently, Heather was the Executive Director of the Ocean County College Foundation, where she was tasked to execute the strategic fundraising plan and overall operations of the organization.
Heather is a graduate of York College of Pennsylvania, and currently resides in Ocean County, NJ.
Heather’s community involvement includes:
Director of Thriving Communities
Victoria Marie “Vicki” Fernandez (she/hers) is the Director of Thriving Communities for the Grunin Foundation. She comes to Grunin from the Institute for Ethical Leadership (IEL), a research center in Rutgers Business School where she most recently served as Acting Executive Director. In her evolving role at IEL, Vicki helped hundreds of nonprofit leaders at all stages of growth find support and develop their abilities. Her proudest achievements with the Institute are increasing programming and practice around access, diversity, equity, and anti-racism.
In June 2019, Vicki Co-Founded the Nonprofit Professionals of Color Collective with Tyneisha Gibbs (144th and Vine). The Collective seeks to support the whole BIPOC leader with personal and professional development, community support, and access to intentionally curated resources. Through the pandemic, the Collective quickly grew to reach over 800 nonprofit professionals nationally online and continues to reach new audiences.
Vicki is a nonprofit generalist working in the sector for 20 years in a variety of roles including leadership training and support, program development and leadership, community engagement, and communications. Although her work has focused on a wide range of service areas, including youth development, education and out of school time, health, and capacity building, she has a particular love for the arts.
Vicki earned her BA at Ramapo College of NJ in Communications and Fine Arts: Visual Arts. She completed her MPA with a concentration in non-profit administration at Rutgers – Newark School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA).
Vicki’s community involvement includes:
[Image description: A headshot of Vicki, looking straight into the camera against a plain colored background. “I am a fat, white skinned, mix-ethnicity woman of Latin heritage with rosy cheeks and dark curls. I am wearing a black top, pearl earrings, and blue eyeglass frames.”]
Director of Communications
Kelly Fliller, an MBA graduate of Georgian Court University, has over fifteen years of experience in marketing and communications, serving both the for profit and non-profit sectors. She led the marketing strategy and initiatives for a professional services firm and managed the redesign of several corporate websites. Kelly helps the Foundation with its marketing strategy including public relations, social media and digital marketing.
Board Directorships and committees include:
Director of Operations
Jaclyn Rodemann is a graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University with over 15 years of experience in the non-profit sector. She has developed recruitment strategies and initiatives for colleges and universities both locally and abroad. Jaclyn has joined the Grunin Foundation to utilize her previous non-profit experience and passion for helping the community to manage the Foundation’s day-to-day operations. She is a life-long resident of Toms River where she is raising her two children, Morgan and Matthew, along with her husband, Paul.
Tomás is an award-winning social entrepreneur and former nonprofit executive with close to 20 years of experience in the social sector. He currently serves as Managing Partner and a Strategist at Idea2Form, a BIPOC-owned creative studio whose mission is to design solutions that connect, activate, and inspire people to build a more equitable world. Through Idea2Form, Tomás works closely with leading nonprofits, foundations, and purpose-driven companies to amplify their social impact.
Tomás began his journey as a social entrepreneur in 2004 when he pioneered one of the first Hip Hop Therapy programs and developed the project into a nationally recognized nonprofit organization. Tomás has catalyzed numerous constituent-driven initiatives throughout his career, consulted with leading civic sector organizations, and championed several causes focused on racial justice and children’s well-being.
Tomás is a visionary thinker and transformational leader recognized as an Ashoka Fellow, CNN Hero, NBC Latino Top 20 Innovator, SEERS Fellow, and Aspen Institute Scholar. His work has been featured by CNN, Forbes, The New York Times, Vice Magazine, Complex, Revolt TV, Stanford Social Innovation Review, and NPR. Tomás has also served as a social entrepreneur in residence and adjunct lecturer at Stanford University, co-teaching courses on Social Entrepreneurship and Ethics & Politics of Public Service.
Laurie Goganzer is a purpose-driven leader with nearly 30 years of experience in the global YMCA movement, bringing life-changing programs to people in New Jersey, New York, and California. She is President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Monmouth County, one of largest YMCAs in New Jersey, strengthening more than 35,000 people in three counties, and is highly regarded for its extensive counseling and social services. She leads a team of nearly 1,200 employees and oversees an operating budget of $25 million. Laurie works closely with a 40-member Board of Directors and 10-member Foundation Board of Trustees to build and sustain a strong Y.
Laurie directed the 2019 merger of The Community YMCA and YMCA of Western Monmouth County to create the new countywide Y, honored for its expanded commitment to the community by the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, Monmouth-Ocean Development Council, Visiting Nurse Association, and HABcore. Her role in the merger was recognized by the Red Bank business community, which presented her the Women of Influence Award in 2019.
With a passion to make a difference, Laurie serves on the Board of Trustees for the Center for Non-Profits, the Grunin Foundation, NJ YMCA State Alliance, and YMCA Young Professionals Network; Advisory Boards for Brookdale Community College and the Visiting Nurse Association; and was appointed to the Monmouth County Economic Recovery Council.
Laurie began her Y career in 1992 as a Program Director for the Tarrytown YMCA in Tarrytown, New York and went on to become Associate Executive Director for the Rye YMCA, also in New York. In 2003, Laurie relocated to California where she spent 15 years leading branch operations for the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles and YMCA of San Diego County. In Los Angeles, she was Senior Vice President overseeing operations of three branches, including the Anderson Munger Family YMCA, opened in 2014 following a $23 million capital campaign under her leadership. She also served as Group Vice President, Executive Director and Operations Executive for the Los Angeles Association. In San Diego, she served as Regional Vice President for the South Region and led four branches with an operating budget of nearly $20 million.
Laurie earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Physical Education from The King’s College in New York. She is a proud alumnus of LeadNJ, and a sought-after inspirational speaker and presenter on nonprofit leadership.
Born and raised at the Jersey Shore, she enjoys spending time with her family, hiking with her dogs, cycling, paddle boarding, surfing, camping, and giving back to her community.
Emma Grunin is currently a freshman at New York University in the Liberal Studies Core program. She is deciding between a business degree and ultimately an MBA, or a pre-med track and eventually attending medical school. In addition to her studies, Emma is a member of the NYU track and field team and the Student-Athlete Leadership Academy. She plans on pursuing an internship at a hospital this summer.
For over 10 years, Jeremy has been actively engaged throughout the community as President of the Grunin Foundation, a proactive grantmaker focused on economic growth at the Central Jersey Shore. Jeremy is also a Partner of Grunin Holdings, LLC., a New Jersey Partnership specializing in investing in third party commercial ventures. Prior to that, Jeremy was a leader in the private sector for over 15 years, where he managed teams of 1000+ employees responsible for over half a billion dollars in revenue. He has also hosted several talk radio shows on both AM and FM radio, including Topic A on WOBM.
Jeremy’s Foundation, Advisory and Board Directorships include:
Joshua Grunin, currently a junior at Rutgers Business School, is pursuing a degree in finance with aspirations of obtaining his MBA and ultimately becoming a financial advisor. He has previously interned for financial firms Newport Capital Group and UBS, learning the sophistications of the financial industry. Joshua has the desire to become a philanthropist and take part in the non-profit world.
He has been a member of several organizations at Rutgers including Rutgers Riot Squad, Rutgers Unified Sports and Rutgers University Programming Association.
Rebecca Grunin is currently a sophomore at Monmouth University majoring in health sciences in hopes of pursuing a career as a Psychiatric Physician Assistant. She possesses a blossoming interest in medicine and is eager to learn the ins and outs of the healthcare system. Rebecca has volunteered at Community Medical Center in Toms River and has shadowed Physician Assistants at Bellevue Hospital in New York.
Founder & Chairman
Jay graduated from Brooklyn College (with honors) in 1964, and from NYU School of Law in 1967, where he was an Editor of the Law Review and where he met his future wife and business partner. After a brief exposure to academia –as Research Assistant to an NYU Law professor teaching a seminar on legislative history–, as well as a brief stint in Big Law in New York, followed by a one year Appellate Division clerkship in New Jersey, Jay and Linda landed in a then small town on the Central Jersey Shore called Toms River.
After a few years, Jay and Linda decided to open up their own small law firm. In the 1970s, as Ocean County became one of the fastest growing counties in the entire United States, Jay and Linda’s law practice flourished. At the same time, they expanded their business interests to include real estate and other investments.
In the 1990s, the Grunins dissolved their law practice to concentrate full time on their two greatest passions, business investments and philanthropy. In 2013, their philanthropic endeavors were formalized with the creation of the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation (now the Grunin Foundation).
Unfortunately, Linda passed away in April 2018, but her influential and inspiring legacy lives on.
Jay, among his other civic involvements, is currently Advisory Board Chair of the NYU Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship and Vice Chair of the Monmouth Medical Center Foundation Board.
Ed Johnson is the managing Founder & President of Ed JohnsonAP International Consulting. He is a proud and involved resident of the communities of Asbury Park, Monmouth County and State of New Jersey. Mr. Johnson served his home community as Mayor, Councilman and Chairman of the Urban Enterprise Zone from 1998 – 2013.
Currently, Mr. Johnson is the Executive Director of Governmental Affairs and Community Relations at Brookdale Community College. He served as the Senior Executive Officer of Community Engagement 2020 – 2021. Mr. Johnson is an Adjunct Faculty in Political Science teaching at Rutgers University, Monmouth University and Brookdale Community College. As a Political Scientist, Mr. Johnson specializes in American Government, Urban Studies and Community Building.
Ed Johnson facilitates Continuing Education Seminars and Civic Programs that focus on Government & Society, Stakeholder Relations and Civic Engagement. He is a regular featured speaker, webinar and conference facilitator from Local-2-Global conferences, events and venues.
Ed Johnson is an Honorary member of The Global Parliament of Mayors attending the 2016 Inaugural Session at The Hague, Netherlands (awarded an NJCCC – Kresge Foundation Grant) and the 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2021 Annual Summits in Norway, England, South Africa & Sicily. As an Honorary Member, Ed Johnson services and an Ambassador to the Youth Mayors Program at UWC Maastricht and as an Advisor on special issues and projects.
Mr. Johnson is a proud graduate of New Jersey Public Schools and Eastern New Mexico University where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Liberal Arts and a Master of Arts Degree in Social and Political Sciences. Mr. Johnson’s alma mater inducted him into the ENMU Alumni Hall of Fame as an Outstanding Alumni for his professional achievements in public and community service.
Nicole Pulliam, Ph.D. is an equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) leader with over 15 years of experience in higher education. Nicole serves as the inaugural director of the Monmouth University Social Justice Academy, to foster educational equity in K-12 schools throughout Monmouth & Ocean Counties. In addition, Nicole is an associate professor at the university, where she teaches graduate courses on diversity & social justice to future school counselors and higher education leaders. As a Black Indigenous person of color (BIPOC), Nicole leads with her authentic, integrated self to honor all aspects of her identities.
The common thread in Nicole’s career is equity and access for historically excluded and oppressed groups. Aside from her primary roles, Nicole leads implicit bias trainings for organizations and professional development workshops for BIPOC students and administrators. Nicole is an executive board member for the American Council on Education’s New Jersey Women’s Network (NJACE).
Nicole resides in Toms River with her husband and two young children—one current and one future Hooper Husky.