A partner at McCarter & English who served as president of the New Jersey State Bar Association (NJSBA) in 2011-12 is the new president of the New Jersey State Bar Foundation (NJSBF), the association’s philanthropic arm.
Susan A. Feeney, a partner in the McCarter & English Tax and Employee Benefits Practice Group, said her goals for the year include highlighting the organization’s 60th anniversary, seeking alternative funding, continuing to spread the word of the foundation’s myriad educational programs and evaluating new ways to deliver those programs.
“The work of the foundation is, in my mind, the heart and soul of the NJSBA,” Feeney said. “It is where lawyers volunteer their time to educate the community and make our state a better place.”
Feeney’s predecessor as NJSBF president is Lynn Fontaine Newsome, one of the founders at Newsome O’Donnell. Newsome, who served as NJSBA president in 2007-8, moves to the role of immediate past president on the foundation’s executive board.
“I am very grateful to have had the honor of leading the Foundation these past two years,” Newsome said. “The Foundation’s motto is, ‘informed citizens are better citizens.’ Through our work in particular with educators, schoolchildren, seniors and the public at large, the many programs sponsored by the Foundation have provided opportunities for better informed citizens across New Jersey. The experience has been deeply rewarding and I wish to express my thanks to the many volunteers who devoted their time, effort and resources to the great work of the Foundation.”
The foundation has also appointed two new members to the board of trustees, whose terms began on June 14. The new members are Maria Cristiano Anderson and Mikeisha Anderson Jones.
The rest of the NJSBF slate of officers for 2018-19 are: Norberto A. Garcia, first vice president; Kathleen N. Fennelly, second vice president; Charles J. Stoia, treasurer and Ralph J. Lamparello, secretary.
Among the tasks the committee will tackle this year is the issue of funding, Feeney said, noting that funding “has been challenging the past 10 years, as IOLTA funding continues to decline.”
“We have a wonderful executive committee committed to continue to look to alternative funding sources so the very successful core programs and sponsorship programs of the foundation can be continued. We are also dedicated to evaluating new ways to deliver the programs so as to better serve the communities we are educating,” she said. “The foundation staff has done an excellent job with various social medium platforms the past few years, and we hope to continue with innovative ways to deliver the foundation’s product.”
Feeney is known for her professional expertise on state and local property tax and redevelopment/eminent domain matters. She has also shown dedication to supporting women in the law and has garnered numerous awards for her efforts, including the Women’s Initiative and Leaders in Law Private Sector Award from the New Jersey Women Lawyers Association. The Women’s Political Caucus of New Jersey awarded her the 2012 Mary Philbrook Award, and in 2016 Seton Hall University School of Law and the St. Thomas More Society presented her with the St. Thomas More Medal.
She recalled volunteering as a young lawyer for the foundation’s mock trial programs. For that reason, she said, that particular program—which draws in thousands of school-age students from across the state—will always be personally special to her.
“The dedication of the lawyers who act as coaches shows our profession at its very best,” she said. “And witnessing the achievements of the talented students, who are perhaps our future young lawyers, is very special.”
But, “it is important for us to highlight all the wonderful programs of the foundation,” she said. Law Fair, Law Adventure, the art show, various community education programs like Violence Against Woman, and educator programs on unconscious bias and peer mediation, are all important to the foundation’s mission.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the NJSBF, and there will be a special program commemorating the occasion at the September Medal of Honor ceremony.
“I am so proud of all the New Jersey lawyers who participate in the work of the foundation, and we hope to highlight that work in the 60th year,” Feeney said. “The lawyers who have volunteered their time over the past 60 years and showed our profession at its very best are the legacy of the foundation.”