The Bloustein School is pleased to announce that six individuals have been selected as recipients of awards presented at the 2017 Annual Alumni Awards Celebration on Friday, October 20. This year’s honorees include graduates who have varied accomplishments in workforce development and education issues, transportation and urban initiatives, housing and community development, economic development, international educational opportunities, and affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization.
“The goal of the Bloustein School Annual Alumni Awards is to pay tribute to graduate and undergraduate alumni and friends of the school, recognizing their outstanding achievements and/or service to the Bloustein School and Rutgers University, their communities, and/or their professions,” said Michael R. Greenberg, distinguished professor and interim dean of the Bloustein School.
Alumni are recognized each year in two categories, Career Achievement and Rising Stars. Those selected for Career Achievement awards are alumni 15 or more years beyond completion of their studies, whose personal and professional accomplishments have demonstrated the highest standard of the public service ethic and whose commitment to civic improvement have brought credit to themselves, their communities, and the Bloustein School. The Rising Star award, formerly the Young Alum Award, honors those alumni who are fewer than 15 years beyond completion of their studies, whose personal and professional accomplishments have been of the highest caliber and have brought credit to the school.
Friends or alumni of the school may also be considered for the school’s highest honor, the Dean’s Medal of Merit Award. These individuals, selected by the Dean of the Bloustein School, are named for their exceptional dedication to civic improvement and their commitment to the Bloustein School and Rutgers University.
The Bloustein School includes among its alumni those Rutgers University graduates who achieved their undergraduate or post-graduate degrees in urban planning, public policy, and public health before the school’s founding in 1992.
This year’s honorees include:
DEAN’S MEDAL OF MERIT
Aaron Fichtner, Ph.D. in Planning & Public Policy ’05
Governor Chris Christie swore in Aaron R. Fichtner, Ph.D. as Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development on June 5, 2017, after having served in an acting role since September 2016. Dr. Fichtner has extensive workforce and economic development experience, having been with the Department of Labor and Workforce Development since 2010. He previously served as the department’s Deputy Commissioner, where he directly oversaw the department’s program areas including Workforce Operations and Business Services, Workforce Development and Economic Opportunity, Research and Information, Income Security, and Labor Standards and Safety Enforcement. Before joining the department, he was the Director of Research and Evaluation at the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University’s Bloustein School. In that role, he conducted extensive research on the workforce and skill needs of key industries, implemented a variety of workforce and education initiatives, and conducted evaluations of education and training programs.
Dr. Fichtner currently serves as Chair of the National Association of State Liaisons for Workforce Development Partnerships, the workforce development committee of the National Governors Association. He previously served as chairman of the Labor Market Information Committee of the National Association of State Workforce Agencies, where he currently serves as a board member. In March 2016, In March 2016, Dr. Fichtner was appointed to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Workforce Information Advisory Council, which is advising the Secretary of Labor, and the Commissioner of the Bureau of the Labor Statistics on the use of workforce and labor market information.
Jeffrey Gutman, MCRP ’74
Jeff Gutman has had an extensive career in international economic development. After serving as a transportation consultant in Honduras for three years and participating in the U.S. Congressional National Transportation Policy Study Commission, Jeff joined the World Bank in 1979. Through his 31 years at the Bank, he has served in various operational, policy and managerial positions with a particular focus on transport and urban initiatives mainly ranging across Latin America and East Asia and the Pacific. From Argentina to Guatemala and from Vietnam to Timor-Leste, Jeff was involved in an extensive list of sectoral policy reforms, infrastructure investments and institutional development efforts.
From 2007 until his retirement from the Bank in 2010, Jeff served as Vice President for Operational Policy and Country Services. He was responsible for overseeing the Bank’s lending operations and related policies, governance reforms regarding corruption, transparency and procurement as well as environmental and social safeguard policies.
Since 2013, Jeff has been a Senior Fellow at The Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. He has been leading a research effort on urban accessibility, promoting a cross-disciplinary approach to transport, land use and fiscal/financing factors affecting inclusive urban access. His writings also cover issues in infrastructure finance and public procurement.
“Jeff was one of the best students I have had the privilege of teaching in my 45 years at Rutgers,” said interim dean Mike Greenberg. “He went on to enjoy a remarkably successful career working on urban and transportation projects across the globe while with the World Bank, and as a senior fellow at Brookings is working on the same critically important issues. His hard work and commitment to fostering change for the public good serves as a model for our students as they seek to make their own impact in addressing the policy issues we face today.”
Staci Berger, MPAP ’04
As the President and CEO of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, Staci Berger directs this statewide association of over 150 community-based development organizations, created in 1989 to enhance the efforts of these groups to create affordable housing and revitalize their communities, and to improve the climate for community development in New Jersey. Before becoming the President and CEO, she served as the Director of Advocacy & Policy where she was responsible for leading the community development policy staff team, including working with the Policy Coordinator and field organizers, to broaden and mobilize support for the Network’s public policy agenda.
Prior to joining the Network, Staci worked for nine years with New Jersey Citizen Action where she went from being an organizer to the Political and Legislative Director. As the Political and Legislative Director, she devised and implemented political, legislative, and electoral strategy for the state’s largest non-profit, non-partisan independent watchdog coalition.
In 2016, the NJ General Assembly honored Staci as a change maker during Women’s History Month.
Jill Edwards Resnick, MCRP ’93
Jill Edwards Resnick is a community development investment banker, professionally certified economic developer and former urban planner who recently joined Charles Schwab as Director of Community Development Investments. She previously was a Senior Vice President and originator of Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) investments for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, where she authored a white paper on supportive housing that led to a significant and sustained increase in the Bank’s supportive housing investments.
Jill formerly served as Director of Merrill Lynch Community Development Company (MLCDC) where she managed the firm’s tax credit investments, including LIHTC and NMTC. Prior to joining Merrill Lynch, she served as Acting Director of Economic Development and Economic Development Planner in Trenton, and as a contractor for the New Jersey Office of State Planning. A Leadership New Jersey Fellow, certified Economic Development Professional and formerly a Professional Planner and member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP), Jill was the recipient of the YWCA of Trenton’s Woman of Achievement Award, was honored for her advocacy work in supportive housing by New Destiny Housing Corporation, and her work at Bank of America earned the Bank a Private Sector Partner of the Year Award from the Supportive Housing Network of New York.
RISING STAR AWARDS
Zaid Abuhouran, BS (Public Health) ’12
Zaid Abuhouran currently serves as a West Bank and Gaza Desk Officer at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), where he oversees the West Bank and Gaza Mission’s development work and policy objectives from Washington, DC. In his role, he coordinates with the Agency at-large, the Department of State, the National Security Council, Congress, and external stakeholders to ensure that the Mission’s priorities and equities are represented. Before joining USAID, Zaid managed federal-level education programs, grants, and policy initiatives for several state-level education departments through the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, including for his home state, New Jersey. Zaid joined the federal government as a Presidential Management Fellow in 2014. Prior to his government service, Zaid taught high school biology and Advanced Placement (AP) biology for two years at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Baltimore City through Teach For America, where his students saw exponential gains in their Maryland state and AP test scores. At Dunbar, he started the faculty-led College Going Culture Committee to establish a school culture that promotes college readiness among students. He also served as faculty advisor to the Student Governing Association, and worked with students to establish a discussion group to support LGBTQ students.
Jeffrey Crum, MPP ’06
Jeffrey Crum is the Director of Real Estate for Community Asset Preservation Corporation (CAPC), a non-profit community real estate development organization focused on neighborhood revitalization and affordable housing creation primarily through the acquisition of vacant and foreclosed single-family homes. In this role, he oversees all of CAPC’s operations, which includes real estate development, asset management, construction management, property management, real estate brokerage services. CAPC’s primary mission involves the acquisition and rehabilitation of abandoned and foreclosed properties to stabilize communities and create quality affordable housing options. Prior to joining CAPC, Jeff worked as Vice President of Real Estate for Build with Purpose, Inc., a non-profit community facilities builder that developed numerous charter school spaces and supportive housing projects. He also served as the Director of Real Estate for New Jersey Community Development Corporation building multifamily supportive housing and community facilities in Paterson, NJ.
He is a chair of the City of New Brunswick Planning Board and serves on the Board of Directors for the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless. Jeff was recently selected by NJ Biz as a “Forty Under 40” awardee for his accomplishments in the field of real estate.