Laurel Dumont, Founder & Executive Director

Living and working in Newark as a teacher, lawyer, and social worker, Laurel Dumont has built a network across professional and demographic lines. Ability to work with diverse communities and elected leadership and a bent for linking needs and resources earned her a reputation as a Connector. Uniquely positioned to build bridges and facilitate collaboration to generate trust and momentum around change, Laurel decided to use her skills and experience to launch The Center for Collaborative Change, an innovative intermediary organization built to be hands-on with both community consultation and policy and program development.

Laurel has over a decade of involvement with the Newark community since she was placed in Newark as a 2000 Teach For America Corps Member and taught fifth grade at Thirteenth Avenue School.

Her work in Newark since leaving the classroom has included a number of professional and volunteer projects that engage community members in identifying needs and collaborating around solutions. These include working to create a school-based health clinic at the school where she taught, and helping to create and then overseeing the Newark Reentry Legal Services (ReLeSe) program that has now served over 2,000 clients with civil legal barriers to successful community reintegration after incarceration.

Before starting the Center, Laurel worked as a staff attorney at Essex-Newark Legal Services, representing tenants in eviction actions and administrative hearings, and as Legal & Policy Counsel at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, where her work included legal and community-based approaches to court reform and driver’s license restoration. As Founder & Executive Director of the Center for Collaborative Change, Laurel leads a diverse team of professionals in research, innovation, community consultation, and hands-on program & policy development that strategically connects people, ideas and resources to make Newark thrive.

She presently serves on the boards of Volunteer Lawyers for Justice, Building Responsible Intelligent Creative Kids (B.R.I.C.K.) and Lotus in Action. She was selected to participate in Leadership Newark (2008) and the Gustav Heningburg Civic Fellows Program (2010). She has a B.A. in Government from Wesleyan University and a Juris Doctor (J.D.) and Masters in Social Work (M.S.W.) from the University of Michigan.


Arlene Correa, Director of Finance & Development


Arlene’s areas of responsibility include finance, operations, human resources and development. Prior to joining the Center, Arlene worked at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice as a Development Assistant. While at the Institute, Arlene not only gained a valuable understanding of key stakeholders in Newark, but also embraced, and has carried with her to the Center, the mission of striving for social justice in Newark. Arlene earned an MPA, with a focus on Health Care Policy & Management, from NYU’s Wagner School and a BS, in Journalism & Sociology, from Boston University. With a background in fundraising for community non-profits in South Orange and Maplewood and analytic health policy work, Arlene will continue to play an integral role in the Center’s mission of revitalizing Newark. Arlene is the proud mother of two boys, the bassist for rock band, Juicebox, and an avid Red Sox, New England Patriots and Celtics fan.


Awinna Martinez, Community Law & Policy Fellow


As the Community Law and Policy Fellow at the Center for Collaborative Change (The Center) in Newark, NJ, Awinna  serves as the Research Lead for the 2012 Newark Needs and Impact Assessment – a report that identifies the greatest areas for community need as indicated by both quantitative data and the opinions and insights of community stakeholders and Newark residents.

Awinna is a recent graduate of Rutgers School of Law Newark. As a Kinoy-Stavis Public Interest Law Fellow, she has participated in a variety of pro-bono initiatives, including organizing ¡Yo Tengo Derechos!, a “know your rights” event featuring various legal workshops in both Spanish and English for the Newark Community. She has also facilitated teen violence workshops for students and aided victims of domestic violence in obtaining orders of protection as part of the Courtroom Advocacy Project. As a Student Associate with the Rutgers Constitutional Litigation Clinic, Awinna also worked on a number of cases involving constitutional rights, most notably drafting an Amicus brief for the Supreme Court of the United States and writing a report on military recruitment for New Jersey high school students that led to the implementation of high school street law classes.

Awinna’s professional experience includes a legal internships with the SSI Unit at Essex-Newark Legal Services, LatinoJustice/PRLDEF, and the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office. She also served as a legal clerk for Hon. Ester Salas in the U.S. District Court of New Jersey.She holds a BA in Political Science and Journalism from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, and was born and raised in Passaic, NJ. She hopes to build a long lasting career that fuses legal advocacy, with engagement, and civic empowerment to create stronger and cohesive communities. awinna@newarkchange.org

Andrew Kunka, Community Law & Policy Fellow



Bio forthcoming! Andy works on our Needs Assessment initiative.


Athena Foley, Community Law & Policy Fellow


Athena recently joined the Center in October and has been an invaluable addition to the team where she is currently working on the Center’s 2012 Needs Assessment, “What Works Summit”, and the C2K Initiative. In her “former life” prior to joining the Center, Athena was a corporate bankruptcy litigator in New York. She received a B.A. in Literature from The University of Michigan and a J.D. from New York University.

Athena is no stranger to adding value and giving back to her community. She has been very active with the Junior League of Montclair-Newark, where she helped to arrange a health and wellness fair for at-risk children, ran an art enrichment class for a Montclair nursery school, and took her advocacy to Trenton to lobby legislators about the importance of a public cord blood bank- among other things!


Elizabeth Ruebman, Summit Director


As the Summit Co-Director, Elizabeth oversees the planning and coordination of the Center’s 2012 Best Practices Summit on Community-Police Relations, which will bring to Newark information on proven and promising practices for improving relations and trust between the community and Newark police. In addition to her work at the Center, Elizabeth also serves as Policy and Communications Manager with NY/NJ Baykeeper, working to protect and restore the Hudson-Raritan Estuary. With a background and interest in political activism and local governing, Elizabeth has previously served as a federal lobbyist on such issues as criminal justice and welfare. Elizabeth received her undergraduate degree in American Government from Georgetown University and received her graduate degree in Public Administration from George Washington University. She is the mother of three children and enjoys industrial cities and modern art and recently took up running.


Ibn Suliman, Program Associate

Bio forthcoming! Ibn works on our Community Youth Mapping, Needs Assessment, Summit, and Supermarket initiatives.


Katie Wojewoda, Community Law & Policy Fellow


Katie Wojewoda is our Community Law and Policy Fellow tasked primarily with overseeing both our 2012 Newark Needs Assessment and the Center’s partnership with Newark Community Solutions, Newark’s “Community Court”. She received her BA from the University of Michigan in English and Spanish, her graduate degree in teaching from American University in Washington, D.C., and her law degree from the University of Michigan Law School. Prior to joining the Center, Katie’s professional experience includes externing with the legal department of GAVI (Global Alliance for Vaccination and Immunisation) as a Michigan Law Geneva International Fellow, as well as working as a summer associate at Kemp Klein, a legal intern at the Homeless Advocacy Project in San Francisco, and as a 9th grade English teacher in Washington, D.C. as a Teach For America corps member. She is a Michigan native and loves the Wolverines, cooking, and sour gummy candy.


Maria Morales, Office Manager


Maria’s work at the Center keeps things running smoothly, while her energy and enthusiasm combine to make the Center a happier place. Born in Kentucky, Maria grew up in and around Newark. Maria has a Bachelors in Business Administration from Berkeley College  in Newark . Maria enjoys working at the Center because of the supportive, friendly atmosphere, and also enjoys being able to put her skills to work to help get involved with the Newark community and make a difference. When Maria isn’t working or studying, she can often be found listening to music, cooking, styling hair, and setting a good example for her younger sister.


Scott Grimm-Lyon, Communications Fellow


Scott Grimm-Lyon is the lead on communications and design for The Center. Scott is a graphic design and urban planning professional with a background in community organizing. Scott has worked with stakeholder groups in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Long Island on issues including affordable housing, foreclosure prevention, business displacement, and developing a riverside greenway. Scott is interested in community economic development and is the co-creator of the new economy mapping project at gtne.org.

Scott has an MS City and Regional Planning from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, a BS in Anthropology from the University of Albany, and an AAS in Graphic Design from Suffolk County Community College.

Scott grew up on Long Island and currently lives in Brooklyn with his wife Jessica. He’s not from Newark, but his mother grew up in Vailsburg. Scott is sorry that the Nets have left Newark for Brooklyn, as the arena in Brooklyn slightly resembles a cockroach.


Krystyna Soljan, Community Development Fellow

 Krystyna is performing her social work field education with the Center as a masters student at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College with a concentration in Community Organizing, Planning & Development. Through her work on the C2K health initiative and with CCC partner Newark Community Solutions, she has the opportunity for hands-on learning in the fields of social planning, program development, and community engagement. Before entering her MSW program, Krystyna solidified her commitment to service and social justice as an Americorps volunteer in Chicago with the Capuchin Franciscan Volunteer Corps, and working with youth in a service-learning program called JusticeworX. On the weekends, Krystyna enjoys assisting customers with specialty food purchases as a crew member at Trader Joe’s. Krystyna is a 2009 alumna of Trinity College in Hartford, CT where she graduated with honors in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies.



Lauren Keith, Community Law & Policy Intern

Mary Brown (photography)



Michelle Pullaro

Linda Morgan



Mark Alexander, Esq.
Professor of Law, Seton Hall University

John Brothers, PhD
Principal, Quidoo Consulting

Richard Greenberg
Acting Chief Operating Officer, New Jersey Institute for Social Justice

Victor Herlinsky, Jr., Esq.
Nowell Amoroso Klein Bierman, PA

Celia King, MPS
Executive Director, Leadership Newark

Randall Mehrberg
President, PSEG Energy Holdings

Joyce Strawser, PhD
Dean, Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University

Marshall Rafal, PhD
CEO, OLI Systems, Inc.



Josh M. Mann, Esq.
Shareholder, Budd Larner PC

Adam Zipkin
Deputy Mayor for Economic & Housing Development, City of Newark