Brian Fitzgerald went from being born and raised in a rough neighborhood in New York City, to rising through the ranks from intern to the position of CEO and President of Easterseals New Jersey, the leading disability services not-for-profit. Before fully devoting to Easterseals, Fitzgerald served in the United States Armed Forces completing a tour in Vietnam from 1967-1972, where he was recognized for his valor and meritorious service. He later went on to obtain his Bachelor’s and a Master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling from Seton Hall University.
Under Brian’s leadership, Easterseals New Jersey has grown from a $16 million organization to $106 million with a multi corporate structure serving nearly 9,000 individuals in need annually. Fitzgerald has also served as President of the Easterseals Leadership Association as well as liaison to several committees of the National Easterseals Board of Directors. Gaining recognition as a leader, Brian has amassed several reputable awards in the categories of community service, management, rehabilitation and much more. He firmly believes “everyone deserves a chance to reach their full potential.”
Helen Drobnis has been with Easterseals New Jersey as its Chief Advancement Officer and Corporate Secretary for over 20 years. She manages over 1 million dollars in operating budget and oversees several teams including Marketing, Development, Office of the President, and Office Support. She is also the organizational liaison for the company’s Board of Directors helping to facilitate their governance, legal, and fiduciary responsibilities.
One of Helen’s key achievements in her fundraising role was raising $1.2 million for the first ever trademarked Be Well & Thrive initiative, a dedicated nutrition and exercise program for people with disabilities. She is proudest of her work engaging current and prospective donors to increase organizational financial support and also working to strengthen awareness of the organization’s mission, vision, values, programs, and services. She shares, “working to make others’ lives a little better is a privilege I’ve been lucky enough to play a small part in during my career. I take great pride in any part my contributions have made.”
Prior to her work at Easterseals New Jersey, Helen Drobnis was assistant to the president at Hudson County Community College in Jersey City where she grew up. During her eleven-year tenure with the college, Helen worked with executive management and the University’s Board of Directors to grow the college so it could best serve the needs of Hudson County residents.
Mike Owen currently holds the dual role of Chief Human Resources Officer and General Counsel at Easterseals New Jersey. Over the course of his career, Owen has held multiple senior level Human Resources positions within organizations such as Princeton University, MetLife, and Montclair State University. Owen began his career with an undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a law degree from Villanova University where he received his juris doctorate. He served six years as a public defender in Chester County, Pennsylvania before transitioning to the world of Human Resources. His work in Human Resources eventually led him to receiving the Gannett Company Inc.’s highest honor as a President’s Ring Award winner, given only to select HR leaders nationwide. In addition, Mike became a sought after speaker on topics such as “modernization of management through the strategic applications of HR practice.” Owen now continues to demonstrate and utilize his leadership skills and legal expertise every day as leader of our dynamic HR department and member of the Easterseals Senior Leadership Team.
Shelley Samuels is the Chief Program Officer at Easterseals New Jersey and also Chief Operating Officer of Easterseals Solutions, a business-to-business social enterprise. Samuels has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Rutgers University. She has more than 35 years of experience in the human services and healthcare fields specifically related to services for persons with disabilities. She has also secured and managed more than $30 million of first-in-state initiatives for a variety of non-profits in the field of services for people with disabilities. Over the past 20 years, Samuels has served as a management and development consultant for several organizations including the Horizon Health Center, St. Peter’s University Medical Center, and others. She has also held positions for Middlesex County Children’s System of Care, Citizens for Quality Education and United Nations Task Force on the Year of the Disabled among several others.
Aleisha Hart joined Easterseals New Jersey in 2008 as a Senior Financial Analyst and currently holds the position of Chief Financial Officer responsible for managing a portfolio of over 100 million dollars on average. A member of the American Institute of CPAs and the Institute of Management Accountants, Hart earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Science from Wilberforce University. She now boasts almost 30 years of practice in corporate finance and accounting and over 20 years of leadership proficiency. Her experience during this time spans various industries including real estate, government, and non-profit to name a few. Hart was one of the nominated finalists of the 2016 NJBIZ CFO of the Year Rising Stars Awards and was also a recipient of the esteemed Easterseals Clark J. Paradise Award which is given out to an employee of Easterseals who exemplifies the highest standard of the company’s mission. Aleisha is known as a quick study with a passion for her work and prides herself on getting more done with less!
Joe Reo, Chair
MetLife, Inc., Bridgewater, NJ
Stephen Hoelper, Vice Chair/Operations
Mediscripts, Hasbrouck Heights, NJ
Melissa Skrocki, Vice Chair/Treasurer
Giordano, Halleran & Ciesla Attorneys at Law, Red Bank, NJ
Primapax LLC, Princeton, NJ
Michael Bisesti, Past Chair
MetLife, Somerset, NJ
Shop Rite Supermarket, Carteret, NJ
Goldman Sachs, New York, NJ
TEK Systems, Parsippany, NJ
EMC, Villas, NJ
KPMG LLP, New York, NY
Freelance TV Personality, Delaware
Ernst & Young LLP, Washington, DC
Nancy Goguen, Past Chair
Last updated: April 4, 2018