Skip Navigation
 

People

The Building Healthier, More Equitable Communities (BHEC) program team is fortunate to collaborate and synergize efforts with leading practitioners, policymakers, community advocates, and mission-driven investors across the state of New Jersey. Below you can get acquainted with the New Jersey Advisory Committee made up of these leaders, as well as the program team at Reinvestment Fund.

Advisory Committee

Leslie Anderson

President & Chief Executive Officer

New Jersey Redevelopment Authority
 

Leslie Anderson is the Executive Director of the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority (NJRA), a multi-million-dollar independent financing authority created by the state of New Jersey to transform urban communities through direct investment and technical support. Under her leadership, NJRA has used its financial resources to leverage over $3.8 billion in new investments, helping to redevelop some of New Jersey’s most economically challenged neighborhoods. Prior to joining the staff of NJRA, Anderson served as a Policy Advisor to former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman. She began her career in her hometown of Plainfield, New Jersey where she spent nearly a decade working in the city’s economic development office as a planner, being promoted until ultimately selected by the mayor to serve as the Executive Director of the Office of Economic Development. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science at Pennsylvania State University.

Bob Atkins

Director

New Jersey Health Initiatives
 

Bob Atkins, PhD, RN, FAAN is Director of New Jersey Health Initiatives (NJHI) and an Associate Professor at Rutgers University with a joint appointment in Nursing and Childhood Studies. He began his work in Camden as a school nurse at East Camden Middle School and co-founded the Camden STARR Program, a non-profit youth development program dedicated to improving the life chances of youth living in Camden. His work in Camden motivated him to complete a PhD in the Department of Public Health at Temple University to better understand the factors that influence the health and well-being of children living in vulnerable communities. Atkins is a lifelong New Jersey resident and is committed to building healthier communities across the state through effective collaborations and partnerships, meaningful conversations across sectors, and evidence-based innovations. He leads several NJHI projects that engage more nurses (and school nurses) in building a Culture of Health in NJ. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and American Civilizations from Brown University and Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Pennsylvania.

Staci Berger

President & Chief Executive Officer

Housing and Community Development Network New Jersey
 

As the President and CEO of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey (HCDNNJ), 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. Previously, Staci served as the Director of Advocacy & Policy at HCDNNJ 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. She received her Masters in Public Affairs and Politics from Rutgers University.

Tai Cooper

Chief Community Development Officer

New Jersey Economic Development Authority
 

As Chief Community Development Officer at the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA), Tai Cooper is responsible for leading the NJEDA’s communications and enhanced engagement strategy. This includes strengthening ties with policy-makers at the federal, state, and local level as they look to advance strategies, research and data that will help drive equitable and inclusive economic development policies and programs, with a specific focus on innovating and generating greater social impact. Prior to joining NJEDA in February 2019, she was the Deputy Chief Policy Advisor to Governor Murphy and led New Jersey’s Federal Opportunity Zone initiative. She previously served as Chief Policy Advisor to Mayor Ras Baraka, where she provided policy analysis and project management across municipal agencies. She began her political career as Senior Aide to Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-New Jersey) and Chief of Staff to the Mayor of Orange, New Jersey. A Newark resident, Tai earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Urban Planning from The Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University and a Master’s Degree in urban planning from the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at New York University.

Rev. Eric Dobson

Deputy Director

Fairshare Housing Center
 

Rev. Eric Dobson is Fair Share Housing Center’s Deputy Director. He joined Fair Share Housing Center’s as Director of Community Engagement in 2012 and is an ordained minister, a community organizer, outreach specialist and social entrepreneur. He has extensive experience working with diverse audiences and communities and specializes in interfaith outreach. Eric is the Co-Founder of Open Communities LLC, a racial integration consultant firm that works to resolve simple and complex conflicts of race, ethnicity and socio- economics. He also founded a non-profit focused on youth development and education, Planting Seeds of Hope, and in 2008 served as the PA Clergy Outreach Director for the Obama Campaign. He holds a B.A. from Temple University in Religion.

Barbara George Johnson

Vice President, John S. Watson Institute for Urban Policy and Research

Kean University
 

Barbara George Johnson is Vice President of the John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy at Kean University (formerly at Thomas Edison State University), bringing more than 25 years of experience as a public policy professional in New Jersey. In her role, she manages the activities of the New Jersey Urban Mayors Association and oversees the five policy centers housed at the Institute focused on early childhood education, urban environmental issues, public health, civic engagement and leadership development, and capacity building. She has been a leading voice in shaping health and social policy in the region and came to the University with experience as managing principal of GOVCONNECTIONS, LLC and as Senior Associate for MBI-GluckShaw. She was also the first Legislative Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey. In that role, she spearheaded the passage of Domestic Partnership Legislation and worked with state leaders on policies to address racial profiling. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Technology from Cornell University, a Masters in Public Health from Columbia University’s School of Public Health and her Juris Doctor from Rutgers-Newark Law School.

Lois Greco

Philanthropic Consultant

 

Lois Greco is a creative leader and change agent with expertise in developing strong philanthropic programs for corporate, private and community foundations, which strengthen people and places, create partnerships and enhance reputation. Lois presently serves as the Program and Grants Officer for the Raskob Foundation where she provides guidance to the family’s strategic activities for heightened impact in both its domestic and international grant portfolios. In addition, she provides independent consulting services with a focus on community building and collaborative grant making. For twenty years prior, she was the Senior Vice President and Evaluation Officer of the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation where she managed the foundation’s portfolio of performance-based grants, assisting communities in the development and implementation of resident driven neighborhood plans, and incorporating lessons learned back into the foundation’s grant-making program and the broader community development field. Lois has a background in both lending and development with nonprofit organizations. Active in her community, Lois serves on the Board of the Community Foundation of South Jersey where she has been instrumental in developing its civic engagement work with local communities. She is a member of the Advisory Boards of the Reinvestment Fund’s Building Healthy and Equitable Communities New Jersey Initiative, the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs’s Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit Program, and the Nonprofit Development Center of South Jersey. Additionally, she chairs the Strong & Thriving Communities Affinity Group of the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers. Lois has published several articles on effective practices of place-based philanthropy, and has presented on these practices at national, regional and local events. Lois earned a BA with Highest Honors in economics from Rutgers College.

Hanaa Hamdi

Director of Health Impact Investment Strategies and Partnerships

New Jersey Community Capital
 

Hanaa A. Hamdi, Ph.D., serves as Director of Health Impact Investment Strategies and Partnerships at New Jersey Community Capital (NJCC). In this role, she is responsible for directing the development and implementation of existing and emerging community health investment and development strategies with national, regional, and health-focused partners, supporting the organization’s holistic approach to neighborhood revitalization. She brings more than two decades of experience in public health administration, research, and community development practice to the organization. Prior to joining NJCC, Dr. Hamdi served as National Public Health Director at The Trust for Public Land, as Director of Health and Human Services for the City of Newark, and Chief Operating Officer of the Mary Eliza Mahoney Health Centers, the City’s co-affiliate community-based medical centers. She holds a joint-doctoral degree in Urban Public Health and Environmental Design from Rutgers University and New Jersey Institute of Technology’s College of Architecture, and a bachelor’s degree in Neuropsychology from San Diego State University.

Jeanne Herb

Executive Director, Environmental Analysis & Communications Group, Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy

Rutgers University
 

Jeanne Herb is Executive Director of the Environmental Analysis and Communications Group, a center of service, research and practice at the Rutgers University Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy where she leads initiatives at the intersection of social and environmental determinants of health, health equity, environmental sustainability, state and local public policy, and inclusive, participatory decision-making. She Co-Directs the state’s Climate Change Resource Center and also co-facilitates the New Jersey Climate Change Alliance. Prior to joining Rutgers, she spent more than two decades at the state Department of Environmental Protection, most recently as the Assistant Commissioner of Policy, Planning and Science. Dr. Herb is an adjunct member of the faculty and teaches applied community planning studio courses and a graduate course on engagement and communication of science-related topics with decision-makers. She received her a Master’s in Science, Health and Environmental Journalism from New York University and her Bachelor’s in Environmental Studies from Rutgers University.

Melanie Walter

Executive Director

New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (HMFA)
 

Melanie R. Walter is the Executive Director of the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA). Before joining NJHMFA in January 2021, Walter previously served as Department of Community Affairs (DCA) Director of the Division of Local Government Services (DLGS) And Former Deputy Attorney General. In the role of DCA Director of the Division of Local Government Services (DLGS) and Local Finance Board Chairwoman, Ms. Walter advocated for local government interests, revitalizing the Division’s supportive initiatives and developing grant programs while overseeing the financial and operational regulation of New Jersey local units to help ensure fiscal solvency. Through these functions, she championed transparency measures as well as expansive open data and local education programming and enhanced local procurement, municipal officer certification, and distressed municipality resources. More recently, Ms. Walter has developed and implemented numerous COVID-19 response and recovery measures. Prior to joining DCA in 2018, Walter served as Deputy Attorney General in the New Jersey Division of Law’s Personnel, Community Affairs, and Elections section. In that capacity, she counseled several departments, handling a broad array of complex counseling and litigation matters for the Department of Community Affairs, the Civil Service Commission, and other state agencies. Ms. Walter, a New Jersey native, earned her Juris Doctor from the College of William and Mary School of Law, her master’s in public policy from the Thomas Jefferson Program in Public Policy at the College of William and Mary, and her bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Mary Washington. She is a member of the New Jersey and Virginia bars.

Janel Winter

Director, Division of Housing & Community Resources

New Jersey Department of Community Affairs
 

Janel Winter acts as Director for the Division of Housing and Community Resources with the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (NJDCA) where she leads a 225-person division administering more than half a billion dollars in federal and state funds, including rental assistance, housing production, homelessness prevention, neighborhood revitalization, community development and home energy assistance programs serving more than 300,000 people annually. As Director, she designed and launched the Statewide Housing First, Housing First for People with Opioid Addictions and Moving On Initiatives, lead DCA’s collaboration with the Department of Children and Families on the Keeping Families Together and Youth at Risk of Homelessness Initiatives, and managed the growth of DCA's Housing Choice Voucher Program. Prior, she served as the Director of the Office of Housing and the Director of Housing in the Division of Developmental Disabilities for the New Jersey Department of Human Services. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago.

Program Team

Jennifer Fassbender

Director, Program Initiatives

Reinvestment Fund
 

Jennifer Fassbender is the Director of Program Initiatives at Reinvestment Fund. She provides leadership in the program development, delivery, and quality control components for the initiative and engages with external stakeholders on strategic partnerships. With over 20 years of experience in healthcare delivery, research, administration, and advocacy, she has served in a national leadership role with the American Diabetes Association and as Program Director for The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Healthy Weight Program, as well as Senior Research Project Manager for a health disparities research group at the University of Pennsylvania. She represents Reinvestment Fund on the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine’s Roundtable on Obesity Solutions and is the Chair of the innovation collaborative for the Integration of Clinical and Social Systems. Ms. Fassbender has co-authored numerous scientific publications and presented at national scientific and regional conferences. She earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Exercise Science at the Pennsylvania State University and her Master’s of Science in Exercise Physiology at the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health.

Tristan Gibson

Graduate Program Intern

Reinvestment Fund
 

Tristan Gibson is the Graduate Program Intern for Reinvestment Fund. He is currently attending Rutgers University’s Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy to obtain his Master of Public Policy. His concentration is an intersection of health policy and community development. Tristan is a former participant in the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey’s “Community Scholar” program. In this role, Tristan engaged in a variety of projects geared to support affordable housing in New Jersey such as ensuring New Jersey municipalities were adhering to their Fair Share Housing compliance. Prior to attending Rutgers University, Tristan spent two years at the New Jersey Primary Care Association (NJPCA). He assisted the policy team advocate and develop policy with state and federal elected officials to ensure Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) received the appropriate funding and resources required to continue serving New Jersey’s underserved communities. While at NJPCA, Tristan also developed various workforce development programs and initiatives to recruit and retain medical professionals at FQHCs. Through the workforce program, he led the development of the nation’s first undergraduate FQHC curriculum at Rutgers University’s Division of Life Sciences. Upon completion of the Master of Public Policy program, Tristan seeks to use his knowledge to create sustainable and meaningful solutions that ensure all populations have access to affordable health care and the ability to live in affordable, vibrant neighborhoods. Tristan holds a Bachelor of Science in Public Health and Communication Studies from The College of New Jersey.

Amanda High

Chief of Strategic Initiatives

Reinvestment Fund
 

Amanda High is Reinvestment Fund’s Chief of Strategic Initiatives, responsible for managing the interconnection of strategic resource development, communications, and program innovation. In this position, Ms. High is responsible for launching initiatives, achieved by implementing new products, programs and partnerships. She joined Reinvestment Fund in 2014, bringing over 20 years of experience leading high impact initiatives for national and international non-profit and development organizations. Prior to Reinvestment Fund, Ms. High served as the Head of Resource Mobilization at the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), an organization working across the African continent to help millions of small-scale farmers and their families lift themselves out of poverty and hunger. Her career also includes service with the U.S. Department of State, the American Red Cross in Asia and Africa, and the National Philanthropic Trust. Ms. High completed master’s degree coursework in Economics and International Affairs at the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University.

Nancy Wagner-Hislip

Chief Investment Officer

Reinvestment Fund
 

As Reinvestment Fund’s Chief Investment Officer, Nancy Wagner-Hislip is responsible for overseeing Reinvestment Fund’s Lending and Investment activities, including business development, loan origination, New Markets Tax Credit investment, risk management and capitalization. With assets under management of approximately $1.2 billion and new originations in excess of $120 million annually, she leads a team that possesses deep knowledge of charter school, housing, food access, energy efficiency and healthcare finance. Wagner-Hislip joined Reinvestment Fund in 1998 and has played many roles during her tenure at Reinvestment Fund, most recently serving as Reinvestment Fund’s EVP of Capitalization and Lending operations. She brings more than 20 years of community development experience to Reinvestment Fund and is a recognized expert in real estate finance and tax credit finance. Prior to joining Reinvestment Fund, Wagner-Hislip served as community development lender at CoreStates Bank, where she managed the bank’s low-income housing tax credit program. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy and Economics from the University of Pennsylvania.