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COVID-19 and New Jersey’s Path Forward 

Join Kean University, government leaders, health officials and community members for a robust series of virtual roundtables to address New Jersey’s path forward from the pandemic.

Hynes Hall

Livestream begins at 10 a.m. on Friday, April 1

2022 Virtual Roundtables

The one-hour panels will stream live from this website at 10 a.m. every Friday from February 11, 2022 to April 1, 2022. The schedule below outlines the topics for each session. Guest information will be posted before each panel. Share your reactions and questions for the panel guests using #keancovidtalks. 


Kean Student receives vaccine

Strategically Planning our Path Forward from Covid-19 (Feb. 11)

One year ago, Kean hosted a series of discussions with health experts, legislators, policy-makers and community leaders about vaccines and what the path forward for New Jersey looked like. Now with the Omicron variant, booster shots and another year of COVID-19, Kean is hosting a new round of panels to look at what comes next and how we collectively move forward as a state from Covid-19.

Watch Roundtable

Moderator: Kellie LeDet


Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D., President of Kean University

Judith M. Persichilli, Commissioner of NJ Dept. of Health

Donna M. Chiera, President of the American Federation of Teachers New Jersey

Shawn McClain, President of Elizabeth NAACP

Jessica Cohen, Senior Advisor to Senate President Nicholas Scutari and Former Chief of Staff of Union County

Faith Through the Pandemic: How Have our Faith Communities Changed? (Feb. 18)

The Covid-19 pandemic caused many institutions to make drastic changes in the way they operated. One community that was particularly affected was the faith-based community, which had to quickly adapt to online services and empty places of worship. This panel will discuss how they implemented those changes and will explore how faith leaders will move forward from the pandemic and what new tools might continue to be used to better connect with their community.

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Moderator: Wendy Martinez, Founder, Atabey Consulting Group


Rev. Michael J. Jordan, Mt. Olive Baptist Church of East Orange

Bishop Joshua Rodriguez, The Cityline Church, Jersey City

Rev. Maria Crompton, Senior Pastor of Elmwood United Presbyterian Church, East Orange

Thalia Sirjue, Deputy Chief of Staff, New Jersey Department of Health

Marlene Lao-Collins, Executive Director, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton

Rabbi Victor Appell, Rabbi, Temple Emanu-El, Westfield

Black female entrepreneur

The Future of Work in New Jersey (Feb. 25)

The way that people work has gone through a massive overhaul in the last two years. Many workplaces had to make rapid changes to their business models, including allowing employees to work from home, implementing vaccine and testing mandates and enacting increased health and safety protocols. They’ve done all of this with a shortage of workers in many industries. What have these changes done to the nature of work in New Jersey? With less commuting into New York and Philadelphia, what does the future of work in New Jersey looks like? This panel will address those questions and more.

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Moderator: Tai Cooper, Chief Community Development Officer, NJ Economic Development Authority


Senator Joseph Cryan, 20th Legislative District

Tom Bracken, President & CEO, NJ Chamber of Commerce

John E. Harmon, Founder, President/CEO of the African-American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey

Carlos A. Medina, President/CEO of Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey

Supporting Women at Work and at Home (March 4)

Disrupted school schedules, the high cost of childcare and the unequal burden of family responsibilities have put a greater strain on women during this pandemic than ever before. Industries that historically have been powered by female workers were also some of the hardest hit in the pandemic. This panel discusses how these changes have affected the hard-working women of New Jersey and the best ways to support them going forward.

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Moderator: Tennille McCoy, Assistant Commissioner of Human Capital Strategies for the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development


Senator Teresa Ruiz, Senate Majority Leader, 29th District

Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake, 34th District

Deborah Cornavaca, Deputy Chief of Staff of Outreach, Office of the Governor

Assistant Commissioner Lisa Asare, Division of Family Health Services, NJ Department of Health

Reva Foster, Chairwoman of the New Jersey Black Issues Convention

Jackeline Fuertes, Regional Director of the Monmouth/Ocean SBDC

Victoria Stec '19, Physical Education Teacher Certification playing Women's Volleyball with the Kean Cougars

Best Practices to Improve Mental Health (March 11)

The pandemic amplified the need for better mental health services and support across the state. This is especially true for children, whose mental health has been severely impacted by disrupted school schedules and various mandates during the pandemic. This panel will look at the best strategies to improve mental health for adults and children as the state moves forward.

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Rebecca Vincente, Ed.D., Community Wellness and Counseling Center Coordinator and Lecturer, Kean University


Senator Vin Gopal, 11th District

Speaker Craig Coughlin, 19th District

Dr. Robert Eilers, Medical Director, Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services

Cathleen Bennett, President & CEO, NJ Hospital Association

Crossing the Covid-19 Finish Line for Student-Athletes (March 18)

Last year, guests on this roundtable series discussed how we would get student-athletes back on the field safely. Now, many athletes are back on the field but not without disruptions. Last-minute cancellations, shifting schedules and teamwide outbreaks that have changed the nature of the student-athlete experience. This panel will look at the current state of athletics and what can be done to improve the student-athlete experience going forward.

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Moderator: Lorin Treddnick, Asst. Director of Student-Athlete Development, Kean University

Dr. Margaret Fisher
, world-renowned pediatric infectious disease consultant and advisor to NJDOH Commissioner Judy Persichilli
Derryk Sellers, Assistant Director, NJSIAA
Denise Wujciak, Director of Sports Medicine/SWA, Kean University
Leo Cruz , Kean Student-Athlete, Football
Emily Bretschneider, Kean Student-Athlete, Women's Soccer/Women's Lacrosse

Newark skyline

Combating Opioid and Alcohol Addiction After COVID-19 (March 25)

Due to isolation, worry and, in some cases, boredom, Americans have increased their consumption of alcohol and opioids during the past two years. This has led to a new addiction crisis. This panel will look at the ways that we can combat this silent epidemic in New Jersey and beyond.

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Moderator: Dr. Ruthann Russo, Asst. Director of Student-Athlete Development, Kean University

Deputy Attorney General Kelly E. Levy, Acting Director of the Office of the New Jersey Coordinator of Addiction Responses and Enforcement Strategies (“NJ CARES”)

Debbie-Ann Anderson, Director, Department of Human Services, Union County
Dr. Indra Cidambi - Opioid and Alcohol Addiction
Dr. Robert Eilers, Medical Director, Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services

The Path Forward for our Urban Communities (April 1)

Urban communities were particularly hard hit during the pandemic with some of the highest infection and death rates. Health equity and access continue to be issues that must be tackled to ensure that everyone has a chance to live life to their fullest potential. This panel will discuss the work that our urban leaders have done to protect their residents and how they are working to spur economic opportunities in their communities for the future.

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Moderators: Kellie LeDet, Chief Government Affairs Officer, Kean University and Craig Coughlin Jr., Assistant Director, Office of Government Affairs, Kean University

Mayor Chris Bollwage, City of Elizabeth
Mayor Dahlia Vertreese, Township of Hillside

Amanda Medina- Forrester, Executive Director, Office of Minority and Multicultural Health
Dianne Roman - Director of the Department of Human Services, City of Perth Amboy
Christina Fuentes – Managing Director Community Development & Small Business Services, New Jersey Economic Development Authority