Prudential Executive Lends Business And Financial Acumen To Steer Nonprofits To Success

Meet Daily Point of Light Award honoree Mary Ann Jackson. Read her story, and nominate an outstanding volunteer or family as a Daily Point of Light. 

Mary Ann Jackson is an avid traveler. She hasn’t celebrated her birthday in the U.S. since she was 36. Now 51, she’s mastered the art of avoiding jet lag. Perhaps in some sense of balance, Mary Ann has lived in her childhood home for the last 40+ years. Family is high priority for her, and she loves being an auntie—and now great-auntie. She’s also helping her mom in her fight against breast cancer. Put simply, Mary Ann cares. 

She cares about her job, a tenure at Prudential that has spanned 27 years and has led to her role as vice president of process. She cares about the young women who find their passion for STEM through Girls’ Action Network and the underrepresented talent for STEM field she cultivates through New Jersey BDPA. She cares about disrupting the cycle of poverty with United Way of Greater Newark. She wants all of the participants in Apex Solutions Group’s at-risk youth and parolees who participate in their program to overcome their circumstances and find work.  

Her expansive capacity to care has resulted in serving in board of director positions with all of these organizations where she assists in steering them to success. With years of business, financial experience and—perhaps most importantly—innate curiosity, Mary Ann has been an important part of each of their paths. 


When I was in high school, I participated in Inroads, an organization whose mission is to develop talented minorities in business and industry and prepare them for corporate and community leadership. Inroad scholarships are why I didn’t have student loans. Community service was very important. We worked in the community and then did internships with different companies. That’s when I first knew this work is important. Because I was the recipient of it.


Mary ann jackson, vice president of process for prudential, has served on multiple boards throughout her career and helped steer strategy with positive results./courtesy mary ann jackson

I sat on the board of the Girls Action Network as the CFO for 20 years. It was about helping young women understand where their natural aptitude lay then giving them mentors and educational sessions so they could learn about the careers within those spaces. 

I joined the board for United Way of Essex about four years ago and am now the chair. I sit down with the CEO to go through the whole strategic plan: who are we going to have, if we’re going to do a merger, etc. I also help with key donor and prospects presentations. 

I was on the board for BDPA for four years as Vice President of Strategy and Planning, originally getting involved because the president worked with me at Prudential. He needed me to help figure out how to ensure that companies continued to give and that they were having a return on the investment.  

I found APEX Solutions Group through my significant other, one of the founding partners, and have served on the advisory board for two years. They do workforce development with at-risk youth and parolees through a 12-week program with construction companies, the Department of Labor and others. Participants come out of it with a job. The first two classes were all men, so my focus was getting women in. Now they have a mixed group  all women.   

A lot of what I do is figure out how to make sure these organizations are financially solvent. It’s the strategy on how to make sure we have the right people in the right seat doing the right stuff to make an impact.  


Once I got to corporate America, I realized I needed to do community service to align the why we do stuff with who we do it for. You can sit behind a desk all day, but if you don’t know who you do it for, your work really doesn’t have the meaning that it should. In our line of business, we give people peace of mind when loved ones die or get sick. We do annuities when you’re ready to retire, so you have something to continue to enjoy life on. Sometimes we forget that.  

I still live in Newark partly because I think people get ahead and then leave. How do you keep the neighborhood building? How do kids see successes? Success can’t be Hey, I’m making money, now I’m leaving 


It’s not just not the community that you serve; it’s who you serve with. At United Way, there’s a young guy on the board who is really coming out his shell. Watching him inspire young leaders to go into philanthropy is amazing. If I can inspire two people and each of them inspires two people, it’s the multiplier effect. 


Read the bylaws so you know what you what you’re getting into. Understand the mission and the vision of the organization, and go in for the first three months and listen. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. A lot of times we jump into stuff and want to direct. Also, understand that you have to be objective and lead with good intent. I met a woman who told me that she teaches her kids to be slow to offend but even slower to be offended. 


If each of us does a little bit, it’ll go a long way. Sometimes life is hard, and people deserve help because they’re human. I gave a talk in November and said, I don’t need you to pay me back. I need you to pay it forward. Do it with the expectation that no one’s going to give back to you, because your blessings will come from a different place. Give because it’s in your heart to give. Don’t do it so people can say you’re a good person. 

Do you want to make a difference in your community like Mary AnnFind local volunteer opportunities. 

Free Tax Return Prep Provides More Than $1M in Total Value for Community

United Way’s Monica Conover (left) and Danielle Corea-Smith (right) worked with Stillman School professors Avery Newmark and Danielle DiMeglio and Graduate Assistant Abigail Giordano to offer the VITA Tax Lab on campus.

Thanks to an ongoing collaboration between Seton Hall University and the United Way of Greater Newark and United Way of Northern New Jersey (UWNNJ), a program called VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) was on campus again this spring to provide no-cost tax return preparation services for the campus community. Students enrolled this semester in the Tax Lab course, offered by the Stillman School of Business‘ Department of Accounting and Taxation, were available for free tax preparation by appointment and via walk-ins on both February 27 and April 5. During each one-hour session, the students sat with members of the Seton Hall community and, using a software package called TaxSlayer, filed their 2023 federal and state taxes.

“We’re thrilled to report that in partnership with VITA, Seton Hall student volunteers successfully filed 988 free tax returns, resulting in $960,000 in refunds issued this season,” said Danielle DiMeglio, C.P.A., M.B.A. “Combined with the $300,000 avoided in tax preparation fees, the total value to the community was $1.26M.”

Eric Mollo, an M.S. in Accounting student who participated in the Tax Lab, said, “VITA’s been a very rewarding experience and useful exercise in applying what I’ve learned in grad school. I do feel like I’m helping provide a service, while at the same time applying valuable concepts I learn in the classroom to real world tax work. I am so glad to have joined this program.”

Another M.S. in Accounting student, Courtney Misura, is a newcomer to the accounting field. “To be able to immediately gain valuable experience has given me the confidence to excel as I begin this new chapter in my life,” she said. “Nothing has been more rewarding than working with the public, especially in underserved communities, and assisting them with one of the most stressful things they need to do.”

Avery E. Neumark, JD, LL.M., C.P.A, visiting instructor in the Department of Accounting and Taxation who leads Seton Hall’s Tax Lab, shared, “As tax complexities escalate, we’re thrilled to offer our budding tax experts this real-world experience. They’re not just building skills; they’re making a tangible difference in the community.”


Seton Hall employee Breanna Drew took advantage of the free tax preparation service on April 5.

Danielle Corea-Smith, director of financial stability at United Way of Greater Newark, said, “Seeing the room fully packed with clients being served by IRS-certified tax lab students was so inspiring. Seton Hall has really put together a professional and free service for its community. In addition to the high-quality service provided, it’s also exciting to see how much learning and growth is taking place by Tax Lab students who have given freely of their own time — it really is a win-win for all.”

United Way of Greater Newark and the United Way of Northern New Jersey also offer free tax prep to provide online and drop-off tax preparation services in Newark and East Orange, which is one of the volunteer opportunities for Seton Hall students.

DiMeglio added, “Our long-standing collaboration with VITA and United Way is a cornerstone of our community engagement. It’s a fantastic way for students to gain practical experience and earn elective credits.”

“To have someone tell you that getting a refund has made their day all thanks to you is very fulfilling,” added Misura. “I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful program.”

“I really enjoyed my experience at the Tax Lab event — the tax preparers were incredibly thorough and helpful, taking the time to answer every question I had,” said Breanna Drew, LMSW, assistant director, graduate admissions and recruitment at Seton Hall. “They made something that is usually daunting very seamless, and I hope that the University and United Way continue to offer this service for many years to come.”

United Way of Greater Newark welcomes 2 new board members

United Way of Greater Newark recently announced it expanded its board of trustees with the appointment of two distinguished new members, Jeffrey Plaut, founding partner at Global Strategy Group, and Cynthia Aureli, former vice president of enterprise claims at Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.

Plaut, who established GSG in 1995, has been at the helm as the firm transitioned from a
Democratic polling stronghold into a multifaceted agency delivering expert research, public affairs and communications strategies. GSG’s impressive client roster includes Fortune 100 corporations, prominent advocacy organizations and key political figures. With a team of over 150 professionals, GSG has consistently been at the forefront of addressing significant national challenges.

Aureli, who retired in May 2023 after a remarkable career spanning over 35 years, has been a vanguard in claim operations and customer service. Her leadership was pivotal in processing millions of claims efficiently across various health plans. Her expertise in Six Sigma methodologies has significantly uplifted operational capabilities and productivity. As a recognized authority in health care operations, her career is decorated with numerous
accolades, including the prestigious AHIP Executive Leadership Program CHIE designation and the YWCA TWIN Award.

“I am honored to have Cynthia and Jeff as new trustees invested in the mission of United Way of Greater Newark,” Catherine Wilson, CEO and president, said. “They both bring a wealth of knowledge, skills and networks to support United Way’s mission of creating equity and disrupting the cycle of poverty across our footprint.”

The appointment of Aureli and Plaut complements the UWGN board of trustees,
bringing the total to 14 members. The full roster of the UWGN board is as follows:

  • Chair: Mary Ann Jackson, Prudential Financial;
  • Vice Chair: Tint Tint Yap, retiree;
  • Secretary: Catherine Wilson, United Way of Greater Newark;
  • Treasurer: Nan Jiang, Deloitte;
  • Governance Committee Chair: Irene Muldowney, Public Service Enterprise Group;
  • Community Impact Chair: Melissa Prashad, JPMorgan Chase;
  • Members: Vincent Alonge, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield; Cynthia Aureli, retired; Tyron Brown, UBS; Sallyanne Floria, retired; Mark Hartigan, retired; Andrea Lewis-Walker, U.S. District Court; Michael Muniz, Columbia Bank; Jeffrey Plaut, Global Strategy Group.

United Way of Greater Newark Hosts Lt. Governor and Senator at 11th Annual Women’s Leadership Breakfast

Newark, NJ –May 20, 2023
 – United Way of Greater Newark (UWGN) proudly hosted its 11th Annual Women’s Leadership Breakfast at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) on Thursday, May 16th. This pivotal event, which sold out with over 170 women and community leaders in attendance, highlighted the vital role of women in leadership, particularly within the realms of public service and government.

The morning began with a warm welcome from UWGN President and CEO, Catherine Wilson, setting a powerful tone for the day. The highlight of the event was the keynote address by Lt. Governor Tahesha Way, Esq., who inspired attendees with her insights into leadership and the importance of active civic engagement. The program also featured a robust panel discussion moderated by Andrea Lewis-Walker, UWGN Board of Trustees Member and Acting Chief Deputy, U.S. District Court – District of New Jersey. Panelists included Senator M. Teresa Ruiz, Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin, and The Honorable Sallyanne Floria, A.J.S.C., who engaged in a dynamic conversation about the opportunities and challenges facing women in public service and government.

“It was a privilege to address the United Way of Greater Newark on the important role women play in all aspects of our society, especially in public service and government,” said Lieutenant Governor Tahesha Way. “As women leaders, it is incumbent upon us to confront every obstacle and persevere through to the next challenge, keeping all the women and young girls striving to grow into leadership positions in the future in mind. I am incredibly proud of the legacy of female leadership that we inherited from previous generations, and I am confident we will not only live up to that standard but raise the bar for future generations.

“As we close another successful Women’s Leadership Breakfast, we are reminded of the collective power and potential of women leaders around us,” Wilson added. “Through events like these, UWGN continues to support and nurture leadership that makes a significant impact on our communities.”

Sponsor Acknowledgments:

We extend our deepest gratitude to all sponsors who made this event possible:

– Advocate Sponsor: Nasco
– Partner Sponsors: Deloitte, PSEG
– Newark Thrives Internship Sponsor: Arman Roy Foundation
Year-Long Non-Profit Sponsor: New Jersey Children’s Foundation
– Ally Sponsors: Columbia Bank, Covanta, Fidelis Care, Global Strategy Group, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, MCJ Amelior Foundation, Panasonic, PNC, Sax, Victoria Foundation, Wellpoint

Upcoming Event:

Don’t miss our Fall Food Truck Festival, a family-friendly gathering with delicious eats from local vendors, set for Saturday, October 19th from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Memorial Park in Maplewood. This event promises fun for all ages and is a perfect opportunity to enjoy the community spirit. For more information, visit UWGN Events Page.

United Way of Greater Newark remains dedicated to fostering opportunities that promote leadership and community development. With continued support and engagement from the community, UWGN looks forward to furthering its mission and hosting more events that inspire change and progress.

For more information about United Way of Greater Newark and to stay updated on future events, please visit United Way of Greater Newark.

Watch: He inspires kids but he’s inspired by a man of science

We asked a few members of the community who would they choose as their Black History hero, why that person inspired them, and what they wanted their own legacy to be.

And there were two caveats: They had to reveal the answer and explain in less than a minute and they couldn’t pick Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Simple enough, right? There was quite a diversity in their responses and we’ll show them to you this Black History Month.

Justin Artenant, senior manager, Newark Thrives!, United Way of Greater Newark works to ensure Newark students have access to safe and productive after school and summertime programs.

Artenant would like his legacy to be one that “inspires young leaders across the world to build more just and sustainable spaces for the future generations who come after us.”

His Black History hero is agricultural scientist and inventor, George Washington Carver, who developed hundreds of products using peanuts, sweet potatoes and soybeans.

Carver, who was born into slavery in 1864, earned a master’s degree in agricultural science from Iowa State University. He taught and conducted research at Tuskegee University for many years.

STEM “Fun for Everyone” Party

The Arman Roy Foundation is thrilled to invite the Newark community to the second annual STEM “Fun for Everyone” Party. This free event is in celebration of the spirit of Arman Roy and will share the gift of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math with youth of all ages.

The event will take place on Saturday, March 16, from 1 p.m. – 3:30 pm. at the Boys & Girls Club of Newark (1 Avon Avenue, Newark, NJ 07901). Participants will have the opportunity to engage in various STEM activities, including robotics, coding, 3D printing, virtual reality experiences, and more. The event promises excitement with contests, prizes, free giveaways and snacks for everyone.

Interested individuals can secure their spot at the STEM Party by completing the online registration form: Sign-up Form.

The event will be run by the Arman Roy Foundation’s youth squad, which is overseen by board member Divya Banerjee. The foundation is partnering with United Way of Greater Newark’s Newark Thrives Recreational Planning Council and the Boys & Girls Club of Newark for the event.


Arman Roy’s birthday on March 24 serves as the inspiration for this annual event. Arman, who recognized the value of digital exploration, is remembered through the foundation’s commitment to providing STEM opportunities.

The Foundation’s Chairman, Founder, and Arman’s mother, Manisha Roy, emphasized, “Arman knew how fortunate he was to have boundless resources to explore and enjoy the beauty of our digital world. This event, which is being organized by our foundation’s youth volunteers, is a way to honor his legacy by sharing the gift of STEM with everyone in celebration of Arman’s birthday and his spirit of caring.”


The STEM Fun For Everyone event is not just about fun – it’s about opening doors to a bright future. STEM and computer science, in particular, are crucial in today’s world. 71% of all US jobs require digital skills, and high-skilled computing occupations are the fastest-growing sector. Unfortunately, many students from low-income or underrepresented groups lack access to 21st-century educational programs. The Arman Roy Foundation aims to bridge this gap by making STEM accessible and enjoyable for all.

About The Arman Roy Foundation:

The Arman Roy Foundation is dedicated to promoting STEM education and opportunities, ensuring that all youth, regardless of background, can access and enjoy the benefits of science, technology, engineering, and math. The foundation’s mission is to empower underserved students with technology resources and education, enabling them to be successful in today’s digital world.


United Way Joins Newark Elementary School for to celebrate the ‘Lights On Afterschool’

Two of the most important things of my childhood and attending elementary and high school in Newark, NJ, was walking with friends to our local school to get complimentary breakfast and lunch.

Waiting in long lines at our site to obtain an excellent meal for the day, a great supplemental education after school ended and a safe place to hang out with friends were monumental to my upbringing.

Click here to read the full article by RLS Media

Newark Thrives Welcomes You


Thank you for visiting the Newark Thrives website. I am so glad that you have decided to take a look around! Newark Thrives has recently undergone some re-branding and re-purposing. I officially welcome you to the new Newark Thrives. A place where OST program providers meet those who need and will utilize OST programs. Newark Thrives is also a resource hub for out-of-school time practitioners. COVID-19 impacted the education sector in a major way. There is new visibility in the OST space, and it is my goal to have Newark Thrives reflect the experience of the OST participants here in the City of Newark, New Jersey.

Please excuse us, as some parts of our website are still being constructed to fit the needs of the network. I implore all guests to visit and use the Youth Program locator (YPL). The YPL is a user-friendly OST navigation platform that helps families find appropriate OST resources. Quality OST programs do exist and thrive here in the City of Newark. The goal of Newark Thrives is to convene and collaborate those programs for easy access to the greater Newark community.

Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions about the website, or even just to chat about your virtual experience here.

I thank you for your interest and investment in our OST community.


Justin M. Artenant
Senior Manager, Newark Thrives
United Way of Greater Newark