JerseyCAN, the only statewide advocacy organization in New Jersey committed to ensuring access to high-quality public schools for every child regardless of zip code, cultural background, and socioeconomic status, announced today the appointment of Paula White as Executive Director of JerseyCAN. Ms. White brings to the organization a leader with years of diverse experiences as a former Public-School teacher, founder of a New Jersey public charter school, leader of previous New Jersey advocacy organizations, and a statewide policy expert who served as Chief Turnaround Officer at the NJ Department of Education. Ms. White will serve as the first African-American leader of JerseyCAN.
“We are thrilled to formally announce that Paula White will lead JerseyCAN and that she will be returning professionally to New Jersey,” stated Ann Borowiec, Co-Chair, JerseyCAN Board of Trustees. “With children across the state battling historic learning loss and inequality, New Jersey stands in unchartered territory. For years, Paula has been a trailblazer in every sense of the word. She is a nationally recognized education policy expert and has provided New Jersey with decades of service at virtually every level of education. Most of all, she tells it like it is, with facts, data, and innovative solutions and ideas. She is fearless and we are so happy to see her back working in her home state again.”
“Like so many parents throughout the state, my own children had diverse interests, aptitudes and needs and I fought hard for them to be fully served in the public education system,” stated White. “I have always seen myself as an advocate for children – first my own and those in thousands of families across the state. As a mother, a former public-school educator and a citizen of our state, my passion for our public education system is inextricably connected to every facet of who I am. In many ways I see my role at JerseyCAN to be a culmination of my work as a parent and as a professional in the education space. JerseyCAN has provided me with a great opportunity not only to come back professionally to New Jersey and continue to fight on behalf of New Jersey families but also to use the experiences and relationships I have forged in New Jersey education to develop innovation and build needed solutions, partnerships, and results.”
“In joining JerseyCAN, Ms. White continues the long-standing tradition of providing the statewide organization with a noted education leader with a long-standing career in education. Most recently, Paula served as New York Executive Director of Education for Excellence, a teaching advocacy organization serving a membership of over 15,000 New York City public school educators. Prior, she served as the NJ Department of Education’s Chief Turnaround Officer. During her tenure, she led New Jersey’s school improvement strategy, bringing significant academic growth to New Jersey public schools while implementing strategies that narrowed the achievement gaps and minimized suspensions and chronic absenteeism. She has also served as New Jersey Executive Director of Democrats for Education Reform, founded a public charter school in Newark’s South Ward, and served on New Jersey’s charter school task force to assist the state in revising critical aspects of its charter school policy.”
JerseyCAN has served as a state leader pushing to improve high quality school options and better education outcomes for all Nw Jersey students. For nearly a decade, the organization has been led by Janellen Duffy and Patricia Morgan, who first launched and then grew JerseyCAN’s brand and mission throughout the state, cultivating relationships with key elected officials to best serve the education needs of families. Most recently, they were instrumental in securing a state budget appropriation in the FY 2023 state budget for the New Jersey Tutoring Corps, showcasing the dire state of learning loss that has plagued the state since COVID, increasing funding for public charter school facility projects, and developing nationally recognized training initiatives such as Parent Champions for Strong Schools and the New Jersey Teacher Leader Policy Fellowship.
Today’s announcement follows a planned transition in leadership that began over the summer. Both Ms. Duffy and Ms. Morgan will stay on in a consulting capacity through the transition to support Ms. White with her policy priorities and the parent and teacher fellowships.