Essex County Commissioners 2021 Women’s History Month Virtual Ceremony

(Newark, NJ) – On March 31, 2021, the Essex County Board of County Commissioners virtually held its 2021 Women’s History Month Celebration via Zoom teleconference.  The ceremony commemorated the spirit and accomplishments of women everywhere, and acknowledged the contributions of multiple esteemed women of Essex County.

Commissioner President Wayne L. Richardson began the program with opening remarks speaking to the challenges of the past year – most notably the Coronavirus Pandemic, which prompted the cancellation of the Board’s 2020 Women’s History Month Celebration. He also highlighted the County’s efforts in combating COVID-19 and our collective resolve to move forward with our lives as we continue to flatten the curve of the pandemic.

This year, the Board recognized five outstanding Essex County women for their leadership: The Honorable Nia H. Gill. of Montclair, The Honorable Jacqueline E. Johnson of East Orange, Wanda P. Pearson-Warren of Irvington, Masani Barnwell-George of Newark, and Patrice McKinney of Newark.

The Honorable Nia H. Gill has been a tireless advocate for women’s rights, public education, human rights, expanding healthcare, and has stood up for core democratic principles her entire career. She sponsored the law that expanded health insurance coverage to young adults, ages 18 to 30, affecting more than 100,000 uninsured individuals in the state, and as a champion for human rights, she sponsored the law which made human trafficking a crime in New Jersey. In an effort to keep us safe from the tragic mass shootings that have plagued our country, she sponsored legislation that reduced the number of rounds in high capacity magazines from 15 to 10, she also supported the implementation of a red flag law allowing authorities to seize weapons for up to a year, and is leading the charge to implement some of the nation’s toughest gun laws. She currently sits on the Transportation, State Legislative Oversight, and Law and Public Safety Committees, is a practicing attorney for more than 30 years, and was honored in Selma, Alabama, as one of “100 Women in the 20th Century” who contributed to the struggle for civil rights

The Honorable Jacqueline E. Johnson is a member of East Orange Mayor Ted Green’s administration working in the Office of Employment and Training. She was first elected to the East Orange City Council in 2000 and served five consecutive terms representing the city’s Second Ward. During her time on the council, she served in multiple capacities including Chairwoman and Vice Chair of the City’s legislative body; Chairwoman of the Law and Regulation Committee; and member of the Public Works, Business Development and Zoning, Housing, and Licensing and Inspection committees. She is a member of the Second Ward’s Melmore Gardens Block Association, a member of the East Orange Democratic Municipal Committee, and also serves on the New Jersey State League of Municipalities Legislative and Pension Committees.

Wanda P. Pearson-Warren is a lifelong educator who worked as a history teacher in Newark, East Orange, and Irvington from 1980-2000, and served as the Principal of Thurgood G. Marshall Elementary School in Irvington from July 2012 until her retirement in 2020. She has received numerous honors and awards as a teacher, principal and community leader including; Irvington Board of Education “School Community Relations, Harmony and Understanding Award”; NAACP Community Service Education Award for exemplary service; the Essex County Governor’s Teacher and Educational Services Professional Award; and was a 3-time winner of the University Middle School of Irvington Teacher of the Year Award. Her proudest moment was collaborating with the Mayor, School Board, the Department of Public Works, and the community to erect signs in front of each school bringing awareness to the autistic students and children of Irvington. She has been a member of St. Matthew AME Church for over 30 years and since the pandemic, you can find her at the church volunteering to help distribute food to families in need. Her favorite saying is “I’m retired from teaching, but not from my community.”

Masani Barnwell-George and Patrice McKinney are co-owners of the Source of Knowledge Bookstore, an African-Caribbean bookstore which is the only Black owned bookstore in the City of Newark. Ms. Barnwell-George was born and raised in Newark, and educated in the Newark Public School system. She went on to become a teacher and retired after 26-years of educating children in Newark Public Schools. Ms. McKinney is a lifelong resident of Newark, also educated in the Newark Public School system, and considers herself a “lover of, and fighter for, the people”.

Since 1992, they have created unique opportunities for increased literacy throughout the community. They present an array of book selections written by and about people of African descent in a variety of categories, including fiction, nonfiction, memoirs, poetry, biographies and children’s stories. In addition to books, Source of Knowledge focuses on African art, drums, and sculpture, and seeks to create space for young people to discover themselves and for local Newark artists to gather.  Each year they sponsor “Read is Feed”, an event where they supply free books and hot meals to support the youth as they return to school. Additional Source of Knowledge events include story time with the “Big Boy Book Club”, as well as other opportunities for Black authors to promote their books.

Reverend Maria Crompton of the Elmwood United Presbyterian Church of East Orange delivered prayers during the occasion, and the audience was captivated by the musical talents of Amber Brown.


Looking for more information on the Essex County Board of Commissioners? The Essex County Commissioners Mobile App is now available for download on the Apple and Google Play Stores.


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For Additional Information:
Kyalo Mulumba, Public Information Officer
Essex County Board of County Commissioners
973-621-4452 (phone) 973-621-5695 (fax)
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