essex county commissioners honor local leaders for women’s history month

L to R: County Executive Chief of Staff Phil Alagia, Comm’r V.P. Tyshammie Cooper, Comm’r Brendan Gill, Millburn Mayor Annette Romano, Women’s Club of Glen Ridge President Sandra Lefkovits, Leslie Ingram Lewis, Comm’r A’Dorian Murray-Thomas, Comm’r President Carlos Pomares, Brandi Chavonne Massey, Rev. Anya Sammler-Michael


(Newark, NJ) Wednesday evening, the Essex County Board of County Commissioners held its annual Women’s History Month celebration at the Women’s Club of Glen Ridge. This event commemorates the legacy of women’s rights and achievements, and recognizes women leaders in Essex County for their contributions to their communities. The honorees this year included Bloomfield Councilwoman Jenny Mundell, Millburn Mayor Annette Romano, Leslie Ingram Lewis of Mind Body Spirit P.T. in Bloomfield, and the event host the Women’s Club of Glen Ridge.

“Tonight we remember the strides toward women's civil rights we enjoy, and the people who have sacrificed to bring them about,” said Commissioner President Carlos M. Pomares. “We also acknowledge the threats to women's freedom that persist – to bodily autonomy, to reproductive rights, to maternal health – and the work that remains to be done. We are thankful for the strong women in our lives and communities of every background, they are the hearts of our communities. Congratulations to all our honorees!”

Rev. Any Sammler-Michael, of Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Montclair, delivered opening and closing prayers during the occasion. Musical accompaniment was provided by vocalist and Broadway performer Brandi Chavonne Massey.

See more pictures of the event here. Watch a recording of the event here.



Bloomfield Councilwoman Jenny Mundell, presented by Commissioner President Pomares, has served on the Bloomfield Town Council since 2017. She is also a Vice President of Development for RWJBarnabas Health. She is especially proud of being part of the leadership team that was crucial to serving the residents of Bloomfield through the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the highlights of her time in office include initiating the CARES unit in the Bloomfield Police Department, creating the Bloomfield Community Farmers Market, securing funding for upgrades to the Children’s Library, launching the biannual town-wide cleanup, facilitating the Black Lives Matter Chalk the Street event in 2020, reclaiming the Oakeside Mansion as public space and a cultural asset for Bloomfield, evaluating and maximizing efficiencies to create the Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Affairs Committee, pushing for greater transparency and better town-wide communications, and, in her role on the Planning Board, protecting the integrity of neighborhood zones while striking a balance between developer interests and smart growth. In 2023, when the local synagogue was firebombed, Jenny took a lead role in bringing key local, county, and state stakeholders together to ensure the community felt safe and supported. In her role as a Vice President of Development with RWJBarnabas Health, Jenny is responsible for oversight of the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Foundation’s assets and fundraising strategy to support Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. Jenny has more than 20 years of experience in fundraising, public relations, and community relations, including more than 11 years in multiple roles at RWJBarnabas Health and its affiliated medical centers. Jenny received a bachelor’s degree in English from Pennsylvania State University and a master’s in English from Montclair State University. She resides in Bloomfield with her husband, Abe, and son, Theo.

The Women’s Club of Glen Ridge, presented by President Pomares, has been a local institution for over a century. Its mission is to bring together a diverse group of women in an inclusive environment who, through friendship, volunteerism, education, and leadership, engage in civic, social, and cultural activities to serve the Club, the Glen Ridge community, and its neighboring communities. Membership is open to all women (and men as associate members) from Glen Ridge and neighboring towns. All of their public events are open to members and non-members alike. The Women’s Club was founded in March, 1905. The Clubhouse was dedicated on March 30, 1925, and 98 years later, it is still thriving. Gifted to the women of Glen Ridge by philanthropist Mr. Henry Stanton Chapman to commemorate his wife Emily, the Georgian brick clubhouse is a one-of-a-kind treasure. Charity fundraising and community service are cornerstones of the Club. They organize several major, annual fundraisers including the spring favorite Doll Tea and the popular House Tour in May. Funds from these and other events support the charitable gifts the Club passes on to local organizations. They have been closely associated with almost every aspect of life in the borough and pride themselves on responding to the needs of the community at-large: as an official polling place and host of myriad co-sponsored activities with the public schools and other community organizations. Located at 219 Ridgewood Avenue in Glen Ridge, the Women’s Club donates its space to Glen Ridge High School for a variety of activities including showcasing the art of AP art students and hosting the jazz band. They host local author talks, discuss international politics, offer spiritual and mindful wellness programs, and hold a variety of other activities. They are a popular rental venue for weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs, and other programs. Local non-profits may use the Club for a nominal fee. The doors are always open to new members and volunteer opportunities are plenty.

Leslie Ingram Lewis, presented by Commissioner Brendan W. Gill, is passionate about and committed to improving the overall health and well-being of others. A former fashion model and pre-law student, Leslie is a registered and certified fitness instructor, personal trainer and entrepreneur. She is a highly regarded fitness expert and wellness coach, and owner-operator of Mind Body Spirit, Personal Training in Bloomfield. With over 40 years in the fitness industry, Leslie tailors her approach to individuals of all ages, focusing on nutrition, strength training and overall health and wellness. She trains clients of all ages and designs their workout programs based on their needs and goals. She also offers her popular bootcamp classes and provides customized gourmet healthy meal plans for clients. Her mission in life is to do all she can to help her community do better in taking care of their health from 8 years old to 80. Leslie earned her professional credentials though the National Academy for Heath and Fitness. She is also a certified Pilates, Yoga, Spin and Aerobics instructor who continues to educate and uplift her clients with her warm spirit, expertise and hands-on coaching. Leslie began her career managing and coaching owners on developing their fitness operations and sales strategies. She has contributed to the success of several fitness chains, including Spa Lady in Lyndhurst, Gold’s Gym in Totowa, the Fitness Center in Rutherford and the Fitness Center in Bloomfield. In 1989, Leslie stepped out on faith and opened her own personal training studio in the township. In her free time, she enjoys giving back to numerous nonprofit organizations, including the Urban League of Essex County, and the Nutley Goodwill. Leslie is a dedicated philanthropist who spearheads holiday coat and clothing drives during Thanksgiving and Christmas. She also serves on the scholarship fundraising committee for Shakil’s School of Martial Arts in Bloomfield, and is the former vice president of the Unstoppable Girls Foundation. Leslie is not only a positive role model to her clients and family, but an inspiration to many. She is an active  member of the Christ Church in Montclair, where she volunteers running prayer groups and shares her ministry of wellness with members and strangers.

Millburn Mayor Annette Romano, presented by Commissioner Vice President Tyshammie L. Cooper and co-sponsored by Commissioner Romaine Graham, is a first-generation Italian, attended the Millburn Public School system and graduated from Millburn High School. She attended college later in life and graduated in 2021 with a Bachelor of Applied Science, Human Resources Management/Personnel Administration. Annette currently works for NJ Transit as a Regional Manager in Government & Community Relations. When her children were in school, she was a member of the School’s PTO, where she chaired the Community Outreach Program. They held coat and toy drives, and coordinated an annual Thanksgiving Food Drive for community families. After September 11th, Annette became very involved as a volunteer with the Millburn Chapter of the American Red Cross, and shortly after became the organization’s Health & Safety Director, coordinating CPR/AED and First Aid Training to the community and schools. After the Millburn Red Cross chapter closed, Annette continued to see a need for a Food Pantry in Millburn, and tried for a few years to find a location for a new food pantry. In November 2019, she was able to work with the Township to find a space. The pantry has grown over the years thanks to Millburn residents’ continued monetary and food donations. Annette is currently in her second year on the Millburn Township Committee, this year serving as Mayor. She has served on the Millburn-Short Hills Democratic Committee as Chairwoman, the Millburn Township Local Assistance Board, the Millburn Township Senior Citizens Advisory Board, and the Essex County Senior Services Commission. Annette has been married to Nick Romano for the past 35 years, and they have three beautiful children — Christina, Jessica, and Nick.

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