By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media
SEWELL – When Renee Pollard ran for the Washington Township Board of Education, she wanted to make sure there was bigger reason to serve.
Pollard, a veteran Camden County College staffer who has a long professional career advocating for those less fortunate and people of color, said she wanted to make sure new voices were heard on the board when she was elected in 2019 in her second run for a seat.
“The reason I ran for the board is because I wanted to get involved in civics, politics and more involved in public service,” Pollard told Front Runner New Jersey. “I saw that the country as a whole was changing, not for the better. I wanted to help change the direction that we were heading.
“In addition, I wanted to be a voice for others who look like me, in hopes of ensuring equal access and opportunities for them. The experience thus far has been good but, challenging. We all view things through different lenses, you might not always agree but at the end of the day decisions are made collectively,” she added.
Pollard’s lens on the community and the world comes for years of advocating along issues of poverty, homelessness, social justice and education.
“My environment and my own experiences has shaped me,” Pollard said. “Sometimes I say, it has pushed me into trying to change things if I can. I was in a state training program offered by the Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey, that I graduated from called Garden State Leaders who teach you about advocacy, civics and just getting involved in developing your voice for change and ways to get involved.
“I am still involved with APN and I am still advocating for those issues. Additionally, I were many other hats now also. I am on the Equity Council for the school board, chair for the NJ Chapter Sierra Club Environmental and Social Justice Committee and the executive board of New Jersey Climate Change Alliance (Public Health Working Group).
Pollard said she is also chairs of the Gloucester County NAACP environmental and climate justice committee, NAACP New Jersey State Conference environmental justice committee member, Gloucester County Democratic Committee executive board member, Washington Township Democratic Committee (Chairwoman, District 26) and the National Federation of Democratic Women Committees (Legislative, Credentials, Resolutions).
Advancing at Camden County College
Pollard rose through the ranks in her nearly 25 years at Camden County College, solidifying her belief and power in education.
“I have always loved learning new things,” Pollard said. “My mother was always involved in something and as children she had us involved too. I sang and still do, played the flute, I was in the Brownies, swan at the YWCA so we were busy. I was a work study student working in the library at the time, a place I love to visit for so many reasons.
“I started it out part-time, and thanks to the librarian there at that time Joan Getaz. I became permanent and moved up the ladder from there. I have worked in several different departments, Customized and Workforce Training, support staff for Academic Deans and Faculty, Student Activities, support staff for Enrollment and Student Services, Grants/Institutional Research, and Foundation offices. I like to consider myself well-rounded,” she added.
Pollard has also became a certified diversity trainer, highlight how important she believes the issue is to her and the country.
“The current climate in our country is in right it is more important than ever to bring attention to diversity,” Pollard said. “Certain groups voices being diminished and not even being included in the conversation. We all have something to contribute it is what makes us unique and I feel there is value in what others might have to offer. We all want to be invited to the party, but not all of us are asked to dance.”
Pollard was raised one of four children and lived in Plainfield before her family moved to Camden when she was in middle school and latter to Sicklerville, Washington Township and Clementon. She graduated from Camden County College and continued her study at Rutgers University-Camden.
Importance of Role Models
Pollard said her time in the community had led her to take her position as a role model seriously, especially with such a critical need for positive Black role models.
“I take my role as a community leader very seriously. I have too,” Pollard said. “I don’t think there are not enough role models for people of color in my community especially, not a woman. It important that Black and Brown children, young, older, and my own children need to see the positive influences in the community.
“My community has become more diverse over the years and they need to see that I am here just like they are and we all have the right to the same opportunities for a better life and environment,” she added.
Pollard said she is often inspired by the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and past civil rights leaders.
“The fight for equality and justice is never ending but I as I am traveling through life’s journey, I have that hope that I can and I have helped someone along the way, and that we shall overcome one day,” Pollard said.
In her own way Pollard has inspired others to overcome with her success.
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