30 Under 35 Top Young African American Leaders of South Jersey 2022

By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media

ATLANTIC CITY – With the assistance of public and civil leaders around the region along with our own reporting work, Front Runner New Jersey.com is proud to present its inaugural 30 Under 35 Top Young African American Leaders of South Jersey 2022.

This annual list will seek to highlight some of the top young Black leaders in South Jersey and give you a glimpse at what they are doing and trying to make things happen in a positive way. This is not exhaustive. There are many more doing great things in South Jersey.

This is a snapshot, though, of some of the most motivational, determined, influential and selfless young people in our region who have found their niche to make life better for all of us. They come from the public sector and were recently elected. Some have traded in their own time of leisure to help others. Still, more have specifically sought out the voiceless to make sure they are heard.

They are all making a difference in their own unique, creative and energizing way.

So, Front Runner New Jersey.com presents its first class of its 30 Under 35 Top Young African American Leaders of South New Jersey.

Tyrus Ballard, Willingboro

Ballard is the first vice president of the influential Southern Burlington County branch of the NAACP and works for Cigna/Express Scripts. He is a devoted activist and community servant. In the branch, Ballard serves as the political action chair. He is a member of the South Jersey Young Democrats Black Caucus, a member of the Black Lives Matter Global Network and a coach for the Willingboro/Burlington chapter of the New Jersey Orators (NJO). Ballard is frequently invited to be a panelist, speaker, and organizer for social justice events. He is a three-time NAACP Freedom Fund Award recipient and was named Democrat of the Week by the New Jersey Young Democrats in June 2020. He has collaborated with the SJYD-BC to organize networking events for local activists and leaders. He has a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership from Penn State University and plans to continue his work in the nonprofit and public sector.

Alexander Bland, Woodbine

Bland serves his local union AFSCME 2210 on the executive board. While in Cape May County, Bland spent many hours volunteering and organizing events for children, including his work as a scoutmaster of Woodbine Troop and Pack No. 77. He was a former mentor in Bridgeton for Pathstone’s Youth Program, all of which earned him the “Giving Back Award” from the Press of Atlantic City in 2019. Bland’s work extends to social activism.At the age of 28 years old he became the youngest NAACP branch president in New Jersey when he was sworn in to be the president of the Cape May County Branch in 2019. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he became a board member of Cape Hope, which focuses on homelessness. In 2021 he became president of the organization Caring For Kids. He also serves as the chair of the NAACP State Conference Labor and Industry Committee that works to improve the economic status of minority groups. In 2021 he was honored by Positive Vibes Community Group with a Community Service Award. Politically in 2019, he was voted in as the youngest member of The Woodbine Board of Education. In 2020 he founded the Young Democrats of Cape May-Cumberland Counties.

Leon Boone, III, Washington Township

A graduate of Rowan University, where he received his master’s degree in history in 2014, Boone has been involved with politics since volunteering for Gov. Phil Murphy’s campaign in 2017. He is passionate about environmental justice, criminal justice reform, as well as climate change.

Most recently he worked on Murphy’s reelection campaign as the regional political director for Camden County. Currently, Boone is the secretary for the South Jersey Young Democrats, president of the South Jersey Young Democrats Black Caucus, and a member of Action Together New Jersey and Sustainable South Jersey. The SJYD Black Caucus advocates for African American candidates and issues on the state level.

Riccardo Dale, Beverly

Dale grew up in Beverly, in Burlington County and faced extreme adversity at a young age due to poverty, lost loved ones, and academic struggles that left him homeless in high school. Through self-determination and self-love, he turned his life around, attended Rowan University where he earned his bachelor’s degree. Dale also served on the Rowan University trustees board as a student member. He used the trauma he experienced growing up to start a nonprofit Free All Minds Academy, which mentors kids of color. Students attending the academy have a 100% acceptance rate in college.

“We have a team of college graduates that have overcome poverty, academic struggles and family trouble to reach success,” Dale said about Free All Minds on a fundraiser page. “This relatability between our mentors and students is a vital part of what makes our program unique.”

Last year, he made history as the youngest person ever elected to the Beverly City Council at 24 and one of the youngest council members in the county.

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Aquasia Davis, Winslow Township

Davis recently made history when she was hired to become the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office‘s first African American female detective. She had worked in Camden County for eight years before that. Davis is known as a strong advocate of the youth of southern New Jersey with her passion and determination to help those in her community. She can point to her life to inspire others.  Davis was a first-generation college student when she started at Stockton University under its Equal Opportunity Fund Program. She graduated with her bachelor’s degree in 2013 and now sits as a board member of the Stockton University Foundation.

She created an organization to assist other first-generation college students and those who needed help adjusting to the changing face of higher education called H.O.P.E., Helping Other People Excel. In honor of her aunt who lost her hair during chemotherapy for cancer, she created the B.A.L.D. Extravaganza Hair Show. The fundraiser exhibits local hairstylists, makeup artists, designers, poets, and dancers to raise money for cancer awareness. Davis is also a member of Gloucester County NAACP and the DOT Organization.

Nathan Evans Jr., Atlantic City

Evans, a first-generation high school and college graduate, is a published author, motivational speaker and youth mentor. The teen center director at the Atlantic City Boys & Girls Club, Evans says he lives by the quote “Change what you normalize,” which was inspired by his mission to eradicate the stigmas around mental health in underserved communities and enhancing emotional intelligence amongst Gen-Zers. This passion was birthed by his own battles with mental health issues due to childhood trauma which he overcame.

With this motivation, he has developed workshops for high schools, colleges and non-profits based around emotional intelligence and resilience. Evans’s charismatic speaking and inspiring testimony allows him to relate to teens and young adults while also educating them on how to increase their mental wellness, emotional intellect, resilience and sense of self-worth. He is a volunteer for the Covenant House of Atlantic City, a “Top 4 Under 40 distinguished alumnus of Atlantic Cape Community College. Evans is also certified in “Adverse Childhood Experiences Early Trauma” as well as “Mental Health First-Aid.”

Levi Feeney, Vineland

Feeney is a community leader originally from Bridgeton, a graduate of Rowan University and is employed at Bridgeton Public School District. He serves as vice president of the community organization Positive Vibes and is a board member on several nonprofit organizations, one notably recognized as Our Future First in Millville. He is also a legal advocate, business consultant, activist, educator, artist, business owner, media specialist, filmmaker, writer, musician, athletics coach, mentor, father and loving individual who places God as his top priority in all he is and strives to do.

A member of influential Cornerstone Community Church, Feeney says he takes pride in being behind the scenes of many different movements, ideas, and businesses in his community. He always seeks to be anonymous, he states, because his goal is to never do anything for notoriety but impact. Even some of his greatest talents and national achievements he rarely indicates to many of his peers. Feeney currently is continuing to promote his art and photography wall décor at thebookoflevi.org. He also is preparing to launch a web series and develop his first feature film set for 2023.

Quamer Fowler, Bridgeton

The young digital entrepreneur and speaker has used his background to boost a burgeoning online presence for young people while teaching young and old about the latest news in cryptocurrencies and other digital platforms. The son of restaurant owner Sam Fowler, Quamer recently told Front Runner New Jersey that the cryptocurrency’s prominence is allowing African-Americans – those his age and older – to become players in the field. His Pinterest and Instagram pages, Billionaire Child, promotes cryptos and hopes to encourage Blacks and other minorities to seriously take a look.

“For minorities, it’s a chance to get involved with this on the ground floor,” Fowler said in an interview with Front Runner New Jersey at his family’s restaurant, Soul of the Sea, in Millville. “It’s all about just diving into it and learning it. It’s not just about crypto, but investment in general and knowing how to grow your money. Most people only know how to make it one way. We’ve been behind the trend for so long that we’re used to it. This is about the ability to step out of your comfort zone.”

Jelani Gandy, Linwood

Gandy, who graduated from Stockton University last May, won the endorsement of the Atlantic County Democratic Party last year to run in the county commissioners race. As a student, Gandy prepared himself by working for the Amy Kennedy Congressional campaign in 2020, where he assisted in voter outreach, categorizing campaign contribution data, online  public relations, and office organization. He worked in field operations for the Vince Mazzeo and John Armato state assembly campaigns as a field organizer intern in 2019. In that time, he helped expand the candidate’s re-election victory margins from the previous election cycle.

He is currently a recruitment consultant at the Frank Recruitment Group. There, he is involved in finding candidates who are proficient in ServiceNow and placing them in competitive roles with clients. While earning his political science degree at Stockton University, Gandy was the founding president of Phi Delta Theta, overseeing philanthropy/service events and establishing a chapter charter in less than a year. He served in the Stockton Student Senate and was a founding member of the Stockton NAACP branch.

Nyemah Gillespie, Camden

A Camden native, Gillespie is the owner and director of Dare 2 Dance LLC, a dance school she created after finding there were few places to share the art of dance in the city. A new member of the Advisory Board with the Camden City School District, Gillespie and her school caters to stars ages 3-18 interested in ballet, tap, jazz and hip hop. She said it had always been her goal to “Bring Dance Back To Camden.” The school is involved in the community, hosting Back to School giveaways, coat drives, and community clean-ups, as well as mentoring young women, feeding the homeless, speaking and more. In June 2019, Dare 2 Dance expanded to Dare 2 Flip, Camden’s first gymnastics academy.

Gillespie has been the recipient of former Mayor Dana Redd’s Women Of Purpose Award, the National Hook-Up Of Black Women Cherry Hill Chapter’s Outstanding Woman In The Arts Award, the Camden Chapters D.I.V.A. Award, I Dare To Care Association’s Outstanding Service Award, NCNW’s Tri-County Sections 2019 Harambee Award Recipient and Starlet Rose Creation’s Angel Award for making a difference. She was also featured as a Ballerific Woman on the popular blog Baller Alert. 

Nefertiti Hathaway, Atlantic City

Hathaway is the founder of Ubuntu the Community, an organization that hosts community events for the people in an effort to reach them where they are. Ubuntu, a Zulu phrase that means “I am, because you are,” was something that Hathaway picked up in college at HBCU Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and it stuck with her. Hathaway holds a bachelor’s degree in human service, anthropology and criminal justice from Lincoln.

“My hope for Ubuntu the Community is to provide a space where people can come and enjoy life the way that they are unapologetically,” Hathaway told Front Runner New Jersey last February. “Organizations such as Ubuntu the Community are necessary for the people in the community because it provides its own unique energy. It allows the people to be met where they are without judgment. This organization also provided a sense of self-love and appreciation for those around you.” Among other events, Ubuntu the Community holds an impressive Juneteenth celebration annually at Oscar E. McClinton Waterfront Park. She told FRNJ how one person with one dream can make a difference for the many people who need it in her neighborhood, community and city – the Ubuntu way.

Fatima Heyward, Marlton

Since October, Heyward has served as director of national corporate partnerships with Teach For America, where she manages external relationships and works closely with internal stakeholders across the organization to meet the objectives of TFA. Since July 2019, she has served as president of the New Jersey Young Democrats, becoming the first Black woman to hold that position.

Heyward had served as communications manager for Planned Parenthood of Northern, Central and Southern New Jersey as well as Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey. She was  the co-founder and president of the South Jersey Young Democrats Black Caucus, and also, served in various leadership roles with the NAACP Camden County East Chapter. Heyward recently completed her fellowship with the New Leaders Council New Jersey – a six-month intensive, leadership training program. She is a proud sister of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and an honors graduate of Rider University. She has received the Visionary Leader Award from the Camden County East NAACP and was named SJ Magazine’s Woman to Watch as its Women of Excellence recipient.

Cedric P. Holmes, Vineland

Holmes is the administrator to the Senior Pastor at the influential Union Baptist Temple in Bridgeton and the chief of staff for the New England Missionary Baptist Convention. Holmes made history as the youngest person ever appointed and then elected to the Vineland School Board at 20 in 2017. Since joining the school board, Holmes has gone to great lengths to learn more about board procedure so he can make the best decisions for the students and taxpayers of Vineland. He is currently the chairman of the transportation and policy and personnel board committees.

In 2015, Holmes was honored as Big Brother of the Year as a mentor in Big Brothers, Big Sisters. He is formerly a mentor for Big Brothers, Big Sisters, member of the Cumberland Cape Atlantic YMCA Board of Directors, and Immediate Past-President of the Boys and Girls Club of Cumberland County. Most recently, Holmes started a new position as property manager for the distinguished Lakeshore Management where he is responsible for resident services, revenue collection, and property inspections. An accomplished musician, he has played piano at the prominent Carnegie Hall in New York City and formerly played at the Claridge Hotel in Atlantic City.

Fariyd Holmes, Atlantic City

Holmes is currently a detective with the special investigations unit with the Atlantic City Police Department, where he has been a member since 2015. The Atlantic City High School and Stockton University graduate worked as a diplomatic security officer for the U.S. State Department and for NVE, both in Washington, D.C. before returning to his hometown. He served on the Atlantic City Board of Education from 2013 to 2015.

Holmes was recognized by Atlantic City’s top police officer, interim Officer-In-Charge James Sarkos, in January 2021 when a social media post pointed to his compassion for a woman suffering a medical emergency in downtown Atlantic City. “I am very proud of the compassion and dedication displayed by Officer Holmes when he encountered a member of our community in need of assistance,” Sarkos told the website Breaking AC then. Griselda Garcia, the mother of an Atlantic City Police Explore who witnessed Holmes in action added: “Not all heroes wear capes. Thank you ACPD for teaching our kids to protect and help the community.” A member of Omega Psi Phi, Upsilon Alpha chapter, Holmes serves as a mentor to fourth through eighth-grade students at New York Avenue.

Cameron Hudson, Camden

Hudson, who was elected to the Advisory Board with the Camden City School District in November is also a commissioner on the City of Camden’s Housing Authority Board, second vice president of the South Jersey Young Democrats Black Caucus, and a board member of Earl’s Pearls, a nonprofit based out of Lawnside. He has extensive experience in the government and nonprofit sectors. Hudson is also a realtor licensed in the State of New Jersey and a member of the National Association of REALTORS.

As a senior specialist of state policy and advocacy for the Susan G. Komen organization, he advocated for funding and the protection and expansion of women’s healthcare rights. At Temple University, Hudson collaborated nationally with policymakers, practitioners, researchers, higher education institutions, and community and nonprofit organizations to create innovative and sustainable solutions to help college students facing food insecurity, housing instability, college access and affordability, single parents experiencing hardships, and returning citizens. A product of Rowan University’s Educational Opportunity Fund program, Hudson earned his bachelor’s degree in political science with a concentration in Africana Studies, and two co-curricular certificates in Leadership Training, and Leadership Application and Organizational Effectiveness.

Quandell Iglesia, Deptford

Iglesia is the founder and president of SNJ Millennials, which advocates for young business leaders around the region, and is a team leader and realtor associate on the IQ Real Estate Team in Deptford. He started his first business while still a student at Williamstown High School. He grew that to develop Quandell Iglesia Consulting which specializes in public speaking, and business startups and social media consulting. He founded SNJ Millennials in 2017. With IQ Real Estate, he and his team serve the communities of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. He was recently featured in SJ REAL Producers Magazine as a “Rising Star.” Real Producers Magazine serves as a leader in highlighting the stories of top real estate agents in markets around the country.

He is the former New Jersey Young Democrats – Southern Vice President. He has received the 2020 GameChangers Award by KYW Newsradio; the 2019 Most Influential African American: People Making a Difference Award by the South Jersey Journal; the Phoenix Game Changer Award by the Gloucester County NAACP; and Entrepreneur of the Year by the Vineland African American Community Development Corporation.

Trinity Jagdeo, Vineland

Jagdeo is the author of three books and the founder of the nonprofit From We Can’t To We Can, which focuses on young people in the disability community. In her work, she turns children with special needs into superheroes to inspire and uplift them. A 2019 graduate of Cumberland Christian Schools, she has been recognized throughout the special needs community for her work.

An illustrator, creative designer, advocate and motivational speaker, Jagdeo said she loves creating our comic books that feature local children with disabilities. She also coordinates events that create a safe and accessible space for children with disabilities. She has spoken at Stockton University, various Rotary clubs and high schools about her work alongside young people with special needs. “I love connecting with people around the world. telling our story, and advocating for different social issues,” she told Front Runner New Jersey.com recently.

Elijah Langford, Atlantic City

An Atlantic City High School and Stockton University graduate is a community outreach coordinator for the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. He also serves as the head junior varsity coach at Atlantic City H.S. While in college, Langford became interested in helping people who are less fortunate. He created a non-profit organization called DEMCATS, which he operates as the president and CEO.

He started organizing events to raise awareness about topics that he felt are important in today’s society such as breast cancer awareness and bone marrow drives. He conceived and organized other events where he partnered with celebrities such as “Cool Coats For Kids” with Mike Tyson and “The Shaq-a-Clause Christmas Toy Give-a-Way” with Shaquille O’Neal. The Hip Hop Public Health initiative founded by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Oz provided him with the opportunity to collaborate with Ashanti to support this effort and further this cause. He also coordinated a free Beach Bash concert featuring recording artist French Montana and a clothing drive for Hurricane Sandy victims with Michael Vick. He is the son of former three-term Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford and two-term school board member Nynell Langford.

Isaiah Langford, Atlantic City

The younger brother of Elijah Langford has made a name for himself as a 24-year-old philanthropist and strategist for the nonprofit organization DEMCATS. Through his teenage years, Langford has helped organize countless givebacks and charitable events to spread positivity and celebrate those who are often forgotten.

Langford recently graduated from Montclair State University and is putting his communication degree to use in the medical field. He is now preparing to pursue his master’s degree. “I learned very early on in life about how contagious efforts and emotion can be,” Langford said on his LinkedIn page. “Since then it’s been my mission to spread joy, laughter and overall kindness. I am particularly passionate about creating an environment for people that aren’t nearly as appreciated as they should be. It’s important to me to celebrate all of the great contributors to our society.”

Quinton Law, Moorestown

Law made history last year – the first and the youngest and first African American appointed to the Moorestown Town Council then in November the first and youngest to be elected to that position. Law is a third-generation Moorestonian and was a standout student-athlete at Moorestown High School before playing football at Bryant University.

After earning his degree in economics concentrated in public policy as an honors student, he became a community organizer for U.S. Sen. Cory Booker’s presidential campaign. Law  currently works as a staffer for Booker in Moorestown. Through his work with New Jersey mayors, Law developed an understanding of how local municipalities can work with state and federal governments to get things done. He chairs the scholarship committee for the Moorestown Alumni Association, where he led the effort to create a need-based scholarship for low-income students. He also serves as the education chair for the Southern Burlington County NAACP, where he focuses on equity in education across South Jersey. He was the founding member of Moorestown Alumni for Racial Equity & Inclusion (MAREI), he engaged in collaborating with stakeholders in the school system and community to advocate for students of color.

Ashley Nicole Logan, Bridgeton

Logan is an attendance officer and mentorship program director for Bridgeton Public Schools, a community leader and a healing artist. As a self-mastery strategist, life coach and empowerment speaker, Logan aid others to elevate to his/her highest heights by way of Epic Elevation LLC, a holistic wellness social enterprise she created. Epic Elevation serves as a portal of expression to reveal and revel in the essence of one’s truth.

As a self-professed “Rebel with a Cause,” Logan is passionate about the subjects of  Black liberation, prison reform, education reform, women empowerment, children and youth advocacy. “I am also dedicated to breaking the stigma on mental health,” she says. Logan is the founder of The Becoming A Woman Mentorship Program aka The D.R.E.A.M. Team. It has been featured as an afterschool program for two elementary schools in the Bridgeton Public School District. Logan said she establishes and integrates practices to meet the needs of their target audience or service population, particularly community organizations.

Antoinette Miles, Pennsauken

Miles is the outreach director for U.S. Rep. Andy Kim in the Third Congressional District. In this role, she builds relationships with community stakeholders and helps the Congressman connect with constituents in Burlington and Ocean counties. Throughout her nearly 10 years in politics and public service, Miles’ work has been rooted in her community and the pursuit of change. Prior to her current role, she served as the digital media associate for the Communications Workers of America District 1.

She first ventured into politics working as a field representative on the Shelley Adler for Congress campaign in 2012, and the successful re-election campaign for Troy Singleton and Herb Conaway of the 7th Legislative District in 2013. An alumna of Fairleigh Dickinson University, Miles earned a bachelor’s degree in political science. She served on the planning committees for the 2019 Atlantic City Women’s March and the 2021 Women’s March in Willingboro. In 2021, she was named a “Woman Who Gets it Done” by PAM’s List. She is a proud member of the Willingboro & Vicinity Branch of the NAACP and the South Jersey Young Democrats’ Black Caucus.

Malikah C. Morris, Westampton

Morris is the deputy director of the Burlington County Department of Human Services, one of the state’s largest and most multi-faceted agencies. Under her leadership, the department reaches marginalized and underserved populations and closes service gaps among Burlington County’s 450,000 residents. As a result of her leadership and contributions, Morris was invited to a roundtable discussion with U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development’s Secretary Marcia Fudge and U.S. Rep. Andy Kim to discuss how President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda could support local community revitalization efforts.

Morris obtained her bachelor’s degrees in English and Spanish from Hampton University and has earned a master’s in public administration with specializations in International Public Service and Community Development, from Rutgers University. Morris credits her humble beginnings in Newark with giving her the drive to succeed, her passion to serve on a global scale, and catapulting her professional career. She sits on several boards and was appointed by the Burlington County Board of Commissioners to chair the Minority and Equality Rights Task Force, the first-ever created in the county. She is also a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

Jenae Graves Padilla, Millville

Padilla is a freelance writer and producer, who earned her bachelor’s degree in film and media production from Saint Augustine’s University in Raleigh, N.C. For the past 10 years, Padilla established and has held the head writer/media master position at Cornerstone Community Church in Vineland. She oversees the growth of the church’s online presence and creates prime online content daily spanning social media platforms. She is director of CCC’s live weekly broadcast of Sunday Worship Service. During her tenure she wrote and produced a feature length documentary called, ‘History in the Making’ chronicling CCC’s vision and mission.

She was the co-writer and co-host of the Ralph Graves Jr. Morning Show. For more than a year the self-help and motivational morning show aired live weekly across the Tri-State area from Bala Cynwood, Pa. Her time as a state-ranked powerlifter aiding in giving others the boost they needed to go after their own goals and passions. Padilla believes personal expression to be invaluable and necessary to reach your fullest potential. Follow her on Instagram @here_toread or email her at jenaepadilla416@gmail.com

Jason Charles Richardson IV, Charles Jay, Camden

The owner of URBANE by Charles Jay, Richardson’s fashions have been featured on Season 2 of HBO Max’s Euphoria and in publications like Complex and the Philadelphia Tribune. Along with his international fashion brand, he also owns Avenue Black. which is the first-ever retail creative co-working space in South Jersey. A former standout basketball player at Winslow Township High School and a record-holder at Rutgers University-Camden, Richardson had been diagnosed with kidney cancer at the tender age of 2.  As a cancer survivor, he uses the marketing degree he earned in 2015 to start his career in fashion design.

As a self-taught designer Richardson has been able to defy the odds by landing placements with major celebrities Swizz Beats, Algee Smith, DJ Diamond Kutz, Romeo Miller, Wolf Tyla and more. He has been recognized in Essence Magazine, Philly Fashion Week, Huffington Post, 6ABC and others. He said his mission has been to tell his cancer survivor story through fashion
design and inspire millions of people on this journey. Just six years in business with URBANE and two years in business with Avenue Black with his partner Warren K. Prescott, this mission has grown to build an entire creative culture and ecosystem in South Jersey.

Devonta Rogers, Millville

Rogers was a candidate for the Millville Board of Education this past fall. He works as a nurse and in management for the local CompleteCare Health Network. The youngest of three siblings, he said he hopes his candidacy will inspire other people his age to take responsibility for the town they grew up in and the school district that helped educate them.

“It is my obligation to build a relationship with the parents and students of Millville. It is my obligation to represent the concerns of my community to the school administrators and represent the needs of the students and school district to my community.” A skilled photographer, Rogers has documented numerous events around Millville.

Andrew Selby, Camden

Selby is the senior project specialist for positive youth development at the Community Planning and Advocacy Council in Pennsauken. He has been the owner and operator of Black Box Catering since 2018 and vice president of the nonprofit Masters Of Our Fate, Inc. since 2017. He also serves as the founding steering committee member of the Camden Food Security Collective. A brother with Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Nu Iota Chapter, he is the co-founder of the “Not in Our Parks” Community Initiative in 2021. Selby also served as a program aide and group leader at the Boys & Girls Club of Camden County from 2004 to 2011.

Last May, he earned his master’s degree in public administration from Rutgers University-Camden and has his bachelor’s degree in marketing at Rowan University. Selby can be found  hosting several community service projects/events throughout the country and he volunteers on Friday nights with the Camden Metro Police department Village Initiative Program to help foster better community engagement between police and residents. 

Isaiah Showell, Pleasantville

His digital web show “What’s Good? With Isaiah” has highlighted the movers and shakers and the true hidden gems in people, programs and activities throughout the region. His stories stand as a testament to why South Jersey is special and deserves attention. A 2015 graduate of Rowan University, he also promotes local businesses and nonprofits through the “Hopeloft Minute.”

He started his media work as a production assistant for SNJ Today, working on such shows as “The Locker Room,” “SNJ Today News,” and “Cowboy Rodeo.” Showell has dedicated himself to being involved in community work since 2008, participating in volunteer efforts stretching from Camden, Egg Harbor Township, Glassboro and Philadelphia.

Digna Townsend, Pennsauken

Townsend has been honored to learn from many civic leaders throughout South Jersey as she blazed her own path to engage other young people to become politically active. Townsend currently serves as the confidential aide for Camden County Commissioner Director Louis Cappelli. Prior to joining the Camden County Commissioners Board, Townsend served as outreach director for U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross, regional organizing director for Nebraska Democratic State Committee where she was an advocate for working families during the 2016 Presidential election.

Townsend has also served in a number of roles in campaigns and community outreach, including as an organizing coordinator for Gov. Phil Murphy’s campaign and regional field director for Amy Belgard’s 2014 congressional campaign. She has been recognized for her work in the southern New Jersey area by SJ Magazine, Pam’s List, SNJ Millennials and the Gloucester County NAACP. She is the immediate past president of the South Jersey Young Democrats, co-founder and vice president of the South Jersey Young Democrats Black Caucus, is active as a board member to Maria’s Women United and the Gloucester County NAACP.

Bruce E. Weekes, Atlantic City

Elected this past fall as the youngest at-large member on the Atlantic City city council, Weekes follows the public service footsteps of his father, the late Bruce F. Weekes, who served as Atlantic City’s first municipal court judge and then chief judge. The younger Weekes is creating a legacy all his own, working for the city administration as a senior accountant before jumping into the political arena. A graduate of Howard University, Weekes worked as a financial analyst for SecondMarket, Inc., in New York and then Merrill Lynch before returning to Atlantic City in 2016.

Before joining the administration, Weekes was an implementation consultant at Edmunds GovTech. His passion for community development has led to his induction as a LEAD Atlantic City Tomorrow Fellow, as well as to a Senate Citation from the Second New Jersey Legislative District. In 2014, he was recognized by the Greater Atlantic City Jaycees and Atlantic City Weekly as one of the area’s Top 40 under 40. He is the founder of the Northside Small Business Academy.

QUESTION: Who did we miss? Drop suggestions in the comments section for candidates to make our 2023 list.

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