- Dr. Adela Ames, Director of Health & Human Services, City of Trenton
- Connie Mercer, Founder & CEO, Homefront
- Dr. Kapu Patel, Owner & Visual Story Designer, kapuPatel Photography
- Arlene Pedovitch, First Senior Vice President and Chief Credit Officer, First Bank
Dr. Adela Ames, a published author and health advocate, has over 25 years of experience in public administration, state government, federal government, and the non-profit sector. Previously, she was the Acting Area Director for DCF’s Hunterdon/Mercer/Somerset/Warren counties, where she provided operational oversight for over 500 employees, who manage DCF’s various programs. She is a skilled professional in providing services for vulnerable populations, including individuals with disabilities, juvenile offenders, individuals struggling with addiction and mental health, domestic violence, and victims of sexual abuse and human trafficking.
She was also an adjunct professor with Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Public Administration program and has been involved in various social service and mentoring programs with the Trenton public school system, the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program, and the Trenton Police Department. Dr. Ames was an active member of the State of New Jersey Child Fatality/Near Fatality Board, State of New Jersey Children in Court Advisory and Stakeholder Board for Mercer, Somerset, and Warren Counties. She is also an active member of the Mercer County Commission on Abused, Neglected, and Missing Children, State of New Jersey Department of Children’s Office of Resilience (OOR) Strategic Planning Work Group, James R. Halsey Foundation of the Arts Advisory Board, Maternal Health Stakeholders Group, and Smith Family Foundation/Advocates for Children of New Jersey’s Kids Count Committee.
Dr. Adela Ames obtained her undergraduate degree in psychology and criminal justice from The College of New Jersey, her master’s degree in public administration with a concentration in health management from Fairleigh Dickinson University and her Doctoral degree in education and public policy, management, and leadership from Seton Hall University. Notably, her years of experience exemplifies her philosophy of living and serving, which demonstrates true integrity, transparency, character, servitude, dedication, and commitment to a community of resilient people.
Since her tenure as Director of Health and Human Services, she has been instrumental in the execution of the COVID vaccination clinic, ground opening of the City of Trenton Neighborhood Clinic that includes COVID vaccination and testing, as well as future medical, podiatry, and mental health services, and developed the first COVID homebound program in the State of New Jersey as well as made National news and recognition of its implementation. Dr. Ames has been on various speaking platforms and podcasts, including Power 99 FM, WDAS FM, and media/news circuits regarding COVID updates, mental health/trauma, and her children’s book, “It Hurts- From a Child’s Perspective”. She is also a 2022 NAACP Honoree.
For the past 31 years, Connie has served as the founder and CEO of HomeFront, an organization whose mission is to end family homelessness in Central New Jersey by harnessing the caring, resources and expertise of the community. From its humble beginnings around Connie’s kitchen table, HomeFront has evolved into a multi-faceted organization which helps the most vulnerable families in our community transform their lives in numerous ways, by providing housing assistance, emergency shelter, food, clothing, educational opportunities for children and adults, job training and placement, daycare and much more. HomeFront on any given night provides a roof to sleep under to more than 450 people, two thirds of whom are children. HomeFront has helped thousands of individuals, and is guided by the beliefs that every family has the right to a home, access to the tools needed to become self-sufficient, and the opportunities for their children so they thrive and ultimately break the cycle of poverty.
Ms. Mercer began her social services career with the Canadian Mental Health Association where she created a network of 19 group homes for youth with behavioral issues. She then headed the Interstate Consortium on Residential Child Care where she successfully drafted standards that formed the basis for licensing standards that were adopted in 27 states. In 1984, she was made Deputy Director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, responsible for oversight of all state child welfare services, with guardianship of 30,000 children. She received her undergraduate degree from University of Chicago and a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from York University. Among many awards, Connie was been awarded an honorary doctorate by Princeton University for her significant impact on the community and was the 2nd inductee into NJ’s Hall of Fame for Housing and Economic Development. Connie has also been honored at the White House during President Barak Obama’s administration. She is married with one son who is an officer in the US Military, and she has two grandchildren.
Born and raised in India during the 70s, kapu knew that a “professional” path was her way out of the middle class challenges of India. She moved to America to pursue her Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences. After a long and rewarding career in the pharmaceutical industry for over 20 years, kapu realized that there was something missing in her calling.
Always a landscape photographer who often sold prints to support charitable initiatives, she started offeringportrait services to support Hurricane Sandy relief and to her surprise LOVED photographing people.
It was an mind-opening experience as she soon realized there are many in her world who would rather not be photographed. Her curiosity led her to research the reasons behind this reluctance. The new definition of beauty that is created and perpetuated by media, was the precise reason why. Portraiture for kapu became less about the photo and more about the inner You.
And that is the reason why she pens her name kapu and not Kapu because this experience is all about YOU! The mission of her photography is “Empowering People Through Portraits”.
Along with creating portraits of people, kapu continues to dabble just a little as a Pharmaceutical Consultant. She prefers leaves under her feet, so you may often find her in some local New Jersey trails or up in the mountains. Her other passion is collecting handloom sarees from different weavers from all over India and global exploration has always been part of her life
She is supported in all her crazy and sane pursuits by her husband of 34 years and her daughter, son, mom and her beautiful friends and family.
Arlene Pedovitch is First Senior Vice President and Chief Credit Officer at First Bank. She manages the Credit Department and works with the Regional Presidents , Market Executives, and Relationship Managers to structure and approve loans and credit facilities. She also manages the Loan Workout department.
Arlene has over 40 years of banking experience. Prior to working at First Bank, she worked at Capital One Bank as SVP & Market Manager, where she managed a team of Relationship Managers in the Middle Market Commercial Banking group. She also held several positions at Santander Bank, including as SVP & Regional Credit Manager where she managed a team of Credit Officers in the Large Corporate group, Middle Market, and Business Banking areas. Arlene also worked at Mellon Financial as Country Manager for Germany and Switzerland. She began her banking career at Bank of America in New York.
Ms. Pedovitch earned her AB Degree in Economics from Princeton University. She has served in numerous leadership roles as an Alumna of Princeton University, including serving on the Executive Committee of the Alumni Council, several terms as President, Treasurer and Secretary of her class and Chair of the Board of the Center for Jewish Life at Princeton University. Ms. Pedovitch also has served on the Board of local social service nonprofits including Family Guidance Center and Jewish Family & Children Services of Greater Mercer County, where she served five years on the Executive Committee and two years as President of the Board. Ms. Pedovitch has two children and one grandchild and is a long time resident of Princeton Junction, where she lives with her husband Joel Reissman.