Last Wednesday, October 7, 2020, Mercer Street Friends, a Trenton based nonprofit dedicated to addressing issues of poverty in the city and throughout Mercer County, announced that Ken Blackwell, CEO of InKlaritas, based in Princeton, was unanimously approved as the new Chair of Mercer Street Friends.

Joining Blackwell among the team of Board Officers is Glenda Gracia-Rivera as Vice Chair and Wendy B. Kane and Jaap Ketting as Secretary and Treasurer, respectively.

Although Blackwell joined the Board as a volunteer in 2017, he has known of the group for over 32 years. “As a member of Yardley Friends Meeting, I was introduced to Mercer Street Friends as we gathered gloves, scarves and hats in December to contribute to families served by the agency,” said Blackwell. I saw firsthand the good work of the Food Bank and now am witness to the impact of our programs focused on Food, Families and Education. It is an honor to serve as Chair of Mercer Street Friends Board of Trustees and I look forward to helping our staff and volunteers expand awareness within our communities about the power of Mercer Street Friends’ programs and the resources we offer to those seeking a life of independence and self- sufficiency.”

Gracia-Rivera is the Director of Professional Development and Training at Rutgers Center for Women and Work. As a Trenton native, she has been involved with Mercer Street Friends since 1990, when she worked as an intern during senior year of high school at Princeton Day School. She has been with Mercer Street Friends ever since.

“As an educator and trainer that focuses on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion, the Mercer Street Friends Trenton Community School initiative resonates with me as a unique model,” said Gracia-Rivera. “It offers a powerful framework for addressing inequities and provides opportunities to help students navigate barriers so they can thrive not just academically, but mentally, socially and emotionally. I am honored to serve as Vice Chair of the Mercer Street Board of Trustees as we begin this new chapter in the organization’s history.”

A Board member since 2014, Kane, now Secretary, has been a consistent volunteer with Mercer Street Friends Food Bank and Pre-School. Ketting will continue his role as Treasurer.

Bernie Flynn, CEO of Mercer Street Friends, expressed enthusiasm about the new Board Leadership and offered his gratitude to Dr. Joseph Hulihan, outgoing Chair. “Joe Hulihan has helped lead us through this challenging time and I am certain that Ken, Glenda, Wendy and Jaap will work hand in hand with me and our Executive Leadership Team to ensure that Mercer Street Friends is addressing the needs of our neighbors in Trenton and throughout the County, and I thank them for taking on their new leadership roles,” said Flynn.

“The position of a nonprofit Board of Trustees member is built on confidence in the organization’s mission, trust in the staff leadership, belief in the programs, and an understanding that each member is critical to the success of the organization,” Flynn added.

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