Announcement, News, Press Release

GreenLight Announces Founding Executive Director for Greater Newark

Mar 24, 2022

Greater Newark


Tish Johnson-Jones Joins Organization to Lead 11th GreenLight Site

Newark, NJ – March 24, 2022 – GreenLight Fund welcomes Tish Johnson-Jones, JD as the founding Executive Director of its 11th expansion site, GreenLight Fund Greater Newark. A Newark native, Johnson-Jones will partner with the local community to open opportunities for inclusive prosperity. She will lead a community-driven process to match unmet needs with organizations that have track records of success addressing those needs elsewhere, launching one proven organization each year. With multi-year start-up capital and collaborative support, GreenLight will help the selected organization quickly take root, help break down barriers all too often rooted in racial inequities and deliver change in Greater Newark.

Amber Randolph, Senior Vice Chancellor for Administration and Economic Development and Chief Financial Officer, Rutgers University and GreenLight ED search committee member shared her enthusiasm, “With Tish’s leadership, I am looking forward to the impact GreenLight Greater Newark will have in our community. Tish brings a strong set of diverse skills and experience to this role which will be instrumental in collaborating across sectors of the community to work towards a stronger, more equitable Greater Newark.”

“I am so impressed with Tish’s extensive background, her energy and her community-focused perspective,” shared Liz Ross, GreenLight ED search committee member and New Jersey Program Officer at Overdeck Family Foundation. “I’m excited for GreenLight Greater Newark’s work to get started, making measurable progress towards positive change and opening opportunities so all children and families in our region can thrive.”

Tish Johnson-Jones brings 20 years of experience to this role across multiple disciplines – law, education, government, corporate, and finance. She has been involved in strategizing and problem solving around some of Newark’s greatest challenges, from affordable housing to workforce development, and brings a passion and commitment to working towards change in partnership with those with lived experience. Most recently, Johnson-Jones was Managing Director of External Relations at BRICK Education Network where she led media, legislative and stakeholder engagement, as well as signature family resource events to help move the community forward. As Coalition Manager for We Raise New Jersey, Johnson-Jones led a diverse state-wide education coalition that advocated to ensure New Jersey students were prepared for post-secondary success, focusing on both college and career planning. Earlier in her career, as a Senior Legislative Aide for the Newark Municipal Council, Johnson-Jones built key stakeholder partnerships throughout the city and state and forged relationships with parents, leaders and community activists to fight against the multitude of challenges that often preclude inclusive prosperity. Through this work of ensuring residents had access to the appropriate resources, it became clear to Johnson-Jones that the most successful strategies were the result of collective action and included those most impacted by the issues in every part of the process. Johnson-Jones has a BA in Economics from Spelman College, a Juris Doctorate from Georgia State University College of Law and is a Leadership Newark, 50 CAN Education Advocacy and Education Pioneers Fellow. She currently serves on the board of After School All Stars- New Jersey and Girls: Live, Love, Laugh, Inc. and is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.

“I am thrilled to lead GreenLight Fund’s innovative approach in Greater Newark to address long standing barriers to economic mobility and systemic inequities with real change,” said Johnson-Jones. “I look forward to healthy dialogue led by residents, grassroots and grasstops leaders as we discuss not only the challenges that plague our city, but more importantly identify and invite in organizations that have proven solutions.”

In her new role, Johnson-Jones will assemble a local Selection Advisory Council (SAC) made up of a diverse group of community leaders and residents that will work alongside GreenLight throughout their selection process using the GreenLight Method. The community-driven annual process is designed to find the most effective social innovations not yet present locally to address the needs that matter most to Greater Newark residents facing barriers to prosperity. Johnson-Jones will listen to community residents and partner with the SAC to look deeply at the racial and economic disparities in the region and identify opportunities for impact. After searching the country for proven programs that could be additive to the local ecosystem and best suited to tackle locally-identified unmet needs, GreenLight will select and invest in bringing an evidence-based program with measurable results to the region with the best local fit. GreenLight Greater Newark will help the selected organization reach and sustain impact locally with on-the-ground support, multi-year funding, strategic partnership development and accountable measurement systems.

GreenLight Fund’s CEO and Co-founder, Margaret Hall remarked, “We’re thrilled to have Tish on the team. Her deep experience along with her passion for equity and the local community make her an excellent fit to lead GreenLight Greater Newark as we work to make real progress on dismantling deep-rooted racial and economic disparities with innovative programs that are rooted at the local level.”

John Simon, GreenLight Fund’s Co-founder and Board Chair added, “I’m excited that Tish, with her strong local roots, will be leading the charge in Greater Newark, addressing seemingly intractable challenges with proven innovations that will open opportunities and bring meaningful and measurable change.”

GreenLight Fund announced Greater Newark as its 11th site in January. A diverse group of more than 60 individuals, companies and foundations committed $6M to support the work of GreenLight Greater Newark over its first five years. The co-founding funders include: AeroFarms, Steve & Luana Alesio, MCJ Amelior Foundation, Bain Capital, Bank of America, David & Allison Blitzer, Broadridge, Debra & Kenneth Caplan, Community Foundation of New Jersey, The Leon and Toby Cooperman Family Foundation, Wayne & Jodi Cooperman, The Della Rosa Family Foundation, Deloitte, Devils Youth Foundation, The Fournier Family Foundation, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, NY Giants, Tim Gokey, Matt & Liz Goldberg with support from Lumina Foundation, Megan & John Hagerty, Meg & Tom Healey, The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, iHeartMedia, Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Metrowest NJ, Jewish Federation of Greater Metrowest NJ, Peter & Dana Langerman, Mary Beth O’Connor, Helen & Thanassis Mazarakis, McCarter & English LLP, the Newark Emerging Leaders Initiative, John & Laura Overdeck, Panasonic Foundation, The Prudential Foundation, Eileen & Les Quick, Laura & David Rosenberg, Lyn Rosensweig & Bruce Schnelwar, Rutgers University Newark, Rachel Schwarz & Marc Schiffman, Sharon & James Schwarz, MacKenzie Scott & Dan Jewett, Susan & John Simon, William E. Simon Foundation, Sara Naison-Tarajano & Orestes Tarajano, Stephen & Heather Thomas, United Way of Greater Newark, The Weidhorn Family, Kim & Finn Wentworth, Zack Widmann & Kim Hirsh, Larry & Gayle Wieseneck, Wiley, Wilf Family Foundations, and John & Suzanne Willian.