The Honorable Ras J. Baraka serves as the 40th and current Mayor of the great city of Newark, NJ, the largest city in the great state of New Jersey. He served on the City Council after a career as principal and teacher. When the City needed support with vaccinations, they came to NJCRI and we partnered to vaccinate as many housed and unhoused residents as possible, in shelters and on the streets. Mayor Baraka and his team have been directly connected to NJCRI's services as we have partnered with the Division of Community Health and Wellness and the Shani Baraka Women's Resource Center to ensure access for all.
Tiyale Hayes is the Senior VP of Marketing and Brand Strategy for BET, the largest African-American cultural outlet in the nation. He has helped the network to expand their presence globally and worked to ensure strong LGBTQ representation on all of the 20 original programs on the network. He recently developed BLACK + ICONIC, an award platform to honor various LGBTQ leaders and icons for their work for the community.
Tracey Norman made her name when she was discovered by a photographer who saw something in her stunning looks. Gracing the pages of HARPER'S BAZAAR, Italian VOGUE, OUT and SWERV, the iconic model also became the first transgender model in the world to grace the mainstream packaging and marketing for a major campaign. She is a Ballroom Icon & Legend from the Legendary House of Africa, where she serves as its Mother and is still actively modeling, having signed a new long-term contract.
The Marvelous Melba Moore an illustrious graduate of The Newark Arts High School, took Broadway by storm with her turn in HAIR! and then her Tony-Award winning tour de force in PURLIE! She has recorded such powerhouse hits as YOU STEPPED INTO MY LIFE, THIS IS IT, LOVE'S COMIN' AT YA, LEAN ON ME, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE RAINBOW and because of her efforts, THE NEGRO NATIONAL ANTHEM was recorded with an all-star lineup and introduced to new generations with reverence. She is the recent recipient of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame!
Marco Hall of Marco Hall Designs has adorned some of the most fabulous women in entertainment and the arts. His garments have graced the likes of singer/actress Vanessa Williams, singer/songwriter/actress Jill Scott, Editor-in-Chief Mikki Taylor and the late, legendary singer/actress Natalie Cole. Marco Hall is also a community leader, who is as concerned about the young woman whose first prom dress is sometimes her first formal gown and introduction to high fashion. His storefront on Halsey St. in Newark has been the site of many high-end clients and faithful consumers.
Renaldo Maurice Gardner is a premier dancer with the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater and the father of The House of Alpha Omega. Renaldo began his training with Tony Washington and graduated from Talent Unlimited High School, attended Emerson School for Visual and Performing Arts, studying with Larry Brewer and Mr. Maurice was a scholarship student at The Ailey School, Ballet Chicago, Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, and Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance. Renaldo conducted a Master Class Series on Vogue for PROJECT WOW in 2022 and will partner in mentorship in his new hometown, Newark, NJ.
Michaela Jae' Rodriguez is a daughter of the City of Newark and found her creative voice here. Rodriguez was cast in the leading role of Blanca Evangelista in the FX series Pose following a six-month casting search. The groundbreaking series ran for 3 seasons. She has commanded theater stage, as well as film, TV and music. Rodriguez now stars with Maya Rudolph in the Apple+ TV series "LOOT," playing the role of Sofia. She is an activist and a voice for a new generation!
Dr. Jihad Slim is a groundbreaking physician and community support services leader. Dr. Jihad Slim is an Infectious Disease doctor in West Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Slim has been practicing medicine for over 43 years and is highly rated in 11 conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are HIV/AIDS, COVID-19, Hepatitis C, and Myelitis, where he is doing groundbreaking work.
Dr. Denise V. Rodgers is Vice Chancellor for Interprofessional Programs at Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences. She is also the RBHS Chair in Interprofessional Education at Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and is a professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health. She currently chairs the steering committee for the Believe in a Healthy Newark culture of health initiative that is funded by United Way of Greater Newark. She chairs the board of directors of the Greater Newark Healthcare Coalition and the Greater Newark Regional Population Health Hub. Dr. Rodgers also chairs the Newark Homelessness Commission.l.
S. Alex Williams is a teacher and educator whose passion in the work of HIV has shaped an entire generation. As one of the founding leaders of the team that shaped Project WOW, which celebrates 20 years of empowerment for youth and young adults, Williams has helped develop policy, shape programming and guide and build leaders. "I feel compelled to fight for liberty and justice for all. Historically, my efforts have landed squarely on public health advocacy. Today, the fight is for humanity.
The North Jersey Community Research Initiative (NJCRI) is one of New Jersey's largest and most comprehensive HIV/AIDS community-based organization.
Our mission is to empower our clients by reducing social and health disparities in the greater Newark area.
Over the past 35 years of service NJCRI has adapted and changed to rally the fight against HIV/AIDS, as well as providing important social services to our community.
In 1988, the initial focus was to provide clinical trials in Newark so those that were infected with the HIV virus could gain access to promising investigational treatments. At that time patients were required to travel to New York to receive these services.
NJCRI was the first AIDS service organization in New Jersey to provide medical care to those with HIV. Our staff have published more than 30 research articles and have presented their research findings at local, national and international AIDS conferences.