Leader of Big Brothers Big Sisters Addresses Class of 2011
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Posted by: jenny campbell
Jersey City, N.J. – Carlos Lejnieks, president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson and Union Counties, a one-to-one, youth mentoring agency based in Newark, will address the class of 2011 at the 120th commencement exercises for Saint Peter’s College.
The ceremony will take place at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, May 23, 2011, at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, N.J. The College will award degrees to approximately 800 students at the undergraduate and graduate levels; Lejnieks will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters degree, honoris causa, as will honorary degree recipient The Most Reverend Thomas A. Donato, D.D.
In addition to serving as president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson and Union Counties, Lejnieks also acts as vice chairman of Big Brothers Big Sisters of New Jersey and is a member of the Saint Peter’s College Board of Regents.
The Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) Mission is to help children reach their potential through professionally supported, one-to-one relationships with measurable impact. The organization is the oldest, largest and most effective youth mentoring organization in the United States. It has been the leader in one-to-one youth service for more than a century, developing positive relationships that have a direct and lasting impact on the lives of young people. Big Brothers Big Sisters serves children, ages 6 through 18, in communities across the country.
Prior to joining BBBS, Lejnieks was an administrator for North Star Academy, a nationally recognized public charter school in Newark. He previously served as vice president of CN Communications International, a boutique business consultancy based in New Jersey, and as a policy advisor to the Governor of New Jersey where he had particular focus on the State’s post-September 11th recovery efforts, cultural affairs and World Class Economy initiative. In late 2001, the Governor and Secretary of State presented Lejnieks with a New Jersey State Proclamation for work related to post-September 11th recovery efforts. Lejnieks was later nominated to New Jersey’s International Trade Committee. Additionally, Lejnieks has held positions with Goldman Sachs and Quick & Reilly.
An engaged community member, Lejnieks recently served on President Barack Obama’s Regional Finance Committee, Governor Chris Christie’s Education Transition Team and Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s Transition Team. In 2009, Lejnieks was elected chairman of the NJ Charter Schools Association. He also serves as a trustee and co-founder of Democracy Prep Charter School, based in Harlem, N.Y. In 2006, he received Democracy Prep’s Change the World award for helping to create the school. Last year, Lejnieks was appointed to the National Advisory Board of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, replacing U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
He is also the recipient of The New York Times Young Citizens Award and NJBIZ’s "40 under 40.” More recently, the Mayor and City Council of Jersey City honored Lejnieks for his "investment in education” for local youth while the Montclair Neighborhood Development Corp presented him with the Community Award for his commitment to underserved populations.
Lejnieks holds a Bachelor of Arts in international relations and commerce from Brown University and a Master of Science from the London School of Economics.
The second honorary degree recipient, Bishop Donato, has had various parish assignments, including St. John the Baptist Parish in Hillsdale, St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Bayonne, Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Bayonne, St. Paul Parish in Ramsey, and St. Raphael Parish in Livingston.
Donato was named Monsignor in 1996 and an Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Newark and Titular Bishop of Jamestown in 2004. Over the course of his career, he has served as the regional director of religious education for Bergen County North, Episcopal Vicar of Bergen County West and spiritual director at Immaculate Conception Seminary, completed three terms as a member of the Archdiocesan priest personnel board, and worked as a member of several committees in the archdiocesan offices of Catechetics and Divine Worship.
Currently, in addition to his duties overseeing the administrative matters of all of the Roman Catholic churches as Episcopal Vicar of Hudson County, he is also the pastor of St. Henry Parish in Bayonne.
Bishop Donato graduated from the College Seminary at Seton Hall University and Immaculate Conception Seminary, where he received his Masters of Divinity degree and was ordained to the priesthood.
The Class of 2011 valedictorian is Joanna Blanco from Toms River, N.J., who will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in biology.
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Saint Peter’s College, inspired by its Jesuit, Catholic identity, commitment to individual attention and grounding in the liberal arts, educates a diverse community of learners in undergraduate, graduate and professional programs to excel intellectually, lead ethically, serve compassionately and promote justice in our ever-changing urban and global environment.