Leadership Bios

2022 Community Coalition on Race Leadership Bios
Executive Director, Nancy Gagnier: Nancy develops pro-integrative strategies that help to build a community that is supportive of racial equity and inclusion. She brings professional and academic writing, non-profit development, public relations, strategic planning, community leadership positions, community organizing, teaching, and service on nonprofit boards to her role. In her time as Executive Director, she has designed anti-racism trainings; led a team of researchers in reporting on demographics over two decades to inform areas of challenge and success in integration; and developed strong partnerships within the community and beyond. Nancy can reached at [email protected] 

Board Chair Kelly Quirk: Kelly is a Program Director of Substance Abuse and Homeless Services at the Bowery Residents' Committee where she oversees a 32-bed medically-monitored and medically-supervised Detox unit. She is responsible for unit oversight, developing systems, and ensuring compliance. She has 12 years’ worth of experience in her field and significant experience in outreach to funders. She is one of the founding members of SOMA Action, is on their steering committee, and is a co-chair of Immigrants Rights. She participated in anti-racist work when she lived in the South. In both her work and her volunteer history, Kelly has significant experience in development and grant-writing strategies, and is particularly interested in combining narrative and metrics-based strategies to support fundraising. Kelly joined the Coalition board in 2017, soon after which she started the board on an important investigation into future priorities. She currently serves as chair of the Finance & Development Committee, and was instrumental in planning the annual dinner.

Vice Chairs

Abby Cotler has lived in Maplewood with her husband and 2 sons since 1987. In 1992 she was elected to the Board of Ed. and served 3 consecutive terms. She was elected VP 6 of those 9 years. She also served as the Board liaison to the Coalition for several years. While serving on the board she pushed the district to address issues of access and equity and for de-leveling in the schools. She also joined community and school board members of neighboring towns to advocate for increased state funding not only for our district but for Newark and other Urban/ suburban school districts. In many ways some of the organizations we started then were addressing issues the Coalition schools committee was also addressing. Abby has worked at Seton Hall University as a counselor for MLK scholars and for the Puerto Rican institute. She has been on the District Parenting Center Board since its inception and headed its toy drive for many years. At the Coalition she has been on the Schools Committee all the years she served as a trustee and she served on the Executive board during her 2nd term as a trustee.

John Kerner is Chief Marketing Officer at Yellowbrick, an online education and career discovery platform. He has over 20 years of professional experience and has held executive roles at both large media brands and startup technology companies, specializing in consumer marketing and communications. He serves as co-chair of the Marketing Committee, and has worked closely with the Consciously agency on in-mover marketing and brand refresh initiatives. John and his wife have lived in South Orange for nine years and have two sons currently at SOMS and Jefferson. Together, they started SOMA Kids Feed Kids, a volunteer organization for local youth and families to help provide support to families in Essex County that struggle with food insecurity. John also coaches youth baseball in SOMA.

Robert Marchman has taken an active role in community life since moving to Maplewood in 1991. He is a founding member of the Coalition on Race and he has served as chair in 2004, 2017, 2018, and 2019. In June 2010, Robert joined the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the premier securities industry regulator, as Executive Vice President and Head of the Market Regulation Department’s Legal Group (the Group prosecutes violations of market rules and federal securities laws). He served as the Executive Vice President/MRD Legal Section at FINRA. Prior to that time he was responsible for managing the New York Stock Exchange Regulation’s Enforcement Division and Regulatory Risk Group. Robert currently serves as the Senior Policy Advisor on Diversity and Inclusion, a newly created role within the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission's Office of Minority and Women Inclusion (OMWI). Mr. Marchman focuses on working with Commission divisions, offices, and advisory committees to develop and implement strategies to promote diversity and inclusion, both within the SEC and through external engagement with agency partners and market participants. He also assists the agency's ongoing efforts to promote financial literacy and inclusion in underserved portions of the investor community. Robert has had a long career in diversity and inclusion efforts in Corporate America and in nonprofits and has received numerous awards in recognition of his work to promote diversity management in the securities industry.

Mikki Murphy has been a South Orange resident since 1993 where she and her husband raised their three children. Since that time, she has followed and participated in the initiatives of the Coalition including hosting a Don DeMarco dialogue in 1998. She is the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Community at Far Brook School in Short Hills, NJ. There, she oversees initiatives that impact all of the school’s constituent groups; faculty, administration, parents, and students through dialogue, training, and curriculum. A signature effort is the school’s annual diversity conference, ‘Widening the Lens,’ which has brought together independent school communities to discuss and take action to further equity and inclusivity around race and other identifiers for the past 6 years. Since joining the Coalition, Mikki has participated on the History and MLK committees. In addition to the Coalition, Mikki is a member of the Essex County Chapter of The Links, Incorporated where she currently serves as Financial Secretary and Co-Chair of the Services to Youth Facet, and the Princeton Prize in Race Relations Committee of Northern New Jersey.


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