Leadership Bios

2021 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 Vice President of Treatment Services at a nonprofit serving homeless New Yorkers, overseeing the outpatient and residential care of over 3000 New Yorkers with SMI living in poverty annually. She has 15 years’ experience in her field. In both her work and her volunteer history, Kelly has significant experience in outreach to funders, development, and grant-writing strategies, and is particularly interested in combining narrative and metrics-based strategies to support fundraising. She has a history in anti-racist and immigrant’s rights work. Kelly has led the Coalition on Race’s board on important investigations into current initiatives and future priorities.
Board Vice Chairs
Carol Barry-Austin: Carol is a founding member of the Coalition on Race and has dedicated her time and talents to the growth and success of the organization for 25 years. She served as Chair from 2006-08 after serving on the Executive Committee since the organization’s inception and currently co-chairs the Schools Committee. Under her leadership, the committee has shaped community discussion regarding the Academic Achievement Gap by providing forums, parent advocacy workshops and Achievement Gap Study Groups. Carol is often cited for her consistent efforts on behalf of the youth of the community and her commitment to integration and fair housing. Her advocacy on behalf of students began early on with the PTA’s as President of the various schools her 3 children attended. Professionally, Carol served as a consultant for a New Jersey-based communications company, and she worked for New York Telephone Company, designing and implementing communication systems for major New York corporations. Carol also shares her time with the Columbia High School Scholarship Fund, South Orange Civic Organization, and the Tuxedo Park Neighborhood Association.
Abigail Cotler: Abby 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: John 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.
Ed Stuart: Ed is a retired Wealth Manager. Ed rejoined Coalition on Race board in 2018 after a hiatus. During his first stint on the board, he served for a number of years on the Finance & Development Committee. In 2019, he became a Vice Chair on the Executive Committee, serving as Treasurer. He also joined the Schools Committee in 2019 to pursue his interest in the educational achievement gap. Ed’s other nonprofit board activity includes Planned Parenthood, Institute of Certified Financial Planners, and the South Mountain Conservancy Board Chair.


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