Earlier this year, the Borough of Collingswood adopted an ordinance to create a COVID-19 Recovery Advisory Committee to advise and assist the Borough as recovery planning efforts continue in the wake of the pandemic and as more people are vaccinated and New Jersey implements reopening policies and programs. The Borough aims to identify needs and create a more resilient community through the Committee as a post-pandemic recovery period approaches.
The Committee is led by the residents, business owners, community-based partners, school representatives, public health experts, and social services advocates in close cooperation with the Borough of Collingswood Commissioners and staff. Together these leaders will provide critical insights to help the Borough continue balancing a robust health response with a strategic economic and community response that addresses the unique challenges we face as we heal from a difficult period.
The Committee’s efforts are grounded in and build upon the crucial work the State, Camden County, and the Borough are already doing to address the structural economic forces that put businesses and residents in economic hardship. The Committee will take a proactive stance on the future of Collingswood and identify areas in need of attention to better allow the Borough to respond, adapt, rebuild, and heal after losses from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The goal of the Committee is to engage with the public and representative experts in the following ways:
- Establish a line of communication and structure for identifying needs and delivering relevant information and social services, including nutrition, housing, workforce development, and other assistance to residents as essential for recovery.
- Work to provide and/or advocate for any supplemental resources the Collingswood School District will need to return to regular operations.
- Work closely with the Collingswood Business Improvement Districts to aid businesses in recovery efforts by identifying business assistance programs and creating a strategic business development plan to promote and support businesses.
- Explore County, State, and Federal assistance and other financial incentives available to assist in recovery.
- Create policies and generate ideas that will create a more resilient network for residents and businesses in the face of a future crisis.
Part of the Committee’s work will be to identify additional resources and individuals in the community to tap into our diverse population of talent and expertise to assist in recovery. The initial membership shall consist of the following:
- Representative/s from the Collingswood School District
- Representative/s from the Collingswood business community
- Representative/s from a social services provider or with a background in social services
- Representative/s from healthcare
- Representative/s from an arts and culture organization
- Representative/s from a local realtor
- Representative/s from the community at large
- Representative/s of the Borough Commission
Jim Maley, Collingswood Mayor: Jim Maley is widely recognized as a leader in municipal leadership for the work he has done both professionally and as an elected official in Collingswood. Jim has expanded citizen communication and outreach, fostered business development, supported sustainable initiatives, improved public infrastructure, and expanded programs in recreation/arts while maintaining stable taxes with increasing property values. Collingswood embarked on innovative initiatives and redevelopment projects that transformed Collingswood into a premier destination and model for municipal growth. Under Jim’s leadership, the Borough’s status as “a great place to live” has been recognized by the New York Times, Forbes Magazine, Philadelphia Magazine, USA Today and countless other organizations.
Rob Lewandowski, Collingswood Commissioner: Rob Lewandowski has served as a commissioner for the Borough of Collingswood since 2016. Professionally, Rob is communications director for the Eastern Region of the Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA). At the onset of the global pandemic, Lewandowski and his team helped develop safety and health protocols for construction sites in New Jersey, New York, and Delaware. He holds a Master of Government Administration degree from the University of Pennsylvania where he was a Samuel Fels Fellow.
Patric Ciervo: Patric Ciervo is a residential and commercial real estate specialist, doing business and residing in Collingswood. His firm, Main Street Realty, serves the tri-county area of Burlington, Camden, and Gloucester counties and recently merged with Keller-Williams. Patric brings specific knowledge of the regional housing and small business market and growth trends in the Collingswood area. Pat is also a longtime volunteer of many initiatives and events in town.
Lydia Cipriani: Lydia Cipriani is the owner of Tortilla Press Restaurant in Collingswood and Tortilla Press Cantina in Merchantville and also owns Windchimes Food, Inc, which specializes in database management and marketing. Lydia is an active member of Collingswood’s Business Improvement District Executive Board and brings a depth of knowledge regarding small business, communications, and the nonprofit and food industries.
Bailey Eaise: Bailey Eaise holds a Ph.D. in political science from Rutgers University and currently teaches Political Science at Rutgers University. She previously served as a Literacy Outreach Specialist for the Free Library of Philadelphia and as an Academic Counselor for the South Woods State Prison, providing educational programming for more than 100 incarcerated students. She is also a very active member of the Collingswood Green Team, which focuses on implementing many sustainability programs in town.
Eric Hillegass: Eric Hillegass is the owner and operator of Bespoke home + life, a retailer offering houseplants and home décor in Collingswood. Eric also has a background in film and video production. He previously worked in film and video production in the Philadelphia and New York markets. He provides perspective on retail and small business in Collingswood and the region. He is also an active member of the Borough’s LGBTQ+ Pride event committee.
Dr. Fredrick McDowell: Dr. Fredrick McDowell is the Superintendent of Schools for the Collingswood and Oaklyn Public School District. He has significant experience in education in the Delaware Valley and nationally. Dr. McDowell is an educational leader specializing in diverse, complex learning environments. He has expertise in strategic planning, process, and procedural change management, technology integration, and innovation, focusing on comprehensive school improvement, equity, and workforce development.
Dr. Amy Henderson Riley: Dr. Amy Henderson Riley is an Assistant Professor at the Jefferson College of Population Health. A health communication researcher and practitioner, her work falls at the intersection of communication and public health. Dr. Riley earned her Ph.D. in Community Health and Prevention from the Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health, completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the American University School of Communication, and is a Master Certified Health Education Specialist. She has been published in top health communication journals and presented at conferences including APHA, SOPHE, the Kentucky Conference on Health Communication, and the International Communication Association.
Dr. Molly Phillips: Dr. Molly Phillips is a graduate of Life University and Collingswood resident who operates her chiropractic practice. Dr. Phillips is a renowned speaker on chiropractic theories and teaches her unique approach to practitioners across the country. She is an active community member and promotes health and wellness programs throughout the community.
Dr. Rachel Rubin: Dr. Rachel Rubin serves as Chief of Hospital Medicine at Temple University Hospital and Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine at the Katz School of Medicine at Temple University. Dr. Rubin was a critical member of the Temple University Health COVID-19 team. Dr. Rubin has received several awards for her contributions to medicine and public health initiatives, including the Pathway to Humanities for Latino Health and the Humanism in Medicine award from Temple University Hospital.
Diana Trasatti: Diana Trasatti received her Master of Education degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Diana led communication training for Moms Demand Action and is an outspoken advocate for those exposed to domestic violence. Currently a counselor for Gloucester Township Schools, Diana leads the school trauma team dedicated to schoolwide trauma response initiatives and providing trauma response counseling.
Stephen McFadden: Stephen McFadden is the co-owner and founder of Revolution Coffee Roasters in Collingswood. Stephen studied communications and business management and has applied this knowledge as a business owner and community advocate. Stephen has led several philanthropic efforts for the benefit of Collingswood and surrounding communities.
Anastasia Altomari: Anastasia Altomari holds a Master of Business Administration degree and is the current operations manager for Transact Campus, Inc, formerly Blackboard. Anastasia has developed strategic and tactical messaging and is proficient in the use of data analysis to develop successful strategies and tactics, and does consulting work with Revolution Coffee Roasters, including product development.
Dr. Mani Kavuru: Dr. Mani Kavuru is the Medical Director for United Health Care. Dr. Kavuru is focused on preservice reviews for the commercial business segment with attention on pulmonary and respiratory studies. Dr. Kavuru’s research has been shared in several peer-reviewed journals, most recently addressing value-based health care for patient-centered specialty practices.