Maria E. Vizcarrondo is the inaugural Executive Director of the Nerney Leadership Institute, launched at Cabrini College in the spring of 2013.
The vision of the Institute is to prepare Cabrini graduates for their role as leaders in the workplace, the communities, and the world by demonstrating character steeped in a strong sense of empathy, personal accountability, and social justice.
Ms. Vizcarrondo brings more than 25 years of experience transforming service organizations. She has also served her communities as both an appointed and elected official.
After his election, Mayor-Elect, Cory Booker, tapped Ms. Vizcarrondo to head Newark’s Health and Human Services Department the largest of its kind in New Jersey.
One of her first actions in that role was to author a Children’s Bill of Rights to benchmark improvements in the lives of children and families throughout the mayor’s tenure.
In addition to leading this $65 million, 400 staff institution, she secured state funding to establish Family Success Centers to provide neighborhood-based services, and launched a major citywide campaign to raise the immunization rates of Newark’s children from 54% to 80%.
For this achievement, Newark was cited by the CDC as a best practice model for immunization in urban communities for the collaborative approach used in this successful effort. She used a similar approach to curb the prevalent exposure of children to lead poisoning in the community.
During the 2008 closing of two community hospitals she served as convener between the community and state officials to address the immediate health crisis that would ensue and worked toward a longer term solution to meet the primary healthcare needs of the city.
This collaborative strategy resulted in the creation of two organizations—The Greater Newark Health Care Coalition and Health-e-cITi NJ, Inc.—to re-engineer the health care systems in the community and to prepare the health care institutions for patient information exchange.
Prior to this mayoral appointment, Ms. Vizcarrondo served as the first woman President and CEO of United Way of Essex and West Hudson (UWEWH) raising over $300 million (campaign), leveraging over $250 million (special projects), and managing $400 million (special funds) during her tenure.
Her pioneer work in re-engineering the organization’s mission into community building was documented in the United Way Transformation Diaries.
In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Ms. Vizcarrondo led the New Jersey United Way’s in a statewide coordination of services for affected families and managed the distribution of corporate funding for these efforts. The Governor of New Jersey recognized these efforts at a special ceremony at the State Museum.
During her tenure as President of United Ways of NJ, she oversaw the creation of the United Way 211 Helpline. Governor Richard Codey endorsed 211 as a critical tool for non-emergency response.
Recognized as a community leader, Ms. Vizcarrondo was listed among the “100 Most Influential People in New Jersey”, and has been honored at local, state, and national levels for her work in community service. She was also a founding member of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.
Ms. Vizcarrondo has traveled nationally and internationally as a speaker and consultant on policy, program development, and resource development.