Mercer Street Friends Announces 2020 – 2021 Board Officers Led By New Chair Ken Blackwell

The Board of Trustees of Mercer Street Friends, a Trenton based nonprofit dedicated to addressing issues of poverty in the city and throughout Mercer County announced today that Ken Blackwell, CEO of InKlaritas, based in Princeton, was unanimously approved as the new Chair of Mercer Street Friends. Joining Blackwell among the team of Board Officers is Glenda Gracia- Rivera as Vice Chair and Wendy B. Kane and Jaap Ketting as Secretary and Treasurer, respectively.

Mr. Blackwell came to the organization as a volunteer Board member in 2017, but knew about Mercer Street Friends for over 32 years. “As a member of Yardley Friends Meeting, I was introduced to Mercer Street Friends as we gathered gloves, scarves and hats in December to contribute to families served by the agency. I saw firsthand the good work of the Food Bank and now am witness to the impact of our programs focused on Food, Families and Education. It is an honor to serve as Chair of Mercer Street Friends Board of Trustees and I look forward to helping our staff and volunteers expand awareness within our communities about the power of Mercer Street Friends’ programs and the resources we offer to those seeking a life of independence and self- sufficiency.”

A Trenton native, Ms. Gracia-Rivera, Director of Professional Development and Training at Rutgers Center for Women and Work, came to know Mercer Street Friends in 1990 as a high school senior at Princeton Day School. An intern at the time, Ms. Gracia – Rivera embraced the holistic mission of Mercer Street Friends, and has remained committed to the organization’s education focused programs: “As an educator and trainer that focuses on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion, the Mercer Street Friends Trenton Community School initiative resonates with me as a unique model. It offers a powerful framework for addressing inequities and provides opportunities to help students navigate barriers so they can thrive not just academically, but mentally, socially and emotionally. I am honored to serve as Vice Chair of the Mercer Street Board of Trustees as we begin this new chapter in the organization’s history.”

Wendy Kane is a frequent volunteer at Mercer Street Friends Food Bank and Preschool. She has been a Board member since 2014 and in addition to her new duties as Secretary, Wendy serves as the Chair of the Development Committee. Jaap Ketting continues in his role as Treasurer of the organization. He also has been a Board member since 2014 and is Chair of the Finance and Audit Committee.

Bernie Flynn, CEO of Mercer Street Friends, expressed enthusiasm about the new Board Leadership and offered his gratitude to Dr. Joseph Hulihan, outgoing Chair. “The position of a nonprofit Board of Trustees member is built on confidence in the organization’s mission, trust in the staff leadership, belief in the programs, and an understanding that each member is critical to the success of the organization. Joe Hulihan has helped lead us through this challenging time and I am certain that Ken, Glenda, Wendy and Jaap will work hand in hand with me and our Executive Leadership Team to ensure that Mercer Street Friends is addressing the needs of our neighbors in Trenton and throughout the County, and I thank them for taking on their new leadership roles.”

ABOUT MERCER STREET FRIENDS

Through a variety of programs and resources, Mercer Street Friends works throughout Mercer County with a concentration in the Greater Trenton area tackling poverty and the physical and emotional trauma it creates for children, families and the community.

Our comprehensive programming and community partnerships offer families support and guidance away from a life of poverty, into a life of self-sufficiency.

We are fully dedicated to removing educational barriers, providing social and emotional care, and providing food security.

The core challenges presented by poverty can be broken into three areas:

  1. Education
    • Preschool
    • Community Schools
    • Adult Education
  2. Family
    • Parent & Family Engagement
  3. Food Insecurity
    • Food Bank of Mercer County

Mercer Street Friends Values:

  1. Mercer Street Friends believes that by investing in education, a child will obtain the academic, emotional and social skills needed to thrive and succeed.
  2. Mercer Street Friends believes that providing services and resources to families who have experienced trauma is vital to an individual’s social, emotional, and physical wellbeing, promotes healthy families and strengthens communities.
  3. Mercer Street Friends believes no one should be hungry and malnourished. Our Food Bank is dedicated to fighting food insecurity in Mercer County.

Media Inquiries should be directed to:

Bernie Flynn, CEO Mercer Street Friends at 609-903-4519 or via email at
bflynn@mercerstreetfriends.org
High resolution images are available upon request.