LEADING US IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

Carlos Lejnieks - President and Chief Executive Officer

Carlos Lejnieks is CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson & Union Counties (Newark, NJ) and immediate-past Chairman of Big Brothers Big Sisters of NJ.  Lejnieks took over an atrophied BBBS agency in 2008 and, within four years, went from serving approximately 100 youth to serving over 1,100. Under his leadership, BBBS has received numerous awards including a formal recognition by President Obama. In 2016, he rang the Closing Bell at the Nasdaq in celebration of National Mentoring Month and, in 2018, he rang the Closing Bell at the NY Stock Exchange in honor of this 10th anniversary at BBBS. Prior to joining BBBS, Lejnieks was an administrator and Leadership Team member of North Star Academy, a Blue Ribbon school based in Newark.  Prior to that, Lejnieks held positions as Vice President of CN Communications International and Goldman Sachs. 

Lejnieks serves on the Brown University Alumni Association Board of Governors where he is Chairman of its First Generation Committee, creating policy to better support first generation college students at Brown. He also serves on the Board of Regents for Saint Peter’s University, is Chair Emeritus of the NJ Charter Schools Association and was appointed to the Community Advisory Board for NJTV (NJ public television, a WNET family company).

Lejnieks is a Trustee for Jersey City Medical Center (a RWJ/Barnabas Health Hospital) and serves as Trustee for RWJ/Barnabas Health’s Diversity & Inclusion Sub-Committee of the Board. Lejnieks also served on News Corporation’s Corporate Diversity Council from 2009-14 and was featured in their Philanthropy Leaders Forum in 2015. Lejnieks is co-Founder and Vice Chair of Democracy Prep Public Schools, a $175M school system based in Harlem serving 6,500 students in five states. Lejnieks won Democracy Prep’s “Change the World” award in 2006 for helping create the school.

Lejnieks has served on President Obama’s Regional Finance Committee, Governor Chris Christie’s Education Transition Team, Governor Phil Murphy’s Transition Team and Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s Transition Team.  In 2019, Lejnieks was a Gubernatorial appointee to the NJ Real Estate Commission as well as the inaugural NJ Task Force for the “Continued Transformation of Youth Justice”. 

An Aspen Fellow, Lejnieks was selected as one of twelve people in Aspen’s “Emerging Leaders” cohort in 2012 and, in 2011, he graduated from the American Express Leadership Academy. In 2018, he won the top social sector leader award from American Express at their global alumni summit which came with a $25,000 donation to BBBS in Lejnieks’ honor. In 2014, he received a community leadership award from ASPIRA and, in 2013, he was honored with the “Education Leadership Award” from the National Org. of African American Administrators as well as the national “40 under 40” award by the New Leaders Council. In 2014, he was one of four people recognized on the NJ Assembly floor with a proclamation for Hispanic Heritage Month.  In 2001, Lejnieks received a proclamation from the Governor (NJ) for his work on “post-September 11th recovery matters”. In 2016, he was the NY Yankees “Civic Leader Spotlight”. 

In 2011, Lejnieks was a featured speaker at the Newark Peace Summit headlined by the Dalai Lama. And, in 2018, he spoke alongside Sen. Cory Booker at the Nexus Global Youth Summit on “why mentoring matters”.

Lejnieks has guest lectured at Brown University, Columbia Law School, NYU, Saint Peter’s University, Rutgers University and Seton Hall Law School on the topics of social entrepreneurialism, education, corporate social responsibility, diversity & inclusion, among other themes. In 2016, Lejnieks was also a featured speaker in Deepak Chopra and Danielle Posa’s “Radical Corporate Wellbeing” seminar. He has emceed many events including Autism NJ’s 50th Anniversary Gala and the American Express Leadership Academy Inaugural Alumni Summit. Lejnieks is an Executive in Residence at Saint Peter’s University and served on the News Corporation Diversity Council from 2009-14.

A former collegiate varsity wrestler, Lejnieks has a B.A. degree in International Relations and Commerce from Brown University and an M.Sc. degree from the London School of Economics.  In 2011, he was given an Honorary Doctorate from Saint Peter’s University, where he delivered its commencement address.  In 2014, he was given the inaugural Presidential Medallion from New Jersey City University (NJCU), where he also delivered its commencement address. In 2016, he delivered the commencement address at the London School of Economics graduate ceremony.

Michele Williers - Chief Operating Officer

Michele Williers is the Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of BBBS of Essex, Hudson & Union Counties.  She expanded the program to serve a newly constituted three county region and, within seven years, it grew from the smallest agency in New Jersey, serving approximately 100 youths, to the largest, serving well over 1,100.  For almost 20 years she has devoted her professional career towards the management and administration of community development and youth serving agencies.

Williers recently led a national marketing campaign on mentoring sponsored by the Ad Council. Through her leadership, she built a team along with a solid base of partnerships from a wide range of groups including churches, community-based organizations, universities and corporations and was instrumental in growing the organization from one to 20 employees. Michele has been employed within the BBBS network for the past 17 years, 10 in Tampa Bay, Florida and 7 in New Jersey.

She received her B.S. from the University of Tampa in 1994, majoring in Criminology and Political Science. She also received a certificate for non-profit management through the University of Tampa's MBA Program. In November, 2015, she had the honor and was one of 72 non-profit leaders in the entire country to be accepted and graduate from the American Express Non-Profit Leadership Academy.

In 2015, Michele was given the prestigious United Way Legends Award. Michele has also lectured at Rutgers and Saint Peter’s University on public policy, juvenile justice and community engagement. A leader in youth development, Michele is currently co-authoring an evaluation study on the impact of mentoring alongside Rutgers’ professor, Dr. Paul Boxer. A noted speaker, Michele has led press conferences on mentoring alongside state and national leaders, including U.S. Senator Cory Booker, and NBC commentator Kate Snow.

Board of Trustees

Carlos Lejnieks
President & CEO

Leslie Quick III, Chair
Founding Partner, Massey Quick Simon

Ron DeCicco
CEO (ret.), Pershing/BNYMellon

Susan Dunn
Philanthropist and Retired Teacher

Angelo Genova
Senior Partner, Genova Burns

Brett Harwood
Chairman, Welcome Parking, LLC

Wendy Lacey
Founder, Cornerstone Montclair

Ron Litchkowski
CEO (ret.), Mauser North America

Rosemary McFadden
President (ret.), NY Mercantile Exchange

Joseph Scott
EVP, RWJ Barnabas Health

Linda Sterling
Consultant

Luke Visconti
CEO, DiversityInc.

Advisory Board

Governor Thomas H. Kean
Co-Chair

Governor Brendan Byrne *
Co-Chair

Dr. Joel S. Bloom, Ed. D.
President, NJIT

Dr. Nancy Cantor
Chancellor, Rutgers - Newark

Chris Cerf
Former Commissioner, New Jersey Department of Education

Dr. Susan A. Cole
President, Montclair State University

Eugene Cornacchia, Ph. D.
President, Saint Peter's University

Kevin Cummings
CEO, Investors Bank

Dr. Dawood Farahi
President, Kean University

Senator William H. Frist
Former US Senate Majority Leader

Gloria Gaynor
GRAMMY-winning artist

Richard Brown
Vice President Philanthropy, American Express

 

*Deceased

Sue Henderson, Ph. D.
President, New Jersey City University

Rev. David Jefferson, Jr.
Metropolitan Baptist Church

Rabbi Clifford Kulwin
Temple B'nai Abraham

Kerri Berson Levine
Fidelco Realty Group

Rita Mitjans
Chief Diversity Officer, ADP

Barry Ostrowsky
CEO, RWJBarnabas Health

Rick Reider
Chief Investment Officer, BlackRock

John Schreiber
President & CEO, NJPAC

Kate Snow
Anchor, NBC News

Yvonne Surowiec
CHRO, Valley National Bank

Ted & Nina Wells

Josh Weston
Honorary Chairman, ADP