Carlos Lejnieks - President and Chief Executive Officer

Carlos Lejnieks is CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson & Union Counties based in Newark, NJ and past chair of BBBS of NJ. Carlos has helped strengthen and expand the agency in his 15 year tenure. Under his leadership, BBBS has received numerous awards including a formal recognition by President Obama. In 2018, he rang the Closing Bell at the NY Stock Exchange in honor of this 10th anniversary at BBBS. 

Carlos has harnessed his grassroots experience to advise on state and federal policy related to youth and family support, including service on the New Jersey Governor’s Council to advocate for families most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Carlos has also 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.

Earlier in his career, Carlos served as a school administrator in Newark and held positions at Goldman Sachs and CN Communications. A purpose-driven volunteer, Carlos is a co-founder and trustee of Democracy Prep Public Schools based in Harlem. He is chair of the Jersey City Medical Center board of trustees, a board member at New Jersey City University (NJCU), board of regents member of Saint Peter's University, a recipient of the Aspen Foundation’s emerging leaders fellowship, and winner of the 2018 American Express Leadership Academy Alumni Award.

A former collegiate wrestler, Carlos is active with his alma mater serving as a trustee of Brown University and became president-elect of the Brown Alumni Association in 2019, Brown's first person of Latinx heritage to serve in this role. Carlos holds a BA from Brown University, an MSc from the London School of Economics and an Honorary Doctorate from Saint Peter's University. In 2014, he was given the inaugural Presidential Medallion from NJCU for his service to the community. 


Board of Trustees

Carlos Lejnieks
President & CEO

Leslie Quick III, Chair 
Founding Partner, Simon Quick Advisors


Joseph P. Baumann, Jr.
Chairman of McManimon, Scotland & Baumann, LLC

Ron DeCicco 
CEO (ret.), Pershing/BNYMellon

Anne Fass

                                                                                                                                                                                                   Lori Finkel                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Angelo Genova
Senior Partner, Genova Burns


*Former or Current Big


Brett Harwood*
Chairman, Welcome Parking, LLC

Wendy Lacey
Founder, Cornerstone Montclair

Ron Litchkowski*
CEO (ret.), Mauser North America

Joel Ruffin*
Director, Barclays
*NJ Big Brother of the Year, 2010

Joseph Scott
EVP (ret.), RWJ Barnabas Health



Advisory Board

Governor Thomas H. Kean

Phillip Anderson
Executive Director - DEI + CSR + ESG + OD, DTCC New Jersey

Natalie Brathwaite
VP, Gov't Relations and Public Affairs, Fidelity Investments

Richard Brown
Vice President Philanthropy (ret), American Express

Dr. Nancy Cantor
Chancellor, Rutgers - Newark

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

James T. Crowley
Senior Executive Vice President and Global Head, BNY Mellon/Pershing

Senator William H. Frist
Former US Senate Majority Leader

Gloria Gaynor
GRAMMY-winning artist

Rev. David Jefferson, Jr.
Metropolitan Baptist Church

Rabbi Clifford Kulwin
Rabbi Emeritus, Temple B'nai Abraham


*Former or current Big



Kerri Berson Levine
Vice President, Fidelco Realty Group

Rita Mitjans*
Chief Diversity Officer (ret.), ADP

Rick Reider*
Chief Investment Officer, BlackRock

John Schreiber
President & CEO, NJPAC

Kate Snow*
Anchor, NBC News

Yvonne Surowiec*
Sr. EVP, CHRO, Valley National Bank

Aisha Thomas-Petit
Chief Human Resources Officer, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey

Ted & Nina Wells

Josh Weston
Honorary Chairman, ADP


Our Leadership Team

Carlos Lejnieks, President and CEO

Carlos is a visionary and has led Big Brothers Big Sisters for the last 14 years. He is passionate about making a positive impact on the children in our communities and showing them that they have an extended support system through the agency. Carlos ensures that he uses his platform to advocate for the needs of our future leaders. 

Natalia Sardo, Chief of Staff

Natalia M. Sardo, a native of Newark, NJ, has dedicated her 15+ year career to narrowing opportunity gaps for marginalized youth and families. She credits discovering her life purpose to two mentors in High School.  Natalia Sardo was recognized as NJBIZ's Forty Under 40 honoree in 2023.  She is also a Big  Sister with Brothers Big Sisters.

Viviana Baeza, Director of Strategic Partnerships

Viviana has served in various roles at Big Brothers Big Sisters for the past 10 years. She loves who she executes this mission with and also who she does it for; the children. Viviana has grown various partnerships due to her deep care for making everyone she meets feel valued. 

Kashonda Barnes, Director of Match Support

Kashonda has deep-rooted ties to the city of Newark, NJ, and has 18+ years of experience of working directly with families. She is very passionate about the work she does. She is a firm believer that everyone can reach their full potential if they are given a chance. 

Heather Keller, Senior Fund Development Manager

Heather is exceptional at finding and securing funding for our youth. She is a team player and understands how important it is for our mentees. Heather has led our Bowl for Kids' Sake events successfully during the pandemic.

Crystaliz Green, Executive Assistant to CEO

Crystaliz has been a support for others by providing mental health interventions and advocacy. She earned a Master's degree in Higher Education and a certificate in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She believes everyone has the ability to fulfill their highest potential.

Ximena Duran, Enrollment Manager

Ximena has a passion for helping others and ensuring our communities are served.