D. Jane Chagaris Albanese
In 2007, D. Jane Chagaris Albanese founded Giants of Generosity, Inc, a 501c3 charitable organization based in Cresskill, New Jersey. As CEO and executive director, she devotes her time to help people in our own communities who are experiencing critical, life-altering situations, and have nowhere else to turn. She is the spokesperson for Giants and the force behind its growth. A native of Tenafly, New Jersey, Albanese grew up at the critically acclaimed Clinton Inn Hotel, which her family owned and operated for nearly five decades, and she has worked in all areas of the hotel’s operation throughout her youth. Having traveled extensively with her family, her first career move was in the travel industry. Then at the age of twenty-one she was a debutante in the Hope Cotillion at the Waldorf Astoria. By the age of twenty-eight, she owned and managed Linwood Plaza Travel in Fort Lee, New Jersey, before moving the office into the Clinton Inn Hotel. In 1981 she moved to Florida, where she acquired her Real Estate license and went on to purchase Maple Ridge Gourmet Foods. She quickly converted that business into a gourmet food, mail-order business, mailing 900,000 catalogs nationwide. In addition to running and growing the company, she handled all of its marketing, catalog creation, and line extensions. Finding herself at a crossroads after losing her husband in 1994, Albanese returned to college to study graphic arts, and opened Graphic Designs by the Drummer’s Wife, a freelance design studio, in his memory. Presently Albanese actively runs the daily operations of Giants of Generosity. As executive director she still answers her own phone, works closely with each recipient and puts her business acumen and design skills to work. She has created the organization’s website, social media pages, and all collateral marketing materials. The New Jersey Association of Women Business Owners (NJAWBO) honored Albanese in 2011 and again in 2012, with its prestigious Rose & Scroll Award in recognition of her work with Giants of Generosity, for her community service, and for being a positive role model for women. She has also been nominated twice for the Russ Berrie Making a Difference Award, and has received a prestigious Proclamation from Senator Robert Menendez for her dedicated service to helping others during Hurricane Sandy, 2012. Albanese holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey and an Associate in Arts degree in graphic arts from Daytona State College, Daytona Beach, Florida.
Caryn Starr-Gates is a professional freelance copywriter and owner of StarrGates Business Communications in Fair Lawn, NJ. She creates promotional copy and communications content in all media, for her clients’ advertising, marketing, and public relations projects. Her writing experience stretches across a broad array of industries and fields. In between the start of her advertising career and today, Caryn has enjoyed several other careers: professional cook and caterer; restaurant manager and field service supervisor for a national restaurant chain; professional organizer; and gift basket designer and retailer. She returned to her writing roots officially with the launch of StarrGates Business Communications in 2009. Caryn is an active member of the Bergen chapter of the New Jersey Association of Women Business Owners (2010 Business Woman of the Year), the New Jersey Ad Club, the Association of Women in Communications-NJ, and NJ Creatives. She volunteers for several non-profit organizations and was awarded 2011 Volunteer of the Year by Jewish Family Service of North Jersey for her service in the agency’s meals-on-wheels program, and has been a board member of Giants of Generosity since 2012.
Bettina Fowler is a bank vice president (TD Bank) and former loan officer who has worked with bank branches and bank customers to develop new business, build positive relationships, grow accounts, and enhance community involvement. At TD Bank, she founded Power of Women!, a mentoring program to encourage women to pursue a banking career. Bettina also has extensive experience in retail, working with buyers, vendors and internal accounting, operations and training departments for several regional and national retailers; and in personnel recruiting. In addition to Giants of Generosity, Bettina is vice president of the Bergenfield-Dumont Rotary Club; a board member of The DACKKs Group, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping homeless people transition to independent living; and a volunteer with Police Unity Tour, which brings public awareness of and honors police officers who have died in the line of duty. In her off time, she enjoys bicycling and playing softball.
Charlie Gutmann is a CPA (State of New York) and is the company controller of Park Agency, Inc. in New York City. He has worked in the financial field and accounting profession for over 30 years, and previously held various management positions at Texaco and Bestfoods. He joined the GOG Board of Directors in the spring of 2014 after attending several fundraising events. Charlie is no stranger to volunteerism. He is very involved in his parish of Church of the Presentation as a member of the Small Christian Community (SCC) Core Team, a parish ministry responsible for creating and fostering small faith-sharing groups. He is delighted to be a member of the GOG team and looks forward to helping to fulfill the organization’s mission with Jane and the other members of the board. In addition to his CPA designation, Charlie holds a Master of Science in accounting from Pace University and a BA in business administration and accounting from New England College. He and his wife Irene have three children.
Lisa has spent over 30 years in advertising and marketing. She provided strategic direction and increased revenue for a wide range of advertising sales initiatives for leading companies including Omnicom, IAC Entertainment Publications, The Knot, Wedding Channel, Modern Bride, and New York Magazine. Throughout her career, she has managed accounts on both the agency and media sides. Lisa has also worked alongside some of New Jersey’s top wedding professionals, assisting them with wedding day and special event planning and “day of” direction. She is currently an advertising manager at North Jersey Media Group, establishing advertising strategies designed to meet clients’ marketing objectives within their budgets in daily and weekly newspapers and the county’s premier lifestyle magazine. It is through her work with The Record newspaper that Lisa became aware of Giants of Generosity, for which she is grateful. Lisa was also publisher of Kidsville News! Bergen County, an educational newspaper for students in grades K-6 that engages students to embrace reading as a lifelong habit. This project was one of her proudest accomplishments and she enjoyed working with the schools to help build readership and academic-related content for the newspaper. She previously served on the board of the Norwood Public Schools PTA where her first project was to chair the annual Fall Fair when her son, now a college graduate, entered kindergarten; through this project she first developed her drive for volunteerism and fundraising. Lisa resides in Demarest, NJ with her two children.
Edie Sims enjoyed a long and fruitful career at Englewood Hospital, as a patient coordinator and liaison in the hospital’s former outpatient clinic. For 26 years, Edie worked one-on-one with patients, answering their questions about tests, treatments and medical care to ensure they fully understood physicians’ orders. She also worked for a short stint there as a billing supervisor in the public health nursing department but was anxious to get back to the more rewarding personal work in the clinic. Edie is a long-time volunteer in the community as well with the American Red Cross. She was deployed to Florida following Hurricane Wilma and assisted residents in need in areas in New Jersey that were hit by Superstorm Sandy; taking a cue from her hospital experience, she was responsible for making immediate-needs assessments and coordinated procurement of basic essentials for families in distress. Her people skills have also been on display as a product demonstrator at trade shows for Gunter Wilhelm Cutlery. She is honored to be a part of GOG and to help in any way. Edie and her husband Bob have two sons.
Susan’s diverse professional background includes being a certified yoga instructor for special needs children (she teaches yoga to adults as well), managing a specialty dental office, and 30 years in banking. She started as a teller and worked her up to assistant vice president at NVE Bank’s branch in Closter, NJ where she first met Jane Albanese in 2008. At the Closter office, Susan helped grow the branch from inception to approximately $54 million in deposits. Susan is no stranger to charitable and civic involvement. She participates in the American Bankers Association’s “Teach the Children to Save” event every year, sponsors events for the Closter Recreation Department, walks to raise money for breast cancer research, and donates her time to “Rebuilding Together,” a non-profit organization that preserves affordable home ownership to those in need. She is also involved in NVE Bank’s scholarship program. Susan has received several awards throughout her banking career including NVE’s President’s Award. She is a member of the Closter Chamber of Commerce and serves Giants of Generosity as a director. In her off time she enjoys yoga, reading, cooking, walking, and swimming.
Thomas J. Volpe, mentor, wonderful friend and supporter of GOG is the former Senior Vice President of Financial Operations for The Inter public Group of Companies, Inc., and senior advisor at Babcock & Brown, a global financial services firm. Currently Tom is with Rockdale Investment Management. He serves as Chairman Emeritus of the St. Francis College Board of Trustees having served on their Board for 35 years. Tom has also served 25 years on the Board of the NYC Chapter of Multiple Sclerosis and 7 years as a board member for Englewood Hospital Foundation. He is a former president of the New York Chapter of Financial Executives International
John H. Johl
John H. Johl is a Graduate of University of Connecticut with honors in History-1952; resident of Haworth since 1958; Councilman-2 years; Mayor-Borough of Haworth 10 years; Retired Lt. Col, USAFR; Member or chairman of various Boards at Pascack Valley Hospital-24 years; Charter member and President of Northern Valley Educational Foundation-8 years; member Bergen County Community College Foundation-12 years; Past President of Tenafly Kiwanis and member for 33 years…also served 2 years as Lt. Governor in Kiwanis; Past President of Greater Pascack Valley Chamber of Commerce; Past Commander Haworth Post 13 American Legion; Past President Van Ost Institute in Englewood; Past President Independent Insurance Agents of Bergen and Hudson Counties and member for 47 years; President and founder of Johl & Co. Insurance Agency in 1963; member First Congregational Church in Haworth for 50 years…four terms as moderator, Deacon for 15 years, Sunday School teacher; board member of several other organizations over the years. Currently and proudly a Director at Large for Giants of Generosity.