Speaker Biographies

Linda Barth

Linda Barth has been a fan of New Jersey for a long time. As a fourth-grade teacher, she tried to focus students’ attention on the positive aspects of our state: its diverse geography, agriculture, industry, and famous firsts and inventions. A lifelong resident of the Garden State, Linda has served on the board of Celebrate NJ!, a grassroots movement that builds pride in New Jersey through educational programs and promotional initiatives. She has written two books on the D&R Canal for Arcadia Publishing and two children’s picture books: Bridgetender’s Boy, published by the National Canal Museum in 2005, and Hidden New Jersey, from Charlesbridge Publishing in 2012. A History of Inventing in New Jersey: From Thomas Edison to the Ice Cream Cone, published by the History Press, was released in August 2013. She has also contributed to the Encyclopedia of New Jersey.

A History of Inventing in New Jersey: From Thomas Edison to the Ice Cream Cone
Many people are familiar with Edison’s “invention factory” in Menlo Park, where he patented the phonograph, the light bulb, and many more innovations. Yet many other ideas have grown in the Garden State, too. New Jerseyans brought sound and music to movies and built the very first drive-in theater. In addition to the first cultivated blueberry, tasty treats like ice cream cones and M&M’s® are also Jersey natives. Iconic aspects of American life, like Bubble Wrap®, the boardwalk, the Band-Aid®, and even professional baseball itself started in New Jersey. Life would be a lot harder without the vacuum cleaner, plastic, and air-conditioning and many other important advances in medicine and surgery that were developed here. Join author Linda Barth as she explores groundbreaking, useful, fun, and even silly inventions and their New Jersey roots.

Timothy White

After spending about a decade living and teaching in Manhattan and Brooklyn, Dr. Timothy White is happy to now call Jersey City home. He joined the faculty of New Jersey City University in the fall of 2009, after completing a joint postdoctoral fellowship at the New School and New-York Historical Society. As a history professor at NJCU, he created walking tours of Jersey City, which he offers at least once every semester. In his research, he explores the construction and craft history of Broadway from the early twentieth-century to the 1990s. This research will soon appear in his book, Blue-Collar Broadway: The Craft and Industry of American Theater, under contract with the University of Pennsylvania Press.

Sixth Borough: Jersey City Railroads and the Economy of New York Harbor
After the Civil War, Jersey City was revolutionized by a vast infrastructure of railroad tracks, storage buildings, shipping facilities, and factories. As this infrastructure mushroomed on both sides of the Hudson, it not only transformed Jersey City itself, but also redefined the power dynamic between the city and its larger neighbor. Many dozens of railroads lines terminating abruptly at Jersey City because of the barrier of the Hudson River, unleashed a staggering volume of goods and people into the harbor through barges, lighters, and ferries. Equally impressive was the flow of goods and people inland through Jersey City to the rest of the United States. Featuring original research, this presentation will challenge New Jerseyans to think of Jersey City in the late 19th century as not only vital to the New York City economy, but perhaps even more important economically than Brooklyn or Queens.

Allan A. De Fina

Dr. Allan A. De Fina was appointed to the position of Dean of the Deborah Cannon Partridge Wolfe College of Education in August 2010. Before becoming the Dean, he was a Professor and, later, served as Chairperson in the Department of Literacy Education at New Jersey City University. A former Special Educator, High School English Teacher, and Elementary School Staff Development Specialist, he is an award-winning poet, who has twice received the William Carlos Williams Poetry Award for New Jersey Poets. Dr. De Fina has long been associated with the University community, being an alumnus of New Jersey City University, formerly known as Jersey City State College, with teaching certifications in Special Education and English. His M.A. is from the Psychological Foundations of Reading Program, with certifications as a Reading Teacher and Reading Specialist, and his Ph.D. is from the School of Applied Psychology at New York University. Dr. De Fina has served on numerous committees of the International Reading Association and on committees for the New Jersey Department of Education and is a past-President of the New Jersey Reading Association. He is the author of two books, one for teachers and one for children, and has authored numerous scholarly articles. Dr. De Fina is the Literacy Series Advisor for over 250 non-fiction texts for elementary and middle school children.

Before and After “Thorough and Efficient”: A History of Schooling in New Jersey
New Jersey has a long history of educating its citizens. That history has effectively served generations of students from diverse backgrounds, but has not always been without controversy. Those controversies, though, have served to strengthen education in the state and have placed New Jersey as a leader in high expectations and achievements for students.

Maureen Wlodarczyk

Maureen Wlodarczyk is a genealogist, author, columnist, blogger, and speaker. She writes a local history column titled “Hudson Then . . . Again” for the River View Observer (riverviewobserver.net), a genealogy column, “History & Mystery: Perfect Together,” for the e-magazine Garden State Legacy (gardenstatelegacy.com), and is a contributing writer for the genealogical e-magazine, Irish Lives Remembered (www.irishlivesremembered.ie). Her book Past-Forward: A Three-Decade & Three-Thousand-Mile Journey Home recounts the story of her 30-year search for her grandmother’s Irish ancestral roots and the surprising and poignant discoveries made along the way. Her second book, Young & Wicked: The Death of a Wayward Girl, is the true story of star-crossed first generation Irish-American lovers—one of them a second cousin to Wlodarczyk’s great-grandmother—who grew up in Jersey City, both becoming young petty criminals who fled to the Bowery in New York City in 1893 to avoid arrest, where their life together met a violent end. Her third work, Canary in a Cage: The Smith-Bennett Murder Case, is historical fiction, based on a true story. She serves as an officer with the Flannery Clan based in Dublin, Ireland, and is a member of the Irish-American Writers and Artists Organization.

Immigration: The Making of a Jersey (City) Girl
Immigration to isolation to assimilation—the American immigration experience has repeated itself over and over for some 300 years as a diverse array of ethnic groups came to the United States, most aspiring to a better life, but some against their will. After arrival, they began the important and much longer second part of their journey as new Americans, establishing themselves socially and economically in their new homeland. Often living first in towns or neighborhoods populated with others from their former homeland, over time and generations, they ventured out and assimilated into the greater population, expanding their own personal world and influencing the culture and character of our country. Maureen Wlodarczyk uses her years of research into her own family’s immigrant story to tell the tale of her own multi-ethnic Jersey City ancestry.

James F. Broderick

James F. Broderick is an author and an NJCU Associate Professor of English. After starting his journalism career in rural Indiana, he worked at newspapers and online news services in Cincinnati, Suburban Chicago, New York City, and Jersey City. After receiving his master’s degree from Brooklyn College and his Ph.D. from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, he published his first book in 2003, Paging New Jersey: A Literary Guide to the Garden State (Rutgers University Press, 2003), which the New Jersey Center for the Book named one of the 10 “Notable Non-Fiction Books of the Decade.” His fifth non-fiction book is Now a Terrifying Motion Picture! Twenty-Five Classic Works of Horror Adapted from Book to Film (Mcfarland, 2012) His suspense novel, Stalked, will be published by Whiskey Creek Press in 2013.

A Perpetually New Jersey: Diversity and Literary Reinvention in the Garden State
New Jersey is singular in its contribution to American literary culture—yet there is no single author, literary movement, work, genre, or era that comes close to defining the state’s literary zeitgeist. Dr. James Broderick’s talk will explore the diversity of voices, from well-heeled “gentlemen” like Philip Freneau and James Fenimore Cooper to iconoclasts like Walt Whitman and Stephen Crane; from feminist trailblazers like Mary Griffith and Mary Wilkins Freeman to firebrands like Amiri Baraka; from Pulitzer Prize winners like Toni Morrison, Philip Roth, and Junot Diaz to genre fiction champions like Peter Benchley, Janet Evanovich, and Judy Blume. Equally diverse are the genres associated with New Jersey (poetry, novels, flash fiction, drama, spoken word, screenplays) and subject matter, both fiction and non-fiction (the mafia, the Jersey Shore, the Pine Barrens, The Jersey Devil, et al.) Like Whitman’s self-contradicting narrator, New Jersey contains multitudes.

Gilda Rogers

Gilda Rogers is a writer, educator, and community activist as well as the author of two books: Arrested Development: The State of Black Achievement and Education in Hip Hop America; and her most recent book: FEARLESS: A Bold Approach to Reinventing Your Life. Rogers is the “Community Affairs” consultant with Two River Theater, a state-of-the-art venue located in Red Bank, NJ. She is the executive producer and host of the television show FRANK TALK that airs weekly on Brookdale Television. The show focuses on the arts, culture and entertainment and issues that are important to the Black community. Recently adding playwright to her resume, Rogers, along with Candace and Audrey Kelley had their play entitled: “SuperNatural: The Play” debut in July at Crossroads Theater in New Brunswick. Gilda is an award winning journalist whose work has been featured on AOL Black Voices. She also has appeared on AOL Black Voices with Dr. Boyce Watkins, who is a leading social critic, to give her expertise on media and the Black community. Gilda holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Kean University and acquired her master’s degree in history from Monmouth University. She teaches history and African American studies at Brookdale Community College, as well as writing. As a graduate of Brookdale, she was most recently seen in Brookdale Community College’s statewide media campaign “Success Starts at Brookdale” that aired on such major networks as The Bravo channel, Comedy Central, and OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network, just to name a few. As a community activist she uses her voice and devotes her time to improving the lives of all youth. She also is passionate about engaging, enlightening and encouraging the community to stand up and take action against the prison industrial complex that has destroyed the Black family.

Newspaperman T. Thomas Fortune: Speaking Truth to Power and Elevating Human Dignity
Born a slave in 1856, T. Thomas Fortune rose to be a politically outspoken journalist and human rights activist. He wrote for the “New York Globe” and was the publisher of the “New York Age.” Acquiring his thirst for political activism from his father, who had been a member of the Florida legislature during Reconstruction, Fortune railed against the United States government for its shortcomings and shortchanging of the African American race, when Reconstruction ended abruptly in 1877. Putting his life on the line, Fortune became a courageous champion of human rights for all people and not just African Americans. He’s been credited with popularizing the term “Afro-American,” which gave the downtrodden Negro a new identity. Rogers is a key actor in the current project to buy the T. Thomas Fortune house in Red Bank, NJ for the purposes of turning it into a museum to Fortune and the African-American experience in the state.

R. B. Bernstein

R. B. Bernstein, a lifelong New Yorker, was educated in New York City’s public schools and at Amherst College (B.A. in American Studies, 1977) and the Harvard Law School (J.D., 1980). He did graduate work in history at New York University. He has co-curated exhibitions at The New York Public Library, the New-York Historical Society, and the Library of Congress for the bicentennials of the U.S. Constitution and the U.S. Congress, and was historian at the New York City Commission on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution (1987-1990) and Research Director of the New York State Commission on the Bicentennial of the Constitution (1989-1990). He is distinguished adjunct professor of law at New York Law School, where he has taught since 1991. He has taught in CCNY’s Skadden, Arps Honors Program in Legal Studies since 2011. His books include The Founding Fathers Reconsidered (2009), a finalist for the George Washington Book Prize, and Thomas Jefferson (2003), both New York Times bestsellers. He is an editor of H-LAW and a member of the board of directors of the American Society for Legal History (2011-2014). His 2013 publications include An Expression of the American Mind; Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson (introduction and commentary) (Folio Society, 2013), and Making Legal History: Essays in Honor of William E. Nelson (co-editor) (NYU Press, 2013). He is completing The Education of John Adams, to be published by Oxford University Press.

William Paterson: Conservative Revolutionary in an Age of Crisis
Though William Paterson’s name features prominently in any account of the Federal Convention of 1787, few people besides historians are aware of the scope and depth of his contributions not just to the U.S. Constitution but to the American constitutional tradition. On closer examination, Paterson emerges as a distinct type of founding father—the conservative revolutionary, who took the unprecedented step of joining a revolution against Great Britain to preserve rather than overthrow constitutional principles and doctrines. Especially after independence was won, Paterson continued his efforts — as founding father, as Senator, as a Justice of the Supreme Court, and as a lawmaker — to shape the governance and law of a new nation, and his home state. He always spoke and acted as a conservative who was willing to take revolutionary steps in defense of time-honored principles of government and law.

Nurdan Duzgoren-Aydin

Dr. Duzgoren-Aydin is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Geoscience/Geography Department of New Jersey City University. Her research interests include urban environmental geochemistry, especially distribution and dispersion of solid-bound potentially toxic elements; source provenance by using Pb-isotope compositions; and urban environmental issues, sustainability and justice. She is one of the co-editors of peer-reviewed Journal of Environmental Geochemistry and Health. She is the President of the Geological Association of New Jersey. Recently, she has established an environmental quality monitoring program, based on physical and chemical characteristics of urban soil in Jersey City. Her recent publications discuss potential impacts of Super-Storm Sandy on surface environmental quality in JC. She represents NJCU especially STEM departments in the New Jersey Department of Education steering committee on “Next Generation Science Education.” She received prestigious “Excellence in Teaching Award” from The National Society of Leadership and Success in May 2013. She graduated as a Geological Engineer and received her MSc degree in Geochemistry at the Middle East Technical University. Dr. Duzgoren-Aydin received her Ph.D from Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada. Prior to NJCU, she was working at the University of Mississippi.

Environmental Justice in NJ
Dr. Aydin will be focusing on the distribution of environmental and human health in New Jersey, especially Jersey City. Special emphasis will be given to geographic distribution of surface environmental quality and relevant population demography, and thus environmental justice in Jersey City. In addition, potential impacts of global environmental issues on local settings (such as extreme weather events, Superstorm Sandy) will be discussed.

Ryan Hyman

Ryan C. Hyman is the F. M. Kirby Curator of Collections at the Macculloch Hall Historical Museum in Morristown. He holds B.A.s in History and Anthropology from the University of Connecticut; Storrs, and a M.A. in History from Central Connecticut State University; New Britain. Mr. Hyman began his museum career at the Web-Deane-Stevens Museum and Buttolph-Williams House in Wethersfield, CT. First serving as a Museum Teacher and Guide, he moved up the ladder to become the Curatorial Assistant before he joined the staff at Macculloch Hall in 2001. As in any small museum, staff must be flexible. He is responsible not only for the extensive fine and decorative arts collections at Macculloch Hall, but has also been the lead staff member for numerous major exhibits, including several on the works of Thomas Nast. Mr. Hyman has been in charge of the more than 3500 Thomas Nast works in the Museum’s collection. He has continued to research and collect Thomas Nast images for Macculloch Hall for the past 13 years. A New Jersey native, he lives with his wife Carrie and twin sons Nathan and Quinn in Scotch Plains.

Historical Icons
Thomas Nast (1840-1902) is known as the Father of American Political Cartoons. He is most famous for popularizing the images of the Democratic Donkey, Republican Elephant, Uncle Sam, and Santa Claus. He is best known for his political cartoons that he created for Harper’s Weekly for about a twenty-five year period from the early 1860s through the mid-1880s. Mr. Hyman’s presentation on Thomas Nast highlights his most popular political cartoons―and a few interesting but lesser known images.

Walter Choroszewski

Walter Choroszewski has been a leading advocate of Jersey pride since 1980 when he was commissioned to photograph the state for a book project. NEW JERSEY, A Scenic Discovery, which launched his photographic career and link to the Garden State. He has since published eighteen photographic books; his most recent book, Hunterdon In My Heart, celebrates Hunterdon County’s 2014 tercentenary. Walter Choroszewski’s book, NEW JERSEY, A Photographic Celebration, was selected for the Official NJ350th “101 GREAT NEW JERSEY BOOK LIST” under the category of art and poetry. Also on the 101 List, historian John Cunningham’s, This is NEW JERSEY, includes a major section of his photographs. Cunningham wrote the introduction for Choroszewski’s first book and became a lifelong friend and mentor. They were collaborators on numerous publications and corporate projects. Choroszewski’s photographs were the inspiration for creating the iconic state tourism campaign: “NEW JERSEY & You: Perfect Together!”  Walter was the primary photographer of the campaign through the 1980s and 90s and he was awarded the first New Jersey Photo Journalism award by Governor Thomas Kean in 1989. In addition to tourism, Choroszewski’s photographs of New Jersey were widely published in calendars, magazines, textbooks and as covers for Bell Atlantic’s telephone directories. His fine art prints and murals of New Jersey are found in corporations, hospitals in many private collections. For over thirty years Walter has also promoted New Jersey through his public speaking and popular school program. “NEW JERSEY Celebrate Your State” and “Timeline New Jersey” received an Award of Recognition from the New Jersey Historical Commission in 2011. Walter maintains an active lecture schedule with over 200 presentations per year to New Jersey schools, libraries and organizations.

New Jersey: Celebrate Your State
A lecture and visual presentation with Walter’s perspective on New Jersey’s history. Celebrate Your State travels from the primeval dawn of the Highlands, through the Ice Age, up to the present. Meet New Jersey’s first people and explorers; take pride in our Colonial and Revolutionary history and celebrate the numerous events and “Firsts” that make New Jersey special!

For further information please contact:

Ella Rue, M.F. A.
Assistant to the Dean for College Communications and External Relations
Phone:  201.200.2296
Email: ERue@NJCU.edu