School Choice Advisory Council
Bob Bowdon, Choice Media, Founder and Executive Director, Choice Media
Bob Bowdon is the Founder and Executive Director of Choice Media. He has been a television producer, reporter and commentator for PBS, Bloomberg Television and national syndication. He also appeared as a recurring character in satirical news sketches for the Onion News Network. The Cartel, Bowdon's documentary, reveals the nature and extent of corruption in public education. The film won a dozen film festival awards, Warner Brothers distribution and a national theatrical release.
Tom Byrne, Byrne Asset Management
Tom Byrne founded Byrne Asset Management in 1998. With more than 35 years' experience in the securities business, Tom has been a member of the New Jersey State Investment Council since 2010 and is currently its chairman. He served two terms as chairman of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee.
Professor Robert P. George, Princeton University
Robert P. George is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. He is also the Herbert W. Vaughan Fellow of the Witherspoon Institute and has been a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School. He has served as Chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and as a presidential appointee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. He has also served on the President's Council on Bioethics and as the U.S. member of UNESCO's World Commission on the Ethics of Science and Technology. He was a Judicial Fellow at the Supreme Court of the United States, where he received the Justice Tom C. Clark Award. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Swarthmore College, he holds degrees in law and theology from Harvard and the degrees of D.Phil., B.C.L. and D.C.L. from Oxford University, in addition to eighteen honorary degrees. He is a recipient of the U.S. Presidential Citizens Medal and the Honorific Medal for the Defense of Human Rights of the Republic of Poland, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. His most recent book is Conscience and Its Enemies (ISI Books).
Rabbi Avi Schnall
Rabbi Avi Schnall is the director of the New Jersey Office of Agudath Israel of America. Agudath Israel is the oldest Orthodox Jewish grassroots organization in the country, with membership chapters throughout the United States. A top priority for Agudath Israel is education and advocating for school choice. In New Jersey, Rabbi Schnall has successfully lobbied legislation that has brought significant new funds to private schools. Rabbi Schnall is also the Vice Chairman of the Non Public School Advisory Committee for the New Jersey Dept. of Education.
Board of Trustees
Sufia Azmat, Trustee
Sufia Azmat is the Executive Director of the Council of Islamic Schools in North America (CISNA) which specializes in Islamic school accreditation and provides professional development. She is a certified teacher with over 20 years of experience in education. Ms. Azmat has taught at multiple grade levels with primary focus on English and literature. Her administrative experience includes serving as the principal of a K-12 school and as a middle school division head. Ms. Azmat is also the co-chair of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) Education Forum Programming Committee which organizes two national conferences. She is an educational consultant whose workshops include Bullying Prevention, Counseling, Critical Thinking, Effective Communication, and Positive School Climate.
Peter Denton, Founder and Trustee
Pete Denton has spent over 30 years in the optical thin film, vacuum deposition and chemical optical coating field. His experience has included developing new technology, managing Denton Vacuum, Inc. (DVI), initiating new business start-ups and active industry trade associations. Pete graduated from MIT with a degree in Electrical Engineering and has an MBA from the Harvard Business School.
In 1998, Pete resigned as CEO of Denton Vacuum to allow him to devote most of his time to a major interest of his: reform of the public education system. In 1999, Pete established Excellent Education for Everyone, to reform urban public schools in New Jersey through parental school choice.
Maury Litwack, Trustee
Maury Litwack, Director of State Political Affairs at the Orthodox Union, has over fourteen years of public policy and political experience. In his role at the Orthodox Union, Maury develops and implements individualized advocacy plans in a dozen states.
Maury’s efforts are currently focused on education reform. To advance this agenda he has engaged tens of thousands of community members in grassroots advocacy, created coalitions of opinion leaders and elected officials, crafted impactful media campaigns and led private and public funding efforts. Maury’s leadership has helped the Orthodox Union secure local, state and federal funding across the country including the City of New York fund security guards for non-public schools, the creation of busing for parents in MD, and the expansion of critical scholarship funding dollars for children in Florida and Pennsylvania. Maury previously served as the National Deputy Director of the Orthodox Union.
Prior the Orthodox Union, Maury was the federal affairs representative for Miami-Dade County, the sixth-largest county in America. He also worked in the United States Congress, serving as a policy specialist for two members of the House of Representatives concentrating on issues including education, appropriations, and transportation.
Maury is the author of The Capitol Plan, a guide to successful advocacy that reflects his many years working with key Washington players. His thoughts on politics and policy have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Politico, and Forbes, and he has been a contributor to outlets including Fox News, Business Insider, Tech Crunch, Mashable, & The Hill.
Steve Looney, Trustee and Treasurer
Steve Looney is Managing Director of Peale Davies & Co. Inc., a management consulting firm, and is a CPA and an attorney. Mr. Looney serves as a consultant and director of healthcare, financial services, manufacturing and technology companies.
Mr. Looney graduated summa cum laude from the University of Washington with a B.A. degree in Accounting and a J.D. from the University of Washington School of Law where he was a member of the law review. He is a native of Shelton, Washington, the son of a public school teacher, a long-time resident of Ridgewood, New Jersey and a strong advocate for improvement of our State's public and private education systems.
Dr. Maria Teresa Montilla, Trustee
Dr. Maria Teresa Montilla is the president of the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey (LLANJ), the only state organization representing and advocating for the interests and rights of Latinos in New Jersey. She presides The Institute for Latino Studies, Research & Development, a research and leadership development institution, that implements projects and initiatives to promote the educational and socio-economic advancement of Latinos in the state.
Dr. Montilla seeks the development of Latino Leadership, and the definition of the role Latinos play in the US society. She does work in this area through radio and television programs, publications, public forums, conferences and workshops.
Professionally, she has an established career in management with the New Jersey Judiciary, possessing strong organizational, interpersonal and communication skills. She has extensive experience in training and teaching, and is an accomplished communicator.
She has authored numerous teaching manuals in behavioral sciences. Her book, Latina y Evangélica in the United States, an analysis of the religious and cultural factors that converge in gender oppression, is a text book at The Christian University de New Jersey, New Covenant University in Florida, and Latin University of Theology en Bridgeport, Connecticut. She has co-authored two books and accompanying documentaries: Los Panfleteros de Santiago (Santiago's Pamphleteers), and Dominicans in New Jersey: A Decade of Accomplishments.
Her established record of community outreach, organizing and activism spans 30 years, and has earned her accolades and service awards from organizations, agencies and elected officials.
Her educational background includes a Master's Degree in Administrative Sciences from Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, NJ; a Masters and Doctorate Degrees in Christian Counseling from Universidad Nuevo Pacto Internacional, Florida, and a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from Thomas Edison State College, Trenton, NJ.
Dick Zimmer, Trustee
Dick Zimmer represented New Jersey's 12th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he was a member of the Ways and Means Committee.
He is the author of the federal Megan's Law, which requires parents to be notified when a convicted sex offender moves into their neighborhood. His legislation on environmental risk assessment was incorporated into amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act.
In 1996 and 2008, Zimmer was nominated by the New Jersey Republican Party to be its candidate for the U.S. Senate. He was chairman of NJ Governor Chris Christie's Privatization Task Force. In 2015, he was appointed to be a member of the Institute of Medicine's Roundtable on Environmental Health Sciences, Research, and Medicine.
Prior to his election to Congress, Dick Zimmer was a member of the New Jersey State Assembly, where he was chairman of the State Government Committee, and the State Senate, where he served on the Revenue, Finance and Appropriations Committee. He sponsored New Jersey's original farmland preservation law and the legislation creating the state's radon detection and remediation program. Dick earned his law degree from Yale Law School, where he was an editor of the Yale Law Journal. He received a B.A. degree, with high honors in political science, from Yale University.
He practiced law with Cravath, Swaine &; Moore; the general counsel's office of Johnson & Johnson; Dechert; and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. He is currently CEO of Zimmer Strategies, Inc., a public policy consulting firm. Zimmer taught graduate students at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School as a Lecturer in Public and International Affairs.
Laura O'Connor, Community Organizer
Laura O'Connor serves on the staff of E3 Excellent Education for Everyone. As the Community Organizer she is responsible for supporting the activities of public funding for Private Schools and School Choice in New Jersey.
Laura graduated from Villanova University with a degree in Business Administration and has more than fourteen years of experience working as a Director of Membership with non-profit organizations including the New Jersey Restaurant Association, the Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey and Community Associations Institute New Jersey Chapter.
Laura resides in Lumberton, NJ with her husband and son. She is the daughter of a public school teacher and an advocate for school choice.