GLEN RIDGE, NJ — Borough resident William Seeman has been elected the NJ governor for Kiwanis Club International. Currently the president of the Kiwanis Club of Glen Ridge, Seeman will assume his new office Oct. 1. He has previously served as lieutenant governor three times.
Seeman, 67, has been a borough resident since 1980. He has worked extensively in the banking and finance industries.
“My business career has been as a banker locally, in NYC and London, where I was for five years,” he said recently at his home. “And I’ve been a financial advisor for 18 years with Merrill Lynch and Ameriprise.”
He attended Gettysburg College where he graduated in 1973 with a major in history. Right out of school, his first job was with the First National State Bank, in Newark.
“Regional banks in those days were more interested in the education you had,” he said. “They could teach you business.”
At the time, he lived in Bloomfield. He moved to Glen Ridge in 1980. The next year he left First National and joined Marine Midland where he stayed until 1984 when he was hired by National Westminster Bank. He spent 15 years with them, including five in London. But as merger activities increased, opportunities for a banking career decreased.
“I had a great career and worked with companies in London that needed American business advice,” he said.
In 2000, he moved to Merrill Lynch as a financial advisor. In 2012, he joined Ameriprise.
Seeman joined the Kiwanis Club of Glen Ridge in 1987 and has been its president “a few times,” he said. A community service organization, especially in the service of children, the club sponsors Key Clubs at the high school level and Builders Clubs in middle schools. At the college level, Circle-K clubs are sponsored.
NJ is divided into nine Kiwanis divisions containing 75 clubs. Each division is headed by a lieutenant governor elected by its clubs. Glen Ridge is in District No. 7. This includes Bloomfield, Belleville, Caldwell/West Essex, Livingston, Saddle Brook/Maywood, Secaucus, South Orange, Maplewood and West Hudson. Seeman said he was asked by several past governors to run for the office. It is a one-year term.
“They thought I would do a good job,” he said. “I was elected by the state membership, approximately 1,500 people.”
He said an individual’s professional expertise is not really a factor in being elected governor.
“It’s more what you’ve done with the club,” he said. “If you’ve been a club president and a lieutenant governor, they’re pretty well versed about you. A lieutenant governor is on the board of governors. That’s where you demonstrate if you’d be a good governor.”
Seeman said one of his strengths is recruiting new members. He has also worked on the Essex County Resource Fair.
“It’s an annual fair to support families in need,” he said. “Primarily the children needed special medical attention.”
He worked with the fair with another borough resident, Jackie Yustein, who was the head of health and human services for Essex County. She asked the Kiwanis Club of Glen Ridge to help and Seeman did, for 14 years.
“That got me a bit of notice,” he said. “I did that with the help of all the clubs in Essex County.”
Seeman has three goals as governor. Of course, he said, his No. 1 commitment is to grow Kiwanis membership throughout the state by strengthening existing clubs and creating new ones.
“We just built one in Clifton,” he said.
In Clifton, the parent Kiwanis club failed sometime in the ‘80s, according to Seeman. But they still has a Key Club at Clifton High School. Without a parent club in the community, the Key Club lost its charter. It was being sponsored by the Glen Ridge club since around 2000. Working with adult contacts in the Clifton community, Seeman was able to organize a new Kiwanis Club. This occurred officially June 15, 2018. A charter celebration is to be held Sept. 30.
His second goal is to make sure that each club is recognized in its community by having a signature project. Glen Ridge has two such projects. It publishes a residential telephone directory and hosts an annual OctoberFeast.
Seeman’s third goal is to formalize a way to alleviate hunger in NJ. He said this project is currently only in the planning stage.
“This third goal is new,” he said. “A year is a very short time. Nevertheless, we can make some progress on that. I will do the best I can to justify the faith that’s been shown in me.”
The upcoming 5th annual OctoberFeast brings together food and drink from a host of local restaurants for an evening of tastings. It will be held at the Glen Ridge Women’s Club, on Monday, Oct. 15, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Information may be obtained by calling Carl Bergmanson at 973-748-4020.