GLEN RIDGE, NJ — The Glen Ridge Public Library Board of Trustees has appointed Rudd Court resident Tina Payne as its newest member.
Payne told The Glen Ridge Paper that as a girl growing up poor, her hometown public library left her with a lasting impression. Becoming a trustee, she said, was her way of giving back.
An asset management attorney, Payne was raised in Pottsville, Pa., a small mining town that she said some may know as the location of America’s oldest beer maker, Yuengling Brewery.
As a student at Pottsville High School, she thought she might want to become a journalist.
“I found it very challenging,” she said. “But I loved accounting, too, and a teacher said to me, ‘Hey, you can be a corporate lawyer.’”
After graduation, she attended the University of Pittsburgh for college and law school.
“Pottsville was a very small town,” she said. “I knew I wanted to go to a big city. I looked at Philadelphia, but wanted a state school because of the costs.”
Pittsburgh was a totally new experience for her and after one year she thought she did not want to return to Pottsville.
“I worked as a bank teller to put myself through college,” she said. “After college, I took two years off and worked for May Company. I needed a break. Then I applied to a number of law schools, but Pitt offered me a generous scholarship and I ended up staying in Pittsburgh.”
Payne said that during her third and final year in law school, her mother, who was a single mom, became very ill. To be closer to home, she took a summer job in Philadelphia where she also secured employment with the law firm of Stradley Ronen. Her mother died a year after she graduated.
She departed Stradley Ronen after two years and went to work for PFPC Worldwide, an investment service. She worked there for four years, during which time she married a fellow-student from law school, Sean, and moved to Wilmington, Del., a 30-minute commute from Philadelphia.
“I loved the work at PFPC as soon as I landed,” Payne said. “I worked directly with clients, understood their business needs, their products, such as mutual funds or private funds, and put them together to offer to investors.”
In 2006, her husband, who is a financial consultant, found a job in NYC.
“I came up in 2007,” Payne said, “and got a junior position on a legal team at Cohen Steers, an asset management firm. I started as a junior attorney. It was a multinational company and I overlooked their U.S work. After two years, I was a senior attorney. I left there one month shy of being there for 10 years.”
Payne then went on to Alger, an asset management firm, in NYC, where she currently works, and lived on the Upper West Side for 14 years.
“Same apartment,” she said.
Payne and Sean, and their 10-year-old son, Raymond, a 4th-grader at Ridgewood Avenue School, moved into the borough in 2019.
“We were looking for a good school system and we kind of stumbled onto Glen Ridge,” she said. “We were looking at Millburn and Short Hills. My husband is into stats, like students-to-teacher ratios. But we drove through Glen Ridge and it was so pretty. It took a couple of times, but we got a house.”
Payne learned about the board of trustees opening from a general library announcement and applied.
“I grew up in public housing,” she said. “On Saturdays, we had no car or TV. But my mom would bring my brother Michael and me to the Pottsville Public Library. My mother had a 9th grade education.
Education was important to her because she never finished. We got library cards and we could just go there. That has stayed with me, going to the library. When I was in law school, especially when my mom was sick, I was studying for the bar in that library.”
Payne said she was “super excited” about being the new trustee and being part of the library’s future. She has also joined the Women’s Club of Glen Ridge and Glen Ridge Civic Conference Committee.
“It’s been great getting involved with the community,” she said. “My son is going to grow up here.”
According to Carol Harpster, the current board president, there are nine members on the Glen Ridge Library Board of Trustees. When there is a vacancy, there is an open search process after which the board provides a recommendation to the mayor and council which makes the official appointment. A trustee term is five years.