Essex County commissioners celebrate Women’s History Month

Photo Courtesy of ECBCC
At the Essex County Board of County Commissioners’ Women’s History Month virtual ceremony are, top row, from left, honorees Carolyn Thompson-Wallace, executive director of International Youth Organization; Linda C. Harrison, director and CEO of the Newark Museum of Art; Natasha Pared, principal of Rafael Hernàndez Elementary School in Newark; and Garnet R. Hall, Essex County deputy clerk. Middle row, from left, are Commissioner Robert Mercado, ECBCC clerk Deborah Davis Ford, Commissioner Vice President Carlos Pomares and Commissioner President Wayne Richardson. Bottom row, from left, are Commissioners Patricia Sebold and Brendan Gill.

NEWARK, NJ — On March 31, the Essex County Board of County Commissioners virtually held its Women’s History Month celebration via Zoom, recognizing the accomplishments of four outstanding Essex County women, while honoring the contributions of all women to society as a whole. 

“Whether we are reflecting on the life of the recently deceased Madeleine Albright, the first woman to serve as the United States Secretary of State, or standing in appreciation of Ketanji Brown Jackson, who is poised to become the first African American woman to serve on the Supreme Court — it is clear that women’s history is a critical aspect of our nation’s history,” Commissioner President Wayne L. Richardson said, opening the ceremony. “We simply would not be where we are today without the significant contributions of so many women from the past and present.”

This year, the board recognized Garnet R. Hall, Essex County deputy clerk; Carolyn Thompson-Wallace, executive director of International Youth Organization; Natasha Pared, principal of Rafael Hernàndez Elementary School in Newark; and Linda C. Harrison, director and CEO of the Newark Museum of Art. 

In her role as the county’s deputy clerk, Hall supports Essex County residents and provides services ranging from passport applications to the swearing-in of state notaries. Prior to serving as deputy clerk, she enjoyed a decorated career in telecommunications for more than 30 years and received many awards, certificates and recognitions during her time as a sales professional. She is currently the vice chairperson of the Maplewood Democratic Committee, and has participated in all aspects of organizing and strategic planning for the campaigns of local and state legislators.

Thompson-Wallace is a community organizer and published author from Newark who, through her service to the community, has earned the distinction as one of the premiere matriarchs of Newark. While living in the Brick Towers Housing Complex in Newark, she was asked to assist in the area of tenant affairs and tenant placement. She also assisted with the Brick Tower Youth Association that conducted activities for young people residing in the area. Due to the overwhelming needs of the youth, she organized the International Youth Organization. Her working experience includes serving as the director of the Central Ward Multi-Service Center of Councilman Jesse Allen, the director of the B.F. Johnson Civic Association, and time as a union representative in the garment industry with the International Ladies Garment Workers Union.

Pared has more than 18 years of experience in urban education, which has been instrumental in developing her voice as an educational leader. She is a first-generation high school and college graduate whose educational career began as a first-grade teacher with the Orange Board of Education. From there she grew into a model classroom teacher with the Children’s Literacy Initiative. As her career progressed, she took on the role of mentoring new teachers and leading professional development sessions. As a first-grade teacher in Englewood, she became part of the Positive Behavior Support Team, with which she supported schoolwide initiatives for the social and emotional development of students. She is a wife and mother of three children who graduated from Newark Public Schools.

As director and CEO of the Newark Museum of Art, Harrison plays a strategic and unifying role for the organization with the city of Newark and its fellow anchor institutions. During the first year of her three-year vision plan, she established a new Senior Leadership Team and revamped the organization. In 2019, for the first time in more than a decade, earned income at the museum was increased 25 percent from the previous year. Throughout her career she has received many awards, including the Yerba Buena Alliance Unsung Hero Award, the Rutgers Business School Leadership Award and being named one of the “11 Most Influential Women in the San Francisco Art World.” 

The Rev. Eva C. Foster of the First Baptist Church of Irvington delivered prayers during the occasion, and the audience enjoyed a video of Alicia Keys performing “Superwoman.” To view the event in its entirety, visit