Sister Rose Thering Fund appoints new chairwoman

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SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — The torch has officially been passed. Melinda Hanlon, president of the Academy of the Holy Angels in Demarest and a resident of Watchung, has become the new chairwoman of the board of trustees for Seton Hall University’s Sister Rose Thering Fund for Education in Jewish-Christian Studies, as of July 1. Formerly the board’s vice chairwoman, Hanlon is filling the shoes of Deborah Lerner Duane, who served as chairwoman of the board for five years.

Under Hanlon’s leadership, the fund will continue to provide tuition assistance for educators from public, private and parochial schools who enroll in Seton Hall’s Master of Arts in Jewish-Christian Studies program. Through these educators, the fund aims to foster understanding and cooperation among Jews, Christians and people of other religious traditions.

The new chairwoman sees her volunteer post as a complement to her work at Holy Angels, since she maintains a strong belief in the connection between funding a teacher’s education and impacting a new generation of students. Her work with the fund also allows her to honor her late father-in-law, U.S. Army veteran Kenneth Hanlon, who helped liberate a Nazi camp in Austria during World War II.

“My husband and I are proud to serve as board members with the fund, and I look forward to my role as board chair,” Hanlon said. “As an educator, I have always believed in the transformative power of education and look forward to continuing the vision of Sister Rose as we provide support for students in the Jewish-Christian Studies program here at Seton Hall.”

Leadership is a skill at which Hanlon has worked to excel throughout her career as an educator. Prior to her more than four years with Holy Angels, she served as principal of Holy Savior Academy in South Plainfield. She also spent nearly seven years at St. James Catholic School in Basking Ridge, first as a language arts teacher and junior high supervisor, and then as assistant principal. She has earned two master’s degrees in communication sciences and disorders from Montclair State University and educational leadership and administration from Seton Hall, and she is pursuing a doctor of education in educational leadership, management and policy, also from Seton Hall.

With this experience under her belt, Hanlon plans to build upon the work of the Sister Rose Thering Fund board that began in 1993.

“Today more than ever, the influence of teachers on the lives of their students is critical. I see our work as a board to support teacher-scholars as critical to foster understanding among Jews, Christians and people of all religious traditions,” she said.

Duane, the immediate past chairwoman, intends to continue her participation on the board.

“It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve as the Sister Rose Thering Fund’s chair for the last five years. I’m proud of what this dedicated group of volunteers was able to accomplish during that time,” she said. “With my term complete, I’m pleased to have a permanent position on the executive committee, and look forward to joining past chairpeople, our current officers and the Sister Rose Thering Fund staff in developing our strategy for the future.

“The leadership skills of incoming Chair Melinda Hanlon, along with her enthusiasm for our mission, are an unbeatable combination,” Duane continued. “I have great confidence that she, along with Vice Chair Susan Feinstein, treasurer Alan Silberstein and secretary Ruth Loew Schildiner, will encourage our board to establish and reach the next level of success in advancing the legacy of Sister Rose by fostering understanding and cooperation among Jews, Christians and people of other religious traditions through advocacy and education.”