Board of Trustees

The Board provides oversight of our programs and the organization’s financial health. As dedicated volunteers, they are an essential part of our leadership team and our efforts to responsibly raise funds and awareness.

Deborah Dunn, Esq.
Chair of the Board of Trustees
Attorney, Stark & Stark

Deborah S. Dunn, Esq. joined the Mercer Council Board in 2007 and has been honored to serve the community as the Chair of the Board of Directors since December 2019.

Ms. Dunn’s passion for Mercer Council’s mission is at the forefront of ensuring that the voices of underrepresented people are uplifted as well as promoting a healthier, safer, and more responsible community. Ms. Dunn understands the impact of addiction on families and the community through her representation of injured people in her work as a lawyer and through experiences within her own family. She knows the importance of education and empowerment in helping individuals confront substance-related challenges. She is committed to Mercer Council’s mission of creating pathways to reduce substance-related challenges through education, support, advocacy, and partnerships throughout our community.

Ms. Dunn is an expert Civil Trial Attorney certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey who has extensive experience working in Accident and Personal Injury practices. She is a partner at Stark & Stark. Ms. Dunn is an alumna of Rutgers University having completed her undergraduate degree and Rutgers Law School. Ms. Dunn is a compassionate advocate dedicated to fighting for the rights of others.

Gwendolyn S. Jennings
Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees
Retired Principal, Trenton Public Schools

Gwendolyn Gantt Jennings has been a board member of the Mercer Council since 2017; she currently serves as the vice chair. She serves on the Council as she understands the benefits of the array of services the Council provides and the positive impact of these services on individuals who are in dire need. More importantly, she has listened to numerous success stories of individuals who have benefitted from the resources or programs provided by the Mercer Council. Ms. Gantt Jennings believes nothing is more meaningful in this life than helping someone to live an aspiring life by seeking help or getting support from Mercer Council.

Mrs. Gantt Jennings is a native and lifelong resident of Trenton and Ewing, New Jersey. She graduated from Trenton State College, currently the College of New Jersey. Her professional career as an educator, teacher, and administrator, spanned forty-two years in the Trenton Public Schools District. Mrs. Gantt Jennings concluded her career as an elementary school principal at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School (recently renamed Darlene C. McKnight Elementary School). She currently serves as a mentor for the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association (NJPSA), mentoring new and aspiring administrators in New Jersey.

Lance Liverman
Treasurer of the Board of Trustees
President, Liverman Associates

Mr. Lance Liverman has been serving the Mercer Council Executive Board as a member, a previous chair, and a current Treasurer since 2009. Mr. Liverman has never been one to stray away from his beliefs that all children are a blessing and they all need to have a chance to make it in this world which is aligned with the school-wide prevention education work that is part of Mercer Council’s mission.

As a lifelong resident of Mercer County, and due to his commitment to giving service to others, he continues to look for ways that he can work so that he will have an everlasting positive impact on the community. Mr. Liverman is currently the Owner/President of Liverman Associates (a real estate management company that began in 1993). He is a graduate of Trenton State College, which is now The College of New Jersey, with a degree in Organizational Communications and General Marketing.

Jarrett Fisher
Associate Dean of Undergraduate Students,
Princeton University

Dr. Jarrett Fisher joined the Mercer Council Board of Trustees in 2019 and serves on the Planning, Personnel, and Public Policy & Affairs committees. As an educator, Dr. Fisher is committed to the transformative power that comes from training, community engagement, and lifelong learning – all of which are values held and services offered by the Mercer Council. Through his professional expertise, experiences, and work with youth, Dr. Fisher supports Mercer Council’s mission as the leading resource for substance prevention misuse throughout the county, while his academic training serves to advance Mercer Council’s public policy and advocacy efforts.

Dr. Fisher serves as the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Students at Princeton University. Throughout his tenure, he provides visionary leadership and strategic direction for student-facing programs and initiatives. Prior to Princeton, Dr. Fisher both lived and worked at Pepperdine University, where he received his doctorate of education in organizational leadership. Before Pepperdine, Dr. Fisher held other administrative roles in student support services, including crisis response, bystander intervention, counseling, substance education, and community standards. Dr. Fisher received his graduate and undergraduate degrees in public administration from Cal State Bakersfield.

Chief Timothy Grant
Chief of Police,
The College of New Jersey

Chief Timothy Grant has served on the Mercer Council Board since 2020. Chief Grant’s passion and involvement with Mercer Council are deep-rooted in his current work. Throughout his law enforcement profession, he sees firsthand the struggles of individuals with addictions and the heartbreak of families who walk alongside them. He is honored to work with Mercer Council’s team of compassionate caregivers and educators to help reduce substance-related challenges in our community.

Chief Grant works closely with the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office to find solutions for the over 150,000 prescriptions for opioids dispensed and at least 100 suspected overdose deaths in Mercer County each year since 2017. He recognizes that there is no single cause of addiction, and it is only through our partnerships that meaningful change can happen. Chief Grant currently provides leadership for the Campus Police at the College of New Jersey. Chief Grant’s Police Department participates in several law enforcement initiatives developed to address the opioid and other drug crises. All Mercer County Law Enforcement Officers carry Naloxone. Each Police Department participates in “Operation Helping Hand,” an initiative that diverts individuals from the criminal justice system to substance abuse treatment. Chief Grant has an undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice from Thomas Edison College and a graduate degree in Education from Seton Hall University.

Julie DeSimone
Program Officer,
NJ Health Care Quality Institute

Julie DeSimone joined the Mercer Council Board in 2020. The Mercer Council’s mission to serve youth and families aligns with her personal passion and professional path. Ms. DeSimone has worked in various youth programs, including prevention, mentor services, school-based programs, and juvenile justice diversion. Her experience in program development, management, and evaluation in these work areas allows her to support the vital prevention work of the Mercer Council. She believes Mercer Council contributes to the health and wellness of the Mercer County community and recognizes the importance of the life-altering supports provided by the organization.

Ms. DeSimone is the Program Officer for the Mayors Wellness Campaign at the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute and a Licensed Social Worker. Julie earned a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences in Sociology from Rutgers University and a Master of Social Work, with a concentration in Nonprofit.

Christopher Jakim
HIDTA Deputy National Coordinator,
Overdose Response Strategy

Christopher Jakim became a member of the Mercer Council Board in 2023. With a distinguished 30-year career as a Special Agent within the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), working in both domestic and international capacities, Chris’s unwavering dedication to aiding those grappling with substance use disorder perfectly aligns with the Council’s mission. The Mercer Council champions a multifaceted approach to tackle the complex epidemic we face, emphasizing partnerships and interdisciplinary collaboration as the means to find solutions, a mantra that Chris has embraced throughout his career.

Currently, Chris serves as the HIDTA Deputy National Coordinator for the Overdose Response Strategy (ORS). This innovative program fosters collaboration between public health and public safety, aiming to reduce drug overdoses by sharing data, intelligence, and evidence-based strategies. Chris oversees 61 Drug Intelligence Officers stationed in all 50 states, as well as in the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. His responsibilities include managing the implementation, development, and supervision of policies, budgets, and program activities. Additionally, he maintains close coordination with public health partners from the CDC and CDC Foundation.

Chris holds an undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice from Mansfield University and is presently an Associate Adjunct Professor at Rutgers University.

Joseph Hadge
Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor,
The College of New Jersey (Retired)

Mr. Joe Hadge joined Mercer Council’s Executive Board in 2022. Mr. Hadge uses his clinical credentials and thirty-years of working in Alcohol and Other Drug prevention field to support Mercer Council’s mission of creating pathways to reduce substance-related challenges. Mr. Hadge also understands substance use disorders through the lens of friend and family perspective and strives to share a compassionate perspective to the Council.

Mr. Hadge has worked for 30 years in the K-12 and most recently in higher education Alcohol and Other Drug prevention field. He is knowledgeable on evidenced based prevention and early intervention. Mr. Hadge earned a B.S. from Pennsylvania State University, M.A. from Springfield College. He has the following credentials: New Jersey Certified Prevention Specialist, Substance Awareness Coordinator and a New Jersey Licensed Clinical Alcohol Drug Counselor.

Maureen McGrath
Retired Corporate Director

Maureen was honored to join the Mercer Council Board of Trustees in 2024. She recognizes addressing substance-related challenges as critical to a vibrant community and endorses youth programs, education, advocacy, and increased awareness as vital resources to that end. A strong believer that early positive engagement can facilitate healthy life outcomes and that every individual should have access to resources necessary for achieving their full potential, she has supported and actively participated in youth education and mentoring programs throughout her adult life. She is firmly committed to the Council’s mission of preventing substance misuse and supporting recovery throughout Mercer County.

Maureen has deep experience in both the private and non-profit sectors. She spent 25 years as a senior equity research analyst for both investment management and investment banking firms in New York City. She produced rigorous proprietary financial forecasting and analysis and evaluated corporate strategic and operating initiatives to generate stock recommendations; Maureen was recognized by The Wall Street Journal and Institutional Investor magazine for her work. Throughout her career she was routinely assigned leadership roles, mentored and developed junior analysts, and was a recipient of a corporate diversity award. Separately, Maureen was actively involved in Urban Outward Bound and the Student Sponsor Partnership youth programs.

Subsequent to her retirement from financial services as a Managing Director, Maureen turned an abiding interest in giving back to the nonprofit sector and joined Educando, a public charity with a mission of raising the quality of education in impoverished areas in Latin America. In this role, she supported the Executive Director and Director of Development, co-managed key fundraising and development initiatives and helped secure critical funding for both education
programs and operating overhead. Maureen completed an Executive Education program in Nonprofit Financial Stewardship at the Harvard Kennedy School, holds an MBA in Finance from Cornell University, and a BA in History from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She is an avid swimmer, participating in long distance swim treks overseas, enjoys golf, and studies French as a second language.

Lenora B. Keel
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Lenora B. Keel, MSW, was appointed to the Board in October 2023. A Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Consultant and Therapist, Mrs. Keel has over 40 years of experience in the field of social work, working in the areas of medical, drugs/alcohol, mental health and domestic violence. She recently retired from the Princeton School District after 28 years as a School Social Worker and Coordinator of Student & Family Services.

Mrs. Keel brings a wealth of knowledge, skills, passion and experience that align with the mission of the Mercer Council Board to assist in supporting, advocating, educating and empowering clients, especially those that often feel invisible and forgotten. Mrs. Keel understands the impact of addiction on the individual, their families, and the community at large. Having worked closely with individuals struggling with substance abuse, she is committed to bringing empathy and compassion to the Mercer Council Board, when deciding on programs, projects and best practices to employ in serving the residents of Mercer County.

Mrs. Keel is a long-time resident of Mercer County, and a graduate of Trenton State College (now TCNJ) with a degree in Social Work. She received her MSW from the University of Connecticut. One of Mrs. Keel’s favorite sayings is, “If I can help someone along the way, then my living has not been in vain.”