Downtown New Jersey Announces New Board Members
Executive Director, Downtown New Jersey
January 3, 2023
Jersey City, NJ – Downtown New Jersey announces the appointment of four new members to its Board of Directors.
New Board Members
Joining the Board of Trustees are Zoe Baldwin, Megan Brill, Steven Grillo, and Melissa Hodge. “All of our newest Board members embody the spirit of downtown revitalization and bring talent, expertise, and energy to the table. We are very fortunate to have them on our team as we continue to strengthen New Jersey’s downtowns,” said Courtenay Mercer, Executive Director of Downtown New Jersey.
She continued, “we’d also like to thank outgoing Board Members, Sherry Cronin, Elayne McClaine, and Don Sammet for their dedication and hard work over the years.”
Zoe Baldwin leads research, planning, and advocacy activities in New Jersey, where she works to advance RPA programs that facilitate equitable, vibrant, and resilient communities through sustainable infrastructure and development. Zoe draws on her considerable experience in public policy and community engagement to build diverse support for policies that promote a stronger, more connected region.
Zoe works to implement key components of RPA’s Fourth Regional Plan – a blueprint for the region’s growth, sustainability, good governance and economic opportunity for the next 25 years. This includes building support for the Gateway Tunnel project and more NJ Transit funding, diversifying and expanding affordable housing through legalization of accessory dwelling units, and advancing policies that support climate change adaptation and clean energy.
Prior to joining RPA, Zoe was the Director of Government Affairs for the Utility & Transportation Contractors Association, and served United States Senators Cory Booker and Frank Lautenberg. Zoe got her start in infrastructure policy as the New Jersey Director for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign and began her career as the Legislative Director for NJ State Senator Loretta Weinberg.
Megan Brill is a lifelong resident of West Orange and has been Executive Director of Downtown West Orange Alliance since 2013. Megan and her team engage the local community in activities that support downtown development and increase the West Orange Main Street’s contribution to its local economy. Megan has curated a portfolio of events and activities that support the Downtown’s economic development, such as business openings and ribbon cuttings, community events, and annual holiday programming. DWOA events include the Annual Mayor’s 5K Run/Walk, Downtown Thursdays, the Annual Holiday Open House, as well as collaborations between local organizations such as the West Orange Farmers Market, Thomas Edison Museum, Turtle Back Zoo, and others.
Steven Grillo is an urban planner with nearly 15 years of experience in Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), affordable housing, economic development, transportation planning, community advocacy, environmental remediation, and intergovernmental affairs. As principal of Urban Solutions Group, he strives to advance community-based, common-sense deliverables for challenging issues and critical projects.
Urban Solutions Group represents a wide variety of clients including BIDs, non-profit community organizations, economic development groups, industrial firms and residential developers. Mr. Grillo’s primary client under the Urban Solutions Group umbrella is Explore Millburn-Short Hills (EMSH), the Special Improvement District for the Township of Millburn.
Since Mr. Grillo’s hiring as Executive Director in May 2021 the town’s commercial vacancy rate has declined from 16% to 5% and over 60 new businesses have opened. EMSH was recently awarded Downtown New Jersey’s “Best in Placemaking” award for the Main Street Pedestrian Mall and Mr. Grillo led the effort to create a best-in-class “Art Alley” which features three murals, overhead lighting, seating and games including a bocce court and giant chess set. Mr. Grillo is also leading efforts to modernize zoning, improve parking and address stranded assets through innovative redevelopment strategies.
Melissa Hodge joined South Orange Downtown in 2014 as the Events and Operations Coordinator and was named Executive Director in June 2021. Melissa has a long-standing passion for working with small businesses. Her goal is to help small businesses and the downtown thrive through strategic, tactical and creative placemaking initiatives. Prior to joining South Orange Downtown, Melissa worked with the Jamaica Center BID as the District Services Manager for 2 years and at the MetroTech BID as a Staff Associate for 8 years. Melissa holds a BS in Public Affairs and is a Coro Neighborhood Leadership alumna.
Downtown New Jersey is a non-profit membership organization of individuals, businesses, developers, government agencies, and local and regional entities that are passionate about downtowns. Downtowns reflect our communities’ unique identities, provide a focal point, a convenient local place of commerce, and offer a sense of place where people can gather and truly be a community. Downtown New Jersey provides advocacy, education, and technical assistance resources dedicated to ensuring the vitality of our downtowns.
For more information about Downtown New Jersey, visit www.downtownnj.com.