Union County Human Relations Commission

UCHRC Parenting Forum – Effective Parents/Successful Students: Helping Your Child Succeed In School


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What Parents Need To Know About Transgender Individuals

A free informational presentation for parents and community members

Tuesday, April 23 at 6:30 pm
John H. Stamler Police Academy on the Union County Vo-Tech Campus
1776 Raritan Road in Scotch Plains
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UCHRC Annual Report May 2016 – May 2018
UCHRC’s 2019 Unity Award Nominations Are OPEN! Nominations must be submitted by December 26, 2018.


The Union County Human Relations Commission (UCHRC) was created by the Union County Prosecutor’s Office in 1991.

The Commission serves to promote and encourage a more peaceful and ecumenical society in Union County, by providing support to bias crime victims who are targets of a crime because of their race, creed, color, religion, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, sexual identity/expression, socio-economic status, or physical or mental challenges, and by intervening to eradicate the conditions that ultimately cause them.  

The UCHRC addresses the issues of prejudice, bias and racism and their impact on our local schools, workplaces and neighborhoods.   

Our mission, and the focus of our efforts and activities, is to actively encourage, develop, promote and strengthen respect for human rights and cultural diversity among the people of Union County. 

Simply stated, the UCHRC celebrates the richness of life that cultural diversity brings to our communities and ourselves.

The Commission consists of a group of Union County residents from diverse personal and professional backgrounds who volunteer their time to serve.

For the past two decades, the Union County Human Relations Commission has continued to earn our statewide reputation of being a Commission that is progressive, interested and involved. 

Being a group of like-minded volunteers, we are constrained by the resources and time available among us.

Despite our sparse resources, we continue to use our leverage to gain the broadest exposure and impact. 

Meetings are held every other month on Monday evening at the John H. Stamler Police Academy in Scotch Plains.  UCHRC Sub-Committees meet as needed to address and implement specific projects. 

For more information, please contact Commissioner/Recording Secretary Karen E. Positan by email at kpositan@ucnj.org, or by phone at 908.889.9028.

Call for Nominations for Human Relations Achievement Awards

If you know of an individual, organization, or business that stands out for helping others, the Union County Human Relations Commission would like to know about them.

The Commission is seeking nominations for its prestigious 2018 Unity Achievement Awards, which honor volunteerism and public service in all of its forms. Award nominees must live, work, or attend school in Union County.

“We want to hear about the people you know who dedicate their time and effort to do wonderful things that not only enhance others’ experiences and quality of life, but raise and honor the human spirit,” Commission Co-Chair Nora Mislan said. “Those who are nominated for these Awards are regular people who do extraordinary things. Their efforts improve the lives of others, and by doing so, they truly make a difference in our world.”

“These Awards recognize programs, services, activities, and efforts being put forth by local role models who promote cultural diversity, strong community relations, and human rights,” Mislan added. 

Past Unity Achievement Award recipients have included corporations, business organizations, community organizations, nonprofit organizations, individuals, law-enforcement representatives, public servants, clergy, faith-based organizations, members of the media, students, educators, and veterans. The 2017 Awards will mark the 16th annual year in which honorees have been named.

 The commissioners who volunteer their time and energy to serve on the Union County Human Relations Commission unequivocally agree that the best way to strive to accomplish their mission — to actively encourage, develop, promote, and strengthen respect for human rights and cultural diversity among the people of Union County — is to publicly honor those who already do it well. 

Nominations for the 2019Awards are being accepted now, and they must be received no later than Wednesday, December 27, 2018.

The nomination form is available online at www.ucnj.org/uchrc. You can also request the form by calling Commissioner Karen Positan at 908-889-9028 or emailing her at kpositan@ucnj.org.

A listing of all of the previous Unity Achievement Award recipients in all categories can be found on the county website.

We congratulate the recipients of the UCHRC’s 2017 Unity Achievement Awards

Please click here for a complete list of all Award recipients since 2002

Unity Award for Achievement by a Community Organization

Missions Possible of New Jersey/Robin Johnstone and Melina Thompson, Founders — Recognition for doing small things with great love to make a big difference in children’s lives

Mobile Meals of Westfield — Recognition for providing a crucial community service with priceless dedication, and heart

Unity Award for Achievement by a Nonprofit Organization

Imagine, Inc., A Center for Coping with Loss — Recognition for lovingly transforming loss and vulnerability into resilience, empathy, compassion, and strength

American Muslims for Hunger Relief — Recognition for a widespread volunteer effort to eradicate hunger, creating a positive impact through compassion and generosity on those whose lives they touch

Unity Award for Achievement by a Student

Nicholas Tarabokia, Colombia Elementary School, Berkeley Heights — Recognition for transforming a fearsome hardship to inspire hope, instill courage, and bring joy, comfort, and support to children and families battling cancer

Alexandra Jackman, Westfield High School — Recognition for already, at a young age, opening up the world for special needs individuals, and opening up the eyes of those around her to their value

Unity Award for Achievement by an Individual

Terri Todd, Founder, Executive Director of The F.A.B. Coalition — Recognition for providing a safety net for teenagers to creatively express themselves while building self-esteem, mutual respect, and life skills

Unity Award for Achievement in Public Service

Carolyn George, Recreation Coordinator, Berkeley Heights Recreation Department — Recognition for being a role model in, and tireless inspirational leader for, her community

Union County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Volunteers — Recognition for volunteering to advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves

Unity Award for Achievement in Law Enforcement

Lt. James Schneider, Westfield Police Department (ret.) — Recognition for his outstanding achievements as a model law enforcement officer and his lifelong commitment to save lives and turn the light back on for those shrouded in darkness and despair

Capt. Wally Torian, Plainfield Auxiliary Police Division — Recognition for a lifetime of volunteerism, community service, and civic activism

Unity Award for Achievement by Military/Veteran

Kevin Murphy, U.S. Air Force, N.J. Air National Guard, N.J. Army National Guard, U.S. Army (ret.) — Recognition for a lifetime of service to our country and his continued determined commitment to support and improve the quality of life for our veterans

Sgt. Brett D’Alessandro, United States Marine Corps (ret.) — Recognition for his service to our country,  and his unselfish dedication to improve the state of life for homeless veterans, to whom we owe so much

Our 2016 and 2015 Unity Achievement Award Recipients

Achievement by a Corporation

2016     Gina Pachkowski / Alluem Yoga — Recognition for honoring the light in her own backyard, and spreading that light through the world

2015     Pinho’s Bakery / Raul and Julia Pinho — Recognition for showering the world with incredible sweetness, compassion and generosity

Achievement by a Non-Profit Organization

2016      The Paul Jackson Fund, Inc. — Recognition for finding a balance in crisis, and providing hope where there was no hope.  Honoring Founder Paul Jackson (1961-2009)

2015     Roots And Wings — Recognition for finding and addressing an extraordinary need in our society to look out for some of our forgotten young people

Achievement by an Individual

2016     Union County Spectrum All Stars / Lori Gonzalez and Joann Fruciano — Recognition for paving the way to provide relaxation, resources, respite — and acceptance

2015     Maureen O’Brien, Esq. — Recognition for navigating unchartered waters to humanize those lost in the system and then teaching others how to do the same

Achievement by a Student

2016     Griffin Spielman / Governor Livingston High School, Berkeley Heights — Recognition for already, at age 18, a lifetime of brightening the lives of those around him

2015     Benedictine Academy Cor Defenders — Recognition for harnessing the power of good in our communities to combat the evils of human trafficking

Achievement by an Educator

2016     Dr. Theodore Schlosberg, Executive Director, The New Jersey Workshop For The Arts –Recognition for enriching our cultural lives, and for providing the opportunity for individuals with special needs to learn to fly through music

2015     Zende Clark, Hillside Board of Education (ret.) — Recognition for calm and inspirational leadership that has made a difference

Achievement by the Media

2016     Lorrie Sanchez and Carol Blank / Utterly Global LLC– Recognition for a vigorous, creative and pro-active “Bully Buster” stance and, of course, Virgil

Achievement by Law Enforcement

2016     Sergeant Russell Gottlick, Plainfield Police Division — Recognition for his professional and personal dedication to protect, serve, and to do whatever good he can do for everyone he encounters

2015     Auxiliary Chief Alexander Fitzgerald Parker, Rahway Police Department — Recognition for a lifetime of exemplary volunteer service to his community shining his brightest during its darkest hours in times of crisis

Achievement in Public Service

2016     Nancy Bates — Recognition for navigating, inspiring and setting the standard for greeting courtroom visitors

2015     Elizabeth Hulse, Dispute Resolution Specialist, New Jersey Office of Dispute Settlement –Recognition for volunteering their time and expertise to shine a light in the darkness

2015     Sandra Thaler-Gerber, Esq., Civil Division Manager, Union County Superior Court/Elizabeth  –Recognition for volunteering their time and expertise to shine a light in the darkness

Achievement By The Clergy

2016     Reverend Elizabeth Alexander — Recognition for her outreach to those who are trying to find their way back to society and her dedicated advocacy for social justice and peacekeeping

2015     Rev. Jeremy Montgomery — Recognition for bringing people and the community together in action and hope to break the cycle of poverty

Achievement by a Faith-Based Organization

2016     Community Access Unlimited’s Union County Interfaith Coordinating Committee Council — Recognition for harnessing the collective power to create a sum of all the parts that is greater than the whole

Achievement by the Military/ A Veteran

2016     Colonel Edward Chrystal / Army  National Guard — Recognition for his service to our community, state and country; and for making a difference in our world

2015     James Grover, Dominick DeJohn, Angelo Monaco — Recognition for their service to our country; and for making a difference in our world

Special Achievement Awards

2016     Charles Newman, Union County Office for the Disabled (ret.) — Recognition for inspirational personal and professional perseverance to find, create and distribute keys to unlock doors for so many

2016     Jim McKeon / Broken Hearts Memorial — Recognition for creating and displaying hearts to help soothe broken and sorrowful hearts

2016     Captain Ralph Gregson (ret.) / Cranford Auxiliary Police Department — Recognition for exemplary volunteer service to his community in both good times and in times of crisis and great need

2016     Police Officer Gerald McDermott / Summit Police Department — Recognition for his unselfish dedication to bridge cultural gaps within the community and to cultivate relationships with youth and their families

2016     Andrew Ertman —  Recognition for extraordinary service on behalf of Union County’s victimized children and their families

2016     Detective Paul Pasternak/ Elizabeth Police Department —  Recognition for extraordinary service on behalf of Union County’s victimized children and their families2015           Miguel Garcia– Recognition for selfless dedication to come to the aid of,  and ultimately save the life of, a fellow human being

2015     Carlos Cancel– Recognition for selfless dedication to come to the aid of,  and ultimately save the life of, a fellow human being

2015     Hayley Zimmermann — Recognition for selfless dedication to come to the aid of,  and ultimately save the life of, a fellow human being

Special Recognition

The Union County Human Relations Commission would like to express its appreciation to Sergeant Leonard Guarino / Elizabeth Police Department (ret.), who served as the Commission’s Co-Chair from 2014 to 2016, and thank him for his invaluable contributions and leadership, and his dedication to the Commission’s mission, programs, and activities.