John F. Castano Named Executive Director of New Jersey SEEDS

New Jersey SEEDS, a nonprofit that provides educational opportunities to high-achieving, low-income students, announced that John F. Castano has been appointed SEEDS’ Executive Director.

Castano has been serving as Acting Executive Director since the retirement of Ronni Denes in June 2016. He joined SEEDS in 2008 as the Director of Administration/Chief of Staff, before being named Vice President, Operations and External Affairs in 2012. Most recently, Castano served SEEDS as Senior Vice President, where he was responsible for the organization’s overall strategy, operations, and programmatic initiatives.

John CastanoJohn has been a passionate advocate of educational access for many years,” explains Lee Shavel, Chair of New Jersey SEEDS’ Board of Trustees. “When he joined SEEDS eight years ago, he brought experience in independent school and college education, as well as nonprofit management, to the organization. Since his arrival, he has been instrumental in assisting the growth of SEEDS’ education programs and development office. Along with the SEEDS Board of Trustees, I would like to congratulate John on this much-deserved appointment.”

Prior to joining New Jersey SEEDS, Castano served as the Executive Director of the Griffin Bridges Program at Seton Hall Preparatory School, which helps academically capable, at-risk inner city students acquire an independent school education. It was through this role that he became familiar with SEEDS, and in 2001, was recognized by SEEDS for his work in providing opportunities to disadvantaged students.

“To serve an organization that extends educational opportunities to so many is a privilege,” says Castano. “I am deeply appreciative of the chance to continue collaborating with SEEDS’ talented team and dedicated Board of Trustees to help advance a mission that changes and improves lives.”

Castano is active in a variety of civic and social causes. He serves on the Griffin Bridges advisory committee, and is a trustee and past president of Jersey Cares. Until recently, he served as a consultant to Rutgers University’s Office for Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance.

Castano received his M.A. in Strategic Communication from Seton Hall University, and his B.A. in English from Villanova University. He is an adjunct professor in the communication and media department at Montclair State University.

Castano has been the recipient of Seton Hall University’s Humanitarian Award, presented to an alumnus or alumna who embodies Seton Hall’s mission of servant leadership; The Salvatore N. Caprio Award, given to a Seton Hall Preparatory School teacher, counselor or moderator who has been generous with time, patience and concern; and the St. Andrew’s College Seminary Humanitarian Award. He has also been named to Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.

About New Jersey SEEDS

Since its inception in 1992, New Jersey SEEDS has provided educational access for highly motivated, low-income students and created a viable path for them to achieve their full potential. SEEDS strives for a world in which young people’s initiative, creativity and intellect can flourish without regard to socioeconomic status. To date, more than 2,100 scholars have benefited from its programs. For more information, visit