New Jersey SEEDS today announced that Ronni Denes, President and Executive Director, will retire effective June 15, 2016.
Denes joined NJ SEEDS in 2011 as it approached its 20th anniversary. In the service of SEEDS’ mission – to change the lives of motivated, high-achieving students from low-income families by transforming their educational opportunities – Denes played a key role in developing Embracing Excellence, the Strategic Plan that would guide the organization’s work over the next five years. Under Denes’ leadership, SEEDS built a professional Guidance Department that now serves more than 500 alumni of its education programs annually in schools and colleges throughout the country. She launched the Leading Change Benefit, a yearly event that has raised over $3 million in support of SEEDS scholars. In planning for SEEDS’ 25th anniversary, Denes worked with the board and staff to develop a vision for SEEDS’ next two decades, introducing the College Scholars Program and the goal of doubling the number of students served. To fund the organization’s growth, she led the creation of Investing in Futures, a comprehensive campaign that has raised more than $5.5 million to date.
For her work on behalf of SEEDS, NJBIZ named her one of 2015’s Top 50 Women in Business.
“SEEDS has been fortunate to have a leader with Ronni’s commitment and skill,” said Lee Shavel, Chair of the SEEDS Board of Trustees. “She’s done an outstanding job during a time of significant growth and achievement for the organization. On behalf of the Board and staff, I’d like to thank her for her valuable service and wish her much happiness in the future.”
“SEEDS is amazing,” says Denes, “and I am so privileged to have been a part of it. There is nothing more gratifying than giving exceptional young people the gift of opportunity and watching them embrace it with passion and drive and tremendous aspiration. What a joy, year after year, to enable hundreds of students to break free of the bleak possibilities imposed by income to become highly accomplished contributors to their schools, their families and our fast-changing world.”
John Castano, SEEDS’ Senior Vice President, will serve as interim Executive Director. Castano has been with SEEDS since 2008, when he joined the organization as Director of Operations and Chief of Staff. He was promoted to Vice President, Operations and External Affairs in 2012 and achieved his current position in 2014.
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 www.njseeds.org.