Sasa Olessi Montano named to lead diversity group

Group names new leader to help promote diversity
Saturday, March 24, 2007

PRINCETON TOWNSHIP — Sasa Olessi Montano, deputy director of the Mercer County Department of Human Services, has been named chairwoman of the Princeton Area Capital Chapter of the American Conference on Diversity, a New Jersey-based organization dedicated to promoting mutual understanding, fighting discrimination and instilling the value of diversity throughout the state. The organization encourages inclusion and respect by educating, empowering and working with educators, community leaders, clergy and faith leaders, elected officials, law enforcement, young people, and business and corporate leaders throughout the state.

“Throughout her career, Sasa has promoted human relations, on the state and local levels, as well as internationally. She clearly understands and supports our goals of fostering mutual understanding and inclusion,” said Diane Schwartz, president and CEO of the American Conference on Diversity, in making the announcement. “We welcome her leadership as chapter chair and know she will help further our mission throughout the greater Mercer County community.”

Montano has been actively involved in the area’s professional and civic community for more than 20 years. In her current position, she is responsible for management and oversight of programs related to children and youth, seniors, the disabled and homeless, serves as acting director of the Office on Aging and has served as acting chief of the Youth Services Division. Previously, she was founding director of Princeton University’s Pace Center for Community Service, which coordinates information and resources as they relate to service activities performed by all members of the Princeton University community.

She also was executive director of the YWCA of Trenton, a vice president at Lutheran Social Ministries of New Jersey, Yardville, and a group worker in the Children’s Home Society KIKS program, working in public schools with fifth- through 10th-graders, leading them through a peer leadership curriculum that dealt with conflict resolution, peer pressure and diversity, among other issues.

A Trenton resident, Montano has been co-chair of the City of Trenton Human Relations Commission, vice chair of the City of Trenton Planning Board, and is vice-chair of the NJ State Board of Human Services.

Montano is an honors graduate of Bryn Mawr College with a bachelor’s degree in Hispanic studies. She received a master’s degree in International Relations and Economics, with a concentration in social change and development, from The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). She has continued her professional training in areas including human services management; leadership; Hispanic, women’s and family issues; affordable housing development; and human rights.

“The work of the American Conference on Diversity is among the most important activities we can participate in to create a positive, inclusive society,” Schwartz states. “It is the unfinished business of living in a highly diverse state: educating and empowering our next generation of leaders, enhancing New Jersey’s workplaces, and helping to create inclusive communities. Our Princeton Area Capital Chapter is proud of our historic roots as part of the National Conference of Christians and Jews and our mission today to create programs and activities relevant and vital to 21st century life. It is a journey we can all take together. The American Conference on Diversity is committed to promoting such important societal values all across our state.”

© 2007 The Times of Trenton