Influencing Student Outcomes
for Over 25 Years
History and Focus
Established in 1996 by the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization that has used the power of the business community as future employers to influence student outcomes for over 25 years.
In that time, the NJCCF has worked with hundreds of corporate and public partners and tens of thousands of young adults of all abilities and backgrounds to provide engaging, thought-provoking programs that result in young adults (ages 12-24) taking education seriously, getting and keeping jobs, and improving employer competitiveness.
As part of an ongoing effort to identify solutions to hiring challenges among New Jersey employers, the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Foundation partnered with the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development to conduct an in-depth study to help identify the causes of supply/demand imbalances and recommendations to address the state’s workforce challenges, gaps, and opportunities.
The NJCCF continuously partners with both the business and education communities to find viable solutions that will build a stronger economy, keep businesses competitive and offer employment and career advancement opportunities to young adults.
Ms. Custard is responsible for directing program and service initiatives that help drive current and future members of the workforce to be globally competitive, successful members of society. Her more than thirty years of nonprofit experience includes serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador, Exploring Executive for the George Washington Council, Boy Scouts of America and working with the Educational Testing Service. Ms. Custard’s experience has focused on education and workforce development initiatives and includes major fundraising campaigns and program design and implementation for systemic reform.
Currently, Ms. Custard serves on numerous education and workforce development committees and boards including the US Chamber of Commerce Education, Employment and Training Committee and the Burlington Township Board of Education. When time allows, she enjoys volunteering to speak to groups about her experience in the Peace Corps through the Paul Coverdell World Wise Schools program. She has also served on the NJBIA’s Post-Secondary Education Taskforce, New Jersey STEM Pathways Network, We Raise New Jersey Coalition, NJDOE Career and Technical Education Advisory Council, ESSA Stakeholder Focus Group and Grants Management Committee for the New Jersey Department of Education, the Business Coalition for Educational Excellence Technology Committee, the Educational Technology Training Center Directive, the Committee to Advance Professional Practice, and the New Jersey Mayoral Summit Planning Committee.
Ms. Custard holds a Bachelor’s degree in Art from Moravian University (formerly Moravian College) and a Master’s of Science in Management from Thomas Edison State University. In addition, she has received a Certificate of Excellence in Non-Profit Administration, also from Thomas Edison State University.
Awards and recognition include being named to the NJBIZ ‘Education Power 50’ list in 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023; selection for the inaugural US Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Elite Business Leads Fellowship Program in 2019; named as a Top 25 Leading Women ‘Intraprenuers’ by Leading Women Entrepreneur in 2018 and receiving a High Performer Award from Jobs for America’s Graduates in 2018.
In her role as executive director, Dr. Strothers is responsible for all aspects of the Jobs for America’s Graduates New Jersey program throughout the New Jersey region. Through her leadership, she holds partner organizations accountable for reporting and program outcomes; ensuring the program conforms to the Jobs for America’s Graduates national model; identifying funding sources; and developing pipelines for students from JAG NJ programs to employment, military and post-secondary education.
Dr. Strothers has a Bachelor of Business Administration and Master of Higher Education Administration from Kent State University, and received her Doctorate in Higher Education, Theory and Social Foundations, from the University of Toledo (Ohio). She is also a member of the inaugural Board of Directors of The Shine Collective.
Dr. Strothers’ previous experience includes 16 years with the New Jersey Department of Education and ten years in higher education. She has logged a total of more than two decades in volunteer, community and non-profit service, including three years as the state director of the ‘Jobs for America’s Graduates New Jersey’ program when it was run by the State Department of Education.
As the Director of Resource Development, Mrs. Licata’s role involves building strategic partnerships with public, private, corporate, and foundation workforce development stakeholders. She oversees the funding strategy and development plan for the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Foundation (NJCCF), creating opportunities for others to contribute meaningfully to NJCCF’s mission.
With over 6 years of experience, including 5 with the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce, Mrs. Licata excels in identifying, developing, and leading collaborations across different business areas. She works with high-profile clients to advocate for strategic capabilities and promote shared resource utilization. Mrs. Licata prioritizes operational excellence and continually seeks innovative ways to enhance processes.
Her experience includes crafting multi-year funding strategies, nurturing relationships with corporate and community partners at the executive level, implementing public relations initiatives to boost awareness and engagement, and managing large-scale corporate events.
Mrs. Licata holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Labor and Employment Relations from Rutgers University and was a former member of the Rutgers Women’s Soccer team. She currently volunteers at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey as an Honorary Commander/Civic Leader for the 305th Operations Group of the U.S. Air Force, bridging connections between local military personnel and the New Jersey business and civilian communities.
Ms. Stegers is responsible for all accounting and financial reporting functions for the NJ Chamber of Commerce Foundation. During her time with the NJCCF, Ms. Stegers has capitalized on her attention to detail through updating curriculum modules, program administration, workshop implementation, and facilitation.
Ms. Stegers has more than ten years of experience in public and corporate accounting for large and small companies and eight years of non-profit accounting experience.
Jennifer is a Certified Public Accountant and has a bachelor’s degree in business and economics from Lehigh University. She served on her local school Parent Teacher Organization for eight years.