Assemblywoman Shavonda E. Sumter to be Keynote Speaker at The Community Chest of Eastern Bergen County’s Summit on Combating the Loneliness Epidemic

(Eastern Bergen County, New Jersey; December 11, 2023) – The Community Chest of Eastern Bergen County will hold the “Summit on Combating the Loneliness Epidemic” on Thursday, January 11, 2014 at Fairleigh Dickinson University in the Student Union Building, located at 1000 River Road in Teaneck, New Jersey, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The Summit, a project of The Community Chest’s Connections Initiative, offers a unique opportunity for professionals to explore strategies communities and individuals can use to address the profound public health crisis of loneliness.

The conference is free and open to professionals and community members from various sectors, including human resources, healthcare, nonprofit organizations, public officials, faith-based organizations, business owners, and community leaders.  People interested in attending the Summit, must register here:  A continental breakfast will be provided.

Keynote Speaker Assemblywoman Shavonda E. Sumter

Keynote speaker, Assemblywoman Shavonda E. Sumter, will present ‘Combating the Loneliness Epidemic’ and provide insights on effective strategies for addressing loneliness in our community.  Assemblywoman Sumter, the President and CEO of Children’s Aid and Family Services (CAFS), has over 20 years of healthcare leadership experience and a strong commitment to community well-being.  She provides valuable insights on strategies for addressing loneliness through policy and practice, emphasizing the importance of community engagement and well-being.  During her presentation, she will describe how loneliness affects people in New Jersey and the work she has undertaken, as a legislator and community leader to address this epidemic.  Assemblywoman Sumter will highlight key strategies individuals and organizations are successfully using to combat loneliness for people to using in their own practice and workplace.

Breakout Sessions With Leading Experts

Breakout sessions will be presented on these innovative approaches for creating connections:

1) Creating Connections through Creative Placemaking.  Speaker Kelsey Zlevor, MCRP

2) Creating Connections at Work.  Panelists:  Berj Akian, CEO, ClassLink and a representative from Veolia

3) Creating Connections for Teens.  Panelists: Gia Shin, Founder of;

Drea Chakrovorty, Connections Project Intern-The Community Chest; and Amelia Rostant, Supervising Prevention Consultant at NJ4S-Bergen Hub 

4) Creating Connections for Seniors.  Panelists: Lynn Bartlet, Bergen County Housing Authority; Davit Topchishvili, Planning Analyst/Coordinator of Federal and State Aid-Bergen County Division of Senior Services; Tashiera Howard, Director of Older Adult Services, Bergen Family Center; Marlene Salomon Ceragno, MA, CGP, CDP, CMDCP, Director of Caregiver Services and Outreach, Kaplen JCC on the Palisades, Taub Campus

5) Creating Connections via Health & Mental Health Services.  Panelists: Representative from Englewood Heath; Yuna Youn, Clinical Director of Korean Community Services; and Teresa McMahon, LCSW, MBA, LCADC, Vice President, Vantage Health System

            Participants will have opportunities to connect with peers and experts in the Collaboration Break and also to share ideas for community well-being.  Sponsors for the Summit include ConnectOne Bank, Englewood Health, and the Northern New Jersey Community Foundation.  To become a sponsor, contact Executive Director Dr. Shelly Wimpfheimer at (201) 568-7474 or at 

Connections Initiative

During The Community Chest’s 90th anniversary year, The Connections Initiative was developed in response to U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy’s declaration of loneliness as the greatest public health issue of our time, resulting in serious health conditions among those who are isolated and lonely.  According to the Surgeon General’s report, Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation, published in 2023, a near epidemic of social isolation exists in the United States.

Learn more about the Connections Initiative on The Community Chest’s website,  For further information about the Connections Initiative, contact Dr. Wimpfheimer at (201) 568-7474 or at  Contributions to support the program may be sent by check made out to The Community Chest, located at 122 South Van Brunt Street, 2nd Floor, Englewood, NJ 07631.  Donations are tax-deductible, as permitted by law.

About The Community Chest of Eastern Bergen County

Founded in 1933, The Community Chest of Eastern Bergen County, a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization headquartered in Englewood, New Jersey, has supported local not-for-profit agencies for 90 years.  The Community Chest leads initiatives and supports nonprofits that make our communities stronger and benefit people in need in eastern Bergen County.  Each year, The Community Chest raises funds and allocates them to agencies demonstrating the capacity to provide services to local citizens.  The organization also provides coordinating and planning services in its communities, serving as a bridge between agencies and organizations and investing in the stability and quality of the service network. 

The Community Chest of Eastern Bergen County's Board of Managers is comprised of community leaders dedicated to improving the lives of neighbors in need.  People interested in being considered for board membership may contact Executive Director Dr. Shelly Wimpfheimer at (201) 568-7474.

For further information about The Chest of Eastern Bergen County, visit or contact (201) 568-7474.  Stay updated about the organization’s activities on Facebook, Instagram and X (formerly known as Twitter).

Photo Caption: Assemblywoman Shavonda E. Sumter. Courtesy of Shavonda E. Sumter

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