Staff Categories Archives: Leadership

Cecilia Zalkind

Cecilia Zalkind has an extensive background in public policy advocacy for children. Her 25 years in leadership roles at ACNJ have helped produce key policy advances in child welfare, early care and education and health care in New Jersey.

She has led important coalitions such as the Early Care and Education Coalition and the New Jersey BUILD initiative that have advanced high-quality early care and education in the state. Cecilia has argued before the New Jersey Supreme Court on preschool standards in Abbott v. Burke, the landmark educational equity case, and on the issue of permanency for foster children in several child welfare cases.

Cecilia serves on various national leadership committees, including the national Children’s Leadership Council. Cecilia Zalkind joined ACNJ in 1984 as public policy director and became executive director in 2001. While at ACNJ, she served as an adjunct professor of family and adoption law at Seton Hall Law School. She holds a B.A. and M.A. from New York University and a J.D. from Rutgers Law School.

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Mary Coogan

Mary directs ACNJ’s KidLaw Resource Center, which provides information on laws and legal processes affecting New Jersey children. She has also authored guides and articles on child welfare-related topics, and has represented ACNJ as amicus curiae before the N.J. Supreme Court in several cases. Mary is a member of the New Jersey Children in Court Improvement Committee, the NJ Medical Assistance Advisory Council, the New Jersey Council for Juvenile Justice System Improvement, and its Education Subcommittee, and the NJ Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect and its Staffing and Oversight Review Subcommittee. She previously chaired the Child Welfare Section and the Pro Bono Committee of the New Jersey State Bar Association.

Mary’s primary policy areas are foster care, kinship care, children’s health, and more recently, juvenile justice. In 2016, she started supervising the publication process of ACNJ’s Kids Count, as well as assumed responsibility over the communications staff.

Prior to joining ACNJ in 1993, Mary practiced family law in New Jersey. She received both her J.D. and B.A. from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

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