Monsignor William J. Linder

Monsignor William J. Linder, Founder and Board Chairman

Monsignor William J. Linder, Founder

“50 People I Admire” By Monsignor William J. Linder

New Community Corporation founder Monsignor William J. Linder is one of the country’s leading urban visionaries, a trailblazer within his generation, and a founding member of the American Community Development movement. He has made an incredibly positive mark on Newark, the city that has been his home for over 46 years.

On June 1, 2009, Monsignor William J. Linder commemorated his 46th year as a Catholic priest.

One of Monsignor Linder’s most notable accomplishments, and one he is still rigorously devoted to, is the creation of New Community in his extraordinary journey of service to the people of Newark.

New Community was created in response to the aftermath of the 1967 Newark Disorders. Over the last 45 years, NCC has helped transform the City of Newark from what Time Magazine described as “America’s most hopeless city,” where “both ordinary residents and major institutions were abandoning it in droves,” to a place of hope, rebirth and triumph.

Much of the city’s Central Ward was devastated. Back then, Monsignor summoned a coalition of local residents and suburbanites to develop safe, attractive housing for low income residents, forming a community that shared and cared for one another on a 45 acre tract encompassing 14 city blocks in the heart of the Central Ward.

Today, NCC is recognized as one of America’s largest and most successful community development corporations. Monsignor has put together a talented team of executive staff members who oversee program areas ranging from housing to healthcare. On April 1, 2013, Richard Rohrman took over the helm of the organization as Executive Director. He oversees all program departments, a community newspaper, a conference center complete with The Priory Restaurant and other social enterprises.

During these times of recession and economic hardship, New Community is still working to address the increasing social service needs affecting the most vulnerable in our society, the elderly and poor families.  The comprehensiveness of the program services offered by New Community Corporation have created a network of housing, employment, day care, education, social services, job training, health care, economic development and banking services to urban residents.

NCC’s Health Care Complex, another vision of Monsignor Linder, is home to a Extended Care Facility for 180 frail elderly, 102 units for homeless families at Harmony House,  home nursing care offered through a partnership  with VNA Health Group. New Community is also one of Northern New Jersey’s major suppliers of Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN’s) through NCC’s School of Practical Nursing.

Now known globally, the efforts of founder Monsignor Linder and New Community are a model for successful, grassroots community development across the nation and the world, as documented through Monsignor’s doctoral dissertation “An Urban Community Development Model” (May 1988) at Fordham University.  Through his many other academic endeavors, Monsignor Linder continues to consult internationally to community groups, bankers and community development aficionados.

They all realize that New Community Corporation is a unique place.  Employees participate in a culture that is embodied by the principles of family.  The visionary and caring leadership of its founder permeates the organization and the feeling is one of a close-knit community.  Often times training graduates are employed at NCC and promotions from within are commonplace. NCC employs over 600 people, 93% of whom are minorities from the communities served by the organization.

Humble were the beginnings of New Community Corporation, when its novice yet well-intentioned, leadership endlessly sought to self-educate about the principles of running a successful business – the founder, Monsignor Linder included.  Some of the coursework and Continuing Education Conferences Linder has lectured in include:  University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business: “Fundamentals of Finance & Accounting for the Non-Financial Executive” January 1980;  Institute for Professional and Executive Development:  “The Nonprofit as Entrepreneurs;” “Syndicating Real Estate Washington, D.C.: February 1985; Rutgers University: “Fundamentals of Real Estate Syndication and Securities” New Brunswick, NJ:  January 1983; National Real Estate Development Center:  “Making the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Work” December, 1988, “Affordable Housing Legislation; RTC, Tax Credits, Federal Home and Loan Funding,” Washington, D.C.: November 1989;  The Ditchley Foundation: “Conference on Urban Regeneration” Ditchley Park, Enstone, Oxfordshire, England: January 1989.

Throughout his career, Monsignor continued to participate in the education arena.  For example, he was the Executive Lecturer for Marriott School of Management at Brigham Young University, Salt Lake City, Utah.  He bravely participated in vital discussions that sought to solve the deep rooted societal issues faced by urban communities.  He has participated in Planning Exchanges like: U.S. Japan Metropolitan Planning Exchange – a joint venture of the Regional Planning Association and Rutgers Center for Urban Policy Research, Tokyo, Japan: July 1992; Roundtable on Big Cities and the New Politics of Child and Family Policy at Columbia University School of Social Work, New York City, 1996 and Vital Voices Conference on Women Sponsored by US Department of Commerce’s Address on: “Economic Development & Opportunity in a Time of Change” Belfast, Northern Ireland, August 31, 1998.

Monsignor Linder’s  international travels and experience deem him an authority in Community Development.  He has served as adjunct professor at Columbia University and Rutgers University as well as on the board of directors for several charter schools and educational institutions.  Monsignor has also served within the international arena as the lead consultant to Community Development groups in Ireland and Africa. Often, he plays the role of host to groups who visit and examine, first-hand, the New Community Corporation experience.

Modest about his momentous and infinite number of accomplishments, Monsignor Linder will not list the awards and recognitions received; for he is focused on NCC’s mission of “helping residents of inner cities improve the quality of their lives to reflect individual God-given dignity and personal achievement.”  Until this mission is fulfilled, he vows to never rest.  When asked where his motivation to accomplish this mission originates from, he humbly and paradoxically asks, “How can I be content when my fellow man is in need?”

The apple of this man’s eye, New Community Corporation has improved the lives of tens of thousands of inner city residents while transforming the Newark landscape into an attractive urban scene. It is a major factor in the continued stability of the area through its housing and business ventures.

Thanks to the continued efforts of  Monsignor Linder, New Community Corporation infinitely continues to empower low income individuals to “determine their own destiny” of self-sufficiency into the millennium and beyond.