Richard Rohrman, who retired from his role as Chief Executive Officer of New Community in 2021, was one of four recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award at the LISC Greater Newark 2022 NJ Neighborhood Achievement Awards, held on March 31 at Monsignor William J. Linder Plaza (formerly St. Joseph Plaza) and live-streamed for virtual participation.
LISC Greater Newark describes the Lifetime Achievement Award as an honor that “recognizes an individual for significant contributions to community development and neighborhood revitalization over the span of an entire career.”
New Community Board Chairman Dr. A. Zachary Yamba presented Rohrman with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the event.
“Rich’s life’s work is intertwined with New Community Corporation. He has been part of the movement. He stayed the course. He’s been faithful. And his leadership is indelibly imprinted in all of us,” Yamba said. “We are thrilled that LISC chose to honor him.”
New Community Chief Financial Officer and Interim Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Mbakaya echoed that sentiment.
“We are so happy to see Rich’s hard work and dedication to the community recognized by LISC in this way,” she said.
Victoria Foundation Co-Executive Officer Craig Drinkard served as the chair of the 2022 LISC Greater Newark Local Advisory Committee and spoke about the Lifetime Achievement Award honorees. He said he considers Rohrman a friend.
“Sir, you taught me how to block out the outside noise and stay focused on your mission. You were steadfast and you said, ‘I know what I need to do. I need to block out the noise to get us where we need to go.’ And you did it,” Drinkard said. “The next leader that comes into this organization is poised to take it into the 22nd century because of your leadership.”
When Rohrman accepted his award, he spoke fondly about his time at New Community.
“It’s been a really rewarding 26 years here at New Community, working in community development. It’s enriched my life more than I can really say. It’s been an experience for me that really has formed my thoughts and formed my life and I wouldn’t give it up for anything. It’s been a terrific experience,” he said. “It’s really been an honor working here and working with the dedicated staff at New Community.”
Rohrman also acknowledged the other recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award, thanking them for their work and saying he learned from each of them.
The three others who received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the event also recently retired from their leadership roles. The honorees were Wayne Meyer, former President of New Jersey Community Capital (NJCC); Raymond Ocasio, former Executive Director of La Casa de Don Pedro; and Joseph Della Fave, former Executive Director of Ironbound Community Corporation.
“It’s really a terrific group of dedicated people that are receiving these honors,” Rohrman said.
LISC Greater Newark Executive Director Jorge Cruz explained the organization’s goals for the event.
“Our focus is really centered on building on local, equitable ecosystems and particularly ecosystems that are working towards equity for all,” he said. “We are recognizing those honorees who, from our standpoint, are the best of the best when it comes to ecosystem builders.”
In addition to the Lifetime Achievement Awards, LISC Greater Newark also presented the Transformative Project Award to Avi Teylas of Makerhoods, the Exemplary Private Partner Award to Tomas Porturas of Wells Fargo Bank and the Rhonda A. Lewis Community Inspirational Advocate Award to Kaleena Berryman. The event also included a tribute to Rhonda A. Lewis, who served as the Executive Director of LISC Greater Newark before her passing in 2020.