Board of Trustees
WBGO Newark Public Radio is a 501(c)(3), and as such it is governed by an independant Board of Trustees that meets regularly throughout the year. The Board Chair is Karl Frederic. A portion of the Board of Trustees meetings are open to the public, as noted below. As permitted by law, portions of WBGO Board of Trustees meetings, and various Committee meetings, may be closed to the public. Those meetings and the reasons for closure are noted below.
Contact the WBGO Board of Trustees using the form at the bottom of this page.
Board of Trustees
Newton J. Burkett
Jose W. Fernandez
Karl Paul Frederic, Chair
Bill Hofstetter, Secretary
Obi Taiwan Ozochiawaeze
Newton J. Burkett
N. J. Burkett joined the Eyewitness News team in 1989. His distinctive storytelling, production skills and award-winning international reporting have added a unique dimension to WABC-TV’s coverage of metropolitan New York.
Over his thirty-year career, he has reported on everything from war and diplomacy to crime and politics; from aviation disasters to natural disasters, race relations and police misconduct.
Burkett’s work has been honored with several of the most prestigious awards in American television news. He is a two-time winner of the coveted Edward R. Murrow Award from the Radio Television Digital News Association (formerly the RTNDA) and a four-time Emmy Award winner, including the Emmy for Outstanding On-Camera Achievement in 2003 and 2007. Burkett has received seventeen Emmy Nominations.
He shared the George Foster Peabody Award and the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award with his colleagues at ABC News for his reporting on the September 11th terrorist attacks. In 2008, he was presented with the Allen B. DuMont Broadcaster of the Year Award by Montclair State University for his "significant contributions to the field of broadcasting."
Burkett is the President of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, New York. He served on the National Academy’s Board of Trustees from 2011-2015 and on the Executive Committee from 2014-2018. Burkett served from 2016-2018 as the National Academy’s First Vice Chairman.
Burkett was born in Orange, N. J. and was raised in Elizabeth. Before joining WABC-TV, Burkett was a correspondent for WFSB-TV, the CBS station in Hartford, CT., from 1986-1989. He holds a B.A. in Political Science and a Master’s in International Affairs, both from Columbia University.
Entrepreneur and communications strategist Tara Dowdell is the founder and President of TDG Speakers and Tara Dowdell Group, a marketing and strategic communications firm driven by a passion for helping socially conscious organizations and businesses grow. In addition to her consulting practice, Dowdell is a respected television commentator and speaker. She appears regularly on MSNBC, CNN, and PIX11 News where she provides progressive insight and analysis on a range of political, government, and business topics.
Dowdell has an extensive background in government having previously served as the Senior Manager of Government and Community Relations for the international shipping arm of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Prior to joining the Port Authority, Dowdell served as Director of Appointments in the Office of the New Jersey Governor. She began her career in government serving as a District Representative to Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr.
She has served in senior positions on several high profile federal, state, and local campaigns. Additionally, she managed an issue-advocacy campaign for Emily’s List. In 2010, she was selected by the American Swiss Foundation to attend their prestigious Young Leaders Conference in Basel, Switzerland. In 2005, she had the distinction of competing for a job on the third season NBC’s hit show, “The Apprentice.” Dowdell has also been honored by Rutgers Business School, Colorado Black Women for Political Action, the NAACP, and the child advocacy nonprofit organization, Project Re-Direct.
Dowdell serves on the Steering Committee for the Center for American Women and Politics “Ready to Run” Conference and is a member of Bethany Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government.
Steve Edwards (deceased)
Steve Edwards is a partner at the global legal practice of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan. His practice focuses on complex commercial litigation including antitrust, securities, contract disputes and insurance coverage. Mr. Edwards has been lead national counsel for Bristol-Myers Squibb and has represented companies such as IBM, Ford and United HealthGroup He is a past President of the Federal Bar Council and past Chair of the Antitrust Section of the New York State Bar Association.
Mr. Edwards is a founder and editor emeritus of the Federal Bar Council News and has written and lectured extensively on a variety of subjects including antitrust laws, class actions and ethics. He is also a former President of Nazareth Housing, an organization providing housing for the homeless, Treasurer of the National Center for Law and Economic Justice and a Director of the Jazz Foundation of America.
Mr. Edwards has written a rock opera, There’s Something Afoot, and a play, The Trial of Harry S. Truman. As an undergraduate, he was a member of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is also a member of the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of law, where he finished in the top 3% of his class.
Linda Epps founded 1804 Consultants to advance educational and cultural organizations. She brings to clients more than 40 years of experience working with educational and cultural institutions, including the New Jersey Historical Society, a statewide museum, library, and educational facility, where she served as President and CEO, and New Jersey Network Television and Radio where she served as Vice President for Institutional Relations. She held various positions at Bloomfield College, including Vice President for College Relations, Vice President for Student Affairs, and Dean of Students. Linda has earned the Most Distinguished Alumnae Award from Seton Hall University and induction into the Douglass Society, the highest honor accorded to Douglass College graduates. She has also served as a Ford Foundation-funded consultant to several institutions of higher learning. Linda holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Rutgers University’s Douglass College, a Master’s Degree in American Studies from Seton Hall University, and a Ph.D. from Drew University.
Brenda Feliciano has an extensive background as an actress, opera singer and arts administrator. She has performed as a vocal soloist with many orchestras including the National Symphony Orchestra with Leonard Slatkin. In addition to her active performing career, she represented Arturo “Chico” O’Farrill for several years and has managed the artistic endeavors of Paquito D’Rivera for more than 20 years.
Jose W. Fernandez
Jose W. Fernandez is a partner in the New York office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and Co-Chair Of Gibson Dunn's Latin America Practice Group. His practice focuses on mergers, acquisitions and finance in emerging markets in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
Mr. Fernandez has substantial experience in the telecommunications, energy, water, banking and consumer industries. His clients have included major multinational companies, financial institutions and private equity groups, as well as nearly a dozen foreign governments looking to attract foreign investors. He has also successfully advised U.S. and European companies involved in disputes in developing countries.
Mr. Fernandez was named one of the "World's Leading Lawyers" by Chambers Global for his M&A and corporate work, an "Expert" in International Financial Law Review's "Guide to the World's Leading Project Finance Lawyers," and one of the "World's Leading Privatization Lawyers" by Euromoney Publications. He was recognized as a leading Corporate Finance attorney in the Latin America market in Chambers Global and a leading Latin America attorney in Chambers U.S. He was featured by Hispanic Business Magazine in its "100 Influentials List" for several years.
Nominated by President Obama and unanimously confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Fernandez served as Assistant Secretary of State for Economic, Energy and Business Affairs from 2009 to 2013. During his tenure, he led the Bureau that is responsible for overseeing work on international trade and investment policy; international finance, development and debt policy; economic sanctions and combating terrorist financing; international energy security policy; international telecommunications and transportation policies; and support for U.S. businesses and the private sector overseas. His work focused on development as a business opportunity for U.S. companies and a strategic imperative for the United States, mostly in the areas of infrastructure, trade and investment, entrepreneurship, and agriculture. He spearheaded the State Department's "Economic Statecraft" initiative to promote foreign investment into the United States and support U.S. companies overseas.,
Mr. Fernandez has served on the Board of Trustees of Dartmouth College and on the Board of Directors of Accion International and the Council of the Americas. He has been chair both of the American Bar Association's InterAmerican Law Committee and the Committee on InterAmerican Affairs of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, and CoChair of the Cross Border M&A and Joint Venture Committee of the New York State Bar Association. He also headed the Latin American and Caribbean division of the ABA's Rule of Law Initiative. He has served on the boards of NPRstation, WBGOFM,Ballet Hispanico of New York and the Middle East Institute. He was a founder of TeatroStageFest, a 2week Latino theatre festival in New York City, and was appointed a Commissioner of New York's Latin Media and Entertainment Commission.
Mr. Fernandez is a member of the Council of Foreign Relations, and serves on the Board of Directors of Iberdrola S.A.Mr. Fernandez's articles have appeared in Foreign Affairs, The Wall Street Journal, The Miami Herald, The Huffington Post, Americas Quarterly and many other legal and policy publications. He has been featured by various TV, radio and print media organizations in the U.S. and abroad. Mr. Fernandez graduated magna cum laude with high honors from Dartmouth College earning a bachelor's degree in history, and also received an honorary degree from the college. He earned a Juris Doctor from Columbia University School of Law, where he received the Charles Evans Hughes Prize and a Parker School Certificate of International Law with Honors. He is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese and proficient in French.
Karl Paul Frederic
Karl Paul Frederic is a partner at the law firm Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf, LLP from which he conducts a multi-disciplinary practice focused on complex real estate transactions, construction and urban redevelopment from offices in New York and New Jersey. He has over thirty years of legal and business experience counseling clients in a broad range of matters and has been involved in some of the most significant projects in the metropolitan region, including MetLife Stadium and the renovation of Saint Patricks Cathedral. In recent years, he has focused on representing clients in repositioning single-user pharmaceutical industry campuses into multi-user mixed use facilities.
Prior to joining Windels Marx in 2003, Karl was counsel at Drinker Biddle, LLP in his hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In Philadelphia, Karl was President of the Columbia University Club of Philadelphia where he arranged speaking programs and fostered opportunities for alumni engagement in the city’s civic life. Karl also served as one of the leading volunteer lawyers for the Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, representing artists on a pro bono basis in various legal matters and educating the artistic community on legal and business topics.
Outside of law, Karl has a number of interests. He has competed in road races and triathlons, and remains an avid skier, golfer and martial artist. He is also an occasional actor, sometime movie producer and aspiring blues guitarist. He helped create the New Jersey Horror Con and Film Festival, now entering its third year, giving horror fans the opportunity to meet and interact with actors, screenwriters and musicians and small filmmakers a forum at which to screen their films and compete for awards.
Karl earned his BA from Columbia College and his JD from the University of Miami School of Law. Karl has served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees since October 1, 2018.
Bill Hofstetter started his first agency before the age of 30 and has helmed them ever since.
His early career focused on entertainment, working with headliners like Aerosmith, Ted Nugent and Joan Jett. He helped revolutionize the marketing of Broadway with the international hit Beatlemania, followed by many Broadway, Off-Broadway and touring companies.
In the world of fashion, Bill helped launch Perry Ellis, John Henry, and Crossings and he represented fashion icons Oscar de la Renta, Geoffrey Beene and John Weitz, apparel giants Philips Van Heusen, Nautica, Oxford Industries and Manhattan Shirts. European luxury brands Leica Cameras; Zeiss frames, lenses and sport optics; and Krups small appliances were represented by Bill, both in the US, and in many other English speaking countries worldwide. Yellowtail wine was launched by Bill’s agency and Cavit wine is presently represented.
Bill's work for Pentel Pens received a Clio, and is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Broadcast. Television commercials for Gotham Comedy, NY Gilbert & Sullivan Players, Stuffed and Unstrung and Silence! The Musical have received 7 Telly Awards in the last 5 years.
Jeh Johnson is a partner at the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP in New York City and the former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security (2013-2017). Johnson is also on the board of directors of Lockheed Martin, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Center for a New American Security.
Johnson is the 2018 recipient of the Ronald Reagan Peace Through Strength Award, presented at the Reagan Presidential Library, for “contribut[ing] greatly to the defense of our nation,” and “guiding us through turbulent times with courage and wisdom.”
As Secretary of Homeland Security, Johnson was the head of the third largest cabinet department of the U.S. government, consisting of 230,000 personnel and 22 components, including TSA, Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Services, U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Coast Guard, the Secret Service, and FEMA. Johnson's responsibilities as Secretary included counterterrorism, cybersecurity, aviation security, border security, port security, maritime security, protection of our national leaders, the detection of chemical, biological and nuclear threats to the homeland, and response to natural disasters. In three years as Secretary of DHS, Johnson is credited with management reform of the Department, which brought about a more centralized approach to decision-making in the areas of budgets, acquisition and overall policy. Johnson also raised employee morale across the Department, reflected in the September 2016 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey.
Prior to becoming Secretary of Homeland Security, Johnson was General Counsel of the Department of Defense (2009-2012). In that position, Johnson is credited with being the legal architect for the U.S. military’s counterterrorism efforts in the Obama Administration. In 2010, Johnson also co-authored the report that paved the way for the repeal of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell by Congress later that year.
Earlier in his career, Johnson was General Counsel of the Department of the Air Force in the Clinton Administration (1998-2001), and an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York (1989-1991).
Johnson is currently a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School. He has debated at both the Cambridge and Oxford Unions in England, and has lectured at Westminster College, Harvard and Yale law schools, the National Defense University, the National War College, and all four U.S military academies. Johnson is a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is a graduate of Morehouse College (1979) and Columbia Law School (1982), and the recipient of ten honorary degrees.
Michael Ostroff is the founder and president of The Ostroff Group (TOG), a national consulting firm with offices in Florida and New York that works exclusively with domestic and global non-profit organizations to help them achieve their organizational and philanthropic goals. The firm has an extensive track record of success working with a broad range of clients in the cultural, educational, health care, human service and Jewish communal fields. Services include board/leadership development, strategic planning, marketing and comprehensive financial resource development programs (planning and implementation of annual, capital, endowment, grant/foundation and planned giving).
Michael has played leadership roles in campaigns that have collectively raised in excess of $1 billion.
With a keen understanding of volunteer and donor motivation, Michael specializes in major gift solicitation, campaign and strategic planning and volunteer/board training and is a frequent presenter on those topics in North America, Europe and Israel. He holds a BA in Social Welfare from Pennsylvania State University, an MSc in Social Administration from Case Western Reserve University, a certificate and honorary doctorate from the Hebrew Union College .
Patricia advises a broad range of clients on all aspects of commercial real estate transactions, including acquisitions and dispositions, leasing, sale-leasebacks and financing. She has extensive experience structuring and documenting real estate transactions, including analyzing due diligence, managing risk allocations, and overseeing transaction documentation from term sheet to closing. Patricia has represented a wide range of clients including global asset management firms, real estate investment trusts, pharmaceutical companies, healthcare systems, developers, and financial institutions in commercial real estate transactions and tax-exempt structured finance deals. Prior to joining the firm, Patricia practiced commercial real estate law at firms in New York, New Jersey, and Colorado. Patricia is fluent in Spanish and serves on the advisory board of Elijah's Promise, a Central New Jersey nonprofit that fights to end hunger for the working poor.
Bob Sommer is CEO of Awsom Associates, LLC a public relations and public affairs firm.
In addition, Sommer is an Adjunct Lecturer teaching graduate level public affairs and media relations courses at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers University. He also directed the Institute of Planning and Public Policy Communications at the Bloustein School.
Previously, Sommer was Senior Advisor to Mayor Steven Fulop of Jersey City, NJ where he advised the Mayor on communications and policy issues. Prior, he was President of Rock Entertainment Management, a holding company for the organization that owns the New Jersey Devils National Hockey League franchise and the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. He was responsible for the marketing, communications and public affairs operations for the team and the arena.
Earlier, he was President of Observer Media Group where he was responsible for managing all business and sales operations for OMG’s media properties, which include The New York Observer and Politicker.com. He also served on OMG’s Board of Directors.
Prior to heading Observer Media Group, he was Partner and Executive Vice President of MWW Group, one of the nation’s largest public relations firms. He headed the firm’s public affairs practice.
Before MWW, Sommer developed environmental and transportation policies as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives Commerce Subcommittee staff. In addition, he was speechwriter for Subcommittee Chairman (and later Governor) Jim Florio (D-NJ). He also served as a Presidential Management Appointee at the Environmental Protection Agency Office of Toxic Substances. An elected delegate for Bill Clinton at the 1992 Democratic National Convention, he has been appointed to the transition teams of several New Jersey governors.
He served as a Trustee of the Public Affairs Council and the New Jersey Public Policy Institute, chaired the Eagleton Institute of Politics Foundation and was First Vice Chairman of New Jersey Network. Recognized as one of New Jersey's 50 Most Interesting People by NJ Monthly magazine and Bloustein School Alum of Year, he is also ranked as one of the most powerful New Jerseyans by NJBIZ and PolitickerNJ. Sommer has been published in numerous magazines, newspapers and journals.
Sommer sits on the board of Children’s Aid and Family Services. He was a Founder and Advisory Board Member for North Jersey Community Bank (now ConnectOne Bank). He also was a Director of Allvision, Inc. and was a Director of Ridgewood Savings Bank (now Boiling Springs Saving Bank).
Obi Taiwan Ozochiawaeze
Former Deputy Advisor on Technology to Presidents Bush and Reagan, and current Senior Special Adviser for Technology and Healthcare at the United Nations, Dr. Obi Taiwan Ozochiawaeze has held pivotal C-Level Executive Leadership roles at organizations such as the United Nations, DaVincian Healthcare, Aetna, WellPoint/Empire BCBS, and Siemens GmbH. Dr. Ozochiawaeze is the President of Global Technology Services at MEDSiS Healthcare. An avid aviator, Obi Taiwan is a retired Air Force Pilot.
David Weiner is a managing Director and Senior Portfolio Manager at Neuberger Berman, an employee owned asset manager with over $300 billion in AUM and 36 offices in 22 countries around the world. Mr. Weiner joined Neuberger Berman in 1994 after having worked at EM Warburg Pincus & Co, Delafield Asset Management and First Manhattan Company, and has been a General Partner at Neuberger since 1996. At Neuberger, Mr. Weiner invests several billion dollars for individuals and institutional clients, primarily in domestic equities.
Mr. Weiner graduated from Queens College with a BA in economics in 1976 and attended the Columbia University Business School. He is a trustee of the Queens College Foundation and the Jewish Foundation for the Education of Women (JFEW) which provides educational grants to help women attend college.
Stas Zakharenko is an attorney with a broad mix of firm and in-house legal department experience, a proven ability to gain deep understanding of technology, and to hire, motivate and develop a high performing team. He joined Audible in 2014 and became Head of Legal in 2016. Before Audible, Stas was with Amazon’s legal department in Seattle and Luxembourg supporting digital and new technologies initiatives, including Kindle e-readers and Amazon Music. Before joining Amazon, Stas worked as in-house counsel specializing in software and technology, and as a corporate associate at Skadden. Stas is a graduate of Boston University School of Law and Stony Brook University, where he majored in music. He continues to be an active performing musician.