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New Trustees Bring Diverse Leadership Experience to Monmouth University

The Monmouth University Board of Trustees elected six new members on June 25. Quincy J. Byrdsong, Ed.D., Karyn F. Cusanelli ’89, Nancy A. Leidersdorff ’97, Lisa McKean, Gary T. Puma ’99M, and Michael J. Renna will begin service on the board of the private university on July 1, 2015.

“I am excited about the talent and perspective our new trustees will bring to the board,” said Monmouth University President Paul R. Brown, Ph.D. “As we continue implementation of our new strategic plan, Monmouth University will benefit tremendously from their shared passion for higher education, and the unique knowledge and expertise that each board member brings to our governance,” Brown said.

“A strong board requires a diversity of experience and opinions,” said Board Chair Henry D. Mercer III. “The outstanding business and leadership experience of this incoming class of trustees will add a valuable breadth and depth of perspectives.  I look forward to working closely with them as trustees,” Mercer said.

Byrdsong, of Glen Allen, Va., is the associate vice president for Health Sciences Strategic Initiatives and Engagement for the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). He has operational responsibility for providing leadership in research and academic affairs to advance the science and health care missions at VCU. During his career, he has served in several capacities in academic medicine. Before VCU, he served as the administrative program director for Clinical and Translational Research for the School of Medicine at Meharry Medical College. Prior to that, he was the director of the Meharry Institutional Review Board and Research Services Consultant for Vanderbilt University Medical Center.  In addition, he previously served as the executive director of Research Administration for the VCU Medical Center. Byrdsong, a member of the Society of Clinical Research Associates, received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology from Middle Tennessee State University and his Doctorate of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Tennessee State University.

Cusanelli, of Brick, N.J., is a direct sales and marketing specialist. She was recently elected president of the Monmouth University Alumni Association and will begin her term on July 1. As president of the association, Cusanelli also was elected to serve as an ex-officio member of the Board of Trustees.  She is a member of the Brick Township Board of Education, UNICO National (Brick Township Chapter), and The Church of St. Martha, Point Pleasant, N.J. Cusanelli earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Monmouth University in 1989.  Cusanelli’s husband, Nicholas Cusanelli ’89, and daughters Marissa ’14 and Gianna ’16 are also proud to be Monmouth University Hawks.

Leidersdorff, of Interlaken, N.J., is the senior vice president of Media Planning and Creative Strategy at Nickelodeon. Previously, she was the vice president of Media Planning for AMC. Before AMC, Nancy was vice president of Media Planning in the Programming Department at Nickelodeon Networks. Leidersdorff earned her bachelor’s degree in Communication from Monmouth University in 1997 and served on the Alumni Association board of trustees from 2009 to 2011. In 2008, she received the Alumni Association’s Volunteer of the Year Award.

McKean, of Rumson, N.J., is managing director overseeing marketing and development at the Monmouth Conservation Foundation (MCF), Monmouth County’s only countywide land trust organization. She is a specialist in cause-related marketing, event marketing, nonprofit public relations, and the creation of signature promotional programs. Prior to her position at MCF, she was on the business side of magazine publishing in leadership positions for Time, Esquire, Worth and Civilization magazines.

Puma, of Shrewsbury, N.J., is the president and chief executive officer of the not-for-profit Springpoint Senior Living. He oversees an organization that serves nearly 3,500 residents in 24 communities and has responsibility for an annual operating budget of $150 million and assets of $500 million. Puma started working at Springpoint in 1978 and was appointed president and CEO in 1997. In this role, he initiated a strategic development plan that led to dynamic growth in continuing care, assisted living and affordable housing communities. He earned his MBA from Monmouth University in 1999 and is currently a member of the Monmouth University Business Council. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the 2011 Monmouth University Distinguished Business Leaders Award, the 2009 Excellence in Leadership Award from LeadingAge, and the 1996 New Jersey State Governor’s Award for Management Excellence.  In 2010, he served on the Governor’s Healthcare Subcommittee Transition team.

Renna, of Mount Laurel, N.J., is president and CEO of South Jersey Industries (SJI), an energy services holding company based in Folsom, N.J. After joining SJI in 1998 as a manager, Renna quickly advanced to the officer level and in 2006 assumed leadership of SJI’s non-utility businesses. He played a lead role in determining the company’s strategic direction and has successfully led the non-utility businesses over the past decade. He was named SJI’s president and COO and was elected to SJI’s board of directors in 2014. He earned his MBA from Cornell University and his bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Delaware. Renna serves on the board of directors of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce and the CEO Council for Growth’s Greater Philadelphia Energy Action Team. He also participates in The University of Delaware’s Student Mentoring Program.