Nakeefa Bernard Garay has over eight years of experience in New Jersey’s nonprofit community development industry. Prior to working at Rutgers Newark, she served as a Program Officer at Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) where she provided hands on technical assistance and support to government, nonprofits and resident leaders working to improve the quality of life for residents in greater Newark. Before working for LISC she served as a fundraiser at New Jersey Community Development Corporation (NJCDC) in Paterson, NJ. During her time at NJCDC and LISC, Nakeefa raised over $4.5M to support nonprofit community development efforts in Newark and Paterson.
A two-time graduate of Rutgers University – New Brunswick, Nakeefa is an alumna of both Cook College (BS, Environmental Policy, Institutions, and Behaviors) and the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning & Public Policy (MPP, Community Development). She is currently a doctoral candidate in the Global Urban Studies PhD program at Rutgers Newark. Nakeefa’s research interests include community development, civic participation, and nonprofit organizations. She enjoys using the tools of academia to support and strengthen civic engagement efforts tied to community development practice. The title of her dissertation is Capacities, Strategies and Processes of Civic Engagement Among Community Development Nonprofits: A Newark, NJ Case Study.
Nakeefa is the Center’s lead on community organizing, including developing community leadership. As a Senior Program Director at Cornwall, she is primarily responsible for the Thriving Neighborhood Initiative, the national Freedom School Project, communications and media, and the Center’s brown bag community discussions. She also supports data visualization for various research projects.
Born in Trinidad and raised in Jersey City, Nakeefa is a proud resident of Newark, New Jersey.