The Jegna Council is an advisory group that guides our New Jersey grantmaking team as they strive to more effectively center equity in their work and build power across the state, with an intentional focus on communities that have historically lacked opportunities to live their healthiest life.


Through a commitment to advancing health equity and deep connections in key communities and populations across the state, council members reflect the culture, character, and lived experiences of New Jersey’s diverse populations and have knowledge of one or more of the team’s focus areas in New Jersey: maternal and infant health, housing, and public health infrastructure.

“Jegna” is an ancient African concept, conveying distinction, respect, and honor. It represents one who synthesizes wisdom from lifelong experiences and formulates it into a legacy for future generations. The concept encompasses the spirit in which we ask our advisors to help us ensure accountability and strategic relevance to the people and communities of New Jersey.

Community members lead a neighborhood rehabilitation project.

Jegna Council Members

Alma Garcia, Executive Director, New Jersey Health Initiatives

Chanel Porchia-Albert, Adjunct Professor, Marymount Manhattan College

Christian Estevez, Executive Vice President at CWA Local 1037

DeAnna Minus-Vincent, Founding & Managing Partner, The Outcomes Architect

Eric Dobson, Deputy Director, Fair Share Housing Center

Gisele Pemberton, Director, National Center for Training, Support and Technical Assistance, PROCEED Inc.

Ivette Guillermo-McGahee, Founder and CEO, Allies In Caring, Inc.

Dr. Jesselly De La Cruz, Executive Director, Latino Action Network Foundation

Jorge Cruz, Vice President/Community Development Market Manager-New Jersey

Jyoti Venketraman, Director of Collaborations and Organizational Equity, New Jersey Future

Kathia Ramirez, Policy Advocate at Pinelands Alliance

Leslie Kantor, Professor and Chair, Rutgers School of Public Health

Nastassia Harris, Founding President, The Perinatal Health Equity Foundation

Taiisa Kelly, Chief Executive Director, Monarch Housing Associates

Toshira Maldonado, M.Ed., Founder, Most Beautiful W.O.M.B. Inc.

Related Content

Members of the Jegna Council have developed pieces to highlight areas of their work that intersect with the Foundation’s priorities in New Jersey. Each of the articles reflect members’ thoughts on different areas that contribute to health inequities and ways that we can create a more equitable healthcare workforce, expand housing options, expand community research, and improve maternal health outcomes.

A multicultural group of girls sitting on the steps outside a townhouse.

Achieving Health Equity for N.J.

We all deserve to live our healthiest life possible, no matter who we are or how much money we have. This can be a reality in New Jersey.

New Jersey graphic

A Healthier, More Equitable New Jersey

To honor the legacy started by our founder, Robert Wood Johnson II, we at RWJF remain committed to improving health and advancing health equity for all in New Jersey and beyond.