Senator Diane Allen Honored with Community College Legislative Excellence Award

On November 17, the New Jersey Council of County Colleges presented its 2014 Legislative Excellence Award to Senator Diane Allen for her outstanding support of New Jersey’s 19 community colleges.

“This award is an honor given each year to a selected legislator who has demonstrated extraordinary service directed towards helping New Jersey’s 19 community colleges,” said NJCCC Chairman Bakari Lee, Esq. “Senator Allen has displayed a tremendous commitment to the state’s community colleges, and her work deserves to be recognized.”

Of the many pieces of legislation she sponsored, the latest is S-1985—legislation that changed eligibility for the New Jersey Student Tuition Assistance Rewards Scholarship (NJ STARS). Now, NJ STARS eligibility is based on class rank at the completion of students’ junior year or senior year of high school. Previously, students were eligible for NJ STARS if they, among other things, were ranked within the top 15% of their graduating high school class.

“We are very thankful to Senator Allen for her advocacy and support of community college students throughout the state,” said NJCCC President Dr. Lawrence Nespoli. “Her work on NJ STARS ensures that high school students and their families will be able to make informed decisions regarding where to attend college.”

Senator Allen remarked on the occasion of her receiving the award; “Community colleges are the backbone of higher education in New Jersey. With 400,000 residents currently enrolled, it is clear that these schools make a huge difference in so many lives. I am honored to support our 19 community colleges, and am delighted the Council has chosen me for this prestigious award.”

NJ STARS is a scholarship program exclusively for New Jersey residents that covers the cost of tuition at New Jersey’s 19 community colleges. Now, thanks to the Senator’s legislation, students who rank in the top 15 percent of their high school class at the end of either junior or senior year may be eligible.

Senator Allen was elected in the New Jersey State Senate in November of 1997 and began a four-year term in January of 1998. In 2003, Senator Allen served in the Senate leadership as Republican Conference leader, and is currently Deputy Minority Leader and serves as a member of the Senate Health, Human Services & Senior Citizens, the Senate Education and the Senate Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committees.  Senator Allen also serves on the Joint Committee on the Public Schools, the Council on Armed Forces and Veterans’ Affairs and the Martin Luther King Commission.

Born in New Jersey, Senator Allen has lived in Burlington County for most of her life. She graduated from Moorestown High School—where she was valedictorian—before moving on to Bucknell University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. During her time at Bucknell, she founded a swim team, which she then led to AAU Nationals. She was also a member of the college rifle team.

Senator Allen is the former President of VidComm, Inc., where she and her staff produced broadcast documentaries as well as corporate and not for profit videos for a variety of clients. During her career in the media—which spanned over three decades—she won nine Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award and dozens of other national and international awards.

Senator Allen was elected to represent the Seventh Legislative District in the New Jersey General Assembly in November 1995. She took office in January of 1996, and in June of that year, was appointed chairperson of the Assembly Advisory Council on Women.

The New Jersey Council of County Colleges is the state association representing New Jersey’s 19 community colleges. As an independent, trustee-headed organization that joins the leadership of trustees and presidents, the Council is the voice of the community college sector before the state legislature and other branches of government.

Pictured, from left: NJCCC Chairman Bakari G. Lee, Esq., Burlington County College Trustee Kate Gibbs, Senator Allen, NJCCC Vice Chair Helen Albright, BCC Interim President Dr. David Spang, and NJCCC President Dr. Lawrence Nespoli.

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