Rachel Berger
Corporate President
1997 Alumna – rberger@njhoby.org


“I was always the “loud” girl. I had an opinion and I wanted to share it with anyone who would listen. I thought that this was a leadership quality that would help me throughout life. Attending NJ HOBY introduced me to many other students who were just like me, but more importantly, I met many students who were the polar opposite. Attending the NJ HOBY leadership seminar opened my eyes to working collaboratively in groups, actively listening, setting realistic life goals, and understanding my role as a contributing member in our society.

Throughout the seminar, I came to realize that leadership comes in all shapes and sizes. I no longer yearned to be the center of attention rather, I sought out to be a valued contributor. I was placed in an environment where my individual ideas were shared among a group of like-minded individuals concerned with making a positive impact on society.  I developed critical thinking skills and the ability to actively listen to others so that we could come together to face challenges as a unit.

Faced with a new life after HOBY, I knew I wanted to utilize my newly developed skills and start volunteering. This led to many volunteer opportunities throughout the rest of my high school career and college. In 2002, I was finally old enough to be a group Facilitator for NJ HOBY and have dedicated the past 13 years to ensuring the success of the program. Our volunteers are the core of our organization and it is their passion and dedication that keeps me connected to our mission. I have met my closest friends through HOBY and have spent my adult life volunteering with them.

It is through my volunteer work with HOBY that I developed a passion for education. This inspired me to return to graduate school and become a high school math teacher. I enjoy spending every day giving a little of “HOBY” to all of my students so that they too will reap the benefits of our program.”

Amanda Burd
Corporate Vice President
2003 Alumna – aburd@njhoby.org

Amanda Burd

“To truly appreciate NJ HOBY you need to have the privilege of experiencing it.  When I attended NJ HOBY it was such an empowering experience for me to be with like minded motivated students from across NJ. In High School it can be difficult to be a driven, motivate leader who wants to help others. At NJ HOBY that doesn’t make you different instead it makes you part of the community–part of the HOBY family.”

Corina White
Corporate Trustee
2004 Alumna


“To say that attending NJ HOBY and WLC in 2004 was a transformative life experience is an understatement. When I arrived at NJ HOBY, I was a shy 15 year old with no self-confidence. Someone who was okay with blending into the background. When I left these experiences, I knew that I could and should stand out. The powerful thing about HOBY is that it provides an environment where being an individual with convictions is an extremely positive thing. That’s not an environment many 15 year olds experience in their schools. HOBY is a place that exposes you to ideas, approaches, and thought processes. It doesn’t tell you what to think but how to think, and, most importantly, how to think critically. This is what has kept me volunteering my time. I feel as though exposing teens to this environment has the potential to change their life, as it changed mine. (Not to mention, I’ve met some of my best friends and mentors through HOBY.)”

Anthony Bucci III
Director of Community Legacy Workshops
2009 Alumnus – programs@njhoby.org

Anthony Bucci III

“In 2009, I was selected by my school supervisor and guidance counselors to be the first HOBY ambassador sent from my high school.  I admit that I expected to return home tired from all of the activities and training; what I had not expected, however, was that my life would be changed forever.  My experience was transformational: HOBY tore down the walls that I had built up after years of timidity and empowered me to be the extroverted leader I am today.  HOBY taught me how to unlock my potential and to see that I could achieve my goals through passion, willpower, and capitalizing on the opportunities life offered.  Together, my New Jersey and World Leadership Congress HOBY experiences ignited my burning desire to commit my life to public service.  It has not only empowered me to successfully push for initiatives that protect our environment, wildlife, and public health, but also brought me to the table of some of our nation’s top policymakers.  I would not be where I am, but more importantly, who I am, without HOBY.”

Shelley Bertino
Co-Leadership Seminar Chair (non-voting)
2007 Alumna – sbertino@njhoby.org

Shelley Bertino (2)

“In 2007, I represented Sacred Heart High School at the New Jersey HOBY seminar and attended the World Leadership Congress. Initially, I did not know the impact this experience would have on my life. However, meeting like-minded, motivated people empowered me to make positive strides in my life and the lives of others. Joining the staff at NJ HOBY has allowed me to influence many ambassadors over the years to start his or her own journey. NJ HOBY has become an ever growing family of support and laughter. I am looking forward to empowering future ambassadors as I continue to develop my HOBY story.”

Siiri Makela
Co-Leadership Seminar Chair (non-voting)
2008 Alumna – smakela@njhoby.org

Siiri Makela

“When I first arrived at NJ HOBY as an ambassador from Midland Park High School in 2008, I had no idea what to expect or how one weekend would change my life. HOBY was intense from the start and at first I just wanted to go home—scared of the unknown. As I met other ambassadors and my group’s facilitator I realized that I was not alone on this journey. Here we were, 250 students from across New Jersey not knowing anyone else but each sharing the same goal: to make a difference. Over the course of the seminar we changed from a group of strangers to a cohesive team: we were able to work together, actively listen to our peers, share ideas, and develop our critical thinking skills. It was the ultimate experience working with people who were motivated and wanted to make a positive impact. The tools I developed that weekend continue to grow and have allowed me to become a better person.

 Coming away from that weekend I knew my HOBY journey would continue. Since then I have served on the NJ HOBY staff as a Junior Staff member, Alumni volunteer and now Co-Leadership Seminar Chairperson. These experiences have enabled me to carry on the HOBY legacy. Through the years, I have met many interesting people and made lifelong friendships. I will be forever grateful for being a part of the NJ HOBY Family and look forward to the future and what it has to bring!”

Alex Ginsberg
Corporate Trustee
2002 Alumnus


“HOBY has impacted me by giving me the confidence to elevate the trajectory of my academic, professional, and personal accomplishments. As a young man who had been exposed to few people outside my own town, I found HOBY eye-opening and inspiring. Never before had I met so many young people who were as passionate about making an impact as I, let alone so many from such different backgrounds. Interacting with them and the HOBY staff motivated me to push past the insecurities that hold so many people back from achieving their potential. I’ve been volunteering with HOBY for over a decade since my seminar, and I still get emotional when I think about how it affected my life and the lives of so many others.”

Joel Payne
President Emeritus
1999 Alumnus

“NJ HOBY was one of the most impactful experiences of my life and has set the stage for much of the success I enjoyed after that weekend seminar in 1999. I was a bright kid but quiet, misguided and unsure of how to leave a positive impact on my community. NJ HOBY provide me with the toolkit to become a leader. Whether helping me manage my own expectations as a student or helping me learn how to lead effectively at church, school or in my community, NJ HOBY was an important building block for me.

That’s what I have decided to give back. Because I wanted to make sure that every young leader in New Jersey was exposed to same transformative experience that I was. That’s why I have been involved in the annual NJ HOBY Seminar staff and now NJ HOBY Corporate Board every year since 2000.

In 2012, I was fortunate to be named President of NJ HOBY Corporate Board. Prior to that, I served as Corporate Board Vice President and Fundraising Director. I believe in NJ HOBY and will always be committed to the values that this program promotes.”

Please click here to support New Jersey HOBY with a donation today.