Autism New Jersey Announces Appointment of Five Members to the Board of Trustees

April 15, 2024

Autism New Jersey is pleased to announce the appointment of five new members to its Board of Trustees: John Doherty, Michael Elchoness, Colleen Schulz-Eskow, James Grasselino, and Jackie Kelly. They bring a wealth of professional expertise spanning finance, law, communications, public policy, and advocacy, coupled with a personal connection and commitment to serving the autism community.

I am thrilled to extend a warm welcome to John, Michael, Colleen, James, and Jackie to our esteemed Board of Trustees,” said Board President Kristie Sells. “Their passion and skill set will be instrumental in guiding Autism New Jersey as we approach our 60th anniversary year. I’m excited to work with each one of them as we strive to make a greater impact for the individuals we serve across the state.

John Doherty is a 23-year veteran with Goldman Sachs, where he currently serves as managing director. He is a graduate of the United States Merchant Marine Academy and holds a law degree from Fordham University and an M.B.A. from the Wharton School. Before earning his M.B.A., he was deployed worldwide as a merchant marine engineering officer and served as counsel for Navios Corporation and trustee of the Coast Guard Foundation. In addition to his storied career, Doherty is the father of five children, one of whom has autism.

I’m excited to serve with caring individuals looking to help New Jersey families deal with the daily challenges and long-term anxiety of having a loved one on the autism spectrum. Hopefully, as my own family deals with some of these same challenges, I can add a unique perspective to enable us to be more effective in our work.

Michael Elchoness is senior vice president of community relations at Your Choice Home Care and director at Momentum Wealth Partners, a financial services company. Prior to joining Momentum, he spent most of his more than 20-year career in private banking and wealth management. Elchoness earned a B.A. in communication from Rutgers University and an M.B.A. from Fordham’s Gabelli School of Business. He serves on the Board of Trustees at Rutgers Hillel and the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ and is a member of the executive committee for the Jewish Family Service of MetroWest NJ.

I am deeply honored to be part of an organization that is nationally respected for its unwavering advocacy for the autism community. This remarkable group of individuals is making an extraordinary impact on the lives of every person with autism across the state.

Colleen Schulz-Eskow is a state leader in education policy, currently serving as senior director of public policy at New Jersey’s Children Foundation, a Newark, NJ-based nonprofit that advocates for public education across the state. Before joining the foundation, she spent 20 years at the New Jersey Department of Education, holding a multitude of roles during her tenure, including deputy chief of staff where she was responsible for managing the department’s legislative affairs and policy development division. Most recently she led the department’s COVID-related response efforts. Schulz-Eskow received a B.A. in political science from Rutgers University and an M.A. from Rutgers Edward J. Bloustein School of Public Policy. She is also an alumnus of the Eagleton Institute of Politics.

I have been eager to find an opportunity to give back to the community through service. When the chance to join the Autism New Jersey board became a reality I was thrilled,” said Schulz-Eskow. “While I don’t have a direct connection to the autism community, I have had the chance to work with Suzanne and the team over time on statewide policy implementation. I am excited to support the board and the team to ensure that we are getting vital services to the individuals and families that need it the most.

James Grasselino is a former managing director who has extensive experience leading the compliance, audit, risk, and legal functions within financial service organizations. He earned an A.S. in business from the Lubin School of Business at Pace University. Grasselino’s unique perspective as both a father of a son with autism and someone with autism himself will offer great insight to Autism New Jersey’s board. His point of view will help inform the work we do and keep individuals with autism and their families the focus of our advocacy efforts. Most importantly, we welcome him back to the board where he previously served as treasurer.

Helping the greater autism community is very important to me, and Autism New Jersey is a place I feel comfortable and energized.

Jacqueline Kelly is a longtime advocate for individuals with autism and a former board member of Autism New Jersey. As a parent of a daughter with autism, she’s dedicated her work to building a greater understanding of autism through autism awareness with the extended Kelly family along with her husband, Anthony. Together, they have hosted various fundraisers including the Annual Spring Lake Gift Auction, partnered with restaurants and retail shops, and volunteered at countless Autism New Jersey events. Most recently, the Kelly Family provided autism awareness decals to 26 police departments throughout Monmouth County in support of Autism New Jersey’s law enforcement initiative.

Serving on the board of Autism New Jersey means being able to work with individuals who share a common goal: making a difference in the lives of those affected by autism and their families. I am truly excited to serve because I have already seen the growth as a former board member, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Please give all our new trustees – both new and returning – a warm welcome! We look forward to working with them to advance Autism New Jersey’s mission to ensure safe and fulfilling lives for individuals with autism, their families, and the professionals who support them.