Advisory Board Members
Dr. Joseph Attanasio, ’62, Professor Emeritus
Joseph S. Attanasio is emeritus professor of speech-language pathology in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Montclair State University. Dr. Attanasio received his bachelor’s degree in history (social studies) and his master’s degree in speech-language pathology from Montclair State College. His PhD in speech-language pathology is from New York University.
Dr. Attanasio joined the faculty in the Department of Communication Sciences in 1966 (then the Speech Department) and retired in 2011. While teaching was his primary focus, he served as department chair and chair of the task forces on the New Student Experience, the Outcomes Assessment Program, and the Outcomes Assessment Coordinating Committee. For a time, Dr. Attanasio served as interim assistant dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and as director of the New Faculty Program.
Dr. Attanasio has published on stuttering in American and Australian journals and has written, as author or co-author, chapters in several books on the subject. With Dr. Ann Packman, his colleague in Australia, he has published the book, Theoretical Issues In Stuttering, which is in its 2nd edition. He has presented on stuttering at professional conferences in the United States, Europe, and Australia. He has published on statistics and research design in communication disorders. The study of history, initially as an undergraduate and afterward as a continuing interest, has informed his teaching and research.
Dr. Attanasio received Montclair State College’s Alumni Citation and Outstanding Faculty Awards. He was made an honorary research associate of the Faculty of Health Sciences, the Australian Stuttering Research Centre, the University of Sydney, Australia.
Marie Attanasio ’65
Marie Attanasio received her bachelor’s degree In English from Montclair State College. She was a teacher of English, first at Cranford High School, in Cranford, NJ and then at Montclair High School in Montclair, NJ. She retired from secondary school teaching after a total of 25 years. Time between these positions was devoted to raising a son, Joseph, and the family pet whippets. Part time positions for 14 years included working as an E.S.L. and basic skills instructor in the adult education program at Montclair State College as well as in private industry.
While at Montclair High School, she played a role in establishing the ninth grade World Literature Course which became a model for introducing young students to a variety of cultures and their literature. Ms. Attanasio was one of the original team of teachers in the World Literature course embracing its diversity and inclusion principles and challenges. As senior most teacher in the program she was sought after to mentor a number of the ninth-grade English teachers. A strong advocate of inclusion in education, she welcomed special needs students into her classroom. Together, the heterogeneous group of students participated in all aspects of class work and discussions.
Ms. Attanasio is the recipient of several honors: Who’s Who Among American Teachers (multiple awards), the Josh and Judy Weston Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the Student Coalition Faculty Award for Extraordinary Dedication to Montclair High School.
Dr. Christopher C. Catching ’99
Christopher Catching ’99 has had the opportunity to observe Montclair State University’s evolution as a student, alumnus, and as a higher education professional for nearly 25 years. Catching currently serves as the vice president for Student Affairs at Stockton University. After earning his Bachelor of Arts degree in History at Montclair State, he pursued a Master of Arts in Student Affairs in Higher Education from New York University in 2001 and a Doctorate in Education from Rutgers University in 2008.
Prior to his role at Stockton University, Catching served as the assistant vice president for Student Affairs at Southern Connecticut State University, coordinator for Greek Leadership Development at Seton Hall University, director of Multicultural Engagement at Rutgers University, and assistant provost at Hofstra University.
Michael Cryor, MA ’70
Michael E. Cryor is President of The Cryor Group, LLC., a business consulting firm serving both the public and private sectors. His work has benefitted some of the largest corporations and prestigious public sector organizations in the world. Some of his clients have included Skanska International, Northrop Grumman, Forest City Science & Technology Group, Kaiser Permanente, MWH Americas, the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Johnson Controls, The Energy Systems Group, the Baltimore City School System, the International Oncology Network, CareFirst, Magna Entertainment, the College Board, Gantech, Inc. and several government interests.
In 2011 he was recruited to serve as Exelon’s lead local advisor for the successful merger acquisition of Constellation Energy. Two years later he played a similar role in Exelon’s acquisition of Pepco Holdings. Following the two mergers, Cryor was appointed as an independent director to the boards of both BGE and Pepco Holdings.
Cryor served as a co-chairman for then Senator, Joseph R. Biden’s first Presidential campaign. In 2007, he was elected Chair of the Maryland Democratic Party and was instrumental in the historic election of President Barack Obama. In the early ‘80’s, he served as Special Assistant to the late Maryland Congressman, Parren J. Mitchell, Chair of the House Small Business Committee. He also serves a confidante and counsel to mayors, congressmen, governors and presidential candidates. Cryor is the former Executive Vice President for Susan Davis International, a public affairs firm headquartered in Washington, D.C., where he advised Fortune 500 companies and a broad range of national policy and public affairs initiatives.
His earlier careers include psychologist and Director of the Department of Consultation and Education at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York; Associate Dean at Morgan State University, and various executive positions in both chambers of the United State Congress.
He is a director on the Boards of BGE, Pepco Holdings, the Hippodrome Foundation, the Baltimore Center Club and is Chair Emeritus of the Board of Visitors for University of Maryland School of Medicine.
Mr. Cryor earned his bachelor’s degree in Experimental Psychology from Morgan State University and a master’s degree in Developmental Psychology from Montclair State University, respectively. He was also a was a doctoral candidate in Environmental Psychology at the City University of New York. In addition to his earned degrees, Mr. Cryor has been awarded three Honorary Doctorates.
His career has earned him numerous lifetime achievement, Hall of Fame and public service awards across the political, business and education spectrums. He and his wife reside in Baltimore City.
Dr. Deborah Fish Ragin, Professor Emerita
Dr. Deborah Fish Ragin, Professor Emerita, is a distinguished member of the Psychology Department with a long record of outstanding teaching, research and service. Dr. Ragin, received her PhD from Harvard University in 1985 and worked at Hunter College in the Community Health Education Program and then the Mt. Sinai Department of Emergency Medicine. Ragin joined Montclair State as an Associate Professor in 2003 and was promoted to Full Professor in 2011.
During her 17 years at Montclair State, Ragin chaired or co-chaired a wide array of committees in her department, in the university, in national organizations such as the American Psychological Association as well as international ones through her work with the United Nations. Her work has ranged widely, including studies of community and ethical research as well as domestic violence. Her textbook, Health Psychology: An Interdisciplinary Approach, is a flagship in her field, is used five countries and translated into Mandarin Chinese. As an educator, Dr. Ragin has been was a key part of the Psychology Department’s teaching, notably mentoring undergraduate students of color in research projects resulting in presentations at international, national and local conferences.
Altair Gobo, CFP ’74
Altair M. Gobo, a Certified Financial Planner, is a partner at U.S. Financial Services, LLC. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Northern New Jersey Chapter of the International Association for Financial Planning as President and Chairman.
He has served as Faculty Coordinator and Academic Advisor of Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Financial Planning Program and was also an Adjunct Faculty Member for the Program. In addition, he has served on the Board of Directors of Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Financial Services Institute. He is on the Advisory Board of the Montclair State University College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Altair has authored the book Getting to the Green: Golf, Financial Planning, and Life, Not Necessarily in That Order, and several published articles. He has also been a guest on CNBC, NBC, ABC, MSNBC, Fox News, Fox Business News, Bloomberg, and CNN.
Altair was born in Jersey City and grew up in Cliffside Park. He graduated from Montclair State University with a BA in Psychology and after graduation, taught high school for six years before beginning a life-changing career in financial planning.
Thomas Loikith, Esq. ’75
Thomas Loikith is a partner in Harwood Lloyd’s Commercial Department, concentrating his practice in financial services law, commercial transactions, real estate, and business law. Mr. Loikith has extensive experience in representing financial services clients, representing lenders and borrowers in commercial asset-based and real estate loan transactions, and forming and counseling small businesses.
Tom received his undergraduate degree from Montclair State College in 1975 (B.A. summa cum laude, Political Science) and his law degree from Rutgers School of Law-Newark in 1978 (J.D., with honors). He was law secretary to Hon. Peter Ciolino, Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Passaic County during the 1978-1979 term.
Tom is admitted to practice before the courts of the State of New Jersey, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and the United States Supreme Court. Tom was elected a trustee of the Bergen County Bar Foundation in 2007. In 2010 he was elected vice-president of the Foundation, a position he held until 2012 when he was elected president of the Foundation. He completed 6 terms as president of the Foundation in April 2018.
Tom served as the 120th president of the Bergen County Bar Association from March 2018-March 2019. He served as Immediate Past President of the Association from March 2019-March 2020 and is currently an Honorary Trustee. He is a member and co-chair of several Association committees, notably the Banking Law Committee and the Corporate and Business Law Committee.
Bisrat “Bis” Mekbeb ’01
Bisrat “Bis” Mekbeb is Assistant Vice President, HR Business Partner at Global Atlantic Financial Group, a leading Life, and Annuity company. Bis has over 20 year of experience in Financial Service having served in various technical and leadership roles within Operations, Project Management to Human Resources. Over his career, he has developed a passion for Diversity, and Inclusion, and career development. As Montclair State alumnus and lifelong student of the humanities and social sciences, he strongly believes in the value of education in the humanities and social sciences and its ability to enrich and impact students’ lives and careers. Bis is a resident of New Jersey and lives with his wife, two daughters, and their BerneDoodle.
Linda Perez, Esq. ’75
Linda Perez is an accomplished attorney and passionate supporter of education. A former partner at Akerman LLP, she litigated a broad range of matters including complex commercial litigation, antitrust, securities, commercial foreclosures and contract disputes in state and federal courts. She serves her community through several varied and meaningful organizations, including having organized and supervised Haiti disaster relief efforts for Amor En Accion.
Steven M. Resnick, Esq. ’93
Steven M. Resnick, Esq., a partner at Ziegler, Resnick & Epstein, is a matrimonial and family lawyer and one of New Jersey’s trailblazing practitioners in custody matters and the area of parental alienation.
A highly skilled litigator, Mr. Resnick handles all aspects of matrimonial and family law relating to divorce, equitable distribution, palimony, annulment, high net worth, pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements, business valuations, real estate, domestic violence, custody and visitation, paternity, estate/will contests, judgment/agreement modification, appeals, N.J. Supreme Court maters, trial, and case second opinions, among others. Mr. Resnick has also served as co-counsel for numerous out-of-state matters.
Mr. Resnick recently broke new legal ground in New Jersey on the subject of parental alienation and has argued before the Appellate Division of New Jersey and New Jersey Supreme Court on many other matrimonial and family law issues, as well.
Mr. Resnick serves as a Blue Ribbon panelist for Essex and Union Counties.
Nancy E. Smith, Esq. ’77
Nancy Erika Smith is a partner at Smith Mullin in Montclair, New Jersey. Ms. Smith graduated from Rutgers Law School in Newark in 1980. Since then, she has practiced in the area of employment and civil rights law for plaintiffs. She has tried many cases to successful verdict and won many appeals which have resulted in published opinions.
Some of the notable cases include: In February of this year, Ms. Smith won a jury verdict of $2.4 million in a sexual harassment case on behalf of a Black employee of PNC Bank who was harassed by a White wealthy customer; fighting against mandatory arbitration and sexual harassment in a case that resulted in Roger Ailes being terminated from Fox News (Gretchen Carlson v. Roger Ailes); establishing the right of siblings of children who are HIV positive to attend public school (Truax v. Washington Twp.); confirming the State’s commitment to eradicating discrimination based on pregnancy (Rendine v. Pantzer), disability (Levinson v. Prentiss Hall), age (Zacharias v. Whatman and Rathemacher v. I.B.M.), marital status (Slohoda v. UPS), gender (Kessler v. WWOR-TV), and sexual orientation (Caggiano v. Fontura). She has also litigated cases on behalf of victims of sexual harassment (Gerardi v. Multi-Lock) and victims of retaliation after whistle blowing (D’Onofrio v. Warren Township; Jorgenson v. Prudential).
She was pro se co-counsel with her husband and partner Neil Mullin for many years in Landano v. State, a habeas corpus action that resulted in the exoneration of a man who was wrongfully convicted and spent 18 years in prison. Ms. Smith sat on the Board of NJAJ. She also sat on the Board of Trustees of NELA (from 1992 to 1997), the New Jersey State Bar Association (from 2013 to 2015), the Essex County Bar Association (from 2002 to 2008), and still sits on the Executive Committee of the New Jersey State Bar Association Labor and Employment Law Committee.
Stephen Wellinghorst, Esq. ’84
Stephen Wellinghorst is a partner in Harwood Lloyd’s Insurance Litigation Department. Mr. Wellinghorst joined Harwood Lloyd in 2011 as a partner and practices primarily in the area of insurance defense litigation, representing several insurance companies, self-insured corporations and municipalities. He specializes in premises liability, representing the largest mall in New Jersey as well as the largest franchised quick service food company in the world and the largest supermarket chain in the east coast. As a trial attorney, Mr. Wellinghorst has successfully litigated multi-million dollar lawsuits on behalf of his clients. He has more than 20 years experience litigating all aspects of civil litigation, including insurance defense, premises liability, self-insured and public entity defense, professional liability, public liability, product liability, construction defects, employment discrimination and commercial litigation matters.
Mr. Wellinghorst received his B.A. in Political Science from Montclair State University in 1984 and his J.D. from Ohio Northern University Claude W. Pettit School of Law in 1988, where he was an Associate Editor of the Ohio Northern University Law Review.
Following law school, Mr. Wellinghorst joined the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office. In 1992, he joined the law firm of Braff Harris & Sukoneck, where he specialized in insurance defense litigation representing various insurance companies, self-insured companies and public entities. He became a partner with Braff Harris & Sukoneck in 2000.
Mr. Wellinghorst is a former barrister in the Arthur T. Vanderbilt American Inn of Court, a member of the Defense Research Institute, and a member of the Council on Litigation Management. He has presented numerous seminars and lectured for trade associations and the insurance industry. He has been a frequent legal commentator on local and national news programs such as MSNBC, Court TV, Fox News, CNN and News 12 New Jersey.
Mr. Wellinghorst was Municipal Judge for the Borough of West Paterson (2003-2006), and was a Councilman in the Village of Ridgewood from 2010 – 2013.
Mr. Wellinghorst is admitted to practice before the courts of the State of New Jersey (1988), the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey (1989), the Courts of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (1989), and the United States Supreme Court (1996), The District of Columbia Courts and the State of New York Courts. Mr. Wellinghorst is a member of the American Bar Association, the New Jersey State Bar Association, the Pennsylvania Bar Association, the District of Columbia Bar Association and the New York State Bar Association.