Board

President Elliott Johnson

Vice PresidentNaima Ricks and Nathalie Hernandez

Executive Director – Brandon Givens and Regina Appolon

Secretary- Matthew Skolar

Treasurer Sean Keagan Foley

Elliott Johnson

Elliott Johnson is a professional public school educator entering his tenth year in the classroom. A native of Westfield, NJ, he currently resides in Elizabeth with his wife and fellow educators Kalinna Johnson, their two children and their lovable boxer, Cassius. Elliot graduated with honors from Kean University with a B.A. in History and has been teaching students in social studies classes throughout New Jersey. In addition to his role as a classroom teacher, Elliott is a classroom ambassador of the New Jersey Amistad Commission, a statewide education law whose mission is to ensure that school curriculums provide students with the most diverse content possible from African-American and minority perspectives. He also serves as a union representative for the Elizabeth Education Association (EEA), his local statewide union, the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) and the Parent Teacher Organization of Woodrow Wilson School #19 in Elizabeth.

Outside of the classroom, Elliott has served families and children in Union County for over a decade. He serves in his local church as a ministry leader for children, young adults and has organized various community events in the City of Elizabeth. As president of the Union County Young Democrats, Elliott works to bring unity amongst the various municipalities of Union County and encourages all young professionals, students and community minded individuals to bring all their abilities to form a more perfect society. He hopes that all who wish to see changes in their communities would take up the call to service and advance our world forward, with liberty and justice for all.

Naima Ricks

Naima Ricks is the perfect combination of a dynamic leader and visionary.  Naima has
worked tirelessly to improve the community that she has been a part of since she was
two years old. Since then she has hit the ground running. At the age of four, she
became a Girl Scout for a Roselle Girl Scout Daisy troop. Not only did Girl Scouting open her eyes to civil service by providing invaluable opportunities to engage in multiple community service initiatives, but it also instilled within her the principles of courage, confidence, and character, all of which she still holds today. Now she currently serves
as a member of the and is currently serves as the Chair of the Board Development Committee for the Girl Scouts Heart of NJ Board of Directors.  Naima is also a proud and active member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. where she serves as the Social Action Chairwoman for the Gamma Omicron Zeta Chapter.

Naima began her politically career when she became the youngest elected official in Roselle, serving on the Board of Education where she also held the position of Vice President. Currently, Naima serves as the Vice President of the Union County Young Democrats and she previously held the position of Chair of the Black Caucus. In this role, she works tirelessly to organize and educate young Black Democrats in Union County to be more active in Democratic politics and the political process. She was listed on InsiderNJ’s African American Power List for 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019. Naima has also
appeared on Chasing News, where she able to share her political commentary with the NJ/NY/PA area.

Not only does Naima work for the public at large, but Naima works out of the public eye as she continues to enhance the development of young men and women by providing effective career coaching and professional development; molding a whole new generation of leaders.

Her motto…”Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”  Nelson Mandela

Nathalie Hernandez

Nathalie Hernandez, a compassionate and humble lifelong volunteer, was born and raised in the
City of Elizabeth.  Inspired by the diverse and inclusive community, Hernandez continues to reside in the great City of Elizabeth as a proud and loving mother to her daughter. Fulfilling her love of the sciences, Hernandez completed her undergraduate and graduate studies at Kean University with a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Biotechnology. Always passionate about the children in her community, Hernandez later went on to obtain a NJ Teaching Certification where it reinforced her strengths in valuing the importance of equity and personalized learning programs. Hernandez prides herself in always giving back to the community and even currently does that by profession as the Union County Coordinator of the Office of Community Engagement & Diversity where she has been employed for over 10 years.

She has invested her heart to serving in many nonprofit organizations that include Union County Young Democrats (member since 2015), Be The Change NJ, Urban League of Union County Young Professionals where she served as the Community Service Chair and was recognized as the ULUCYP April Member Spotlight for her dedication, Elizabeth Cuban Lions Club, Union County Racial Justice Task Force, and many more that all contribute to the greater good.

Her commitment to the community came full circle when she was appointed in January of 2019 as a Board of Education Commissioner in one of the largest school districts of New Jersey. Serving as an Elizabeth Board of Education Commissioner, Hernandez has made it her priority to always be an advocate for the almost 28,500 children in the district to succeed. Hernandez truly believes in the impact a small group of people can have on the world, it is with this motivation that she continues to make every voice matter.

Brandon Givens

As one of the founding members of Union County Young Democrats, Brandon’s main focus is on the future to create refreshing and engaging way to connect with new or first time voter. As the Director of Community Services for the County of Union, he manages several departments including Community Development Block Grant, Veteran Services and We Are One Immigration center to service the vast and complex needs of Union County residents and organizations daily. Brandon’s commitment to service is one that was developed at it in early age.

Brandon is a proud alumni of New Jersey City University with a degree in Economics.  He was recently elected as the New Jersey Young Democrats Central Vice President and appointed as a State Delegate.

Since last August, Brandon has become a Big Brother with Big Brother Big Sister of Union County. Brandon is a firm believer that we all have a reason for being on earth and that the sooner you realize it the bigger the impact you can create.

Regina Appolon

Regina Appolon is Chief of Staff to Assemblywoman Angela V. McKnight representing the 31stLegislative District which includes Bayonne and Jersey City. As Chief of Staff, she advises on legislative matters as well as oversees all district office personnel. She is a member of Union County Young Democrats and Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity. She attended Rutgers University in New Brunswick. In 2015, she graduated with a B.A. in Political Science and minors in Africana Studies and History. After receiving her Bachelor’s degree, Regina began her career in politics as a Legislative Director to former Assemblyman John S. Wisniewski, Chair of the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee and co-chair of the New Jersey Legislative Select Committee on Investigations; the joint legislative committee investigating what is now called “Bridgegate.” In July 2016, Regina attended the 2016 Democratic National Convention as a New Jersey District 11 Delegate. As a Delegate, she was able to witness history made as the party selected the first woman to be a major party’s nominee for president.

Regina has been influential in the passage of many of Assemblywoman McKnight’s pieces of legislation including A-3754, which created a new hair braiding license in NJ separate from the traditional Cosmetology license; and A-1414which requires financial literacy instruction in 6th, 7th, and 8thgrades. Both bills gained national attention and were featured on VICE News and MSNBC respectively. The bills are now law in the State of New Jersey.

Regina is passionate about empowering our youth through the political process by engaging and educating; she hopes to be able to teach civics or history later in life.

Matthew Skolar

Matthew Skolar is a 17 year old senior at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School. He has served as Secretary of the Union County Young Democrats since 2019, and has been a member of the organization since 2017.

He is a former intern for Assemblywoman Linda Carter, and currently serves as the Director of Research for Youth Over Guns. He is actively involved in activism surrounding gun violence, workers’ rights, immigrant rights, and social justice.

He plans to go to college to study Political Science next year.

Sean Keagan Foley

Sean Keagan Foley is dedicated to helping people and assisting others. He is also devoted to developing youth and young adults to be the leaders of tomorrow. Sean is a Licensed Social Worker, NJ State Certified School Social Worker and a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional, who currently resides in Scotch Plains. Sean received his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Kean University and Sean attended the Rutgers University School of Social Work for his master’s degree, with a focus on clinical work and policy and management. During that time he was co-chair of the Graduate Student Association for the School of Social Work and worked with the White House Fellows African Leadership Initiative.

Sean is also a 2015 graduate of the Eagleton Institute of Politics and Government Graduate Fellowship Program. Sean has dedicated most of his life to being a public servant. Sean was a firefighter in Middlesex County, worked with foster youth providing assistance and advocating on their behalf, provided counseling services, advocated for, and developed GED courses for community members in Paterson who were suffering from mental illness, disability, trauma, and substance use disorder.

He has helped shelter hundreds of Union County individuals and families who were homeless, and secured housing for families and individuals who were in danger of being homeless. He has also worked as a professor and a Developmental Specialist at Rutgers University for a program designed to educate, advocate and assist Dreamers.