Edward J. Richardson will become the sixth executive director in the 160-year history of the 200,000-member New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), following his June 14 appointment by the NJEA Executive Committee.
Richardson, 51, an NJEA staff member for the past 19 years, will succeed current Executive Director Vincent E. Giordano on Dec. 1, when Giordano retires after a 43-year NJEA career.
“Ed Richardson brings an impressive and diverse set of skills to this demanding position,” said Giordano. “NJEA members know he will work closely with our elected leaders and staff to represent them well, and to advocate for their interests in a time of great change in public education. I’m looking forward to working closely with Ed over the next several months to help him prepare for the challenges ahead.”
Richardson will join NJEA President-elect Wendell Steinhauer to take NJEA’s leadership team into the new school year. He will manage NJEA’s 265-member staff in its Trenton headquarters and 22 statewide regional offices. Steinhauer will succeed outgoing President Barbara Keshishian on Sept. 1.
“This is an enormously important time in the history of public education,” said Richardson. “Its very future is being threatened by a national corporate reform movement that too often ignores valid research in its quest to privatize and standardize America’s unique tradition of universal, free public education.
“NJEA members are eager to take leadership in their schools,” he said. “That starts with implementing research-based practices and approaches that will improve student achievement and lead to lifelong learning, and we know parents agree. Standardized tests have legitimate diagnostic value, but all accepted research tells us they are not reliable indicators of teacher effectiveness, because too many non-school factors affect student test scores,” said Richardson.
“I know that teachers and school employees want their voices to be a stronger presence in creating the excellent schools that parents want, and students deserve,” he said. “Achieving that presence is a top organizational priority.”
Richardson joined the NJEA staff in 1994 as an associate director for public relations, following seven years of state educational policy work. He was the public information officer, speechwriter, legislative liaison, and director of communications for the state commissioners of education from 1986-93, and served as education policy advisor to Gov. James Florio from 1993-94.
Upon joining NJEA, he worked in public relations and media relations, representing NJEA in various coalitions and overseeing NJEA’s many external partnerships with corporations, sports teams, and foundations. In 2005, he joined the NJEA management team as human resources manager, in which capacity he has served the needs of NJEA’s professional and associate staff.
Richardson is a native of Cedar Grove, NJ, where he attended public schools, K-12. He earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from Michigan State University, and completed all three levels of the Certified Public Manager Program through Rutgers University and the State of New Jersey.