NJ Pen Elections 2023: Meet the Audubon School Board Candidates


This year, four Audubon residents are running for three open seats on the borough Board of Education. We invited each of them to tell voters a bit about themselves in the lead-up to the election.

By Matt Skoufalos | October 30, 2023

On November 7, voters in Audubon will choose from among four balloted candidates for three seats on the borough school board: incumbents Mark Gatti, Alison Lipsky, and Joe Miller, and challenger Bill Wilson.

We invited everyone to reply to the same set of prompts, telling voters about themselves, their priorities, and their views of the current state of the district. Answers were edited for clarity and length.


Mark Gatti. Credit: Mark Gatti.

Mark Gatti, 55 (Incumbent, Unexpired Term)

Third-generation Audubon resident Mark Gatti has lived in the borough with his wife, Deirdre, for more than 30 years, where they have raised two sons into adulthood.

Gatti is a cartographer with the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC), where he has worked for nearly 30 years.

Currently, he is Associate Manager for the DVRPC Office of Geospatial Information Systems.

A marathon runner, amateur woodworker, and self-described “huge music geek,” Gatti was appointed to the Audubon Board of Education in July 2023 to fill a vacancy on the governing body.

Since August, he has served on its Governance and Operations subcommittees as well as its Audubon/Mt. Ephraim Ad Hoc Committee.

What is your philosophy of education?

I believe it is the responsibility of the school district to give all students an opportunity for an education that will enable them to reach their highest possible academic and social levels of development.

What personal and professional experiences would you bring to the table as a school board member?

During my sons’ school years, my volunteer work often involved working with the school district, most notably while serving as vice president of the Marching Band Booster Board. During that time, I got to see how the school board interacts with and supports extra-curricular activities through its budget and policies.

Now that I sit on the board, I see even more thoroughly just how this interaction works, and hope to use my position as board member to keep these programs well-funded and open to all students.

Professionally, my work involves many of the same fields that make up the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematic) educational approach. I have seen first-hand the importance of a well-rounded, 21st-century education.

Why are you running for office?

I want to play a part in assuring that the Audubon School District continues to provide a quality educational experience to all students. My wife Deirdre and I are proud that both of our children — Nick (AHS ’15) and Sam (AHS ’20) — attended Audubon schools. We appreciated the opportunities, both academic and extracurricular, that our sons had during their time there.

After regularly attending school board meetings this past year, I was selected by the board in July to fill a member vacancy. I am constantly amazed by the dedication shown by the school administration, the teachers, and my fellow board members. I hope to continue working alongside them in helping Audubon students reach their highest potential.

What are the biggest challenges your school district faces?

Academic and extracurricular activities in Audubon are still rebounding from the pandemic disruption. The biggest challenges for the school district right now are making sure that classrooms are fully staffed with both teachers and support staff, and providing students the opportunity, through in-school and after-school activities, to once again see their school as a strong community where they can learn, socialize, and grow.

What are three key issues on which you’d like to focus if elected?

My primary focus would be making sure that Audubon schools are adequately staffed and supplied. A larger portion of the school budget needs to go towards classroom and extracurricular expenses — more teachers, coaches, counselors, nurses, educational assistants, and supplies. The most efficient way to support the district’s teachers is by providing them with the resources they need to effectively instruct their students.

Although not as visible as physical building security upgrades, it is just as important to the safety of the students that school administration take the Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying (HIB) protocols more seriously, and that they be more proactive on mental health counseling, especially as it pertains to at-risk students. During the past year, I’ve seen the board and school administration take significant actions towards improving school culture and climate, but reducing the number of HIB incidents must remain a top objective.

Finally, a key issue that faces all prospective board members is the hiring of a district superintendent. Our school board’s hiring of a new superintendent will coincide with the development of an updated strategic plan. Audubon will need a leader who can both communicate the district vision and, more importantly, make sure that the hard work necessary to carry out that vision gets done.

In addition to communication and management skills, I will be looking for a candidate who displays the expertise needed to maximize student achievement and is supportive of our teachers. This person must also be open to new ideas from their staff, the school board, and the community and flexible enough to adapt to changes in funding, mandates, and educational concepts without sacrificing the district’s vision.


Alison Lipsky. Credit: Alison Lipsky.

Alison M. Lipsky, 49 (Incumbent, Unexpired Term)

Alison Lipsky is a 14-year Audubon resident and mother to a school-aged child in the borough public school district.

Lipsky works as a public defender in Philadelphia, but in her spare time enjoys reading, crafting, and spending time with friends and family.

She’s a fan of sci-fi entertainment including Dr. Who, Star Wars, Star Trek, and Firefly, as well as the Harry Potter universe, from which her dogs Luna Lovegood and Fluffy Hagrid take their names.

What is your philosophy of education?

I am a big fan of Social Emotional Learning (SEL), which looks at the child as a whole, and meets them where they are.

SEL is about making children the best that they can be — not the best students or athletes, but the best them.

I’m sure we’ve all felt different, or “other” at various points in our lives, and school is usually a place where that feeling starts or is exacerbated.

My hope is that the Audubon School District is a place where every kid feels seen and safe to be who they are, and to have the opportunities they need to thrive and succeed.

What personal and professional experiences would you bring to the table as a school board member?

As a lawyer, particularly as a public defender, I have more than 20 years of experience in how to compromise and get the best outcome for my clients. During my one-year term on the Board of Education, I have put that experience to good use.

Working with other members of the Board, we have voted to create a strategic plan for our school district, and are in the process of hiring planners who will engage with all community stakeholders so they have an active voice in what that plan will look like.

We are leading the state in our level of transparency between the Board and district administration on Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying (HIB). In addition, we are committed to having transparency in our policies and regulations. We’ve created a Community Engagement Committee, of which I am a member, and we hope the community sees that we are here for them, and are accessible.

It is also good for the school district to have a parent who is also a lawyer on the Board. School district policies and regulations come from statutory law and code, which is oftentimes a bit voluminous and tedious. It’s also the type of stuff that makes my little lawyer heart go pitter-patter. I’ve been trained to understand this type of legalese, and I am good at it. Sometimes it takes a lawyer to cut the wheat from the chaff, and get to the heart of an issue.

Most importantly, this last year has taught me that the only power a Board has is as a whole, not as individual members. We must work together and with the administration to move the ball forward and have the best school district for our kids

Why are you running for office?

We need a diverse group of people to make up the BOE. I am a Jew, a woman, a non-native of Audubon (and a proud resident of Audubon), a single mom by choice, and a strong ally to the LGBTQIA+ community.

As we know better, we do better, and I want our kids to do phenomenally.

What are the biggest challenges your school district faces?

Many see our biggest challenges as finding a new superintendent, completing the referendum projects, and moving forward with the strategic plan. I agree with that assessment, in part, but I also think we need to be cognizant of our history in not having much Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).

In the past, Audubon has not had a lot of diversity, and that is changing. As there is greater diversity in the schools, the town, and the global marketplace, we need to prepare our kids for the 21st century world in which we live. We need our kids to be able to navigate this diverse world with the educational and technological skills to advance in the workplace and in life.

What are three key issues on which you will focus if elected?

I will focus on:

  • Helping to make sure we have a strategic plan that sets us up for success
  • Bringing increased rigor in our curriculum, which will hopefully include summer work for all students so they are staying strong in their academics and will be raring to go when the school year starts
  • Supporting DEI programs like Words Have Weight, and any others that our DEI team creates in collaboration with Rowan University.


Joe Miller. Credit: Joe Miller.

Joe Miller, 27 (Incumbent)

Realtor Joe Miller is an Audubon native who participates in community groups, including the Audubon-Parkside Free Masons Lodge and Audubon-Haddon Township-Oaklyn Rotary Club.

In his role with the borough Board of Education, Miller also works with the Camden County Educational Services Commission, and the New Jersey School Boards Association Board of Directors, for which he is the Camden County Representative.

He enjoys spending his free time with friends and family.

What is your philosophy of education?

My philosophy of education centers on education as the stepping stone to a secure future.

I believe that a strong educational foundation provides the tools necessary for individuals to navigate life successfully.

I also think it’s important to nurture individuality within the educational process, recognizing that each student is unique, and should be encouraged to explore their distinct talents and interests.

This approach fosters not only academic growth but also personal development, empowering students to become well-rounded individuals in their pursuit of a safe and prosperous future.

What personal and professional experiences would you bring to the table as a school board member?

I have a bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in sociology from the University of Maine, which helps me approach educational issues with a comprehensive understanding of social and political dynamics. I also have served on the Audubon Board of Education for the past three years, which has given me firsthand knowledge of the challenges and intricacies of educational governance.

As the Camden County Representative to the New Jersey School Boards Association and the Audubon representative to the Camden County Educational Services Commission, I am committed to statewide educational initiatives and policy discussions, and work actively to address local educational needs and foster collaboration within the community.

Why are you running for office?

My clear mission is to protect the well-being of our children, ensuring a safe and supportive environment for them, and to uphold the voices of every parent, guardian, and constituent in the community.

I will work to amplify the concerns and perspectives of parents and guardians, because I believe that their input is fundamental in shaping effective policies and decisions. I advocate for a stronger, more inclusive educational system that prioritizes the needs and aspirations of both children and their families.

What are the biggest challenges your school district faces?

The Audubon School District is currently grappling with several significant challenges. Foremost among them are budgeting concerns, which have strained resources across various aspects of the district’s operations.

The district is also facing issues related to low grades in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) courses, indicating a need for targeted improvements in these critical fields to ensure a well-rounded education for its students.

Additionally, bullying has emerged as a pressing concern, demanding immediate attention to create a safe and nurturing environment for all students. Addressing these challenges effectively will require strategic planning, community engagement, and a focus on fostering a positive and inclusive learning environment district.

What are three key issues on which you will focus if elected?

    • I pledge to be a dedicated advocate for parents, ensuring that their voices play a pivotal role in shaping their child’s education.
    • I am committed to enhancing the overall academic landscape by focusing on improving test scores, and fostering a culture of excellence within the district.
    • Moreover, I am determined to prioritize the mental health and well-being of students, administration, and faculty members. By striving to create a supportive environment, I want the district to nurture not just educational growth, but also emotional and mental resilience among all of its stakeholders.

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