NJ Pen Elections 2023: Meet the Cherry Hill School Board Candidates


This year, six Cherry Hill 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 | November 5, 2023

On November 7, voters in Cherry Hill will choose from among seven balloted candidates for three seats on the borough school board: incumbents Miriam SternIneda “Corrien” Elmore-Stratton, and Kimberly Gallagher and challengers John M. (Jack) Brangan, Renee Cherfane, Nicholas J. Gaudio, Jr., and Jennifer Sharman.

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.


Jack Brangan. Credit: Jack Brangan.

Jack Brangan (Challenger)

Jack Brangan is a retired IT professional, and the CEO and cofounder of American Christmas Products.

He is father to three adult children and five grandchildren.

What is your philosophy of education?

My philosophy is to expose students to timeless and universally held ideas; encourage and develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills; academic rigor, and to provide every opportunity for an individual student to excel.

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

While working in IT, I managed large international teams, and was responsible for long-term, multi-million-dollar contracts. I bring this experience to the position on the board.

Why are you running for office?

First, there is an academic slide taking place in our district. According to the New Jersey Department of Education, Cherry Hill East has fallen below the state minimum standard in mathematics.

Additionally, High School West, Carusi Middle School, and the Clara Barton and Joyce Kilmer Elementary Schools are below minimum standards in either math or English. Beck Middle School is close to the minimum standard.

Secondly, the sex education curriculum for grades K through 12 is full of gender ideology that begins in kindergarten. This is unacceptable. I want Cherry Hill to default to 100-percent opt out of this curriculum as a district, and allow parents to opt in if they choose.

What are the biggest challenges your school district faces?

  • Raising New Jersey Department of Education district performance scores.
  • Minimizing the effect of K-12 gender education on students.
  • Management of monies associated with the recent bond.


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

  1. To correct sliding academic performance.
  2. Cherry Hill has now taken on pre-school. I would like to know more about how we will fund this over the next 5-10 years.
  3. Bond money spending: I want oversight of bond money spending to be performed by an executive steering committee, including the mayor of Cherry Hill, the township CFO, the president of the Board of Education, the school board CFO, the superintendent and other stakeholders. It should include an accounting firm reporting to this steering executive committee for financial oversight.


Renee Cherfane. Credit: Renee Cherfane.

Renee Cherfane, 36 (Challenger)

Nurse Educator Renee Cherfane is a mother of three young children.

She enjoys puzzling, quilting, and exercising.

What is your philosophy of education?

Education should be available to all, and tailored to the individual.

The classroom should be a space where all learners feel safe, are able to thrive, and cultivate their love for learning.

Children should feel free to explore their creativity and understanding of this incredible world while building relationships with their peers.

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

I am from this town. I know this community as a student, parent, and taxpayer. I have deep roots, and although I can’t speak to every person’s experiences, I understand that they exist, and are important to consider.

I am an educator. I’ve taught high school in Texas. Although it’s different than New Jersey, my certification program aimed to prepare us to teach at-risk students. I was a 22-year-old learning about the cultural barriers to education and that experience was my most cherished in life.

I have also taught at Rutgers in their Chemistry and Nursing departments. I now run the Nurse Residency Program at the local trauma center. As a Nurse educator, I teach professional nurses, and can appreciate the importance of preparing children for life after graduation. I also have my Master’s degree in Nursing Education so I have had formal instruction in education for both secondary and post-secondary levels.

I’m a nurse. Understanding people and how to educate, interact with, and advocate for them is the main responsibility in my profession. I work at an inner-city academic medical facility that sees all lifestyles, cultures, education levels, etc. I have dedicated my professional life to promoting health and wellness in these populations. But more importantly, I understand the intricacies of educating all levels of learning.

I am an educator, critical care nurse, and published chemist (under my maiden name, Renee Solimeo) so gathering information, analyzing data and feedback, and disseminating that information so the masses understand is the entire foundation of my professional life. I will be able to understand and interpret information to ensure the administration is following policies and doing what is right for the community, and, most importantly, communicate it so everyone understands.

I was the chair of our nursing practice council that oversaw all patient-care policies. I have experience with writing policies, and ensuring we have the best, most updated evidence to drive that practice.

I transformed our nurse residency program, and am currently working to better integrate EBP throughout the organization. We are focused on competency building, engagement, recruitment, and retention of our new to practice nurses, so I understand the importance of creating a positive work environment for our teachers so they want to come, stay, and promote their district. We need to fix the foundational issues before taking on more projects (staff engagement and retention, special education initiatives, budget management, etc).

Why are you running for office?

I want to advocate for my community. Over the last few years I have had a lot of feelings towards decisions that have been made in the district. I am not the kind of person to just sit back at watch things unfold that I feel need to be fixed, so I’m getting involved.

What are the biggest challenges your school district faces?

  • The superintendent hiring process
  • Preschool expansion
  • Academic performance results
  • Educating and informing the public of initiatives and curriculum


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

  1. The superintendent search, which will subsequently help focus on academic achievement
  2. Preschool expansion
  3. Educating and informing the public of current issues.


Kim Gallagher. Credit: Kim Gallagher.

Kimberly Gallagher, 40 (Incumbent)

Kimberly Gallagher is a mother to three school-aged children who enjoys running, cooking, reading, and doing home improvements.

What is your philosophy of education?

My philosophy of education is one that focuses on critical thinking.

True critical thinking comes through open dialogue and feeling comfortable to ask questions.

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

For more than seven years, I worked as an adjunct professor for an MBA program.

I have experience creating curriculum and course material for graduate and undergraduate courses. I also understand how to link budgets towards learning outcomes. This will benefit me on the board during budget season and setting district goals.

I also worked in operations and supply chain management for more than a decade. Supply chain management means bringing a product to market in the most cost-effective way. I can look at a product from start to finish, and mitigate any risks along the chain. I do this by asking questions, and considering all known risks in decision-making so we can formulate a solid plan with minimal disruption.

Why are you running for office?

I am running for re-election. I would like another three years to advocate for our children and community. My focus is asking questions and fully understanding a topic before casting a vote. It’s important to take a holistic approach to district decisions.

What are the biggest challenges your school district faces?

  1. Finding a new Superintendent. First and foremost, the hiring of the new superintendent is the biggest decision our Board will make.This decision will impact the direction of our district for the next five to 10 years, if not longer. It is a massive decision that will impact academic success, special education, and transparency/trust within the district and community. Concentrating on choosing the right figurehead is of the utmost importance, and will allow the Board to focus on pressing initiatives.


  2. Communication. The board needs to increase and improve how it communicates with the community. Having a bi-monthly email that highlights the Board meetings, minutes, agendas, and upcoming votes will help engage the community.
    It is also important to put committee meetings on Zoom. It is ableist to only allow in-person participation. Many community members are unable to come to in person meetings due to family, jobs, transportation, and physical limitations. Having committee meetings live-streamed and recorded allows for more engagement and the dissemination of accurate information.


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

  1. Fiscal responsibility. As a member of the Business and Facilities committee, I am committed to monitoring Bond funds to guarantee oversight and project management.
  2. Increasing special education. We need to increase our special education programs throughout the district; specifically, adding an Autism support class at Carusi Middle School.
  3. Improving district communication and consistency. The district needs a consistent and standardized approach to communicating. The frequency and look in format of principal and superintendent communications should be standardized.


Jennifer Sharman. Credit: Jennifer Sharman.

Jennifer Sharman, 51 (Challenger)

Registered Nurse Jennifer Sharman works as a Clinical Quality Management Specialist for a Medicaid and Medicare Insurance company.

Sharman is a married mother of four, and a military mom to two sons who have committed themselves to the U.S. Army and Air Force.

Her husband, a U.S. Marine veteran, has been a Cherry Hill resident for 30 years.

Sharman has volunteered as an advancement chair with the Boy Scouts of America for nine years, and enjoys painting and drawing in her spare time.

What is your philosophy of education?

My philosophy of education is that all students deserve a quality education, which also must include children with disabilities. Education should be primarily focused on academics, critical thinking skills and executive functioning skills.

Schools also need to have a stronger collaborative balance with parents, and less of a political focus. When kids are succeeding in academics, it helps to build their self-esteem, and helps to prepare them for the future so they can do great things for our community and country.

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

I have been a registered nurse for more than 25 years, during which I have provided a significant amount of education to both children and adults. Based on my experiences as a nurse, I will bring the ability to be an advocate to all students and all parents.

I will utilize critical thinking to help resolve issues with integrity and compassion, and will provide autonomy to all parents and students, which means to respect a family’s decision and choices of their student’s education without bias or influence.

Why are you running for office?

I am very invested in making our schools a place for all students to learn so they can one day be successful adults; for all families to be respected and included; and for all of our teachers to have the support they need to teach our children in a collaborative way with all parents/caregivers.

What are the biggest challenges your school district faces?

The biggest challenge our school district faces right now is a lack of respect shown to the parents, community, and its students, especially during school board meetings.

There is also a lack of transparency, and poor communication with parents regarding what is being taught in schools. The schools keep secrets from parents without respect for specific family values and cultures.

There are inadequate resolutions in regard to our children/students with disabilities and with our students that file HIB complaints. Lastly, there is a lack of focus on academics and academic achievements, which is demonstrated in our very low proficiency scores.

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

The three key issues I would like to focus on are our failing academic scores, our problematic association with our families and students with disabilities, and our lack of successful interventions in regard to harassment, intimidation, and bullying policies.

My experience as a clinical quality management specialist will be an asset to the school board because I will be able to us my training to help assess and help work to resolve our academic issues, disability barriers, lack of successful bullying interventions, and the much-needed improvement of parent/caregiver involvement and communication.

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