Meet The Team

CHABA Board meetings are now held (with some exceptions) every third Thursday of the month at 6 PM at the Center headquarters: David Sheppard House, 31 West Commerce Street, Bridgeton, NJ 08302. 

HomeFronts Workshop Committee Meetings and other Committee meetings are held as needed while conferences and workshops are being planned and conducted.  Except in the rare case of executive sessions, all meetings are announced by social media and email as well as on this website and are fully open to the public.


CHABA Bylaws

Flavia Alaya

Founding President and Acting CEO and Board President

Artist, author, professor, public historian (as well as Columbia U PhD and Guggenheim, Dodge, and Kress Foundation Fellow), Flavia is a habitual cultural kickstarter with a zealous sense of place. She was inspired into housing and preservation activism on New York’s West Side during its embattled urban renewal phase, then locked onto the backstory of industrial Paterson after moving to that historic New Jersey city and becoming a founding member of the Ramapo College of New Jersey faculty.

    ‘Scripting the landscape” of this gritty industrial, immigrant city shaped her public history career. She helped secure national landmark status for Paterson's historic Negro Leagues Baseball's Hinchliffe Stadium (now part of the city's National Historical Park) and--most recently--National Network to Freedom status for the city's Underground Railroad activism, which is now memorialized by the city's Huntoon/Van Rensalier site. 

   Past chair of the Passaic County Historical Society and both the Paterson and Bridgeton Historic Commissions, and longtime member of the New Jersey Historic Sites Council, she moved to Bridgeton in 2006 and two years later co-founded CHABA as a laboratory for preservation as engine of economic redevelopment and urban sustainability.  Her prescriptive "annual report" as Bridgeton Historic Commission chair is still relevant--and available--at http://www.cityofbridgeton.com/historiccommission.php  Here 'intergenerational children's book' for CHABA: This little building is HUGE, won the 2021 Statewide Preservation Award for preservation innovation.

      (See also www.flaviaalaya.com )

      She can be reached personally at flavia@flaviaalaya.com

Margaret DeMarco

Boardmember
Project Administrator

MARGARET ”MAGGIE” DE MARCO, a Vineland native, came to Bridgeton in 1973, joining the struggle over city direction that, among other things, created the historic district.

​      An engineer by training (Catholic U, 1964), her early work as a VISTA volunteer in Arizona suggests the spirit of service that has defined her career. Bridgeton’s Neighborhood Preservation Coordinator from 1983, she was also its Assistant Director of Community Development, then Executive Director of the non-profit Bridgeton Housing Development Corporation, administering a Federal HOPE 3 grant that rehabbed 20 City-owned houses for resale to city residents. She retired in 2008 from the NJ Division of Taxation.

​      A member of the CHABA Board from 2011 to 2014 and Treasurer for two years, Maggie returned in 2018, rejoining the board and taking the lead as Project Administrator on our 'Bring Back the Nail House' restoration Campaign. She is also closely involved with our Homefronts program and brings her familiarity with Bridgeton neighborhoods and the culture of local home-ownership to the CHABA Board.  She can be reached personally at mdemarcobrnj@juno.com

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Wanda Albizu

Boardmember

[Wanda's picture to come]

After 34 years of teaching in Bridgeton Public Schools, Wanda--a native of Puerto Rico--decided to leave another legacy to her students by becoming a bilingual author for children, and in 2010 published her first book called “Mona: the Story of a Monarch Butterfly.” Four years later she released a sequel entitled "Mona Travels to Peru."

    On a return trip to Puerto Rico in 2018,  Dr. Albizu noticed a lot of stray dogs on every corner, and was motivated to pen her third book, “Please Don’t Hurt Me,” a bilingual children’s book explaining the stories of abused dogs and how to care for them.

   Wanda has always enjoyed working and helping the Cumberland County community in different capacities. You can find her presenting at workshops, schools, libraries and community events, educating children and adults about the importance of reading.

     Besides assisting CHABA in building relationships with other educators and Bridgeton's large Spanish-speaking community, writing books and teaching ESL, Wanda enjoys traveling, sharing with the people of other countries and learning more of different cultures. She has also been fortunate enough to present her books at local elementary schools in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Cuba, Colombia and Panama. Wanda says: “I enjoy seeing presenting and teaching to children, it brings my heart a lot of joy. I know that I’m changing lives—one story, one book at a time.” 

     To learn more about her, please check out her website   

                          www.mswandasbook.com .

     She can be reached personally at wandaalbizu@gmail.com .

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Maria Cerda-Moreno

Architect and Founding (past)

Boardmember 

Architectural consultant

 In addition to being one of CHABA's 'founders,' Maria translated the City of Bridgeton Historic Preservation Guidelines into Spanish for CHABA, which we then gifted to the City.  They can be found on the City website (in English and Spanish) at http://www.cityofbridgeton.com/historiccommission.php . ) This translation--first in the entire state of New Jersey--went on to receive an award for preservation innovation from PreservationNJ in 2014.  Maria also coordinated the translation of the video version, which can be found on YouTube in English at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=789JFzdl1dg and in Spanish at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qP_LO0_g2 . Maria has acted as sometime advisor to us on the Nail House Restoration Project. Her Bridgeton-based architectural firm is at 14 West Commerce Street.

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Adaria Armstrong

Boardmember

Adaria's bio to come!

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Alan Maier

Boardmember

Treasurer and

Chief Financial Officer

Alan joined CHABA in 2018 when he was already a busy volunteer and community activist in and around Bridgeton. He is especially active  with the Friends of Bridgeton Public Library and as a local robotics coach for students. At CHABA he has been critical to our financial management as an organization, especially during the dry period of the pandemic, and has helped underwrite both our Obie Scholarship program and Bring Back The Nail House Campaign. His engineering advice continues vital to our project choices as we move on from the Nail House to other potential restoration sites in the Bridgeton Historic District.

Robert Preston

Boardmember

Access Adminstrator

Robert is an accomplished landscape architect and professional planner with a Penn State degree in landscape architecture. In 1979, excited by the challenge of revitalization in Atlantic City, where major change and community consensus-building confronted rigorous budgetary and construction constraints, he launched his own consulting firm, Forrest Associates Limited, working on large private and public projects in recreation, housing and transit throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Boldness, community sensitivity and a sense of public service define his career, which now includes many non-profit boards and the New Jersey Historic Sites Council. He continues consulting and teaching while serving as Chief Landscape Architect of Atlantic City's Division of Planning. A CHABA board member since 2012, Robert travels to Bridgeton from Atlantic City to share his expertise and wisdom. rcpreston@gmail.com

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James Johnson, PhD

Consulting Historian

[bio to come]


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