New executive director

Howard takes the reins of BEOF

The transition is complete at the Bayonne Economic Opportunity Foundation. In less than a week after the April 10 departure of former executive director Ana Quintela, Bayonne Community Development Assistant Director Samantha Howard was named her replacement.
“Ana did a beautiful job,” Howard said. “She brought about very positive change.”
She also spoke about making a successful BEOF better, by adding programs and bringing in more grant money.
The BEOF is a not-for-profit, social services agency that runs a number of programs, including Head Start, homeless prevention, senior meals, and home weatherization.
Howard said her administration will take a special interest in the Head Start Program. Federally funded by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Head Start provides comprehensive early childhood education, health, and other services to low-income children and their families.
“As far as the Head Start program, I do have education in my background,” she said. “My father was an educator, and I have a bunch of educators in my family. And my mother was in health care. She was a nurse for a health department.”
Her husband, Thomas, is also an educator, with a doctor of education degree.
Howard wants to give children the tools to succeed intellectually, emotionally, and physically.
“I’ve been a part of investing in a lot of children’s lives,” she said. “I believe in talking to them and being with them. You never know what could be important in a child’s life.”
Howard’s efforts in that direction have included everything from buying textbooks for college students to something as basic as making lemonade for the kids on her block in Bayonne.
“I believe in those little things,” she said. “I just believe in having an impact.”
Howard’s impact will be felt after she has met with the BEOF board members, discusses priorities and initiatives, and begins to put a plan into action.
“It will begin with talking with them and creating a vision of where to be in five years,” Howard said. “After my first year, my success would be measured by the relationship I have with the board.”

“I’ve been a part of investing in a lot of children’s lives. I believe in talking to them and being with them. You never know what could be important in a child’s life.” – Samantha Howard

Department savior

Howard was seen as the tonic for an ailing Community Development Department mired in controversy a few years back. She was brought in by then-Mayor Mark Smith to reaffirm the city’s confidence in the department.
Howard was a beacon amid a raging storm, as parties involved with Community Development Block Grants had been accused of “mishandling funding” prior to her taking over, she said. An investigation was already well underway into the city’s disbursement of federal Housing and Urban Development funds when Howard arrived.
She worked with representatives of the FBI, getting them copies of the paperwork they sought. Knowing the very strict application guidelines, Howard also looked for inconsistencies the FBI had not captured.
When she came across what she said she recognized as “malicious intent,” Howard communicated those instances to the mayor, city attorney, and the federal Office of the Inspector General.
Following his election last year, Mayor James Davis also recognized Howard’s value to the city.
Howard said that her experience in the Community Development Department will serve her well in her new job.
“The grant management is very similar,” she said. “They both have strict guidelines that you must adhere to, have an impact on the community, and rely on capturing information on how impactful what you’re doing is.”

Previous positions

Prior to working for the Bayonne municipal government, Chicago native and longtime North
Carolina resident Howard worked in a variety of posts that readied her for her roles in Bayonne.
She had been deputy clerk of court for the North Carolina Superior Court in Surry County, where she oversaw administrative and office support and handled a roster of other court-related duties.
Prior to that, she worked for Legal Aid of North Carolina, facilitating legal initiatives, training others in tax preparation, scripting and appearing in educational videos, and representing clients and conducting legal clinics.
“I usually try to take something from every job that adds to how I do the next job,” she said. “I use what I’ve learned from the past.”

Joseph Passantino may be reached at comment on this story online visit

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