In honor of Anne Marie Sparaco’s retirement, we celebrate her remarkable journey and invaluable contributions to Brookdale Community College. Anne Marie’s dedicated service and versatile roles have left an indelible mark on the institution, its students, and the community.
“Anne Marie has demonstrated impressive versatility during her career at Brookdale which has spanned nearly 26 years,” said President Dr. David M. Stout. “As the Director of Special Projects for the past five years, Anne Marie has excelled in every assignment that I have asked her to manage. Her passion for Brookdale and the success of our students is obvious to everyone who meets her.”
In 1997, Anne Marie embarked on her journey at Brookdale, taking on a part-time position in Gorman Hall, which was still a humble barn at the time. Her role involved diligently inputting data to Colleague, the college’s information management system. Recalling her early days, Anne Marie fondly shared, “I was in one of the stalls, and I was just typing away, working for the then-called Community Development Academic Affairs Department.” Her initial responsibilities included providing support to Marie Lucier-Woodruff. Anne Marie’s connection to Brookdale ran deep, as her mother’s friends were among the first employees. She fondly reminisced, “I grew up here, running around when it was still a horse farm. I always knew I wanted to be in an educational environment.” With this strong foundation and passion, Anne Marie’s journey at the college was poised for remarkable growth and impact.
She quickly transitioned into a full-time role as a Senior Office Assistant in October 1998. She was interviewed by Norah Kerr-McCurry, who was then Division Administrator for Arts & Communication and Telecommunication Technology Divisions. Lou Pullano was the Dean, and Anne Marie worked closely with him and Kerr-McCurry.
“Working in an academic division office, Anne Marie was exposed to the issues and people that make a big difference for our students,” said now Dean of Business and Social Science Dr. Norah Kerr-McCurry. “I believe she took that experience, where we had to know about budgets, facilities, and schedules, and more, and embraced the goal of putting the student at the center. She became an important part of the administration and made lasting contributions to Brookdale. I am glad I hired her. I admire her straightforward communication style, attention to detail, and persistent pursuit of getting done what needs to be done to ensure the best educational experience for our students.”
Her commitment and hard work paved the way for further opportunities within the college.
For a remarkable span of 18 years, from 2000 to 2015, Anne Marie flourished as the Assistant to the Executive Vice President of Administration, Operation, and Information Technology, Vinnie Gorman. This position proved instrumental in the college’s functioning, as Anne Marie diligently oversaw finance, facilities, police, and information technology. Throughout her tenure, she went above and beyond, assuming additional responsibilities that showcased her resourcefulness and leadership. Notably, in 2008-2009, she stepped into the role of Interim Executive Director of OIT, where she spearheaded significant projects like implementing “Image Now” and installing a brand-new phone system. Furthermore, she was pivotal in supporting the Police Department in obtaining its certification in 2010. Anne Marie’s impact was undeniable, leading her to aptly describe her role as Chief of Staff.
Throughout her time at Brookdale, Anne Marie’s versatility and willingness to go the extra mile shone through. She managed the Utility Plant, served as the Assistant to the Vice President of Finance and Operations, Maureen Lawrence, and even took on the responsibility of managing the Received Mail Center during a reorganization period in 2018. Her dedication to her work and ability to adapt to various roles made her an invaluable asset to the college.
In 2019, Anne Marie took on the role of Director of Special Projects under the direct supervision of President Stout. In this capacity, she successfully supervised and managed thirty capital projects and tracked leadership progress on goals, displaying her exceptional leadership and project management skills. Throughout her career, Anne Marie consistently demonstrated her ability to handle important additional responsibilities, and this time she was tasked with assisting the Foundation department during their transitional period.
During this time, one of her significant contributions was serving as a key support for the co-chairs of the inaugural Summer Bash event held on the Lincroft campus. This event was a tremendous success, generating a record-breaking net profit of $242K. Anne Marie’s involvement in various committees and initiatives within the college was not limited to project management alone. She actively participated in essential endeavors like the 50th Anniversary Jubilee Committee, leading the Open House Committee, and volunteering at the Education Open Golf Outings and the Brookdale Experience Team.
Anne Marie’s commitment to serving on various governance committees at Brookdale highlights her dedication to shaping the institution’s policies and initiatives. As co-chair of the Governance College Life Committee and the Smoke Free Tobacco Free Campus Committee, she actively contributed to fostering a vibrant and healthy campus environment. Additionally, her involvement in the Institutional Planning Executive Committee (IPEC), previously known as the Matrix, allowed her to play a vital role in establishing the College’s priorities and securing the necessary resources through the finance department.
Furthermore, Anne Marie served on the IT Governance Steering Committee as the representative for the President, where she played a crucial part in prioritizing projects for the institution through the IT Strategic Plan (ITSP). Having recently completed her tenure on the Governance Steering Committee, she has consistently shown her commitment to effective governance. Over the years, she has also contributed her expertise to multiple Facilities Master Plan (FMP) committees in 2000 and 2021, actively shaping the college’s infrastructure development.
Anne Marie’s leadership extends well beyond her contributions to governance committees. She has played an integral role in esteemed leadership groups such as the Senior Executive Leadership Team (SELT), Cabinet, and the Executive Leadership Council (ELC). Anne Marie consistently exemplifies her unwavering dedication to advancing the College’s mission and enhancing the educational experience for the entire Brookdale community through her active engagement in these committees and councils.
Moreover, Anne Marie’s impact extends to her role as a crucial point of contact for numerous community partnerships. She has fostered meaningful collaborations with organizations such as KEYS Academy Recovery High School, Monmouth Arts Academy, The Rockit Foundation, and the Brookdale retiree community. Her commitment to establishing strong relationships and promoting collaboration with these external entities demonstrates her deep-rooted dedication to the college and its profound influence on the broader community.
“What I enjoyed most about my work was being out and about and dealing with all areas of the college,” she said. “My favorite memories are the opening of the Student Life Center and the Bankier Library. Those were joyous occasions, celebrating the completion of the buildings.”
Anne Marie’s commitment to community outreach extended beyond her work at the college. She served on the Board of Education at Ocean Township for 11 years and held positions of Vice President and President. Her involvement in the Board of Education and her advocacy for better college preparation in K-12 education demonstrated her passion for education and her belief in the transformative power of community colleges.
Amidst her professional achievements, Anne Marie remained grounded and connected to the college community. She cherished the memories of special events like the Garden Parties, where everyone dressed up and celebrated. Her favorite place on campus, the Performing Arts Center (PAC), allowed her to connect with music students and rekindle her love for singing, which she hopes to pursue in retirement.
Anne Marie’s vibrant spirit and love for learning were evident. She said, “Every day was a new adventure, which I loved.” She embraced challenges, seized opportunities, and approached her work with enthusiasm. Her deep understanding of all areas of the college and her dedication to making a difference has undoubtedly left a lasting legacy.
At her retirement party, Executive Director of Enrollment Services Mary Beth Reilly, talked about when she first met Anne Marie who was asking her to quickly move furniture and boxes, describing her character well. “Anne Marie had this sweatshirt I really liked, and she said one day, I’m going to be giving it to you (right after I wash it), I just want you to have it she said, because of our relationship that we developed at Brookdale. It was just a really beautiful gesture that I know she has done for others. And so, it went from, who is this fanatical person in the beginning to being the person who was there for anything I ever needed.”
As Anne Marie embarks on a new chapter in her life, we express our deepest gratitude for her outstanding contributions to Brookdale Community College. Her commitment, passion, and unwavering dedication have touched countless individuals’ lives and helped shape the institution into what it is today. We wish her a fulfilling and joyful retirement with new adventures and opportunities to pursue her passions and may the next door that opens for Anne Marie be the magnificent Jewel World in the Tower of London.