About Nancy
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Image   I’m from Illinois, grew up in Elmhurst, a suburb west of Chicago, and attended the University of Chicago. After graduation, and with no particular plans, I went to California, got married; later, moved to New York City, and finally landed in New Jersey, when my husband accepted a teaching position at Princeton University.

I’ve spent most of my adult life involved with one social issue or another. In the ‘70s with cooperation from the State Bureau of Children’s Services and private adoption agencies, I supervised a statewide effort to recruit homes for minority children, disabled children, and sibling groups.

It didn’t feel right to ask others to do what I was not prepared to do. We had one biological son when my husband and I adopted three children, who were biracial, to complete our family. I worked to change adoption laws to make it easier to adopt and served on the newly-created Child Placement Review Board, which forced the State to keep track of foster children in its care.

In the mid-70s, I served on the Mercer County Mental Health Board, and as a consultant to the State Division of Mental Health and Hospitals, where I completed a comprehensive study of available rental housing throughout New Jersey for mental patients being discharged from institutions and returned to the community. What we knew before we started and was borne out by the study: there wasn’t enough decent housing anywhere in New Jersey for disadvantaged people.

As a single parent in the ‘80s, I became involved with the New Jersey Foster Parents Association (now Foster and Adoptive Family Services) as a Board Member, State licensed foster parent, and President of the Mercer County Foster Parent Association. We were looking for safe, reliable homes for foster children, but, in large part, as the children coming into care had more serious problems because of increasing poverty and prevalence of drugs, the system failed to provide the needed services. I cared for about two dozen children, some for a few days or a few months, one teenager for years. It was hard work.

From the mid-‘80s until 2004 when I retired, I worked for the State of New Jersey, first for the Division of Youth and Family Services as a first responder to complaints of child abuse and neglect. It was a journey into a world impossible to imagine. I transferred to the Department of Community Affairs, Section 8 Rental Assistance Program, which provides subsidies to homeless families. I turned down promotions so I could continue working directly with tenants and landlords. I knew the inner city streets, garden complexes, and rural outposts over four counties. Everywhere I found people with unique voices struggling to get by. I knew how the system worked and how to get people what they wanted or needed.

I began writing poetry in the mid-‘90s, as a way to record some of the compelling stories I’d heard every day. My poetry has appeared in such journals as Journal of New Jersey Poets, U.S.1 Worksheets, Slant, Mudfish, Poet Lore, Out of Line, Witness, The Ledge, Slipstream, Lullwater Review, Big Scream, Schuylkill Valley Review, Tiferet, Struggle, Kelsey Review, and online at Cultural Logic, Chantarelle’s Notebook, and Hip Pocket Press.

I am the current Managing Editor of U.S.1 Worksheets, the journal of the U.S.1 Poets’ Cooperative in New Jersey. This critique group has met weekly for more than 35 years. In 2001, I was awarded a residency at Ragdale. My poems have won awards at the New Jersey Writers’ Conference and in the Middletown Township Public Library poetry contest, and have been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize. Slant dedicated its 2007 volume to me. A Siege of Raptors, a chapbook, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press in 2010.