Dr. Nathaniel B. Perez

Director of the Center for Racial Reconciliation at Nyack College

Injustice and inequality have always been two things that deeply disturbed the heart of Dr. Nathaniel Perez. His consciousness of societal inequities motivated him to answer the call to the ministry of social justice and racial reconciliation.

In addition to being on the pastoral staff of churches in Westchester County, NY and Bergen County, NJ, Dr. Perez has served as a church planter and as pastor a multi-ethnic church in White Plains, NY.  While ministering the Gospel fed the spiritual hunger of his congregants, the glaring inequities in the lives of people beyond the pulpit and pews became a concern and a cause he was eager to engage.

Modeling the importance of education, he earned a Doctor of Ministry and a Master of Divinity at Alliance Theological Seminary after obtaining a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Mercy College. During his doctoral studies, Dr. Perez developed the Introduction to Racial Reconciliation course, the first of its kind at Nyack for both undergraduate and graduate students. The course is also offered as part of Nyack College’s prison education program at Fishkill Correctional Facility in Beacon, NY.

For more than a decade, he has been a proponent for the educational empowerment of underserved students in the role of counselor in Nyack’s Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP). Beyond the boundaries of the classroom and the campus, Dr. Perez has coordinated and supervised trips to Albany, NY with HEOP students for the annual New York Student Aid Alliance Advocacy Day to lobby for state student aid programs and to meet with legislators. As an academic advisor and eventually as Chair of Developmental Education in the Division of Student Success, he also taught development courses, recruited students and was appointed director of the Racial and Cultural Reconciliation Initiative.

In an effort to inspire a new generation of leaders, Dr. Perez has led small groups with a theme of racial reconciliation.  He has been a frequent speaker at Nyack on the topic for campus chapel services. Dr. Perez also teaches a course in collaboration with the Evangelical Covenant Church’s Sankofa Journey that tours the Civil Rights memorial sites in the South.

As director of the new Center for Racial Reconciliation at Nyack, Dr. Perez will spearhead the initiative to educate, disciple and empower students and all members of the campus community to lead the charge for justice and reconciliation in the local community, our nation and around the world. He will be responsible for collaborating with the faculty and administration to engage and expand the College’s involvement in the areas of reconciliation and justice. The Center will look to engage and develop leaders who are equipped for racial reconciliation, social justice, and community development. CRR will lead and partner with organizations in community development and repairing broken systems.

An avid reader, Dr. Perez is also a film, music, travel and photography enthusiast. He has a genuine love for serving in his local church, community outreach, missions trips and has traveled to Mississippi and New Orleans to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Dr. Perez currently resides in New York with his wife and two children.

Jennifer Jones Austin, Esq.

A fourth-generation leader of faith and social justice, Jennifer Jones Austin fights for equity. As CEO of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA), a social policy and advocacy organization with 170 member agencies and faith partners, she has led and secured monumental changes in social policy to strengthen and empower the disenfranchised and marginalized. Jennifer brings to her work a profound understanding of the link between race, poverty, and social policy in America, and the role religion plays in addressing economic injustice.

Prior to joining FPWA, Ms. Jones Austin served as senior vice president of the United Way of New York City; the City of New York’s first Family Services Coordinator, a city-wide leadership position to which she was appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Deputy Commissioner for the NYC Administration for Children’s Services; Civil Rights Deputy Bureau Chief for Attorney General Eliot Spitzer; and vice president for LearnNow/Edison Schools, Inc.

Ms. Jones Austin has chaired and served on several influential boards and commissions. She was co-chair of the mayoral transition of Mayor Bill de Blasio, chair of the NYC Procurement Policy Board, co-chair of the NYS Supermarket Commission, and chair of Community Engagement for Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez’s Justice 2020 Initiative. Jones Austin presently serves as chair of the NYC Board of Correction, board member of the National Action Network, and member of the Feerick Center for Social Justice Advisory Board.  She also is a member of Mayor de Blasio’s Fair Recovery COVID-19 Task Force. Previous board service includes the National Marrow Donor Program, the New York Blood Center, the Icla da Silva Foundation, Citizens’ Committee for Children, and the New York Women’s Bar Association Foundation.

Jones Austin is a sought-after speaker, and appears on national and local television and radio, at professional convenings, civic and social conventions and conferences and faith gatherings. Jennifer co-hosts the award-winning radio show, “Open Line” on WBLS. She guest hosts weekly the nationally syndicated radio program, “Keepin’ It Real with Rev. Al Sharpton.” She is a returning guest and contributor on the “Karen Hunter Show” and the cable show, “Brooklyn Savvy.”

In 2018, Jennifer Jones Austin released her debut book, Consider It Pure Joy. Described as “a story that if not lived would make for a great novel,” it is the harrowing account of her year-long battle with a sudden, life-threatening illness and the power of faith and community to transform desperation into joy.

Jennifer is a graduate of the Fordham University School of Law, the New York University Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service and Rutgers University. A recipient of numerous awards and recognitions, including an honorary doctorate from the Metropolitan College of New York, she considers the four honors bestowed upon her by her three alma maters especially significant. Jennifer was born and raised in New York City, and resides in Brooklyn with her husband and two children.