The Newark City of Learning Collaborative (NCLC) welcomes Robyn Brady Ince as its executive director. She was selected to provide transformational leadership to this nationally prominent initiative that has marshalled more than 40 partners, spanning higher education institutions, for-profit corporations, and nonprofit organizations, including faith-based, government, and philanthropic agencies, with a shared focus on the importance of accessing a postsecondary education to pave Newark’s path to equitable growth and racial equity. Ince also will join the faculty of the Department of Urban Education in the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University–Newark.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Robyn to lead the NCLC during this period of challenge and opportunity,” said NCLC Advisory Board Chair Jeremy Johnson. “She brings a breadth of experience, a history of collaboration, and a passion for strategic partnerships that will help shape NCLC’s bold future.”
Over the past four years, NCLC has emerged as a leading force in advocating for the success of every Newark student at the college level, under the leadership of former executive director Reginald Lewis, who helped spur a new conversation in the city about post-secondary outcomes for children. With the backbone support of Rutgers-Newark’s Joseph C. Cornwall Center for Metropolitan Studies under the leadership of Dr. Charles Payne, NCLC has worked with partners across the City and region to share information, create programmatic bridges to higher education, and assist high school students in their transition to college. Collaborating with local library branches in every ward of the city of Newark, NCLC’s Secrets to College Admissions series provides college knowledge and financial aid resources to Newark residents.The Newark FAFSA Challenge, mounted in collaboration with United Way, helps Newark high school seniors complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or the New Jersey Alternative Financial Aid Application for New Jersey Dreamers. Multiple citywide dual enrollment initiatives allow Newark high school students from district, charter, and parochial schools to gain exposure to the postsecondary learning experience by earning college credit, at no cost, while still pursuing their high school diplomas.
We were looking for that champion who would help lead NCLC and its partners to the next level of building an educational ecosystem and a pipeline for social mobility.
“We were looking for that champion who would help lead NCLC and its partners to the next level of building an educational ecosystem and a pipeline for social mobility. I’m confident that out of a highly competitive group of candidates, Robyn Brady Ince is that leader,” said Rutgers-Newark Vice Chancellor for External and Governmental Relations Marcia Brown. “Moreover, her extensive experience will be a tremendous benefit to Rutgers-Newark students and the Department of Urban Education.” In particular, Brown believes that Ince’s background in designing and executing programming that expands access and opportunity in grades K-12 and higher education settings will be instrumental in bolstering and elevating NCLC’s existing initiatives as well as formulating new ones.
“On behalf of Mayor Ras J. Baraka and the City of Newark, I welcome Robyn Brady Ince to the family of education advocates in our city. We embrace the opportunity to continue to fulfill the vision and mission of NCLC under Robyn’s leadership. She brings a wealth of experience and enthusiasm to our charge of increasing postsecondary degree completion in the city of Newark,” said Antoinette Richardson, chief education officer for Mayor Baraka’s Office of Comprehensive Community Education.
Ince comes to the NCLC after 10 years with the Education and Youth Development Division of the National Urban League in New York where she advanced from senior director to vice president of education policy, advocacy, and engagement. In her most recent role at the National Urban League, Ince led the Equity and Excellence Project, a nearly $10 million national initiative that supports local, state, and national advocacy, engagement, and education reform efforts throughout Urban League affiliates in collaboration with local, state, and national partners.
She also led the National Urban League’s annual Youth Leadership Summit, a residential, five-day conference that engages 12-to-19-year-old students in a leadership development experience on a college campus. The Youth Leadership Summit, which celebrated its 30th-year anniversary last year, features a college fair and has garnered increased corporate funding from multiple partners. She also has taught at Hunter College of the City University of New York and held a progression of positions in admissions at Vassar College.
Ince earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Spelman College and master’s in education administration, planning and social policy from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. She has extensive experience in strategic program design, development, and implementation; youth leadership development; philanthropy; college access; higher education; and diversity recruiting that will further NCLC’s efforts in incubating college pathway programs, tracking student attainment, evaluating program effectiveness, and building stronger partnerships with Newark’s corporate partners and regional community colleges. Beyond her professional career, she offers strategic advice and counsel to local schools and serves as a board member for arts, youth and advocacy organizations.
In addition to Johnson, Brown, and Richardson, the NCLC Executive Director Search Committee included: Tom Alrutz, interim library director of the Newark Public Library; Dr. Sherri-Ann Butterfield, executive vice chancellor of Rutgers-Newark; Dr. Karen Caplan, associate professor and senior associate dean of the Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences-Newark; Dr. Marcheta Evans, president of Bloomfield College; Dr. Keith Kirkland, dean of Student Affairs at Essex County College; Dr. Charles Payne, executive director of the Joseph C. Cornwall Center for Metropolitan Studies at Rutgers-Newark; and Vernon Pullins Jr., supervisor of high school counselors of Newark Public Schools.
NCLC partners and stakeholders that participated in the selection process by meeting with candidates included: Berkeley College; Bloomfield College; City of Newark; Essex County College; Montclair State University; La Casa de Don Pedro; NCLC advisory board members; Newark Community Development Network; Newark NAACP; New Jersey Institute of Technology; Newark Alliance; Newark Trust for Education; Newark Public Library; Newark Board of Education Superintendent’s Office; Prudential; and the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Campus Center.
“I am excited by the opportunity to lead the NCLC,” said Ince. “Now more than ever it is imperative that our communities come together to advance change that will expand educational access and opportunity for both youth and adults. Establishing meaningful partnerships across multiple sectors and working closely with communities, parents and youth has continued to animate my work throughout my career. I look forward to continuing this in my new role.” said Ince.
For more information about NCLC, visit https://nclc2025.org/