A Highland Park resident since 2002, Teri Jover is now the town’s borough administrator. Appointed on May 2, Ms. Jover arrives in the position after serving two years as deputy executive director of New Jersey Future, a Trenton-based non-profit that specializes in smart land-use and growth. Her 17-year career with New Jersey Future involved a variety of planning, management, communications and community relations responsibilities – all of which were great preparation for the challenges of being the borough administrator. Rutgers was where she got both her undergraduate degree and then graduate degree – a Master of City and Regional Planning from the Bloustein School.
Ms. Jover is married to Gary Kaplan, known locally a talented musician leading the rock band “The Fletchers.” The couple has a five-year-old son, Gregory, who has just entered kindergarten at the Irving Primary School in September. Ms. Jover spoke with The Planet about her expectations relative to her job as borough administrator.
Q: How would you define the job of borough administrator?
A: The borough administrator has to be a jack-of-all-trades. He/she must take the time to understand and be able to manage challenges and set priorities across all departments — from public works to personnel to public safety and beyond. And in a small town like Highland Park, that also means being willing to be hands-on, working alongside staff and residents.
The administrator is also somewhat of an intermediary, implementing the policies and programs established by the mayor and council and also making informed recommendations to the governing body about same.
Q: What do you anticipate will be the most fun aspect of the job?
A: I’m really enjoying the process of immersing myself in municipal operations, learning by doing. I also really like meeting and speaking to residents — even the complaints and concerns — as I always learn something new and gain a new perspective. And lastly, the most fun will come when I can see one of the projects I work on come to life.
Q: On the flip side, what will be the most challenging aspect of the job?
A: Making due with limited and often shrinking resources. Highland Park government is a lean operation, which means any new programs or initiatives requires us to work even smarter and more efficiently to carry them out. Fortunately, we have competent staff in place that is already making a lot happen and we are beginning to use new technologies to help us with our operation.
Q: Do you have any personal goals regarding your work?
A: Since moving to the borough 15 years ago, I have been committed to making Highland Park an even better place to live – whether it was by serving on the zoning board (2003-2010), planning board (2010-2013), or as chair of Sustainable Highland Park (2010-17). I’m particularly interested in working to make the government operations more sustainable – from energy efficient buildings to fuel-efficient fleets to renewable energy. I also see downtown redevelopment as a key component to the borough’s sustainability in the long-run and look forward to working to advance sound projects that bring more people and vitality to our main street.
Q: How has your background prepared you for this job?
A: I served as the deputy executive director at the nonprofit New Jersey Future, whose mission is advancing smart growth and sustainable development and redevelopment. I have been fortunate to work with some of the leaders in this field for years and hope to bring that perspective and those relationships to bear in Highland Park. Also in that role I was responsible for working alongside a board of trustees, which is not unlike an elected governing body, to advance the policies they establish. I also did plenty of grant writing and management – jack-of-all-trades!