2019-Saafir_Jenkins.jpgPassionate about excellence in education, Saafir Jenkins is a devoted father, committed special education advocate and a Finance & HR Director. Born of, and raised by a line of Newark natives, Saafir’s mother moved him and his siblings to Plainfield, NJ when marrying his father. Once Saafir had a family of his own, he returned home to Newark to reunite with the community that birthed him and to give back to the generations that follow.

Over the years Saafir has been recognized for his professionalism, strength of character and ability to deliver teachings on topics ranging from personal and professional development, project management and technology, to public speaking, education and mental health.

Early in his life, it was evident that Saafir was destined to be a servant-leader. He and his siblings would walk the streets of the housing projects where they lived with their father, evangelizing to the needy and brokenhearted. That experience taught Saafir a valuable lesson in compassion and humanity. When Saafir lost his father at 14 years old to HIV it only served to reinforce his commitment to the life work he was compelled to pursue. Saafir started at once educating teens by becoming a youth ambassador and Teen-Peer HIV and Aids Educator; teaching from his own life experience, helping to build awareness and eliminate the associated stigma of this devastating disease.

Since that time, he never stopped being a voice for the underserved with a passion for ethical capacity- building, development, advocacy and education. Today, Saafir is VP and Public Affairs Officer of the Newark Special Education Parent Advisory Council (“SEPAC”), an organization that actively advocates for disabilities’ rights and equity within Newark Public Schools and across the state.His advocacy includes in-depth research, analysis, reporting, writing letters, and public testimony at the NJ Special Education Advisory Council meetings and related public hearings.

In his role with Newark SEPAC, Saafir works tirelessly to provide critical information, resources, and support to parents and administrators in the Newark Public Schools District where he and wife Anfal, own a home and raise their children--one of whom is diagnosed with autism; and another, a successful business owner and an internationally-acclaimed sustainability expert who lives with a mental health condition.

In his role with Newark SEPAC, Saafir has: Produced and published powerful comprehensive analytical reports effectively informing the district on critical matters that impact students receiving special education services and their families; Positively engaged over 1,000 parents of students with disabilities, helping them to effectively advocate for their children; Established the Annual Celebration of Excellence Awards to honor effective educators and promote replication of best practices within Newark Public Schools; Successfully advocated for a district-wide transition coordinator role to be established; and Instituted a 24-hour support warm line for Parent Inquiries. On the Board of Education, Saafir will be a voice to make sure that the district is accountable to students, parents and the community; communicates with parents and caregivers; and is transparent about decision-making.

In his profession of over 20 years, Saafir oversees : Annual Budgets in excess of $1B for fortune 500 companies; Adopting policies to set effective priorities and achieve resulting goals; Hiring, evaluating and developing professional staff; Benchmarking and Succession Planning; Project Management; and Managing the collective bargaining process. By combining his business and life experiences, Saafir will help strengthen our school system to continue to progress toward excellence and equity for all students.

Interesting facts:
Saafir and wife, Anfal both had a parent who lived with Schizophrenia. Based on this shared experience, they are strong educators and advocates for mental health education.