As March marks Women in History month, notable women from around the world are celebrated and honored for their accomplishments. Some emerge as leaders throughout their careers, and at Maser Consulting P.A., one such woman has been standing out within our industry and in the lives of others: Hanifa Johnson. Born and raised in Newark, Hanifa discovered an early passion for architecture, inspired by the diverse building styles spread across the Newark and neighboring Harrison skyline. Currently a Senior Project Engineer, Hanifa graduated Science High School and cum laude with her EIT degree from New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). She admits that while opportunities to expand her educational horizons didn’t come easy, she learned early on the importance of timely educational intervention on young minds. Because of this, she has spent many hours raising awareness for the engineering profession as well as education by promoting the importance of getting involved.
“How deeply you become involved with any cause is a personal decision,” explained Hanifa. “The important thing is recognizing the need, having the desire and motivation to help, and taking action, no matter what level of participation that may be.”
This month, Hanifa was appointed as one of the initial members to Mayor Ras Baraka’s re-established Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) for the City of Newark. Dating back to 1947, the initial Commission was established by the United Nations (UNCWS) to be a mechanism to promote, report and monitor issues relating to the political, economic, civil, social and educational rights of women. Another CSW, established by President John F. Kennedy and chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt in 1961, is dedicated to honoring the struggles of women historically and celebrates the rise of women within this community. Although the issues concerning women have evolved between the inception of the first CSW and now, the message of support for women is the same, and it is hoped that this new Commission in Newark will expand into a statewide and national organization. Comprised of 33 dynamic local women vested within the community, they will function as advocates, policy-makers, and ambassadors on behalf of the City of Newark to help transform the City into a community residents can believe in.
Advisors to the Commission include Assemblywoman Cleopatra G. Tucker, Assemblywoman/Speaker Emerita Sheila Y. Oliver, former President of the Commission on the Status of Women Trish Morris-Yamba, and former Organizer of the Commission on the Status of Women Mrs. Delores Metz.
For the past five years, Hanifa was committed to her community as the local champion for Engineering Better Readers, a pilot program designed to incentivize elementary-school students to read more while engaging STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) professionals to take-on leadership roles within their respective communities. Partnering with the Engineer Leadership Foundation, Maser Consulting and NJIT, Hanifa helped introduce this program to the pre-K through 3rd grade students at the Camden Street Elementary School in Newark. Within the program’s first year, nearly 100% of the 25 participating students at Newark’s Camden Street Elementary School raised their test scores in every reading testing category.
In 2013, Hanifa had the honor of receiving the Ruby Award from Soroptimist International of the Greater Westfield area. Soroptimist International is a global volunteer movement with a network of about 80,000 club members in 130 countries and territories, working at the local, national and international levels to educate, empower and enable opportunities for women and girls. The Ruby Award recognizes women who have worked toward that end through their professional and/or volunteer work.
“Experiencing Newark as a community has fueled my knowledge and given me the resources to be successful,” stated Hanifa. “I am always looking to pay it forward as I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without the encouragement and support of my community.”
Hanifa is a Senior Project Engineer at Maser Consulting and is currently in the process of obtaining her New Jersey Professional Engineer’s license.