2019 HRC Leadership Luncheon Provides Insightful Day for FTHS Students

Amit Bachani and Deryn Younger

On Wednesday, April 3rd, Freehold Township’s procession of Pride Week continued with the annually hosted luncheon by Mr. Hipsley and Mrs. Ansley of the Human Relations Commission from blocks two to five in the auditorium, and featured two prominent guest speakers.

The luncheon, which caters to students who have been distinguished with the recognition of serving in leadership positions in their respective after school activities, served to emphasize the perks of tenacious leadership and  proactive membership in one’s school and local community,  as well the importance of such an evolving mantle in today’s day and age. The speakers included none other than Freehold Mayor Barbara McMorrow, and Freehold Township alumna and Frutta Bowl CEO, Brooke Gagliano, who elaborated on her entrepreneurial journey in expanding what is now one of the nation’s fastest growing superfoods cafe and the application of her ideals as a leader in her personal life.

Mayor McMorrow discussed her experiences both as a fellow educator and a public servant in her community, citing her credentials as an active member of more than fourteen commissions and service as the former principal of Howell High School before moving to a successful career in politics with her husband. Most notably, the Mayor shared amusing anecdotes from her life regarding her experiences as a teacher and the obligation she feels towards the success of her students, expanding upon the necessity of a form of leadership that is adaptable and sincere in challenging periods in one’s life. As an individual that is conscientious by nature, she stressed the personal requirement of maintaining a positive demeanor when approaching criticism and, above all, taking actions whose implications are beneficial for all. As the Mayor rightfully asserted as the most fundamental aspect of being a leader, “End every day with the saying, I’m glad I did, not I wish I had!”

After a lunch break and a game of Taboo, the attendees met with Brooke Gagliano, the CEO and founder of the very popular acai bowl bar, Frutta Bowls. A Freehold Township High School alumna, Brooke graduated in 2010 with an extensive athletic record and went on to play field hockey at Drew University, where she also received her business degree. She originally wanted to open up her own gym, considering her background as a student athlete and a general love of fitness. However, when she went on a trip to California around four years ago, she noticed the popular demand for healthy eating and, in particular, acai fruit bowls.

With that concept in mind, Gagliano came back to New Jersey determined to open up a shop similar to the ones she saw out on the West Coast. Her first store opened in 2016 right here in Freehold Township, and since then Frutta Bowls has expanded to multiple different towns in New Jersey as well as to other states such as Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, and many more. While discussing her own company’s values – such as consistency, freshness, and experience – Brooke also tied in other values that really brought home the message of what it means to be a leader. She spoke about the importance of dedication, passion, and persistence, and how those all qualities can be found in those who choose to lead.

Overall, the day was an excellent time for students to reflect on the qualities of leadership and what it takes to really become a good leader to those around you. No matter where you believe your position of leadership is – a club, organization, or even at home – it’s important to possess the qualities both Mayor McMorrow and Brooke Gagliano spoke about at the luncheon. With this year’s Leadership Luncheon being very well-received, it’s safe to say FTHS students are excited to see what next year’s has in store.

Photos by Amit Bachani and Anna Kaganova.