njfps leadership

NJFPS Board of Directors

Laurel Petersen

Executive Director, Co-Affiliate Director/Director of Technology, coordinates all administrative aspects of the state program. 

She is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of the International Future Problem Solving Program and serves as the chairman of the International Program’s Evaluation Committee. Laurel is also a highly experienced and successful FPS Coach. She received the international program's Keith Frampton Memorial Award for Outstanding Coaching in 2002 as well as a Governor’s Teacher of the Year.

Joan Garris
Co-Affiliate Director/Director of Programs, received a B.A in Elementary Education and a M.Ed. in Reading and Language Arts from William Paterson University. 

She recently retired from the Mahwah School District after teaching there for forty-one years. Throughout her teaching career, she held various positions teaching students in grades one through twelve. She taught classes as part of the Mahwah Schools Gifted Education Program and served as the Coordinator of Gifted Education. 

She coached award-winning Future Problem Solving Teams, Scenario Writers and Community Problem Solving Teams from Mahwah High School and Ramapo Ridge Middle School. Joan was named the Teacher of the Year by the Foundation For Free Enterprise, received the Governor’s Teacher of the Year Award and was given the “Americanism Award” from the New Jersey Veterans of Foreign Wars. She serves as a FPS evaluator at the New Jersey State and International level.

Joan Ruddiman, EdD

President, has been a coach and mentor to FPS students and teachers for over 20 years at the middle and high school levels, and recently added an FPS component in the grade upper elementary schools. 

Travelling to state and international FPS competitions with her students are some of her best memories.

She recently served as the K-12 GT Teacher Resource Specialist for the West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District where FPS is integral in addressing the District’s goal of building 21st Century Competencies. Joan is a past officer and active member of NJAGC. She was named NJAGC’s Educator of the Year in 2005, a Governor’s Teacher of the Year. She was also honored as New Jersey History Day’s Teacher of the Year and was a Richard Farrell honoree for National History Day.

Jillian Tortora

Jillian, an alumna of the Future Problem Solving Program of New Jersey is currently a teacher at South Plainfield Middle School.

Christine McAdams

Treasurer, is responsible for overseeing the management and reporting of the organization’s finances. 

As Director of Community Problem Solving, she is responsible for training coaches, providing feedback, and evaluating teams at the state level. Christine was also a successful CmPS coach for many years. Her teams won First Place and Grand Champions at the international level. She received the international program’s Keith Frampton Memorial Award for Outstanding Coaching. Christine also was an international Community Problem Solving judge for many years.

Steven Faiello

 Steve graduated from Stevens Institute of Technology with a Bachelor's in Mechanical Engineering in 2012. Steven has experience in product development in the aerospace and fireproofing industries. Steven was introduced to FPS as a competitor in the Future Problem Solving Program of New Jersey, before becoming an evaluator. Steven also served as an International evaluator, evaluator for the New York Future Problem Solving Program and currently serves as its Evaluation Director.

Sarah H. Fiess 

Secretary, Sarah currently serves as the School Outreach Coordinator at Tech Valley HighSchool where she provides professional development in Project Based Learning and directs annual STEM camps for middle schoolers.  She has also served as the Executive Director of New York Future Problem Solving Program since2011.    

She has 11 years in the classroom teaching English Language Arts and Social Studies at both the middle and high school level. She has also taught Gifted & Talented on the middle school level. Sarah received her B.A. in English and Secondary Education from The College of New Jersey. She holds a M.A. in Teaching of English from Columbia University. 

Sarah began her experience with the Future Problem Solving Program in 1994. She was a four time NJ state Champion in the team GIPs Component and received Second Place at the FPS International Conference for team GIPs in 1998. Sarah served as an evaluator and coach for 15years. She is a Board Member with the Future Problem Solving Program of New Jersey, Inc. and is an evaluator for Future Problem Solving Program International, Inc.

Christine Hartigan Miller

GIPS Evaluation Coordinator,  is responsible for recruiting, training and supervising New Jersey’s dedicated team of evaluators in judging and providing feedback to students on their performance in the programs Team and Individual Problem Solving competition. 

An alumna of the NJFPS program, Christine graduated from The College of New Jersey in 2008 with a B.A, in English and Interactive Media.  After receiving a Masters in Library and Information Science from Rutgers University in 2011, Christine began working as a School Library Media Specialist at Mahwah High School.  She has coached Mahwah's Academic Decathlon team for the past three years as well as the Future Problem Solving Global Issues Problem Solving teams for the past two years.