24th Annual Diversity Conference Keynote Speaker
KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Reverend Dr. DeForest B. Saories, Jr.
Professor and Civil Rights Activist
The Reverend Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr. has served as the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens (FBCLG) in Somerset, New Jersey since November 1990. His pastoral ministry focuses on spiritual growth, educational excellence, economic empowerment and community building.
As a pioneer of faith-based community development, Dr. Soaries’ impact on First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens (FBCLG) and the community has been tremendous. In 1992, he founded the Central Jersey Community Development Corporation (CJCDC): a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that specializes in revitalizing distressed neighborhoods. In 1996, Soaries founded the Harvest of Hope Family Services Network, Inc. (HOH). This organization develops permanent solutions for children in the foster care system.
From 1999 to 2002, Dr. Soaries served as New Jersey’s Secretary of State, making him the first African-American male to do so. He also served as the former chairman of the United States Election Assistance Commission, which was established by Congress to implement the “Help America Vote Act” of 2002.
In 2005, Dr. Soaries launched the dfree® Financial Freedom Movement. The dfree® strategy teaches people how to break free from debt as a first step toward financial freedom. dfree® was featured in a 90-minute CNN documentary “Almighty Debt.” He is author of the books “Say Yes to No Debt: 12 Steps to Financial Freedom”, and “Meditations for Financial Freedom – Volumes 1&2.”
Dr. Soaries currently serves as an independent director at three companies: Independence Realty Trust, Federal Home Loan Bank of New York and Ocwen Financial Corporation.
Dr. Soaries earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Fordham University, a Master of Divinity Degree from Princeton Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Ministry Degree from United Theological Seminary.
Dr. Soaries resides in Monmouth Junction, New Jersey with his wife, Donna, and twin sons.