Stephen H. O’Connor, Ph.D., Executive Director – Email

Stephen H. O’Connor, Ph.D. is a thirty-year veteran of the real estate industry and a nationally recognized expert in the fields of affordable housing, real estate finance and community development.

Dr. O’Connor’s career began with the planning, design and development of large-scale, master-planned communities, where housing and amenity were integrated to enhance the value of real estate. As a Vice President at Matrix Development Group, he led the transformation of Forsgate Country Club in Monroe Township, NJ, which earned the Project of the Year award by the New Jersey Chapter of the American Planning Association.

While at Matrix, Dr. O’Connor provided pro bono services to a number of New Jersey-based non-profits, helping to increase their capacity to produce more affordable housing. The success of his efforts led to his appointment as the first Executive Director of the New Jersey Housing Assistance Corporation (HASCO), where he leveraged $5 million in initial public capital into $100 million worth of affordable housing assets.

Following his tenure in state government, Dr. O’Connor served as the President of New Brunswick Tomorrow (NBT), one of the most accomplished community-based organizations in New Jersey. Dr. O’Connor then joined The Community Development Trust (CDT) in New York City, serving as Senior Vice President—Equity.  As the nation’s first and only real estate investment trust (REIT) dedicated to the preservation of affordable housing. Dr. O’Connor was responsible for developing new sources of capital investment for affordable housing from a national network of brokers and developers, as well as from local, state and federal agencies.

An academic with an extensive experience in real estate development and finance, Dr. O’Connor serves as a frequent adjunct professor, teaching classes in real estate finance, development and affordable housing. Prior to joining PlanSmart NJ, Dr. O’Connor served as the Director of the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington. By streamlining the curriculum, establishing three distinct concentrations and more than doubling the number of applications and students, he completely transformed the Masters of Science in Real Estate (MSRE) program.

Dr. O’Connor holds a Master’s degree from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University and a Ph.D. in Planning and Public Policy from the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. His dissertation, “State Mandated Versus Market-Based Location of Affordable Housing” is serving as the foundation for his upcoming book on the history of the Mount Laurel Doctrine in New Jersey.


Caleb Fritz, Planner & GIS Specialist – Email

Caleb brings strong research, writing, and design skills and an advanced knowledge of GIS to support the broad planning agenda at PlanSmart NJ.  Prior to coming to PlanSmart NJ, he worked for the City Council of Philadelphia as a GIS and Urban Planning Fellow in the Office of the Council President.  As a Fellow, Caleb produced maps and analysis in support of a number of planning and legislative issues including: workforce housing, universal pre-k education, vacancy and delinquency, and the sugary beverage tax.  His work on the beverage tax, utilizing the newest techniques in coding and geographic data collection, provided City Council with critical insight into the social and economic consequences of the tax and was ultimately successful in leading to a compromise on the bill.  Prior to his Fellowship, Caleb worked as a GIS intern for the Philadelphia City Planning Commission where he assisted planners in completing Philadelphia 2035 district plans.

Caleb is a graduate of Temple University where he received a Masters of Arts in Geography and Urban Studies and a Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems.  He graduated with honors from West Chester University with a Bachelors of Arts in Anthropology and is a veteran of the United States Army.


Kovac, Jenn

Jennifer Kovac, Administrator –  Email

After 15 years of management in hospice and home healthcare, Jennifer has returned to her roots in environmental and social sciences by joining PlanSmart NJ. Jennifer provides part-time logistical support to the team and sits on the Membership Committee.  During her tenure in healthcare, Jennifer developed budgets and business plans, marketed in the community, managed grants, and organized events.  In 2014 she earned the National Excellence in Growth Award for managing the fastest growing hospice branch in the country.  After a trip to Haiti in 2008, Jennifer founded and raised funds for For This One, a 501(c)(3) providing financial and logistical support to grass roots service projects.  Jennifer holds a Bachelor’s degree in Human Ecology with a focus on Public Policy from Rutgers University.




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