ATL HIGHLANDS – “A wonderful historic Borough with deep roots,” is Borough Administrator Robert Ferragina’s first impression of the borough where he recently accepted the position as borough administrator. It is “a slice of Americana where the residents truly care about preserving the historical integrity of the borough while advancing to meet current needs,” he said.
The new administrator for the borough comes to the position at borough hall this week armed with a lifetime in Monmouth County, a background that traces active leadership and participation roles in civic, sports and community service dating to his teen years at Red Bank Catholic High School, and skills and experience in both the private and public sector.
Administrator Robert Ferragina, who is succeeding retiring administrator Adam Hubeny, was born and raised in Long Branch, and lives in West Long Branch with his wife and two daughters.
A graduate of Red Bank Catholic High School, where he was a four year athlete on the men’s cross country team under the coaching of the late Jack Rafter, and active in student government, he looks on the acclaimed Rafter as one of his lifelong mentors.
After high school, Ferragina, who is a first generation American and speaks Italian fluently, earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in History with a minor in Political Science from Kean State College while serving as president of the student body and in the Phi Alpha Theta National Honor Society. He earned two master’s degrees, one in administrative science from Fairleigh Dickinson University and one in History from Monmouth University, again with membership in Phil Alpha Theta National Honor Society.
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The new administrator subsequently earned numerous certificates, including an executive certificate for Nonprofit Fund Development from the Mendoza College of Business at Notre Dame, a certificate in federal-aid Responsible Charge from the Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation at Rutgers University, and a certification in Land Use Law and Planning from the Association of NJ Planning and Zoning Boards of Adjustment.
The business executive left his position as Long Branch Assistant Director of Community and Economic Development (OCED) where he had been employed for three years to accept the position with the borough.. Prior to that, he had spent more than two decades in the forest products industry, holding various management and executive management positions.
Ferragina has been a member of the West Long Branch Planning Board since 2020,and a member of the Long Branch Public Library Board of Trustees for more than seven years, serving as its president since 2017. In 2019 he was awarded their Annual Champions Award and two years later the New Jersey Library Association (NJLA) Trustee Recognition Award. He is also a lifelong member of Holy Trinity Church of Christ the King parish in Long Branch.
The new administrator credits his upbringing with his ability to take on new challenges and face and research any information necessary to make informed and thoroughly thought out decisions. As a first generation American of Italian heritage, he said he learned and appreciated the meaning of hard work at a young age witnessing his parents working very long days in their respective blue-collar jobs. He recognized early in his life that their hard work was important to them in order to provide their children with an education to enable them to achieve better lives.
He learned well. In applying for the administrator’s position in the borough, for which 59 applications were received, Ferrugina said he wanted to ensure he knew as much as he could in advance. So he went on the borough website and listened to several council and planning board meetings to be better prepared for his interview.
He does see research and highly developed communication skills as two attributes that will help him bring continued high standards as administrator, again recognizing Hubeny’s excellence in the position. Personal management experiences and interpersonal and organizational skill-sets developed during both his private and public sector time will also be assets, he said. “ I do believe I have a tremendous amount of patience and have learned over the years that often a minute of listening is worth more than sixty minutes of speaking.”
Ferragina recognizes both his faith and upbringing have taught him to not fear, but rather to embrace challenges and opportunities with patience, diligence, and humility. “I am humbled and honored to accept the role of Business Administrator and will do the best job that I can do. I have very large shoes to fill, as Adam did an outstanding job and certainly earned the respect of both the governing body and the residents of the Borough. I will do my best to earn that same respect and I am aware it will take time. It will not happen overnight,” he said.
As for any changes in administrative ways or meeting with the public, Ferragina said, for now, he will definitely be “concentrating on the daily management of the Borough. I will leave it to the elected officials to implement or not implement any changes.” He said he is eager to get up to speed on current issues, projects, needs, and concerns of the respective borough departments. Through it all, he is appreciative of the opportunity to learn new things and to contribute to the Borough and is eagerly looking forward to becoming a part of the community.