Freeholder Vice President Patricia Sebold, also of Livingston, presented Ackermann with the award. The event also honored Dr. Gale E. Gibson, president of Essex County College; Sarah Hansford of East Orange; and Goldie T. Burbage, also of East Orange, who was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
“I have had the pleasure of knowing Martha for many years”, Sebold said. “She is well-known and highly-respected throughout the community for being not only a tireless volunteer, but also an extremely effective one.
"She has contributed so much to the community over the years and is widely-recognized as an advocate for children’s education and safety.” Sebold went on to add, “Martha offers to help, even before anyone has a chance to ask her! She will always do whatever she can to help people, and I can tell you that she has been very, very good to me.”
Ackermann has a long-standing history of commitment to the Township of Livingston where she has resided since 1986, and where she is widely known as an advocate for safety and children.
She grew up in Brick Township and graduated from Brick High before going on to graduate from The Berkeley School, where she studied fashion merchandising and then began a 13-year career as a retail executive in New York City.
When she moved to Livingston, Ackermann became involved in children's activities as a volunteer and an employee. She joined the staff at Harrison School in 2001 as a teacher assistant in the kindergarten classroom where she worked for nine years, and then in September of 2009 she began her current assignment as an administrative assistant to the Curriculum Supervisors at Livingston High School.
For more than 17 years, she has served as a co-chairwoman of the Parent Teacher Council’s town-wide Safety Committee, and works very closely with the Livingston Police and Fire departments, the community, and representatives of the school system to ensure that safety for Livingston’s youth is a priority.
She also served as president of the Mount Pleasant Elementary School PTA where she headed many committees, as well as a member of the Livingston Board of Education’s Long Range Planning Committee’s Redistricting Subcommittee, where she was instrumental in the decision to reconfigure the standalone sixth grade; she was also a member of the School District Budget Task Force. In 2000, she also played an important role in ensuring that the new Martin Luther King Day school holiday was promoted as “A day on… not a day off” to mobilize service to the community.
Ackermann is a founding member and the current Secretary of the Healthy Community Healthy Youth Initiative, a non-profit organization founded in 2005 in response to numerous youth suicides, which is a collaborative partnership between youth and adults committed to creating a community where all young people thrive. She is also a founding member of the Children’s Theatre of Livingston, a volunteer organization created in 2005 that allows children the opportunity to experience every aspect of the theatrical process from acting, to set design, to lighting and the backstage crew, where she has been a Board member, served as President for three years, and currently serves as Vice President.
Additionally, she is an active member of the Arts Council of Livingston, where she also served as President for three years and currently holds the position of Secretary. She has been married to her husband, Bill Buckbee, for six years, and is the proud mother of three children: Jeffrey, Jill and Christine.
"To say I am overwhelmed is an overstatement, and I am so honored to be standing here, side-by-side, with tonight’s other honorees," Ackermann said. “At an early age, my mother, who was president of the PTA, made me and my five siblings aware of the importance of being involved in the community.
But I really became involved in volunteerism as the result of the life-altering loss of my first child Dean, 22 years ago, to a preventable childcare tragedy, and it was then that I vowed that I would work to keep the children in our community safe.”
"I volunteer to be a good role model to my children, and because I believe that one person can make a difference. I ask that everyone try to ‘pay it forward,' because I truly believe in that and know that it works.”
The “Women’s History Month” program included vocal performances by Penwah and opening and closing prayers offered by Dr. Gloria White, Pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Newark. Following the program, the honorees and their guests were invited to a catered reception.