Meet Our Green Gala Honorees: Ashley Steinhart & Lowenstein Sandler

by | Jan 26, 2024 | Homepage News

Everything at Willow has been intentionally designed to foster a passion for learning and the development of an ethical approach to all relationships since the school was founded by Pearl Johnson and Mark Biedron in 2001. From the very beginning of this journey, the team at Lowenstein Sandler, spearheaded by Ashley Steinhart, has supported The Willow School in innumerable ways. We are delighted to recognize Ashley and the team at Lowenstein Sandler as our 2024 Green Gala Honorees.

Ashley is a beloved and respected attorney, renowned for his long-standing client relationships, expertise in estate planning, and thoughtful advice. He has been a friend and trusted advisor to Willow, our founders, and many Board of Trustee Members, past and present. He has been a key and trusted advisor to the Johnson family for many years, and his involvement in Willow reflects his strong support of, and interest in, endeavors that are important to the Johnson family.  

Willow families will recognize their names as loyal supporters of our Green Gala from decades of generosity, and for more than twenty years Willow has been fortunate to have Lowenstein Sandler working behind the scenes as well in support of critical strategic, legal, and operational matters. Prominent and respected attorneys including (but certainly not limited to) Michael Gooen, John Stolz, Scott Thompson, Stuart Yusem, Rick Horne, Lynda Bennett, Julie Werner, Tracy Snow, and Scott Siegel, have assisted Willow on a myriad of issues including the school’s non-profit status, real estate planning and transactions, governance, risk management, financial opportunities and obligations, and employment matters (to name just a few). When Willow has a question, Ashley and his team are the first to be called. 

Please join us in thanking Ashley and his team at Lowenstein Sandler for a partnership that has spanned more than two decades. We would not be where we are today without their counsel and support.

Celebrate Ashley and Lowenstein Sandler with us at our Gala! Find information on sponsorships for our Annual Green Gala on Saturday, May 18 at

Learn more about The Willow School


In 2001, Willow’s founders, Pearl Johnson and Mark Biedron, set out to start a school with three core objectives: to develop a program that combined academic excellence with the joy and wonder of learning, to help children master language and communication skills, and to create a school community rooted in a strong Virtues Program modeled on the ancient Aristotelian cardinal virtues.

Although Willow was not originally designed with a “green” philosophy in mind, Pearl and Mark soon recognized the inextricable link between living virtuously and committing to sustainability. From the Virtues Program, which was designed to mentor ethical relationships between humans, grew the commitment to mentoring that same ethical relationship between humans and the natural world. With this in mind, Pearl and Mark created a school setting that would lead by example with a pioneering sustainable campus design featuring LEED-certified buildings, including New Jersey’s first Living Building.

As our founders committed to a virtues-based curriculum and a sustainable approach, they recognized the importance of teaching children to understand that we are all part of a complex matrix of human and natural systems. This philosophy is articulated by and embedded into Systems Thinking, an holistic metacognitive process that emphasizes understanding interconnectivity and interdependency, and analyzing unintended consequences.

Many of these educational philosophies seemed unusual at the time that Willow was founded; yet, twenty years later, even the most traditional schools are emulating the philosophies that have been foundational to Willow’s mission and approach since its inception. Willow serves as a model for other schools, particularly in the realms of joy-infused academics, sustainability education, systems thinking, experiential education, and outdoor learning.

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