Stephen N. Adubato is the founder of The North Ward Center (NWC) He also founded Robert Treat Academy (RTA), a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence. The North Ward Center, nestled in the heart of Newark’s North Ward, has served as an anchor in the surrounding neighborhoods throughout Newark since we opened our doors in 1970.
His father ran a gas station to eke out a living during the Depression. He moved up to a civil service job and later became the first director of the local Boys Club, which later was known as The Boys and Girls Club.
Steve Adubato had many watershed moments, the first was when he supported Ken Gibson for Mayor in 1970, against the then white political establishment. Steve stood his ground, against taunts and threats from his neighbors. This support led to Ken Gibson becoming the first black mayor of Newark, and the Gibson Administration helping to finance the building blocks of the NWC.
“Big Steve”, as he was fondly known as, first by the hundreds of children at the NWC and RTA, and then the name stuck: because in many ways he was larger than life.
He is a Newark native, a graduate of Barringer High School and Seton Hall University, where he also earned a master’s degree in political science. He attended Rutgers Law School and Seton Hall Law School but never became a lawyer.
“In those days I thought I would either be a priest or a lawyer, but I met Fran and decided to forgo my vocation to the priesthood. Somehow I became a school teacher in Newark so I didn’t become a priest, I didn’t practice law, and in 1970 I decided I wanted to do my own thing.”
“Big Steve” is one of the most powerful political power brokers in the history of New Jersey.
As one person wrote, “ Simply put, Stephen N. Adubato was the single most intelligent and powerful political force that New Jersey has ever witnessed.”
Many of the major political leaders today got their start under the tutelage of “Big Steve”.
“If someone were to ask me what I am most proud of, it is leading this institution”. There will never be another “Big Steve” Adubato.