Frederick John LaVergne grew up in West Long Branch, New Jersey, only a few blocks from Monmouth University.
He studied Biology at Stockton University, and microbiology/molecular genetics at the Selman Waksman Institute of Microbiology at Rutgers University. He supported his studies as a research and teaching specialist, doing research in ovarian cancer in the OB/GYN department at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and helped construct the State’s first comprehensive database of birth defects and genetic disorders in neonates, in cooperation with the Genetic Counseling Unit in Newark, a project conducted with the intention of identifying local environmental factors as a cause of specific birth defects.
His strong background in environmental science goes back to his years in Scouting, and his choice of undergraduate college. While a student at Stockton University (then Stockton State College), a school well known for its Natural Sciences programs, Fred worked in many capacities, from serving with the Stockton Center for Environmental Research, to working as a field instructor in marine science, environmental science, and geology, and a lab instructor and classroom tutor in biology, physics, and chemistry. His experience was such that, on more than one occasion, he was tapped to assist in directing lab sections for courses in which he was enrolled.
Fred also served on the NAMS (Natural and Mathematical Sciences Program) Faculty Review Board. He returns to Stockton every spring to serve as a judge in the New Jersey Shore Science Foundation’s Science Fair, held at Stockton for over 30 years.
While at Stockton, Fred, an athlete and avid soccer player in his youth, co-founded and served as the first coach of the Stockton Women’s Soccer Club, (“SWSC”) – now known throughout the NCAA as the fiercely competitive “Lady Ospreys”. Fred’s efforts at promoting women’s sports at Stockton were a way of honoring a lifelong friend and mentor, the legendary Nancy Williams, who was responsible in large part for the present equality in Interscholastic and Collegiate sports.
His efforts, leveraged with those of his friends, influenced Stockton’s then President, Vera King Farris, to move forward on an NCAA bid for the club.
Rarely working only one job, even while a student, Fred also served as an analytical chemist at a large NJ Generic Pharmaceutical Company, WestWard Pharmaceuticals – where he became fluent in the compliance requirements and regulations in that industry. His familiarity with water quality testing and instrumental analysis was a large part of the firm’s decision to hire him, and he was able to streamline many of their outdated processes to make compliance easier to track.
Mr. LaVergne has served his community most visibly as a Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmaster in Delanco’s Troop 19 for many years, teaching outdoor skills and a love for our natural environment to many impressionable young men. His son, an Eagle Scout, is presently studying Environmental Science at Stockton University. Fred also helped draft the initial proposal, “First Year to First Class” – a program of outings and activities since shared and adapted by many other troops, and is an archery instructor of some repute.
Fred is married to his wife of 26 years, Mary L. LaVergne, who presently serves as a parent educator for Burlington County’s PAT program (Parents as Teachers). Her expertise in Early Childhood Development led her to many similar roles since graduating from Stockton, where they met. They were married in their home in a Methodist service, but Mary and their five children are communicants at St. Peter’s R.C. Church in Riverside – now part of the “Jesus, the Good Shepherd” parish. Fred, a lifelong Methodist, is a member of the Congregation in his home town, in the oldest Methodist Church in New Jersey.
Their older three daughters all graduated with high honors – Kate, the oldest, also graduated from Stockton University, Anne, from Rowan University, and Jeanne-Marie (“Jamie”), from Rutgers University. Jamie is now in graduate study at Northwestern University in Chicago. Their youngest child, Megan, is a sophomore at Riverside High School, and shows similar academic promise. As one might imagine, with a wife and four daughters, Fred’s advocacy for women’s rights can be said as written.
When Mary and Fred decided to marry and raise a family, the practical unreality of a Delanco to Newark, NJ commute on an educator’s salary changed the course of his professional career. While seeking a research position in Philadelphia, he accepted a “temporary” job in auto sales, and discovered that he enjoyed it, and that it, frankly, paid far better than teaching or research. With bills to pay and diapers to buy, Fred threw himself into becoming the very best at his new career. He approached the position as a breaker of stereotypes, and was highly successful – recognized as a leader in the industry both in sales volume and consumer satisfaction. He also served voluntarily as a regional coordinator for the Chrysler “Physically Challenged Assistance Program”.
Through consultative selling, Fred became a trusted advisor to hundreds of families in Burlington County and elsewhere. Put simply, he was successful because he LISTENED to his clients before instructing them. He simultaneously applied these habits to an insurance practice with Mutual of Omaha, and to the ownership and operation of a Net Branch for Mid Atlantic Capital in Moorestown, and, later, for Barclay Funding Group of Princeton as a residential mortgage banker/broker, and as owner of a small commercial lending brokerage.
Area attorneys, CPAs, Tax Accountants, and Financial Advisors quickly learned to send their most difficult situations to LaVergne, as his comprehensive knowledge of underwriting guidelines from over 60 investors allowed him solve problems other lenders merely brushed off as “not worth their time”. His expertise in construction and construction lending made him valuable even to his competitors. He also taught alternative credit strategies for FHA and HMFA borrowers with a local housing advocacy group, and did background underwriting for several “Habitat for Humanity” projects around the State. He also supported the efforts of a strong network of purchase agents in the Real Estate Industry, where he built a reputation for straight talk and prompt delivery on his promises.
Injuries from a severe auto accident in 2006, combined with the 2007 Mortgage crisis and a second auto accident in 2008, forced a hard decision. To focus on recovery from his injuries, Fred chose to cease operations in Moorestown and place his loan officers – all but one, who retired permanently – with other concerns. While he recovered, he continued to work in and serve that industry, now as a loan officer, rather than as a manager of his own operation. A very positive side-effect to that lessening of responsibilities was the sudden availability of time for his family, and to seek where he might apply his experience and energy to best serve his community.
Dissatisfied with his representation in Trenton and Washington, Fred began to take a stronger interest in the political process. With an incisive “underwriter’s eye”, he saw many issues that could be remedied if it weren’t for the absence of political will.
Never a shrinking violet, Fred has been a very visible member of the Third Congressional District Community, often appearing at more than one Township’s council meetings in a single evening when issues warrant his direct attention, or as an invited speaker at several area political organizations, on issues as broad-ranging as bond reform and taxation to environmental protection, to alternative energy strategies.
Fred leverages a life-long love of learning, described by an erstwhile political opponent as “a Swiss Army Knife of knowledge and information”.
Fred LaVergne brings over 5 decades of a home-team advantage to this race, and has an extensive network of supporters from all walks of life, from Democratic, Independent, and Republican backgrounds, all willing to see him go to Congress to represent them.
His candidacy will add to the possibility of success for each of his running mates, who his organization is committed to fully supporting.
He’s been working for this district for years like he already holds the office.
“Stand for what’s right, or settle for what’s left” – Frederick John LaVergne, Democrat for Congress, NJ CD3, 2016