As NJBIA embarks on our 9th year of building diversity in the workplace and the boardroom, we’re thrilled to be hosting this event at the Newark Liberty International Airport Marriott.
We’ll be making the most of our in-person event with awards, an incredible evening networking reception, 50+ speakers, 12 breakout sessions, Ted-Style Talks and so much more!
This event brings large corporations, entrepreneurs, not-for-profits and students together to get inspired and empowered, to form an agenda that will increase diversity in corporate leadership, and to build successful businesses.
The New Jersey Women Business Leaders Forum, powered by NJBIA,
remains the largest professional women’s conference in New Jersey.
Join the event that over 3,000 attendees have enjoyed in the past, and take some time for yourself to learn, grow, and succeed on your professional path.
Whether you’re in the beginning, middle or later in your career,
this conference has something for you.
Forum ProgramClick on the white plus sign to view our program. We’ll keep this page regularly updated so be sure to keep checking in!
- Wednesday, September 2710:00 AM
Networking & Registration10:15 AM
Buffet Opens10:50 AM
Opening RemarksLieutenant Governor Tahesha L. Way, Esq.11:00 AM
Welcome, Champagne Toast, & Awards Ceremony11:30 AM
TED-Style TalksKim Brennan & Joanne Spears12:00 PM
Networking Break / Room Change12:35 PM
Breakout Sessions (3 to choose from):Improving Your Professional Presence
Presented by Alethea Marie Batts, Jeana M. Piscatelli, Catherine Frugé Starghill, Esq. & Kirthi Mani
Presented by Casey Carpenter, Amy Minkoff, Sally-Jo O’Brien, & Deborah Visconi
Career Re-entry After Caregiving through Returnships
Presented by Archana Bhor, Sarah Klopfer, Supriya Mimani, & Christine Winston1:35 PM
Networking Break / Room Change1:50 PM
Breakout Sessions (3 to choose from):Finding Your Bliss
Presented by Lauren Borawski, Dr. June DePonte Sernak, Shakira Monet Johnson, Krishna Powell, & Queen N. Stewart, Esq.
Secrets & Benefits to Building a Strong Network
Presented Mary Baker, Cynthia Hetherington, Judy Sailer, & Jackie Lue Raia
Is Confidence a Dirty Word?
Presented by Christine Hanson, Ginny Hill, Casey Moes, & Patrizia A. Zita2:50 PM
Networking Break / Room Change3:10 PM
Breakout Sessions (3 to choose from):Women Leaders in Manufacturing
Presented by Dawn Fitch, Jackie Luciano, Qing H. Guo, Esq., & Constantina Meis
Presented Sharon Chae Haver, Margie Piliere, Alyssa Wilds, & Cyndie Williams
Salary Negotiation & Pay Equity
Presented by Helen Archontou, Shell Bobev, Andrée Peart Laney, Esq., & LaTonia Pouncey4:10 PM
Refresh & RechargeCheck-In, Drop Your Bag, Take a Breath4:45 PM
Closing Deals in Heels ReceptionJoin us for an evening of beverages, heavy hors d’oeuvres, and networking as we celebrate the end of day one and make plans for day two.6:45 PM
Smashing the Glass Ceiling After PartyFor those of us who’ll be staying over, a special treat. Music and dancing to solidify the bonds of new friendships and give you extra time with your favorite ladies.
- Thursday, September 288:30 AM
Breakfast & Networking9:30 AM
Breakout Sessions (3 to choose from):Branding Yourself
Presented by Renee Altomonte, Birdia Chambers, Rosanne DeTorres, Esq., & Donna Miller
Boards, Taking the Step
Presented Anne Evans Estabrook, Brenda Ross-Dulan, Celest S. Quintana, & Kathleen Shanahan
Presented by Gerri Budd, PhD, Jane Johnston, Minister Pamela A. Major, & Megan Pitts10:30 AM
Networking Break / Room Change10:50 AM
TED-Style Talks: Master of Ceremonies – Vince CirianniPresented by Dr. Elizabeth Garner, Crystal Pruitt & Nicole Suissa11:50 AM
Our Featured Speakers
Michele N. Siekerka, Esq., President and CEO of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, leads the nation’s largest, most influential employers’ organization, advocating on behalf of New Jersey’s large and small businesses for policies that will make New Jersey more affordable and regionally competitive.
Being known as a collaborative leader, Siekerka is leading an NJBIA established coalition (New Jersey Business Coalition) comprised of more than 100 business and nonprofit associations across the state to tackle the tough economic and business challenges our state is facing during COVID 19.
Well versed on the ‘boots on the ground” issues affecting our state’s business community, Michele is often the “go to” resource for media and is sought after to share her expertise in public forums across the state.
Tahesha L. Way serves as New Jersey’s 3rd Lieutenant Governor. She was appointed to the position by Governor Phil Murphy on September 8, 2023.
A lifelong public servant, Lieutenant Governor Way has devoted her entire career to improving the lives of her fellow New Jerseyans. Over the past two decades, she has served at numerous levels of local and state government.
As Lieutenant Governor, Ms. Way brings her extensive experience to bear on addressing the greatest challenges facing New Jerseyans — from making life more affordable, to protecting fundamental freedoms—like access to reproductive health care and equality under the law — to maintaining New Jersey’s reputation as the best and safest state to raise a family.
In addition to her role as Lieutenant Governor, Ms. Way also serves as New Jersey’s 34th Secretary of State — a position she has held since the beginning of the Murphy Administration.
As Secretary of State, Ms. Way leads one of the nation’s oldest constitutional offices and directs a department with a diverse portfolio. In her capacity as New Jersey’s top election official, she has overseen the state Division of Elections and its work in securing our democracy and ensuring broad, fair access to the right to vote. Lieutenant Governor Way also chaired New Jersey’s Complete Count Commission, a 27 member non-partisan commission established to achieve a complete count in the 2020 US Census. In addition to the critical work protecting what Lieutenant Governor Way calls the “fraternal twins of democracy,” she also oversees the state government offices supporting New Jersey’s vibrant arts, culture, history, and business communities. Under her leadership, the state’s tourism economy has generated record-high revenues.
Following her 2022-2023 service as the first Black person and first Secretary from New Jersey to lead the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) as President, Lieutenant Governor Way continues to serve on the NASS Executive Board as Immediate Past President.
Prior to joining the Murphy Administration, Lieutenant Governor Way was an Administrative Law Judge for the State of New Jersey. In 2006, Lieutenant Governor Way was elected to the Passaic County Board of Chosen Freeholders and served as the Freeholder Director in 2009. She served as Special Counsel for the Passaic County Board of Social Services overseeing all agency litigation. She also served as a Council Member for the New Jersey Highlands Water Protection and Planning Council.
She is the former President of the Women Empowered Democratic Organization of Passaic County, an organization dedicated to empowering Democratic women by increasing their participation with the goal of achieving greater equality in the political process. Lieutenant Governor Way also previously served on the Board of Directors for the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a leading national think tank geared towards advancing dialogue and policy for improving women’s lives and their families.
Lieutenant Governor Way is a graduate of Brown University, where she served as Vice President of the collegiate chapter of the NAACP, President of the Iota Alpha chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. taught religious education, and was a radio announcer for WBRU-FM. She holds a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law at Charlottesville, where she clerked for the Virginia Legal Aid Society and the United Steelworkers of America.
Lieutenant Governor Way lives in Wayne, New Jersey with her husband Charles and their four children Fallon, Farrah, Faythe, and Fiona. She was raised in the Bronx by her late parents, Robert and Rosa Wright, who also devoted their careers to public service as employees with the New York City Transit Authority.
Lieutenant Governor Way has been a member of the New Jersey State Bar Association, Garden State Bar Association, National Association of Women Judges, Association of Black Women Lawyers, Passaic County Bar Association, and the New Jersey Women’s Lawyers Association.
Renee Altomonte is a Senior Vice President, Retail Market President in the South PA/NJ market. She manages a deposit portfolio of $15.5B, including Small Business, oversees 1,090 FTE and has 8 direct reports.
She joined TD bank in 1999 as a Store Manager for the Raritan, New Jersey location. In 2003, she was promoted to the Retail Market Manager position and has covered both the Staten Island region and expanded growth in De Novos in the Brooklyn region of New York City. Her responsibilities included assisting stores in developing new business, maintaining the banks relationships with customers and community groups, overseeing a staff of 348 and managing a portfolio of $1.9 billion throughout the 21 locations. In 2013, she joined the US Phone Channel as the Senior Contact Center Manager for the Mount Laurel location. In this time, she led 480 employees and was responsible for managing the metrics that matter as well as time in the Social Media platform.
Over the years, Renee has been involved in numerous internal projects for TD Bank, including GenNext. She also is a committee member of the Women In Leadership Council, where she is working in support of the LGBTA group and has served on a regional diversity group for TD Bank.
Renee also has served on various not for profit boards, including Meal on Wheels of NY, Staten Island Chamber of Commerce and the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation. She currently sits on the board for Special Olympics Board of NJ is active in the community where she has been very active with the Ville Quarterback Club. She resides in New Jersey with her two children, Sal-20 and Katie-17.
As Chief Executive Officer since July 2011, Helen Archontou is focused on guiding YWCA Northern New Jersey (formerly YWCA Bergen County) into its next century of living its mission to eliminate racism, empower women, and strengthen families and communities.
Helen brings 25 years of executive management experience in the not-for-profit sector, which included heading up Saint Clare’s Hospital’s Center for the Protection of Children serving Morris & Sussex Counties; founding and leading Wynona’s House, New Jersey’s first co-location child advocacy and treatment center of child abuse serving Essex County; and directing the Bergen County Literacy Volunteers of America chapter. She also served as Multidisciplinary Team Coordinator for the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Sex Crimes & Child Abuse Unit.
Under Helen’s leadership, the organization has expanded and deepened its mission-based programming by providing a continuum of programs and services to support women in every stage of life and facilitating an ongoing community conversation on racial justice. In 2019, the organization expanded its service area to additional northern NJ counties and changed its name to YWCA Northern New Jersey, now serving Essex, Hudson, Morris, and Passaic in addition to Bergen County.
Mary Baker is the CEO of Baker Tax & Accounting Services, LLC , devoted to educating people and business on how to get their finances in order to achieve their financial goals.
She has over 40 years in the financial industry, coaching individuals and business owners on how to reach their financial goals.
She has mentor people to turn their “passion into wealth” and has helped her clients start their own successful businesses.
Mary has delivers financial literacy presentations at non- profit organizations, for profit organizations, hospitals and universities. Mary is the go to person to reach your financial goals in life, whether they are large or small.
Alethea M. Batts is First Senior Vice President of Learning and Development and Chief Diversity Officer at Lakeland Bank. In this role, she manages learning strategy and organizational development, including Talent Management, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion strategy and initiatives, Leadership Development, Succession Planning and Mentorship programs.
Alethea has over 25 years of experience in financial services. Prior to joining Lakeland, she spent most of her career as the NJ Area Director for Citibank and SVP and Consumer Market Executive for the Bank of America, leading and managing Retail Operations throughout NY and NJ.
Alethea holds an undergraduate degree from Princeton University. She is a graduate of the Consumer Bankers Association for Retail Executive Management program at University of Virginia. She holds a Diversity and Inclusion for HR Certificate from Cornell University and is a Senior Certified Professional for the Society for Human Resource Management.
With a passion for making a positive difference, Alethea is an active member of the NJBankers and American Bankers DEI Councils, a frequent panelist, public speaker, advocate and volunteer for Women’s initiatives, Diversity initiatives, Youth and Young-Adult counseling and Financial Literacy.
Alethea received the inaugural “Excellence in Diversity” Award from NJBankers and was named a ROI Influencer of Diversity & Inclusion in 2022.
Alethea is deeply committed to community development. She is a Leadership New Jersey fellow, a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, a Princeton Alumni Schools Committee Volunteer, and sits on the Board of Trustees for the Second Street Youth Center, Inc. She actively participates in the Music Ministry of Fountain Baptist Church. Alethea is a proud mother of her daughters, Mikaela and Alana, and son-in-law, Jaleel.
Shell Bobev is the founder of Disrupt The Gap, a platform that empowers women’s lifelong financial independence through a multi-front disruption of the gender pay gap. After advocating for her own equal pay in the corporate world, she realized a calling to create bold solutions for systemic change. Disrupt The Gap guides organizations in implementing equitable and future-proof compensation practices and audits. Among other degrees, Shell holds a Masters of Adult Education and a Certification in Human Resources Development from Rutgers University, as well as a Certification in DEI. With a background in talent development, she has impacted thousands of people across corporate, community, and university settings.
Lauren is a graduate of Wagner College and was given the theater award for her graduating class. Lauren spent the past 30 years working as an event planner, stage manager, production manager, and operations manager for theater, television and the performing arts. She was a founding staff member for NJPAC where she worked for 24 years and was responsible for establishing many of their processes and procedures. Lauren remained dedicated and steadfast to her mission-driven career in the arts, until another mission to make a difference in the lives of others presented itself.
In 2015, along with her husband, Matt, she founded Child’s Play Challenge Courses and is committed to keeping folks of all ages and abilities healthy, active and unplugged in a fun and motivational setting. As founder and owner, Lauren provides leadership and strategic vision and oversees operational and managerial procedures. She believes it is critical to remain connected to all aspects of the business to properly support its operations and Lauren still makes time to drive their company truck. She enjoys the moments and memories made with Matt and their daughter, Jade as they change lives by challenging limits. She believes that building a successful business with her family by her side offers perks no outside employer could ever provide.
In 2021, Lauren made the decision to leave her corporate life behind to focus her efforts on the future of Child’s Play Challenge Courses and its newest endeavor, franchise expansion. She is excited for the future of her business and the many contributions it will make toward bringing folks from all walks of life together, beyond the reliance of social media and excessive screen time.
Under her leadership, Child’s Play Challenge Courses was honored in 2022 with an NJSBDC Small Business Growth Success Award for its tenacity and resilience to become a mobile industry leader. In 2023, Lauren was named the NJ Small Business Person of the Year by the US Small Business Administration and was honored as a guest of President Biden in the White House. Lauren is excited to recently be nominated for a US Small Business Administration Legacy Award.
Lauren belongs to the Westfield Area Chamber of Commerce and participates in the Women’s Franchise Committee in Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York. Lauren served on the planning committee of Rockin’ 4 Autism and she is a member of NJBIA. Lauren is also a proud sister of Alpha Delta Pi sorority.
Official Website: https://www.childsplaycc.com/
Child’s Play Challenge Courses LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/child-s-play-challenge-courses
Kim joined Cushman & Wakefield from CBRE, where she served as a Senior Managing Director of Brokerage Services for the Midtown Manhattan office and offers more than 25 years of experience in the commercial real estate industry most specifically in the tristate region. She is an accomplished leader, skilled at developing creative strategies to drive business and providing mentorship to the brokerage community. She has been recognized throughout her career for the impact she has made on the Tri-State real estate industry.
Kim’s current role is as a leasing broker in the C&W Morristown office where she joins the well know team of Bob Donnelly and Robert Donnelly, Jr. She will focus on business development and using her corporate expertise to attract clients that are looking for an overall real estate strategy that will encompass their corporate objectives. As a senior woman in real estate, she is eager to use her extensive women’s network to enhance the visibility of women in the commercial real estate industry.
Kim’s accomplishments include co-chairing the NAIOP NJ Gala Committee and as Trustee for NAIOP NJ. Kim has served as Director of Programming for CREW NJ, an international organization for women in commercial real estate, and as Director of Membership for that organization. She was a founding member of the BOMA Research Council and a member of the American Management Association International. Crossing industry involvement into the larger community, Kim spent over 5 years as part of the March of Dimes Real Estate Committee in New Jersey. Kim also served on the Advisory board for Rutgers Real Estate Center.
Dr. Budd is the co-founder and managing partner of Peace in Action, an educational firm providing workshops, classes and programs to help create workplaces that are more open, civil, welcoming, and inclusive. Dr. Budd has over 25 years’ experience in institutional management and assessment.
Dr. Budd served as the first Diversity Officer at Seton Hall University, worked with the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education, served as Campus Director and Director of Education at two proprietary sector institutions; and presented scholarship at the Women & Gender Studies Colloquium Lecture Series; the Mid-Atlantic Women’s Studies Association, and Lehigh University’s Feminism in Practice conference. Her area of expertise includes issues of race and gender as they pertain to management and organization.
Casey is a speaker, author, leadership development expert and executive coach. During her career she closed millions of dollars in sales yet had humble beginnings. An introvert and reformed wallflower, she almost was fired from her first sales job. She saved her job when she won a district-level speech competition and stumbled onto a key realization – when you master your speaking and presence, you can win over any room, anywhere. She went on to smash sales records, enjoyed promotions and spent the latter part of her corporate career training and mentoring.
Casey was a senior leader at Aetna, Cigna, and Sunrise Senior Living. At EmblemHealth she trained a sales force of several hundred and coached leaders and high potentials to improve their performance. Currently CEO & Founder of Speak & Own It Communications, she focuses on women executives across all industries to connect, lead, pitch, and speak and own every room in virtual and hybrid worlds. She is a Guide for Chief, a private network for the most powerful women in leadership, facilitating peer group discussions for C-suite women leaders. Her keynote and training, “Amplify Your Voice, Elevate Your Leadership,” guides participants at the intersection of presence and leadership, as “we speak to lead.” Casey breaks down current events that impact leadership communication and builds strategies to overcome them so that leaders communicate with impact and empathy.
She is the TD Bank & Morris Chamber 2022 “Woman of Achievement” award recipient, overcoming adversity, and propelling women forward to greater personal and professional success.
When she’s not working on her enterprise, Casey is all about philanthropy & women:
- Pitch/Mentor Coach for inner city women entrepreneurs at Rising Tide Capital
- United Way Women United Leadership Council
- DEI Committee for Impact 100 Garden State & the Morris Chamber
- Addressed women’s ERGs at Konica Minolta, Chubb, and Crum & Forster
- Docent & DEIA committee at the Montclair Art Museum
- Conceived and launched “The Big Awkward,” a series of community conversations about race and social justice in the aftermath of George Floyd
- Led conversations on Inclusion for Konica Minolta, NJAWBO, the National Association of Professional Organizers
- Moderated executive panel discussion “Perspectives of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion” for the Morris Chamber.
Birdia is a social media strategist who is passionate about empowering small businesses, organizations, and individuals to strengthen their online presence and grow their business using social media. Her mission is to save clients time and make it easy for them to succeed by providing customized and tailored services that include strategy and content development, consulting, profile optimization, speaking engagements, and social media management.
With a focus that includes, but is not limited to, real estate agents, entrepreneurs, financial advisors, and non-profits, her services are designed bespoke to each industry, ensuring that clients receive the best possible service. Using this inclusive method, Birdia is not limited to any specific industry and welcomes clients from all audiences.
Birdia’s expertise in technology and social media spans over 20 years in corporate America, where she evolved social and digital media across a Fortune 50 company, counseled top C-Suite executives, and expanded small businesses. She has inspired executives, financial advisors, and entrepreneurs at conferences, workshops, and panel discussions, as well as via podcasts in the U.S. and internationally. Her expertise was featured in Think Advisor for enabling advisors to be successful on social media, and in an eBook from the GAMA Foundation, entitled Recruiting Through Social Media.
Birdia’s interest in real estate began in 2007 when she transformed houses as a hobby. Her nearly two decades as a real estate investor led her to obtain her real estate license so she can help others facilitate the real estate process. In 2022, she became licensed in New Jersey with eXp Realty and is a member of the New Jersey Association of Realtors, as well as CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women) New Jersey Social Media committee. She provides personalized and expertly tailored advice to buyers, sellers, and investors in residential and commercial real estate throughout the state.
In addition to her work with small businesses and organizations, Birdia is also passionate about mentoring and helping women, whether they are in corporate or entrepreneurs, to empower and advance women. With Epic Transformation, she takes a broad, holistic approach to her clients, tailoring her expertise to the needs of each client.
She is also a volunteer for American Corporate partners, where she mentors veterans transitioning out of military life to discover and achieve new career goals. She is a member of the New Jersey Business Industry Association, and co-chair of the NJBIA Women’s Leadership team for the Women’s Business Council.
Birdia is a graduate of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) where she focused on computer science and mathematics. She is also a graduate of the Women Unlimited TEAM program, acquired a Masters Certificate in IT Project Management from Villanova University, and is a National Commercial Real Estate Advisor and Commercial Real Estate Investment Planning Specialist.”
Vince Cirianni** is a financial specialist with over thirty years of industry experience. He specializes in holistic planning for closely held business owners, families and executives. Vince’s approach and being held in the highest level of integrity with the advisory community, are the keys to the growth and development of his success.
Business succession, business continuity, estate planning, retirement planning, and asset protection incorporated with creative planning strategies have been the key elements of his success. Vince’s primary goal is to put a client in control of their situation while keeping the process simple, and flexible.
Vince received his B.S. degree in Accountancy from Rider College in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. After a year in corporate accounting, Vince quickly learned that his passion in life was in helping others and dealing with people while building strong relationships. He then transitioned into the financial planning world. He has been building his practice through a tremendous capability to build a significant network of relationships, resources and capabilities, which he shares with everyone he touches.
In addition to his entrepreneurial spirit in the business world, Vince has a deep passion for children, the U.S. Military, education, and other areas of philanthropy and charitable endeavors serving underprivileged communities. Vince currently sits on numerous not-for-profit and charitable boards in the tri-state area.
Vince and his wife, Marisa, live in Bridgewater, NJ, with their three children.
**Registered Representative of Park Avenue Securities LLC (PAS), Financial Representatives, of Guardian.
Rosanne DeTorres is the managing partner and co-founder of DeTorres & DeGeorge Family Law. Rosanne DeTorres is one of only 2% of lawyers in the State of NJ with a specialty certification in family law. Her firm settles 99% of all cases without going to trial using an “iron hand in a velvet glove” approach to conflict resolution.
Ms. DeTorres received her undergraduate degree from The Johns Hopkins University and graduated with honor from The University of Maryland School of Law. Ms. DeTorres also holds a doctoral degree in Business Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.
Ms. DeTorres is an adjunct professor at Middlesex College in the Business and Computer Science Department teaching Business Law and Advanced Legal Research & Writing.
Ms. DeTorres has been recognized for her community engagement, volunteerism, and business growth including being named to the NJ Super Lawyers List, a Top 25 Leading Women Entrepreneur, receiving the Delta Dental Small Business of the Year award by the Morris County Chamber of Commerce, and the M&T Bank Woman of Achievement Award.
She is also the author of two books: “Breakthrough Results” and “Divorce: The Answers You Need Before, During & After”. Her doctoral study is entitled, “The Relationship Between Office Aesthetics and the Decision to Engage a Professional Service Provider,” and can be found here.
Anne Evans Estabrook is regarded for her many contributions to the redevelopment of the State of New Jersey. Her nonprofit board leadership impact includes serving on the President’s Council of Kean University, on the Board of Fellows of Weill Cornell Medical College, as a Trustee Emeritus of Cornell University, and as a Vice-Chair of Rutgers Business School of Management.
Anne has served as the President of the New Jersey Chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP) Research Foundation. She also was President of the New Jersey NAIOP Chapter and National Chairman of NAIOP. In addition, she was a Director of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA). She also Chaired the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce.
When not involved in New Jersey’s business and government entities, Anne devoted her time and effort to the healthcare industry. She is a Trustee of Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, New Jersey and a Trustee of RWJBarnabas Health, the largest healthcare provider in New Jersey. Anne’s most recent undertaking is becoming a Director in 2022 of National Medical Fellowships, Inc. (NMF), an organization that envisions a diverse healthcare workforce which exemplifies the leadership, education, commitment, and cultural competency necessary to achieve health equity for all. NMF’s mission is to provide scholarships and support for underrepresented minority students in medicine and other health related professions.
Anne is also involved in the New Jersey arts community. She serves as a Trustee of NJPAC (New Jersey Performing Arts Center) and as a member of its Executive Committee.
Additionally, Anne is a member of the Archbishop of Newark’s Finance Council.
Anne has received numerous awards for community involvement, leadership, and peer recognition, including the NJBIZ First Lifetime Achievement Award; New Jersey Monthly’s Top 25 Leading Women Entrepreneurs; the Scholarship Fund for Inner-City Children’s Vitae Disciminus Award; NJBIZ’s “Top 50 Most Powerful People in New Jersey Real Estate;” NJBIZ Hall of Fame Award; NAIOP Iron Lady Award; and United Way of Greater Union County’s Humanitarian Award.
Dawn Fitch is an author, speaker and the founder and CEO of Pooka Pure and Simple, an artisan bath and body company. After battling illness and feeling the need to adopt a healthier lifestyle, she began making and selling her own products. The response was tremendous. That’s when the realization hit that she had an incredible business idea and Pooka was born!
The company has grown from Dawn making products on her stove in her apartment to a showroom in Kearny, NJ. The products are currently sold in various Whole Food markets, were featured on QVC and sold online and through various distributors.
Dawn has been a speaker and panelist for many events including the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference, Girl Scouts of America Gold Awards and National Black MBA Associations’ National Conference. She has been featured on The Today Show, CBS Evening News, Our World with Black Enterprise, PIX11 News, Arise TV and various TV outlets. In 2012 she graced the cover of Black Enterprise Magazine and was featured in Essence Magazine in 2019 as one of their top 20 Black Beauty Brands.
Dawn has been the recipient of many awards including, The Influencer Award for Entrepreneurship given by the Urban League, the Black Executive Award given by the African American Chambers of Commerce, and an Agent of Change award from the National Council of Negro Women.
After being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, she became a health advocate and uses her platforms to support women and especially women suffering from auto-immune diseases, to explore natural healing and lifestyles. She started a FB community called The Best Life Tribe, where women could share and learn about alternative health and healing. The Group began in November 2017 with 20 women and has grown to over 5600 women.
Elizabeth Garner is a seasoned strategic- and business-minded pharmaceutical executive and corporate board member with a career-long focus on addressing unmet needs in conditions and issues that affect women’s health and quality of life. Born and raised in Nigeria, she brings a global view to her work in both the corporate and non-profit worlds.
Dr. Garner is the US Chief Scientific Officer of Ferring Pharmaceuticals, a mid-size global company focused on reproductive and maternal health, microbiome and gastrointestinal therapeutics, and uro-oncology. From 2019-2022, she was Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of ObsEva, a company focused on addressing unmet needs in women’s health. Prior to that, she was CMO of Agile Therapeutics, where she led the company’s clinical development, regulatory, and medical affairs strategies, including designing and leading the Phase 3 SECURE trial which led to FDA approval of the Twirla contraceptive patch in February 2020. With sixteen years in the pharma industry, Dr. Garner has also held leadership roles at Myriad Genetics, Abbott Laboratories, and Merck Research Labs. While at Merck, she was chair of the Gardasil®9 Product Development Team, leading scientific, regulatory, market access, and medical affairs strategies.
Elizabeth is on the Board of Directors of Kezar Life Sciences (KZR) (autoimmune diseases and oncology), Sermonix Pharmaceuticals (breast cancer), and Medicines360, a non-profit company that aims to remove cost as a barrier by developing affordable women’s health products. She is also the current President of the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA), a professional organization whose mission is to advance women physicians, advocate for equity, and ensure excellence in healthcare.
Dr. Garner received joint M.D. and M.P.H. degrees from Harvard Medical and Public Health Schools. She trained in obstetrics and gynecology at Brigham and Women’s (BWH)/Massachusetts General Hospitals and completed a fellowship in gynecologic oncology at BWH/Dana Farber Cancer Institute. She is an experienced media spokesperson and a frequent panelist and speaker on a range of topics including innovation and investment in women’s health, women’s leadership, and diversity in clinical trials. Garner was a 2019 awardee of the PharmaVoice 100 Most Inspiring Individuals in the life sciences industry and was the 2022 recipient of the Woman in Science Award from the American Medical Women’s Association.
Qing H. Guo is the general counsel at Case Medical, Inc., a woman-owned U.S. manufacturer of reusable medical instrument reprocessing products and chemical solutions used in healthcare facilities around the world. As head of legal, Qing provides legal counsel to the company’s management, overseeing the company’s legal affairs, diversity initiatives, and playing a key role in the company’s strategic planning as it continues to expand.
Qing is an experienced attorney, having appeared in state and federal courts, where she represented private and public sector clients, in high stakes litigation and settlements. Qing obtained a Juris Doctor from Seton Hall University School of Law, where she participated in the Civil Litigation Clinic at Seton Hall Law Center for Social Justice (CSJ), a clinical program that provides pro bono legal services for economically disadvantaged Newark residents. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Drew University, where she holds a double major in Political Science and Chinese Studies.
As a first-generation college and law school graduate and as a mother of three young ones, Qing is committed to serving the underrepresented community, increasing diversity in the workplace, being intentional in her actions, and showing up with authenticity.
Christine Hanson is the President of Two X Consulting and a highly experienced coach and mentor. She is passionate and dedicated to empowering small business owners and entrepreneurs to reach their full potential. With an impressive background as a financial analyst working for a number of Fortune 500 companies, Christine has become a sought-after small business coach and mentor. She has supported and coached many business owners to qualify for loans and capital over the past 3 years.
Working with business owners for the past 15 years, Christine understands the challenges that arise when building a small business. Through one-on-one coaching sessions, she equips her clients with the tools and knowledge to overcome obstacles, make informed decisions and achieve their business objectives.
As an entrepreneur, the ability to sell yourself (and your business or product) requires more than just a good story or product. Confidence is a key piece of the branding equation for all business owners. Selling yourself is not about being pushy or self-centered; it’s about authentically demonstrating your value as a business owner and as a company. The Two X business model focuses on working with business owners to develop relationships and effortlessly expand their network with confidence, while also projecting credibility.
Cynthia Hetherington, MLS, MSM, CFE, CII is the founder and president of Hetherington Group, a cyber investigations consulting, publishing, and training firm. With over two decades of expertise, Ms. Hetherington is a leader in due diligence, corporate intelligence, and cyber investigations. She is the author of three books on conducting cyber investigations and annually trains over 7,200 investigators, security professionals, attorneys, accountants, auditors, military intelligence professionals, and federal, state, and local agencies on best practices. She shares her expertise in an increasingly data-intensive, cyber focused-world through the publication of an industry newsletter, an online blog, and by hosting the annual OSMOSIS Conference.
Ms. Hetherington leads national and international investigations in corporate due diligence and fraud, personal asset recovery, and background checks. With a specialization in the financial, pharmaceutical, and telecommunications industries, her cyber investigations have recovered millions of dollars in high profile corruption cases, assisting on the investigations of the top two Ponzi cases in United States history.
As a former librarian, Ms. Hetherington entered the security profession in the 1990s when men filled the majority of security careers and were the industry role models. She quickly learned that she had the same research and technical skills they possessed, and sometimes even more finely-honed skills. Her early and challenging experiences are the foundation of her deep commitment to help more women enter the IT and security industries.
Ms. Hetherington shares her experiences and expertise as a keynote speaker and contributor at women-focused technology events and conferences across the U.S. She is an active member in the Women in Security Forum, the Women Presidents Organization, serves as on the Board of Advisors for Raven, an advocacy enterprise seeking to protect children from exploitation, and collaborates with The National Center for Women and Information Technology to inspire young girls to pursue careers in the industry. She also serves as a lecturer and mentor to CybHER.org and RocketGirls at CyberSpace Camps held at the Kennedy Space Center.
Ms. Hetherington was awarded the prestigious Women in IT New York’s Security Leader of the Year 2022. In 2021, Ontic Center for Protective Intelligence honored Ms. Hetherington with the Protective Intelligence Pioneer Award. In 2019, she was honored with the Enterprising Woman of the Year Award by Enterprising Women Magazine and the CybHER Warrior Award by Dakota State University Madison Cyber Labs. Also in 2019, she was shortlisted for the coveted Women in IT New York’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award and named a finalist in the esteemed Ernst & Young LLP New Jersey Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. Ms. Hetherington is a recipient of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners’ James Baker Speaker of the Year Award.
Genevieve “Ginny” Hill is a dynamic executive leader whose career has focused on the empowerment and advancement of women and girls throughout the tri-state area and beyond. In 2022, Ginny was recognized by the Philadelphia Business Journal as a Woman
Since 2013, she has served as CEO of the Girl Scouts of Central & Southern New Jersey, which supports more than 18,000 girls and adult volunteers across nine counties (Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Mercer, Middlesex, and Salem).
There are 59 million women in the United States who’ve been Girl Scouts, including Ginny, who feels a responsibility to help shape the next generation who will count themselves among that group.
Prior to her role with the Girl Scouts, Ginny served for 10 years as CEO at YWCA Delaware, Inc. She also held senior level positions in banking and IT.
Ginny has been recognized by the National Association of Women Business Owners and was named a 2017 “Woman to Watch” by South Jersey Biz magazine. She serves as Treasurer of International Women’s Forum Delaware and Board Member of Burlington County Regional Chamber of Commerce and Social Justice Task Force, CEO Connection.
Jane Johnston is responsible for our marketing strategy and campaign execution; her goal is to drive growth and brand exposure. She manages all aspects of Priority’s marketing from digital media to podcasts and billboards. Jane also heads our internship program, which operates all year long.
She started her career working in politics, first as the Campaign Manager for a US Congressman in New Jersey before moving to Washington DC to work as one of his Legislative Assistants in the US House of Representatives. She then made the jump to the nonprofit sector with the Grain Foods Foundation, where she played a key role in public relations and business development for the nutritional research organization. She is a published columnist and has won awards for her work on the Foundation’s public health initiatives including the Dietary Guidelines and Healthy Baby Month; she is also ASAE certified in Association Management.
Jane is a Board member of the Descendants of ’76 Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, a historical service and education organization; and on the Awareness and Advocacy Committee for Together We Bake, a nonprofit that empowers women in need.
Shakira M. Johnson is the Founder and Chief Impact Officer of Maple & Monroe, a Social Impact Think and Do Tank, formerly known as Johnson PR & Events. With a mission to drive social change, Maple and Monroe empower organizations to catalyze their social impact by creating and executing innovative and sustainable Environmental, Social, and Governance campaigns, initiatives, & events that move the needle.
Shakira’s portfolio includes collaborations with esteemed brands such as Google, Microsoft, Prudential, MTV Entertainment Group, Johnson & Johnson, and MetLife Stadium. She has also forged impactful alliances with non-profit organizations and government agencies, amplifying her ability to effect change.
As a solution-based thinker and speaker, Shakira possesses expertise in strategic planning, marketing communication, social impact, ESG, design thinking, and comprehensive meeting and event planning. Her innovative approaches have garnered recognition and accolades, including the title of “Mover, Shaker & Deal Maker” by the American Marketing Association, a member of World’s Best Events, and being named a Top Event Planner by NJBiz. Shakira’s dedication to excellence in public relations has been repeatedly honored by the Public Relations Society of America Pyramid Awards, where she secured the coveted Best in Show Award. She was also honored as part of the inaugural cohort for Diversity Action Alliance’s Distinguished Communicators of Color. The prestigious honor recognizes Shakira’s formidable communication skills and the unique perspectives she brings to the table.
In addition, Shakira is set to release her first book, entitled “Over the Veil: 21 Keys for Leaders Who Want More” this fall. The insightful guide promises to provide practical takeaways and wisdom for leaders looking for personal and professional fulfillment.
Currently, Shakira is a member of the 2023 Social Impact Leadership Cohort at the University of Pennsylvania, for leaders and innovators working to make an impact around the world. She holds a Master’s degree in Organizational Communication and a Bachelor’s degree in Communication and Sociology, both from Rutgers University.
Beyond her professional endeavors, Shakira finds joy in gardening, hiking, reading, and spending quality time with her family
Sarah Klopfer is the Global Program Leader for Re-Ignite at Johnson & Johnson, the company’s global career reentry program, which is part of J&J’s broader commitment to diversity and inclusion for experienced professionals who have taken a break from their career for two or more years.
Sarah joined J&J through the Experienced Human Resources Leadership Development Program as an intern in 2015 and as a fulltime participant in 2016 where she held roles in Talent Acquisition, MedTech as an HR Business Partner, and Total Rewards Compensation.
Since graduating the program, Sarah has led global programs and projects by collaborating with cross-functional teams, managing risks, driving project adherence, and delivering learning and development solutions within the Global Talent Management organization.
Prior to joining J&J, Sarah worked at Fidelity Investments Charitable Gift Fund for nearly 8 years in roles across the Service Delivery Organization and as a member of the Business Analysis and Data Team.
Sarah graduated from Boston College with a Master’s in Business Administration and received her BA degree in English Literature from Union College.
A career labor and employment lawyer, Andrée Peart Laney has both prosecuted and defended employers. At EANJ, she advises them on minimizing employment law risks in their day-to-day workplace decisions. Andrée commenced her career in employment law as a senior trial attorney for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where she litigated workplace discrimination cases against private employers in federal courts. She went on to serve as an EEOC administrative judge, deciding discrimination cases filed by federal employees. Andrée has counseled and defended employers as a labor relations director for the City of New York, in-house counsel for an international financial services firm, and as counsel at law firms in the New York Metropolitan area. Andrée now leverages her prior experience to facilitate compliance in all areas of labor and employment law through day-to-day management and HR counseling, legislative interpretation, and training.
At 21, Aixa started working for Johnson & Johnson in manufacturing as a 3rd shift production supervisor and technology transfer engineer. She was in charge of 75 employees who doubled her age and oversaw technology transfer projects between Puerto Rico and Texas.
At 30, she became the first non-civil engineer and female to direct a public works department in a municipality in Puerto Rico, managing over 200 construction & sanitation employees. Her work caught the attention of State-level officials. As a result, she managed the Metro Region water infrastructure construction projects and a capital improvement program of over $100 million in public assets.
With 30 years of experience in multiple industries, Aixa currently serves as an independent consultant for nonprofit organizations, acting as an extension of their staff and supporting operational management, reengineering efforts, and programmatic logistics.
She has received multiple productivity improvement awards in the manufacturing industry and was recently recognized as one of NJBiz’s 50 Best Women in Business. She has also been a speaker at NYU’s GSTEM Summer Program.
Aixa lives in the Newburgh-Beacon Region in NY with her husband, Jose Reyes, also an industrial engineer with expertise in Quality and President of Qualis-Solutions, LLC. Their daughter, Andrea, lives in NYC and works for Marc Jacobs in fashion product development.
Jackie Luciano is Vice President of ZAGO Manufacturing Co., a Newark, NJ-based woman-owned manufacturer of high-tech, sustainable sealing fasteners and components. Jackie oversees the implementation of ZAGO’s purpose-driven strategy, talent acquisition and professional development, customer service, technology, manufacturing, and operations.
Jackie joined ZAGO 15 years ago as a part-time bookkeeper while raising her two young children, and eventually climbed the ranks to Director of Marketing, General Manager, and Vice President. While advancing at ZAGO, Jackie earned her Executive MBA in Finance at Rutgers Business School – Newark and a Green Belt Certification in Lean Six Sigma in 2019. In 2022, Jackie received the CIANJ Enterprising Women Platinum Award and Women in the Fastener Industry (WIFI) Woman of the Year award.
Minister Pamela A. Major, MA owner and founder of Melia Bloom LLC, is a dynamic speaker, coach, and motivator. She treasures helping her clients unearth what they need and how to go after it.
Melia BLOOM, her lifestyle brand, is a company dedicated to building people, places, and purpose through coaching, speaking and programs. She serves as the Interfaith Community Coalition Coordinator for Mercy Center’s domestic/sexual violence program that educates and empowers women. Major has always had a heart for encouraging women, as a result, she serves as coordinator and program provider for Lunchbreak’s Womyn’s Worth program. Major also consults for Project Write Now; she helps to lead participants through cultivating and living out vision. She also serves on Asbury Park’s Quality of Life and Mayor’s Wellness Committees.
Major spent almost six years working in Monmouth County’s Division of Behavioral Health. She served as a youth program specialist (Children’s Inter-Agency Coordinating Council -CIACC- Coordinator) and continues to speak to youth of all ages. She was tasked to create Monmouth County’s Stigma Free Initiative. She was able to cultivate a committee that included hospital systems. non-profits, government, agencies, school systems and of course municipalities. She now serves on a subcommittee of the Governor’s Mental Health Stigma Committee called the Learning Collaborative and will be recognized by the Council as an ambassador for the Stigma-Free movement for the State of New Jersey. The Learning Collaborative is tasked with developing ambassadors for the stigma free movement throughout the state of New Jersey and to help with resources. She is also leading a yearlong stigma free initiative in Asbury Park’s Mayor’s Wellness Committee. Each month highlights a marginalized group or compelling topic. It is her hope that the city increases in its understanding of mental health and substance use disorders. “We want to have a city where health of all types is encouraged and supported.”
Major is a licensed minister and holds master’s degrees in teaching and Human Services Counseling/Life Coaching.
Kirthi is the Managing Principal of New York and leads CLA‘s Global Advisory & Outsourcing Practice.
Kirthi helps our clients across the globe when opportunities beckon them to uncharted territory; by acting as their trusted advisor alongside management, navigating the myriad of cross-border business, regulatory, operational, personnel and compliance issues.
She is a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion champion at CLA with a passion to bring “DEI in our DNA”.
Prior to joining CLA, Kirthi has a decade of private industry experience with multi-nationals like GE Healthcare, Levi Strauss & Co., Thermo Fisher Scientific and Kiewit Corporation. She was part of the International Finance team at Carnegie Mellon University that helped set-up and support their Qatar and Australia campuses.
Kirthi is a thought leader and a regular speaker at Global conferences, based on her extensive experience in cross-cultural interactions, working with Global businesses from The Americas, Europe, Asia Pacific, Australia and the Middle East.
Stanford University Graduate School of Business LEAD graduate
Certified Public Accountant (US)
Chartered Accountant (India)
Bachelor of Commerce (University of Calicut, India)
Constantina Meis is currently Community Relations Manager for the non-profit New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program (NJMEP) where her work allows her to continue engaging and supporting local communities throughout New Jersey. NJMEP is focused on helping manufacturers in the state become more competitive. However, close collaboration with local government is a vital part of this mission. In her role, Constantina Meis serves as an advocate that develops partnerships and cultivates relationships between the local community, local manufacturers, and local/federal government entities. She plays an instrumental role in ensuring the NJ legislature continues to support NJMEP, local workforce development incentives and the manufacturing industry as a whole.
Previously she has served as District Director with Senator Bob Gordon supporting the community she grew up in and worked nationally through Young Democrats of America with several leadership initiatives and training programs including “Rising Stars” which gave women and people with disabilities and others impacted by social, racial or economic disparities the tools to become more engaged in community organizing and politics. She has also served as Coordinator with the American Conference of Diversity, Youth Development Specialist with Boys & Girls Club of Newark and has been involved in local, gubernatorial and presidential races since her time after college; exampled range from Campaign Manager for Passaic County Democratic Committee to Hudson County Director for Menendez for Senate. She graduated from Bloomfield College and supports her Alma mater.
She is a proud mother of an adventurous 2 year old, Enoch, with her loving husband Jorge.
Donna Miller is Chief Visionary Officer at C3Workplace and Founder of Donna Miller Business Growth Consulting. She is a business growth expert, a community leader, a speaker, an educator and an entrepreneur who is passionate about helping businesses thrive.
She and her team have helped thousands of companies accelerate their growth by providing advisory & support services around operations, marketing, business development and finance. She believes that companies should be a force for good, that a rising tide lifts all boats, and she very much believes in the power of collaboration – the C3 in C3Workplace stands for Connect, Collaborate, Community.
Donna speaks regularly on topics that help businesses and professionals to thrive. She is engaging, fun, informative, inspirational, and always makes sure the audience walks away with value (action steps). She facilitates panels and speaks regularly at major events across the country.
Supriya Mimani leads Diversity Equity & Inclusion at Audible, the leading creator and provider of premium spoken audio content. She has led various programs enabling Audible to build and sustain a diverse, equitable and inclusive culture. Most recently, she led Audible’s Next Chapter Returnship program to hire professionals who took caregiving career breaks back into the workforce. Supriya started her career in India, working for organizations like Pitney Bowes and Adobe, and leading employer branding projects that helped them be recognized as “Best Place to Remain at Work” with Rank 19 and 6 respectively, including getting the coveted “Best Place for Women to Remain in Work- India (2015)” title for Pitney Bowes. Her work on culture change has been published as case studies in the i4cp journal and received citations by the Associate for Talent Development.
Amy Minkoff, the Happy Success Catalyst, has been a success coach since 2009. She helps visionary leaders, professionals and business owners discover their next move towards even more success and happiness when at a career crossroad. She helps them get unstuck, lead courageously and find more fulfillment in their work in the world so they can love their whole life while doing it. Amy’s clients, nationwide, rave about her ability to help them break through old paradigms to do things they had only once dreamed of, in business and in life. Fifty-plus years of life wisdom and 25 years in consumer marketing and new product development inform Amy’s coaching expertise.
She received her coaching certifications from the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching and the Brave Thinking Institute. Her MBA is from Columbia Business School and her undergraduate degree is from the University of Virginia. Amy is a Master Practitioner of the Energy Leadership Index, a unique assessment tool that helps clients improve their results. She delivers her work via coaching, leadership and teambuilding workshops, and keynote speaking engagements.
Amy lives in Montclair, New Jersey, spends summers on Cape Cod, and is mom to three amazing children in their 20s, who have been among her greatest teachers.
Casey Moes is a Director of Business Development in North America for CWT. She has over 20 years of experience leading diverse teams in identifying and mitigating risk to people, facilities, and information through her service in the U.S. Army. Casey served in various law enforcement, protection, or emergency management capacities overseas in Italy, Korea, throughout Africa, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Casey was privileged to lead Soldiers in Iraq and at Fort Bragg, North Carolina where they served as first responders. She was also fortunate to develop cadets at the United States Military Academy while serving as the special assistant to the Commandant for Respect where she mentored cadets in areas of equal opportunity and prevention of sexual harassment.
After serving in key operational roles for the military police in Hawaii, Casey was selected for a one-year fellowship with the Department of State (DoS), Bureau of Diplomatic Security. Casey’s work with the Diplomatic Security team enabled DoS political and governance experts access to austere locations in Syria and critical human capital during their humanitarian crisis.
While stationed in Italy, Casey served as the director of a team that planned, assessed, and managed risk in areas of counterterrorism, emergency management, personal recovery, travel risk management, and safety on the continent of Africa.
Prior to working at CWT, Casey was the chief of force protection for First Army. The highlight of this assignment was assisting in developing and implementing the control framework for safety and security of the Afghan evacuees at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.
She holds a Bachelor of Science from the United States Military Academy at West Point, a master’s degree in Security Management from Webster University.
Casey lives and works in Andover, NJ, is married to Ms. Laurie Morano, and takes pride in her toughest assignment as the mom to twin boys, Levon, and Judah.
Sally-Jo O’Brien, PCC, CPCC is a Leadership Consultant and a Certified Dare To Lead™ Facilitator, with over 25 years of experience as a resiliency, transition, and mental fitness expert. She is also a Certified Grief Educator focusing on grief in the workplace.
As Director of Executive Coaching at the Human Emergence Group, Sally-Jo supports leaders and teams, equipping them with the 21st Century toolbox required to bring courageous leadership to life in their organizations. She focuses on growing our capacity to lead the brave conversations that pave the way for successful business outcomes.
Sally believes that work can be joyful and energizing! She is an advocate for co-creating positive workplaces where truth, curiosity, resilience, and humor are both valued and rewarded. She and her family live in New Jersey.
Margie is currently a Director-Consulting Services in CGI’s East Business Unit. She is responsible for the unit’s business development and industry partnerships and manages marketing and branding activities.
Prior to joining CGI, Margie was the Chief Economic Development Officer for Choose New Jersey, a privately-funded non-profit economic development organization whose mission is to work together with the State of NJ to retain and attract businesses in NJ, where she led all business development efforts including Governor-led international trade missions and international/domestic outreach. Prior to that, Margie had over 30 years of public sector experience in economic development, including 26 years with the NJ Economic Development Authority where she led various divisions including Business & Community Development, which was responsible for outreach to public and private entities, setting policy and developing regulations and the application processes for all loan, incentives and EDA-managed state agency programs; and Lending Services, which was responsible for all loan management and closing services.
Jeana Piscatelli is Senior Vice President, Director of Treasury Management for OceanFirst Bank in Red Bank, New Jersey. She is responsible for implementation of overall strategy and management of corporate treasury management.
Prior to joining OceanFirst, Jeana held various roles with J.P. Morgan and Wells Fargo in New York. She was with J.P. Morgan’s Financial Institutions Group, where she had regional responsibility for Banks and FinTech companies in the Mid-Atlantic. At Wells Fargo, Jeana was Director of Institutional Foreign Exchange & Sales for the International division. Before moving to International, she was in the Global Financial Institutions Group, where she established the bank’s Wholesale correspondent banking presence in the Northeast.
Jeana spent 8 years with AT&T and AT&T Wireless in a series of progressively responsible sales positions. As Manager of Global Accounts, Jeana led sales efforts in the Hospitality & Tech Verticals and developed world-wide wireless solutions for Fortune 500 clients.
A native of New Jersey, Jeana received her B.S. in Marketing and Finance from Monmouth University, and an M.B.A, with a concentration in Finance and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Accounting, also from Monmouth. Jeana is a member of the Association for Financial Professionals (AFP). She is involved in various community support programs furthering diversity and women’s leadership initiatives and serves on the leadership committee of WomenLEAD, OceanFirst Bank’s program to enhance the professional development of women.
Jeana is an active member of the Board of Trustees for Monmouth University and served as the 1st female chair from 2020-2023. Jeana chaired the Business Council for the Monmouth University Leon Hess Business School from 2010-2013.
Megan Pitts is currently the Senior Director of Engagement Strategy within the Global Inclusion & Diversity organization at Bristol Myers Squibb. She has blended her 18+ years of Corporate Finance, Brand Marketing, Enterprise Communications and Customer Strategy experience with her passion to address injustice in healthcare and beyond. Megan aims to blend heart and mind in her DEI efforts to develop strategic and lasting solutions that advance communities historically pushed to the margins. An 80’s baby from an inner-city community outside of Cleveland, Ohio, her work is not only professional, it’s personal.
In her current role, Megan is driving deep collaboration internally across BMS and externally across the Pharma industry and DEI landscape, to drive more equitable business practices, policies, and outcomes. She engages various stakeholder groups such as non-profit & NGO organizations, internal leadership teams and broader colleagues to deliver the broad mission of transformation in healthcare, with a core consideration of the social determinants of health such as education and economic empowerment.
While expanding her skillset as a DEI subject matter expert, Strategist and Marketer, equally important is her development as a community leader. She is passionate about mentoring young women as well as leveraging the arts to motivate young people to grow in character and communication. These young people also keep it real, which keeps her humble.
Megan holds a Master of Business (MBA) degree from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill and a Bachelor of Science degree from The Ohio State University. She resides in central Jersey with her husband and their 3 children who inspire her to show up every day with authenticity, empathy, and grit.
LaTonia Pouncey is a Career and Workplace Expert that helps clients and individuals discover what’s possible in their workforce and careers. She is President & CEO of the The Pouncey Group, LLC ® comprised of TalentMixx Solutions, a full-service staffing, recruiting, and HR consulting firm based out of NY and NJ.
LaTonia is responsible for the strategic direction, vision and leading all operations across the firm and has a successful track record of managing and advising on large and complex corporate benefits programs, talent management and strategic diversity initiatives for a global workforce. LaTonia has spent most of her career in New York City working in the Aerospace & Defense industry and has been recognized as a Top Executive in Corporate Diversity and a Top 10 Influential Woman in Global Diversity. She has been featured in several publications and is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management, Career Thought Leaders, American Staffing Association, and Staffing Management Association of New Jersey.
LaTonia is a native of New Jersey and holds a master’s degree in Organizational Management, a bachelor’s degree in Sociology, and a certification in Diversity Management.
Fondly referred to as “The Multi-Gen Leader”, Krishna Powell is Founder & CEO of HR 4 Your Small Biz, LLC, a boutique style human resources consulting and talent development firm. As a nationally renowned subject-matter expert on the Millennial and i-Gen/Homeland generation, Krishna has facilitated talent development programs and coaching clients throughout the United States, France, China, United Kingdom and Singapore. With over 25 years of experience, Mrs. Powell possesses an uncanny ability to connect with the next generation of leaders; providing them with practical applications for success in life and the workplace.
Crystal Pruitt is the External Affairs Lead supporting all teams and portfolio of projects at Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind. Prior to her joining Atlantic Shores, Crystal was the Deputy Director in the Clean Energy Division of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities and ran the Office of Clean Energy Equity. This office, created in 2020, was the first of its kind focusing on ensuring access to clean energy programming and technologies for all residents across New Jersey.
A graduate of North Carolina State University and John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Crystal transitioned to government work in 2017 and has worked in both the Legislative and Executive Branches.
Notably, prior to her work with the NJ Board of Public Utilities, she was Chief of Staff, for now, NJ State Senator Andrew Zwicker (LD-16), and worked as a legislative liaison for the NJ Department of Human Services. In addition to her state government experience, she is also a sitting councilwoman in her hometown of Franklin Township, NJ, located in Somerset County, NJ.
Jackie Lue Raia is the president of ALEXENA Consulting, a firm focused on Workforce Development and Employee Engagement. As a certified Minority/Women Business Enterprise, the firm serves as an essential and important partner to businesses and stakeholders across all industry sectors. Their goal is to ensure the creation of the strongest, most engaged and satisfied workforce possible. This is accomplished by creating a professional atmosphere and environment that is empathetic, nurturing, engaging and safe. Based on formalized evaluations and feedback from their clients, the firm’s planning and execution of unique, highly customized, interactive, real-life workshops and roundtable discussions have been well received and impactful.
Jackie currently sits on the Leadership Committee of NJ Business and Industry Association’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Council; Board of Directors of the Bergen and Essex County Workforce Development Boards; Leadership Council for the New Jersey Statewide Network for Cultural Competence; Board of Directors for Global Business Travel Association – NJ; Advisory Board Member of NJ Association for School Resource Officers (NJASRO); and is the Goodwill Ambassador of the Blue Knights NJ Chapter VIII law enforcement motorcycle club. She was awarded a certificate for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace by the University of South Florida.
ALEXENA Consulting was awarded the 2022 New Jersey Business & Industry Association and New Jersey Business Magazine’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Award for Excellence in DEI Initiatives.
In 2023, Jackie received the YWCA Northern New Jersey Tribute to Women of INfluence (TWIN) award.
Brenda Ross-Dulan is the Founder and Managing Principal of The Ross-Dulan Group, a boutique strategy consulting firm designed to transform companies by transforming decision-makers. She leverages more than 25 years of experience in the financial services industry to help CEOs and executives across the US solve their toughest business challenges.
Prior to launching her consulting practice, Ms. Ross-Dulan led the merger of Wachovia and Wells Fargo – noted as the largest merger in the banking industry. She served as President of the consumer banking group for Southern New Jersey, overseeing more than $12 billion in deposits, $5 billion in loans while managing 1,700 employees. Her region’s revenues exceeded $500 million annually and her region was recognized as one of the best places to work in New Jersey.
Driven by her personal mission to continue to make a difference in the lives of others, Ms. Ross-Dulan leveraged her experience in corporate and real estate banking as well as community development to establish RD Capital Partners. The firm seeks to demonstrate that investments in underserved markets can be both transformative and profitable for local stakeholders and investors.
In 2021, Ms. Ross-Dulan was elected to the board of directors of NJM Insurance Group, her first corporate board. She serves on its investment and audit committees. In 2022, she was named to the board of trustees of NCIF, a Chicago based firm that invests in minority owned banks across the nation.
Ms. Ross-Dulan has extensive experience in non-profit board governance on both the east and west coasts. She became the first African American female to lead a majority chamber in the State of New Jersey, when she was installed as the Chair of the Board of the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce in January 2020. She led the board through the unprecedented pandemic and economic shutdown. During that time, she served on Governor Phil Murphy’s Advisory Council for the Restart and Recovery of the state of New Jersey. Her board service is quite impressive and includes College Achieve Charter Schools and Young Audiences, NJTV, Greater Trenton Initiative and Coopers Ferry Community Development Association. She is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and an advisor to the New Jersey Black Women’s Collective.
Ms. Ross-Dulan has been recognized as one of the most influential business owners and consultants in New Jersey by ROI-NJ. She has been ranked as one of the nation’s most powerful women in corporate America by Black Enterprise Magazine and has received dozens of accolades as a leading executive.
Ms. Ross-Dulan holds a BBA from Howard University in Washington, D.C., and an MBA from the Anderson School of Management at UCLA.
People who know Brenda describe her as caring, disciplined and visionary. Fearless in the face of challenge, she is guided by her personal mission: to make a difference in the lives of others and to leave them better off. That philosophy has led to countless testimonies about the impact she’s had on them, their careers and companies.
Judy Sailer is the Director of Learning and Development for Primepoint HR & Payroll. She holds a Masters Degree in Management & Organizational Leadership from Springfield College, received her Human Resources Cert from Rutgers University, and is a certified SHRM CP and PHR. She has presented for NJBIA, CCSNJ, NJACP, Tri-State SHRM and Garden State SHRM and has been featured in Forbes and Jersey Matters. She is well-versed in all aspects of management and leadership; her passion is staff development.
June is the Statewide Diversity Leadership Officer for the Center for Family Services providing cultural competency leadership for DMHAS agencies throughout NJ.
Most recently, June was the Dean of Lifelong Learning at Rowan College at Burlington County, Sr Adjunct Professor teaching Marketing and Management and founder of the President’s Advisory Council on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. June also served as the Executive Director for the American Red Cross serving Burlington, Camden and Gloucester Counties and serves on their statewide Diversity & Inclusion Committee after working in corporate telecom for 25 years with MCI, Nextel & Sprint in sales and marketing.
She currently serves as an Honorary Commander Emeritus for the Joint Base -McGuire-Dix Lakehurst, Board Chair and Diversity Committee Chair, Alice Paul Institute and Board Trustee of the Burlington County Military Affairs Committee, (BCMAC). She is also a member of the Distinguished Alumni Board for Strayer University and Adjunct Professor for Wilmington University.
June studied Marketing at Montclair State College, has an MBA in Management from Strayer University and a Doctorate of Education from Wilmington University in Organizational Leadership and Innovation.
She is a lifelong resident of New Jersey with her husband, Michael and daughter, Alyssa.
Kathleen Shanahan is Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Turtle & Hughes, Inc., which ranks among the nation’s top 20 independent electrical distribution companies. Established in 1923, the family-owned business serves the industrial, construction, commercial, electrical contracting, export and utility markets with branch offices that stretch from coast-to-coast. Turtle & Hughes Integrated Supply (THIS) division services Fortune 100 companies and operates nationwide, and in Canada, Puerto Rico and Mexico. The company has been a certified women‐owned business for over 25 years.
Ms. Shanahan was named CEO in 2020 after serving for two years as Co-CEO alongside Jayne Millard, fourth generation of family leadership. Ms. Shanahan joined Turtle & Hughes in 2017 as Executive Vice President of National Accounts, driving digital, marketing and brand value in the marketplace. Previously, she served for over three years on its board of directors. In 2020, Ms. Shanahan was named CEO to Watch by Family Business Magazine.
Prior to joining Turtle & Hughes, she served as CEO/Chairman (2011‐2016), then Chairman (2011‐2018) of Ground Works Solutions, formerly URETEK Holdings, Inc., a Florida based corporation focused on soil stabilization and densification using a patented polymer‐based application process. Before that, she was CEO/Chairman of WRSCompass, a national footprint environmental engineering/contractor company based in Tampa, Florida.
Ms. Shanahan is a prominent Florida businesswoman with a long and distinguished background in politics and public service. She has held federal and state public policy positions: Chief of Staff for Florida Governor Jeb Bush; Chief of Staff to Vice President‐elect Dick Cheney; Deputy Secretary of the California Trade and Commerce Agency for Governor Pete Wilson; Special Assistant to Vice President George H.W. Bush; and Staff Assistant on President Ronald Reagan’s National Security Council.
Ms. Shanahan currently serves on the following board of directors: GLDD (NASDAQ); HQI (NASDAQ); Foundation Risk Partners (Private); and the Florida National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD); and Adelphi Trust Company. She is a member of the Women Corporate Directors and the International Women’s Forum.
Her previous board positions include Lumina Analytics (Private); Alloy Group (Private); Tampa General Hospital (TGH); Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (GOV); TRC (NYSE); BioIQ (Private); Eckerd Youth Alternative (NFP); Lincoln Center Institute (NFP); National Parks Foundation, a Presidential appointment (NFP); WCI (NYSE), and Terra Sea, a GLDD (NASDAQ) company. Ms. Shanahan also served as a member and chair, Florida State Board of Education; membership chair, Florida Council of 100 (2005‐2019); executive cabinet member, American Heart Association Tampa Bay Heart Ball (2015-2018); steering committee, National Football Foundation Leadership Dinner (2017); executive committee member, Republican National Convention 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee; and chair, Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission.
Ms. Shanahan received her undergraduate degree in Nutrition/Biochemistry from the University of California San Diego Revelle College and her MBA at New York University.
Joanne Spears, CRPC®, CSRIC®, Senior Vice President Financial Planning, Newport Capital Group, LLC
Joanne brings her deep knowledge of the markets, investments, and risk management to her current role as Senior Vice President, Financial Planning with Newport Capital Group. She and the Newport Capital Group team assist clients, comprised of individuals, families, and businesses, achieve their financial goals through detailed wealth planning and customized strategies.
Joanne previously worked with Merrill Lynch Wealth Management as a Senior Financial Advisor. She has acquired a diverse set of skills and experiences during her 35-year career in finance, from announcing local grain prices on the radio for Cargill to constructing Energy hedging strategies for transportation companies, trading and brokering derivatives, and running a boutique hedge fund in NYC.
She actively supports her communities, serving as a Foundation Trustee for Community YMCA of Greater Monmouth County, as a Women in Business Committee Member for the Eastern Monmouth Area Chamber of Commerce, and on the Board of Advisors for EDSnaps (NYC-based Nonprofit inspiring female-identifying students to pursue education and careers in STEAM fields). She also volunteers at Fulfill (Foodbank of Monmouth & Ocean Counties), Covenant House, and Two River Theatre. Joanne also regularly produces high gain educational-networking workshops to inform, engage, and connect professional and entrepreneurial women. These “Invest in Yourself” events, held in NYC, the Jersey Shore, and online, offer unique topics that encourage career and personal growth, are highly interactive, and bring together participants from a wide variety of business sectors.
Joanne graduated from the University of California, Davis with a bachelor’s degree in international relations and a minor in Japanese. Joanne and her husband reside in Freehold, New Jersey.
Catherine Frugé Starghill, Esq. is the Vice President of Strategy and Partnerships for the New Jersey Council of County Colleges (NJCCC) and the former Deputy Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL).
Starghill was on the list of New Jersey’s 25 Most Influential African Americans by South Jersey Journal in 2017 as one of the “State’s leaders who stand head and shoulders above others and boldly reflect the rich diversity and excellence of the African American community throughout the Garden State.”
As Vice President of Strategy and Partnerships for NJCCC, Starghill leads the statewide coalition of industry and education partners for the New Jersey Pathways to Career Opportunities initiative aligning education to build an innovative workforce for a stronger state economy.
Starghill was named Deputy Commissioner of the NJDOL in October 2016. As Deputy Commissioner, she led many of the Department’s program areas including Research and Information, Income Security, and Labor Standards and Safety Enforcement. She started with the NJDOL in 2012, previously serving as Executive Director of Workforce Operations and Business Services where she oversaw the day-to-day operations of the One-Stop Career Centers and the integrated business outreach of workforce field staff with other state and local workforce partners. In that role, she was responsible for more than 300 employees and a $45 million budget.
Prior to joining the NJDOL, Starghill was the Acting Director of the Division of Housing and Community Resources and Equal Employment Opportunity Officer at the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (NJDCA). Much of her state government career was spent at NJDCA as the state’s expert on the Open Public Records Act serving as Executive Director of the Government Records Council and the Privacy Study Commission.
Before joining the public sector, she spent many years in the private sector, working in Tax and Legal Services at PricewaterhouseCoopers and on the Corporate Finance Staff of Ford Motor Company.
Starghill simultaneously earned a Bachelor of Business Administration and Master of Accounting from the University of Michigan. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from Wayne State University Law School and a Six Sigma Black Belt Certification for Project Management from the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
She was married to the late Rev. Dr. Britt A. Starghill and is the mother of two children, Britt Andrew and Brie Alexandra.
Breast Cancer Survivor,
& Founder, Create a Sense of Urgency, LLC (Create Urgency)
Queen Stewart started an “entertainment with a purpose” company, Create a Sense of Urgency, LLC “Create Urgency”. Through Create Urgency, she hosts comedy shows, serves as a keynote speaker, and creates content online. She also has filmed a documentary chronicling her breast cancer journey all in the hopes of inspiring and encouraging others to find joy in their lives while they still have the time.
CBS Philadelphia, SJ Mag, 70and73, as well as the Sun Paper have all written about her inspiring story.
Queen was a 2023 Camden County Freedom Medal Award recipient for her work educating her supporters online throughout her breast cancer treatment.
Nicole Suissa is a Mom, Corporate Attorney and Tedx speaker. She holds a JD from the Penn State Dickinson School of Law and a BA from the University of Hartford where she currently sits on the Alumni Board of Directors. Nicole is a certified firefighter and scuba diver. She practices law in NY and NJ, though her greatest accomplishment is her 8-year-old daughter, Sarah Rose.
A dual citizen to the US and Israel, and raised by a low income single Mother in Brooklyn, NY, Nicole brings a personal and uniquely cultural perspective of the trials and triumphs of single working motherhood in Corporate America. She is passionate about the empowerment, advancement and equity of women and girls around the world, and seeks to mentor as many young women in her profession as she can.
Nicole’s ongoing work and relentless passion for recognizing and elevating women in business and leadership made her a finalist for the 2023 young Athena Professional Leadership award. Nicole will be honored at the Athena Award Ceremony hosted by the Monmouth Regional Chamber of Commerce at the Jumping Brook Country Club in Neptune on November 3rd, 2023.
Deborah Visconi is a highly accomplished executive with more than 30 years of success in providing strategic direction, vision, leadership, and oversight of operations in hospitals and healthcare systems across the metropolitan region.
Due to her remarkable career, she was identified and selected to be the champion leader tasked to transition New Jersey’s largest hospital from its former for-profit management model to a new, non-profit community asset now known as Bergen New Bridge Medical Center.
As a Latinx hospital leader, Deb understands the unique issues and needs of underserved and minority communities, which she has prioritized in the hospital’s community health needs assessment process and its ongoing outreach efforts.
With Deb’s organizational and strategic planning expertise, Bergen New Bridge has expanded programs, services, and enhanced provider relations yielding improvement in quality, safety, and the patient/resident experience. In 2021 and 2022, the Medical Center was recognized as a ‘Top Hospital’ and earned the highest ‘Grade A’ safety rating from the Leapfrog Group. The Joint Commission recognized the Medical Center for disease-specific certification in depression care.
Consistent with her commitment to healthcare outreach and education, Deb collaborates with the County of Bergen and other community partners to launch programs that deliver care onsite, directly and via telehealth to thousands in the community including the innovative CareRite Now primary care centers located in select Bergen County Inserra ShopRite supermarkets.
Deb is an active volunteer and serves on many boards and has been frequently acknowledged for her accomplishments and leadership, winning several awards, and receiving numerous recognitions from Crain’s, Modern Healthcare, NJBIZ, Becker’s, and many more.
Alyssa Wilds forged a career out of serving others while partnering with educational, social services, and corporate entities to improve the quality of life for families in communities much like her native Camden, New Jersey.
In her current role as Senior Manager of Corporate Relations at New Jersey-based Covanta, she can fuse her expertise and passion to lead the company’s community outreach and corporate engagement efforts. Alyssa is also the Co-Chair of Covanta Black Professionals employee resource group and sits on the Board of the Waste to Energy Association.
Outside of work Alyssa enjoys running, hiking, and kayaking with her two children, mentoring Camden’s students, podcasting, ghost writing, and directing SharpSuiters-a program that dresses young men for all of life’s events.
She is a graduate of Rowan and Wilmington Universities, a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., an I AM CAMDEN awardee, a philanthropist, and grant researcher/writer/manager.
In her hometown Alyssa found her purpose. At Covanta, she is able to broaden her reach.
Christine Winston is the co-founder and Vice President of Path Forward, a nonprofit organization helping people return to their careers after time spent caregiving. In the seven years since Path Forward’s founding, the organization has worked with tens of thousands of returners and helped more than 100 employers implement and expand successful return to work programs that create opportunities for traditionally overlooked talent. Having taken a career break to raise her own children, Christine is driven to help others reengage with their careers and find success and fulfillment both at work and at home. Prior to Path Forward, Christine spent fifteen years in a diverse set of roles across marketing, communications, strategic planning, and finance at JPMorgan Chase, Moviefone, and AOL. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and two sons.
Patrizia “Trish” Zita co-founded The Zita Group in 2007 and is the firm’s Principal owner. It is the only firm of this magnitude in New Jersey, both founded and led by a woman. Trish has managed The Zita Group since its inception building it into the fifth-largest firm in the state.
Beyond leading the firm, Trish provides hands-on representation for several Fortune 500 and multinational companies, as well as non-profit organizations, healthcare, and trade association clients. Trish is known for her exceptional strategic instincts and extensive relationships with key decision-makers.
Over the past decade, Trish has been consistently recognized as a prominent and influential business and political leader in New Jersey, being named to the top 100 lists by various publications including ROI-NJ, NJBIZ, Insider NJ, Observer’s PolitickerNJ, and Forbes Magazine. Most recently, Trish was named #9 on ROI-NJ Influencers: Top 40 Women in Business List for 2022 and ranked No. 20 on InsiderNJ’s 2021 Top 100 Cannabis Power List.
Following the election of Governor Phil Murphy, Trish was selected to serve on his Environment and Energy Transition Committee, where she provided the incoming Administration with policy analysis and expertise as they prepared to take office in January 2018.
During the 2017 gubernatorial election, Trish began serving on the Rutgers Center for American Women in Politics, New Jersey Bipartisan Coalition for Women’s Appointments’ Advisory Committee. For decades, the organization has played an instrumental role during transition years to ensure the placement of women in key positions throughout state government and on government boards and commissions. She continues to serve on this committee today.
Trish has also been honored by several organizations for her achievements in community service, politics and business. In 2019, she received the YWCA of Princeton’s Tribute to Women Award which recognizes women who truly embody their mission of eliminating racism and empowering women through their accomplishments. Trish also received Emerge New Jersey’s Bench Builder Award in 2017 and was recognized by the Executive Women of New Jersey in 2016 for her trailblazing work as one of New Jersey’s most influential and accomplished women leaders.
Trish began her lobbying career at a trade association representing over 100 pharmaceutical, chemical, and petrochemical companies in the state. She successfully negotiated the passage of several critical laws affecting industry operations and business practices dealing with taxation, environmental issues, and energy use.
Prior to that, Trish served as a Research Associate for the New Jersey General Assembly and was responsible for legislation and policy development in several major issue areas including health, insurance, education, and social services. She also served as a legislative assistant for the New York General Assembly and assisted the chairmen of the Health and Small Business Committees.
Trish is active in several organizations throughout the state and in her community. She serves as an executive board member of the Drumthwacket Foundation and a trustee of the Bucks County Playhouse. Trish previously served as a trustee for the Princeton Mercer Regional Chamber of Commerce and CASA of Mercer and Burlington Counties, a non-profit organization that advocates for children removed from their families due to abuse or neglect. Trish has also served as Chair of the Women’s Political Caucus’ Political Action Committee and continues to be an active member.
Trish earned her undergraduate degree from Syracuse University’s Utica College and did her Masters studies at the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Center of Government.
Celest Quintana, a self-made entrepreneur of 10 McDonald’s franchises whose North Jersey restaurants also provide for people in need, will be honored with the New Jersey Business & Industry Association’s 2023 Caren Franzini Leadership Award.
NJBIA will also honor Sally Glick, Business Development Advisor and Ambassador with CliftonLarsonAllen, with its 2023 Legacy & Leadership Award in recognition of her business achievements, mentorship of women in business and years of public service.
Please read our press release announcing our honorees!
Meet Our Honorees
Celestina S. Quintana came to the United States from Spain when she was 10 years old. She grew up in Newark with eight brothers and sisters. After graduating from East Side High School, Quintana worked as a dental assistant for 15 years. At age 28, she opened a clothing store with two friends called “Impulse” in Harrison. She then moved the boutique to Newark as a single proprietor.
In 1992, Quintana opened her first McDonald’s restaurant on Tonnelle Avenue in North Bergen. Since then, she has steadfastly expanded, now owning and operating, with her daughter Jessica Quintana, 10 restaurants in Jersey City, Newark, Irvington, East Orange, and Parsippany. Her restaurants employ more than 500 local residents.
Quintana has attributed “hard work and lots of it” to her success as an entrepreneur, as a way of leading by example for her employees. At the same, she provides for those in need in the communities that she serves through donations and fundraisers. Her stores are true community centers where families gather to share a meal, and staff and neighbors come together to support the local communities.
Serving on the CLA (CliftonLarsonAllen) Business Development Advisory team, Glick has responsibility for reinforcing the firm’s well-regarded legacy as the eighth largest CPA firm in the United States and maintaining critical relationships with the business and nonprofit communities in the New Jersey regional market.
Prior to her current position at CLA, Glick was a Principal and the Chief Growth Strategist for SobelCo for close to two decades, serving as the firm’s ambassador to the community, while driving, shaping and maintaining the firm’s relationships and supporting its business development strategies.
Glick is deeply involved in the community, serving on several nonprofit and business boards and committees including a current Board Member and Past President of the Association for Corporate Growth NJ, Chair of NJ District Export Council, retired Board Member for Commerce & Industry Association of NJ, as well as a participant on several CIANJ committees, a volunteer at the Somerset County Business Partnership (SCBP), member of the Advisory Committee of the Morris Council Chamber of Commerce Nonprofit Council, previous Board member and Executive Board Member for the Center for Nonprofits and a long standing member of the M&T Bank Advisory Board.
She has earned special recognition as an inducted member of the NJ Ad Club Hall of Fame, the Marketing Association Hall of Fame, and the NJ Business Hall of Fame, while also receiving Commerce and Industry Association’s Chairman’s Outstanding Leadership Award, the NJBIZ Lifetime Achievement Award, and NJBIA’s NJ Inspiration Awards (now the Caren Franzini Leadership Award).
Rising Star Award Honorees
The NJBIA Rising Star Award identifies future business leaders currently completing their undergraduate education who have demonstrated leadership, a passion for their anticipated field, and a commitment to volunteering/community involvement. Congratulations to these scholars!
Please read our press release announcing our Rising Stars!
Meet Our Rising Stars
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