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The first Caren Franzini Leadership Award was presented to Anne Evans Estabrook before 300 people at yesterday’s Women Business Leaders Forum. Estabrook, an iconic figure in the business community, much like the award’s namesake, was selected for her contributions to business and education and her commitment to stimulating professional growth through mentorship and encouragement.

Esatbrook is a prominent real estate developer, and currently the owner and chairman of Elberon Development Group. She is also the chair of the property and construction management company David O. Evans Inc., and is on the board of directors of the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York.

NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka, who presented the award, said Estabrook’s contributions run much deeper.

“Anne is known as a longtime advocate for education,” Siekerka said. “She serves as a member of the President’s Council at Kean University and was previously the vice-chair of the Rutgers Business School’s Board of Advisors.  She has also served on the Board of Directors of Cornell University, her alma mater.”

Estabrook said it was a particular honor for her to receive the award because she was a friend and colleague of Caren Franzini, who was the long-time executive director of the NJ Economic Development Authority (EDA).  Estabrook was on the EDA board during part of Franzini’s tenure.

“She had a can-do attitude,” Estabrook said. “Her focus was on how to partner with the private sector, not if to do so.”

As a woman leader, Estabrook encouraged other women to remember their core concerns as they move up in their careers.

“Listen and learn,” Estabrook said. “Set realistic goals and speak up about them, advocate for them. Collaborate, but always be willing to reasonably compromise. Then you can get things done. And lastly, reach.  Reach as high as you can. And my bet is you will reach the rewards that you seek.”

The Caren Franzini Leadership Award will be presented annually by the New Jersey Business and Industry Association to honor those who contribute to the legacy of women in business. At EDA, Franzini worked tirelessly to promote entrepreneurial development and economic growth in New Jersey. After her 18-year-tenure at EDA, she joined NJBIA’s Board of Trustees, which she served on until her death on January 25 of this year.