To honor her trailblazing career, AT&T-New Jersey President Charlene Brown was officially presented with the 2020 Caren Franzini Leadership Award at this week’s Women Business Leaders Forum (WBLF).
Brown, who also serves as AT&T’s primary contact for state and local government officials, as well as policymakers and community leaders throughout New Jersey, is a former press secretary for the state Human Services commissioner and former journalist.
In accepting her award during the virtual presentation, Brown touted the honor of being associated with Franzini, the longtime CEO of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, who died in 2017.
“I am humbled and honored because Caren was a woman I respected and admired – a female business leader who had the fortitude and economic savvy to foster small businesses and to promote economic development in cities like Newark, Trenton and Camden.
“One thing Caren and I had in common was both of us recognized the importance of places like Trenton – our capital city – and the need for us as business leaders to uplift it.”
In presenting the award, NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka called Brown “an amazing woman” who met all the criteria of being an “exemplary leader who has inspired, encouraged, challenged and empowered to achieve performance excellence” and effectively demonstrated social impact.
“She hits (all the criteria) outside the ballpark,” Siekerka said.
Past Franzini Award winners include real estate developer Anne Evans Estabrook in 2017, PNC Bank executive Linda Bowden in 2018 and healthcare leader Amy Mansue in 2019.
Five future business leaders who are standouts at New Jersey colleges and universities because of their academic work, leadership and community involvement were also honored with NJBIA Rising Star awards during the WBLF ceremony.
- Clara Chen, of Moonpark, Ca. Chen is Harvard University graduate currently training at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine (HMSOM).
- Ankita Kodali, of Union, a senior at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, where she is double majoring in accounting and finance, with a minor in economics.
- Gabrielle Marie Peralta, of Newark, a business administration major at Berkeley College.
- Olivia Strama, of Wallington, a Berkeley College sophomore majoring in criminal justice who aspires to be a law enforcement officer.
- Lauren Valentine, of Bloomfield, a graduate of Boston College who is currently training to be a physician at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine (HMSOM).
For more information on NJBIA’s Rising Star winners, click here.