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Anne Evans Estabrook, an iconic figure among New Jersey’s business community and prominent real estate developer, will be announced as the inaugural honoree of the Caren Franzini Leadership Award at NJBIA’s Women Business Leaders Forum on Friday, Sept. 15.

The award was created to honor the legacy of Caren Franzini, the former longtime chief executive of the state Economic Development Authority and NJBIA Board of Trustees member. The Franzini Leadership Award honors its namesake through recognizing exemplary leaders who have inspired, encouraged, challenged and empowered others to achieve performance excellence. It will be presented to Estabrook at the forum, which will be held at the DoubleTree Somerset.

“Like Caren Franzini, Anne’s leadership has made a lasting impact on business leaders in New Jersey, especially women business leaders” said NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka. “We are proud to honor someone with such a long and impressive track record of stimulating professional growth through mentorship and encouragement, while making her own important contributions to the New Jersey business and education communities.”

Estabrook is owner and chairman of the Elberon Development Group, as well as chair of David O. Evans Inc., a property and construction management company. She previously served as chairman of the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce, the first woman to ever hold that position at the organization. Estabrook was also appointed to the New Jersey Economic Growth Council by Governor Jon Corzine in 2006.

Estabrook serves as director of the Federal Home Loan Bank-New York and is a member of its executive governance and housing committees. Previously, she was director of National State Bank-Elizabeth, which later became Constellation Bank, and served on its executive, loan review and audit committees.

A longtime advocate for education, Estabrook is a member of the President’s Council at Kean University, and previously served as vice chair of the Rutgers Business School Board of Advisors.  She also served as a member of the Lay Board of Trustees for Delbarton School in Morristown for 15 years, and on the Board of Trustees for 10 years at Cornell University, her alma mater.

Estabrook is a member of the New Jersey Business Hall of Fame, which honors the state’s business leaders and role models, and was previously selected by New Jersey Monthly magazine as one of its Top 25 Leading Women Entrepreneurs.

The Sept. 15 Women Business Leaders Forum, themed Unlocking the C-Suite, is the third of its kind, but the first to include the Caren Franzini Leadership Award.

While at EDA, Caren Franzini worked closely with seven governors, from 1994 to 2012, to promote entrepreneurial development and economic growth. Franzini had a large role in the resurgence of the cities of Camden, Trenton and Newark and spearheaded efforts that produced a renewed state focus on the needs of small businesses and entrepreneurs.

After her tenure at EDA, Franzini joined NJBIA’s Board of Trustees, which she served until her death on Jan. 25.

“Caren was a tireless and humble leader who made things happen,” Siekerka added. “She was a deal maker extraordinaire, who always got the job done quietly and behind the scenes; a true role model to emulate.”

“We thank Michele Siekerka and NJBIA for creating this award honoring Caren’s legacy of leadership,” said John Franzini, Caren’s husband. “The award memorializes not only what Caren did in the field of economic development but how she did it – with unfailing passion and grace.

“And Anne Estabrook is a fitting first recipient. She has long been a leader in the business community in New Jersey and she and Caren had a warm personal and professional relationship that spanned more than two decades.”

The event, Unlocking the C-Suite, will be keynoted by California native Jeff Henderson – also known as Chef Jeff – the first African-American executive chef at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, New York Times best-selling author, noted television personality and inspirational speaker.

Chef Jeff, whose story has been featured on Good Morning America, the Today Show and Oprah’s Life Class, among others, will join other experienced business leaders on the methods of raising one’s  professional profile, finding allies for the climb up the corporate ladder and learning what executives in the C-Suite do to stay there.

A complete agenda for the Sept. 15 Women Business Leaders Forum can be found here. A Business Leaders Panel, moderated by Emmy Award-winning anchor and author Steve Adubato, will include Lillian Rodriguez Lopez, vice president, Stakeholder Relations and Customer PAC Support, Coca-Cola North America; Michellene Davis, Esq., executive vice president, Corporate Affairs, RWJ-Barnabas Health; and Vince Maione, president, Atlantic Region, Atlantic City Electric.

Event partners include Elberon Development Group, Executive Women of New Jersey, Gibbons PC, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, Investors Bank, Johnson & Johnson, Jackson Lewis P.C., New Jersey Resources, New Jersey Manufacturers Group, Newark Regional Business Partnership, RWJ-Barnabas, Verizon-NJ Shares.

The event will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the DoubleTree Hotel in Somerset. The cost is $150 for NJBIA members and $190 for non-members. For more information, please visit here or contact NJBIA’s Events team at 1-800-499-4419, and select option ‘2.’

Media interested in covering the event are requested to contact Bob Considine at or 609-858-9502.