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– Byrne to be Recognized with 1st NJBIA ‘Legacy & Leadership’ Award –

Brenda Ross-Dulan, an award-winning senior executive, thought leader and board director, will be honored with the New Jersey Business & Industry Association’s 2022 Caren Franzini Leadership Award at the 8th Annual NJ Women Business Leaders Forum, Sept. 28–29. 

The event, which takes place at Caesars in Atlantic City, is the largest professional women’s conference in New Jersey. The WBLF brings together hundreds of corporate and nonprofit leaders, entrepreneurs, and students each year to inspire and empower the building of successful businesses and to increase diversity in corporate leadership. 

NJBIA will also be honoring Ruthi Zinn Byrne, president of the public relations firm Zinn, Graves & Field, at the WBLF with its 2022 Legacy & Leadership Award in recognition of her decades of public service, business achievements, and mentorship of young women. 

“Both of our honorees are true visionaries and trailblazers in the world of business and public service,” NJBIA President & CEO Michele Siekerka said. “Their unique ability to build relationships, inspire their teams, and achieve results – all while opening doors for other women seeking to advance in politics or business – has been remarkable.” 

Brenda Ross-Dulan 

Ross-Dulan, who earned her MBA from the Anderson School of Management at UCLA, is highly regarded in the business community for her strategic leadership. She led the merger between Wachovia and Wells Fargo in 2008 to create North America’s most extensive distribution system for financial services and served as president of Wells Fargo’s consumer banking group for southern New Jersey. At Wells Fargo she managed 1,700 employees and oversaw $12 billion in deposits and $5 billion in loans.  

After 25 years in the financial services sector, Ross-Dulan launched her own consulting business, The Ross Dulan Group LLC, in 2017. Today she leads a diverse team and leverages her decades of experience in corporate banking, construction financing for commercial real estate developers, and community development and investment to help CEOs and executives across the U.S. solve their toughest business challenges.  

Previously recognized as one of the most powerful women in corporate America by Black Enterprise Magazine, Ross-Dulan has also been a leader in the community by serving on the boards of many organizations and nonprofits including NJM, the Princeton Mercer Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber of Commerce of Southern New Jersey, NJTV, Greater Trenton Initiative, and Coopers Ferry Community Development Association.  

“The Caren Franzini Leadership Award is an honor bestowed on individuals who inspire and empower others to achieve professional excellence,” Siekerka said. “Brenda Ross-Dulan is an executive who leads by example in the boardroom and in the community, just as the namesake of this award did, to make a difference in the lives of others.” 

Franzini, who died in 2017, was the longtime chief executive of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority who worked with seven governors from 1994 to 2012 to promote entrepreneurship and economic growth, particularly in New Jersey’s largest cities. Franzini later served on NJBIA’s board of trustees until her death at age 57. 

Ruthi Zinn Byrne 

Ruthi Zinn, as she was known before marrying the late Gov. Brendan Byrne in 1994, got her start in politics in the mid-1970s when she and a few volunteers from the Essex County League of Women Voters took on party bosses in a successful effort to change the county’s form of government to one led by a county executive. 

After the successful Essex County charter fight, she and a few of her fellow activists launched a public relations business, Zinn Graves & Field, of which she is now the sole owner. Over the years, Byrne has led her firm beyond the mindset of traditional public relations and marketing into new areas of communications such as board governance consulting, public affairs strategizing, community relations, and crisis management. 

Byrne’s roster of clients over the years has included major universities, utilities, state agencies, financial institutions, architects, law firms, hotel chains and nonprofits. She has also served on numerous boards including the Paper Mill Playhouse, New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, and the Drumthwacket Foundation. 

“Ruthi Byrne has been a fearless force of nature in New Jersey politics and business for decades,” Siekerka said. “NJBIA is thrilled to present the first Legacy & Leadership Award to Ruthi Byrne for all that she has done and continues to do to be a connector, mentor and voice for New Jersey women.” 

About the NJWBLF 

The NJ Women Business Leaders Forum, powered by NJBIA is a two-day event that includes executive TED-style talks, nine breakout sessions led by expert panelists, one-on-one coaching; help with résumé building; LinkedIn makeovers; and numerous networking opportunities. Go here to take advantage of the early-bird discount for registrations made before Aug. 5. 

Sponsors of the 2022 NJBIA Women Business Leaders Forum help make this event possible. These companies and organizations include: 

 For more information about partnership opportunities, go here.