2023 Power 100: A – M

NJBIZ STAFF//February 20, 2023//

2023 Power 100: A – M

NJBIZ STAFF//February 20, 2023//

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Col. Wes Adams

Adams is the commander of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, the nation’s only tri-service military base and a major generator of economic activity in South Jersey. In that role, he provides installation support to more than 80 mission partners and is responsible for providing mission-ready expeditionary airmen, guardians, and sailors to combatant commanders in support of joint and coalition operations. In November 2022, the 87th Civil Engineer Squadron began the second phase of a base-wide energy savings performance contract valued at nearly $140 million to increase energy resiliency and capability at the Department of Defense’s only tri-service joint base. Adams was commissioned in 1999 after completing the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program at The Citadel in South Carolina. He has previously commanded a group and two squadrons and held a variety of positions at the field, depot and headquarters levels including flight line production operations officer, executive officer, commander’s action group, and speechwriter. Among other academic credentials, Adams holds a master of science in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College; a master of philosophy in Military Strategy from the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama; and a National Defense Fellowship at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Michael Affuso

Affuso took over as president and CEO of the New Jersey Bankers Association last July, replacing longtime leader John McWeeney, who retired. Af-fuso had served as the organization’s chief lobbyist since 2008. Before joining NJ Bankers, he ran U.S. Rep. Albio Sires’ congressional campaign and then served as deputy district director and general counsel for Sires. Previously Affuso was associate general counsel for the New Jersey General Assembly Majority Office in Trenton where he provided legal counsel to the Assembly Speaker and Majority Members. “Mike was the natural choice for my successor,” McWeeney said when Affuso was named as his successor. “His knowledge of the banking industry and legislative process combined with leadership skills will allow him to continue to move the Association and banking industry forward.” As the main voice of the financial services industry in the state, Affuso will help shape economic policies designed to maintain banks’ central role in providing capital and services to Garden State businesses.

Paul Altero and Bill Hart

After founding Bubbakoo’s Burritos 15 years ago in Point Pleasant, food industry veterans Paul Altero and Bill Hart have expanded their Mexican fusion concept to 100 locations across 11 states, making it one of the fastest-growing franchises in the country. Serving up burritos, tacos, quesadillas and bowls that are fresh, made-to-order and affordable in a lively skater-surfer atmosphere, the fast-casual brand’s long-term goal is to become a category leader in the Mexican food space. In 2015, Bubbakoo’s began franchising restaurants as part of its strategy and saw its growth accelerate during the pandemic, partially because full-service operators were seeking business opportunities that didn’t rely on open dining rooms. Last year, Bubbakoo’s posted record development, with 37 locations opened and 22 franchise agreements signed. The brand also entered seven new markets, including Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and West Virginia, widening its footprint. Similarly, sales performance in 2022 was strong, with a 50% increase systemwide from a year prior. Bubbakoo’s has also received recognition over the past few years in the areas of unit growth, financial strength and stability and brand power. It closed out 2022 with spots on Franchise Times’ Fast & Serious list and Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500 list. As Bubbakoo’s heads into 2023, the brand aims to open 35 new locations within the year and enter three new markets including Connecticut, Delaware, and Long Island, N.Y. After helping open the chain’s 100th location, Hart said it was a “fantastic way to start off 2023” – its 15th anniversary year – and he “is looking forward to opening in new markets and welcoming more franchisees who believe in our mission to join our brand.”

Leslie Anderson

In her role as president and CEO of the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority, Anderson is the first African American woman in the nation to lead an independent redevelopment financing agency. During her tenure, NJRA has leveraged some $4 billion in new investments to transform some of the state’s most economically challenged neighborhoods. As a testament to her performance, Anderson has been reappointed to this position by four consecutive governors. Her organization’s work was critical during the pandemic, creating the Small Business Lease-Emergency Assistance Grant Program, which provided commercial rent-relief grants of up to $10,000 to small businesses hardest by COVID-19. Anderson also oversaw the creation of the NJRA Redevelopment Training Institute (RTI), which has trained over 2,000 attorneys, elected officials, developers and community-based organizations on the complexities of redevelopment and best practices for community revitalization. Devoted to service, Anderson is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, a Leadership NJ Fellow, and a member of the Council of Finance Development Agencies. She also serves as a member of the board of directors for the Heart of NJ Girl Scout Council and the dFree Global Foundation. Anderson is an active figure in the Plainfield community and is an inductee in the Plainfield High School Hall of Fame.

Ras Baraka

As Baraka leads New Jersey’s largest city out of the pandemic as mayor, he has no shortage of big-ticket items and initiatives he is overseeing, including the Newark Airport Terminal A redevelopment, the HAX hard-tech startup accelerator, Gateway Center and the new Lionsgate production facility under construction in the South Ward. In September, Baraka announced that the Newark Planning Board unanimously approved the New-ark360 Master Plan, a 10-year blueprint for the Brick City’s physical development. “Newark360 encompasses the ideas, visions, dreams, and aspirations of Newarkers themselves, not academic or bureaucratic planners,” said Baraka. “It was created through nearly two years of community engagement, the most wide-ranging and inclusive outreach the city has ever undertaken.” Baraka, whose name has been mentioned as a possible gubernatorial candidate in 2025, has also continued to tackle issues such as the corporate purchase of homes in Newark, the mitigating of abandoned properties throughout the city, youth summer employment, and much more. And last summer, the city kicked off its Taste of Newark summer out-door dining initiative.

Cathleen Bennett

In her role as chief executive officer of the New Jersey Hospital Association, the nonprofit trade association representing New Jersey’s hospitals, health systems, and other health care providers, Bennett stood at the center of much of the state’s pandemic response over the last few years. The NJHA played a vital role in helping the entities they represent weather the pandemic with their input and guidance throughout. The guidelines NJHA provided affected everything from infection prevention and safety protocols to hospital visitation, surge planning, and vaccine and booster man-dates for the state’s health care workers. The NJHA also provides leadership on quality and patient safety, education and advocacy in both the state capital and the nation’s capital. As CEO, Bennett oversees NJHA, the Health Research and Educational Trust of New Jersey – a not-for-profit affiliate that promotes continuing education, patient safety, quality improvement and research – as well as the for-profit Healthcare Business Solutions, which provides group purchasing and other business solutions for health care providers. Before taking the helm of the NJHA, Bennett served as New Jersey’s 20th health commissioner, appointed by the Gov. Chris Christie. She figures to continue playing a prominent role in the transition to this endemic phase of COVID-19, along with any other major health challenges that rise along the way and in the future.

Marc Berson

Berson’s firm, Fidelco Group, is consistently involved with notable projects in and around the Newark area. The firm owns or manages several key properties in the Brick City and Berson has been long championed the city’s resurgence. The group oversaw the redevelopment of the FreezePak facility on the Newark-Elizabeth border and is transforming the former National State Bank Headquarters on Broad Street, which will include a multi-floor restaurant. In October, officials cut the ribbon on Summit Court, a joint venture between Fidelco and Diversified Properties Group, a 263-unit residential complex in Union that is just 1 mile from the train station and Kean University. In June, Berson completed a three-year term as chair of RWJBarnabas Health board of trustees. RWJ described his tenure as one that will be forever known as a “transformational time of growth” for the system. “Marc’s influence goes well beyond the boardroom at RWJBarnabas Health. He cares deeply about our mission and has dedicated himself wholeheartedly to our organization for many years,” said Barry Ostrowsky, the former CEO of RWJBarnabas Health. “Marc not only helped to build our strategic vision, he was a true partner in executing on initiatives to improve health care delivery that continue to be transformative for our communities.” He continues to serve as a member of the RWJBarnabas Health board and as chairman emeritus at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. “There can be no more noble effort or greater responsibility than to deliver high quality health care to our fellow citizens,” said Berson.

Tom Bracken

“The best advertising we can have to attract business to the state is to have the existing businesses that are in the state be happy,” Bracken said following Gov. Murphy’s State of the State Address earlier this year. “There’s no better way to present a good image than to have, what I would say from a business standpoint, your customers, be in a good place. And the customers of the State of the New Jersey are the businesses that are here.” In his role as head of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, Bracken is one of the state’s highest profile business leaders, weighing in on New Jersey’s most critical issues, sharing the perspective of and advocating for the business community with top political leaders and stakeholders. Bracken’s work to help the business community throughout the pandemic was critical. He also presides over the ReNew Jersey Business Summit, which was born in the pandemic effectively as a replacement to the Walk to Washington train trip. The second iteration of the event takes place in March, gathering the state’s top leaders from business, government, labor, academia, nonprofits, media and more. It has quickly emerged as one of the go-to networking events on the calendar year. “We expect this to be the single largest business event in the state this year on a scale comparable to our Walk to Washington,” said Bracken. “There is a strong desire among business people in New Jersey to improve the state’s business climate, and to network. This event will be a prime opportunity for both.”

Mitch Cahn

What began 30 years ago as a small operation with six sewing stations and a contract to make baseball hats for Ralph Lauren has become one of the largest private employers of Newark residents, with 175 workers making uniforms, hats and other promotional clothing for the armed services, presidential candidates, fashion brands like Vineyard Vines and domestic manufacturers such as Budweiser. Along the way, Mitch Cahn’s Union-wear has received industry accolades from organizations such as the NJBIA and Domestic Textile Association, as well as publications including NJBIZ and Fortune Magazine. A frequent panelist and guest lecturer on topics like fair labor, lean manufacturing, co-branding with Made in USA and cloud mobile enterprise resource planning, Cahn has also appeared on television programs like The Daily Show and The Profit. He is also an Industry Scholar at Rutgers Business School and serves on the boards of Newark Regional Business Partnership, New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Partnership and the Newark Workforce Development Board.

Mark Clouse

After being named chief executive officer in December 2018 as part of an effort to help Campbell Soup Co. regain market share and boost profits after years of declining sales, Clouse has more than delivered thanks to his focus on investing in the equity of brands, innovating on products and cleaning up the balance sheet. After experiencing growth during the pandemic as more people prepared food at home, the company has recently seen new demand for its products as consumers turn to less expensive grocery items to cope with inflation. In December 2022, Campbell reported a strong start to the fiscal year with 15% top-line growth, which the company attributed to inflation mitigation efforts, improved supply chain execution and relevant brands, such as Campbell’s, Cape Cod, Goldfish, Kettle Brand, Lance, Late July, Milano, Pace, Pacific Foods, Pepperidge Farm, Prego, Snyder’s of Hanover, Swanson and V8. In January, Campbell kicked off the new year by unveiling plans to invest $50 million to upgrade and expand its Camden headquarters amid a consolidation of its snack businesses from Connecticut and North Carolina. The changes, which are expected to occur over the next three years, will add about 330 positions to Campbell’s Camden offices, bringing the total local workforce to about 1,600 and ultimately saving the company $10 million a year by fiscal year 2026. It’s also the latest step in Campbell’s growth plans and ongoing commitment to Camden, the company’s home for more than 150 years, and has drawn praise from Camden Mayor Victor Carstarphen and Gov. Phil Murphy. Along with being “thrilled to invest in our people, our facilities and our Camden community,” Clouse said the company remains “com-mitted to our two-division operating model” and is “confident that being together in one headquarters is the best way for us to continue building a culture that unlocks our full growth potential.”

Joseph Colalillo

Despite historic inflation, supply chain bottlenecks and worker shortages that plagued the retail industry in 2022, Wakefern Food Corp., the largest U.S. retailer-owned grocery cooperative, had a strong finish, reporting record sales of $18.6 billion—a 4.69% increase from the year prior. Wakefern has experienced steady sales growth in recent years, a trend that Colalillo attributes to co-op member stores’ reputation for value, quality and a great shopping experience. At the company’s annual meeting in October, Colalillo highlighted the company’s advances in e-commerce, procurement and technology, as well as the “unwavering commitment” that its member supermarkets have maintained when it comes to “elevating the customer experience.” Heading into fiscal year 2023, Colalillo is optimistic about growth opportunities for the 48 member companies that own and operate 365 stores across New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. He also expects to continue sharpening pricing and promotions in addition to expanding its store brands Bowl & Basket, Wholesome Pantry and Paper-bird, which have become popular with shoppers looking for ways to stretch tight food budgets. “There’s no doubt that the supermarket industry has faced challenges in recent years,” said Colalillo who has been CEO since 2005. “But as we’ve always done, Wakefern Members will succeed thanks to their own expertise as grocers and their dedicated teams of retail associates. We are committed to providing our customers with the best possible shopping experience at every touchpoint.”

Kevin Corbett

Since 2018, Corbett has led NJ Transit, the nation’s largest statewide public transportation system with more than 11,000 employees providing more than 944,000 weekday trips. And this year is a milestone for the agency as its rail operations celebrate 40 years of service. “With a proud legacy be-hind us, an extraordinary team now in place, major rail infrastructure projects like the Portal North Bridge Replacement Project currently underway, and 138 new multi-level cars beginning to arrive in 2024, the future looks very bright for this essential division of NJ Transit – and more importantly, for the millions of customers who depend on it every year,” Corbett said in January. The groundbreaking of that Portal North project was a major development in 2022 that was followed by the recent announcement of new federal funding for the Hudson Tunnel Project. It is all part of the broader Gateway Program, meaning Corbett and NJ Transit will be in the middle of a lot of the action centered on perhaps the most important infrastructure project in the country. “Construction of a new bridge will not only create approximately 15,000 jobs and add billions of dollars to our local economy but, more importantly, it will provide safe, reliable rail service for all Northeast Corridor commuters between Washington, D.C., and Boston for generations to come,” said Corbett during the August groundbreaking.

Kathleen Coviello

Coviello oversees the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s strategic sector, economic transformation products, and the product operations departments, working to support high-quality job creation, catalyze private investment, and build a diverse innovation ecosystem here in the Garden State. “The governor’s economic development plan clearly sets out a strategy for making New Jersey the most diverse innovation economy in the country,” Coviello told NJBIZ in June. “Our geography is diverse. You can go from the shore to the mountains. We have ports that make us uniquely accessible. We have a coastline that makes us perfectly positioned for our offshore wind initiatives. So, we have diversity in our landscape. We want to make sure that we have diversity in our entrepreneurs and diversity in our investors as well.” Thanks in part to Coviello’s efforts, the NJEDA has delivered over $1 billion in direct investments, business incentives, tax credits and venture fund investments through the Edison Innovation Fund. During her tenure, a number of programs and initiatives toward supporting startups and early-stage companies have been launched, such as the Angel Tax Credit Program, the New Jersey Founders & Funders program, the NJ Accelerate and NJ Ignite programs, and the New Jersey Chapter of Golden Seeds.

Max Crane

Crane’s been the leader of Sills, Cummis & Gross, one of the largest law firms in New Jersey, for over a decade. The Newark-based firm was recently included in the 2023 U.S. News list of Best Law Firms, ranking nationally in five practice areas and regionally in 36 practice areas, such as real estate, tax law, commercial litigation, finance law, corporate law, land use & zoning law, mass tort litigation/class action, cannabis law, reorganization law, environmental law, gaming law, product liability law, personal injury litigation, employment law and criminal defense. Crane, whose areas of practice include banking, energy, gaming and insurance, as well as debt and equity financings, was also among the 50 Sills attorneys recognized in the 2023 edition of The Best Lawyers in America.

Gary Cross

Gary Cross is the president and chief executive officer of Maher Terminals LLC – a container terminal operator at Port Elizabeth. The company ranks among the major actors in a port region that has posted exceptional growth in recent years. He began his career at Maher in 1978 in the company’s Safety Department. For the first 18 years, Cross held various positions in operations, rising to vice president and general manager. In 1996, he moved to the commercial side, ultimately being appointed to the top job 2013. Maher Terminals operates the largest privately held marine terminal in North America loading and unloading nearly 2 million containers annually, while employing nearly 1,500 International Longshoremen’s Association members and management staff. Virtually every resident in New Jersey and the greater metropolitan region consumes a product that was un-loaded from a vessel at Maher’s facility. As one observer puts it, “all the stuff that gets on the trucks doesn’t get on the trucks without his cranes.” Maher has purchased state-of-the-art equipment and implemented operating processes to allow the business to continue to grow, investing over $300 million in Port Elizabeth in the last five years. The company also has electrified all of its ship-to-shore container cranes and has upgraded its container yard equipment to reduce emissions by 62%, using 750,000 fewer gallons of diesel fuel annually. With respect to emissions, Maher mapped a plan to be Net Zero by 2040, a full decade ahead of the Paris Agreement, and achieving New Jersey’s Energy Master Plan targets. Last spring, Cross was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Maritime Association of the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Robert Davis

Davis has served as chief executive officer and president of Merck since 2021. This past December, he began his tenure as chairman, elected to the post following his predecessor Kenneth Frazier’s retirement from his executive chairmanship. In Davis’ first full year at the head of the company, Kenilworth-based Merck posted worldwide sales of $59.3 billion, an increase of 22% from the year prior. “2022 was an exceptional year for Merck, which is a testament to the profound impact our medicines and vaccines are having on patients globally,” he said in a statement released with the earnings. “Our science-led strategy is working as we continue to build a sustainable engine that will drive innovation and generate long-term value for patients and shareholders well into the next decade.” To achieve that, Merck is also investing in its pipeline, with its $1.35 billion acquisition of Imago, a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing treatments for myeloproliferative neoplasms and other bone marrow diseases. It’s also making its impact felt outside of its work, pledging more than $93 million in products and funds to Ukranian refugees and citizens in the first half of 2022. To begin 2023, the company was ranked No. 26 on America’s Most JUST Companies list. The compilation from JUST Capitol evaluates how the country’s biggest corporations stack up when it comes to issues like support for workers, protecting customer privacy or minimizing pollution — Merck’s been included for six years straight, with 2023 marking the third in a row it ranked first in its sector. Looking ahead, Davis, who previously served as Merck’s president, seems poised to stay the course. For full-year 2023, Merck anticipates worldwide sales to come in at between $57.2 billion and $58.7 billion.

Joseph Decotiis

While his practice primarily focuses on government work, specializing in public procurement, redevelopment law and authority representation in both general and special counsel roles, DeCotiis has taken a leading role in promoting New Jersey’s emerging cannabis space, guiding clients through the legal, regulatory and business challenges of this promising new industry. In addition to being a co-managing partner of the politically connected law firm DeCotiis, FitzPatrick, Cole & Giblin, DeCotiis serves as general counsel to the New Jersey Turnpike Authority and Bergen Community College. He’s also a founding member of President Joe Biden’s New Jersey Lawyers for Joe.

Ed DeVeaux

As president of the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association, the state’s cannabis chamber of commerce, and a partner at Burton Trent Public Affairs, a Trenton-based lobbying firm, DeVeaux is one of the most prominent public figures representing the Garden State’s evolving cannabis market. The organization – which he co-founded in 2016 and became president of in 2020 – seeks to shape an industry that is “responsible, sustainable, diverse and profitable.” In coming years, DeVeaux will undoubtedly remain a leader who can guide and advocate for the cannabis space as New Jersey transitions from a prohibition state to a legal one, working to make sure that lawmakers and regulators understand and respect the needs of the cannabusiness community.

Linda Doherty

As the fifth and longest-serving president in the New Jersey Food Council’s 54-year history, Doherty is dedicated to making sure all segments of the state’s $136 billion food distribution industry are as strong as possible. The organization is made up of over 1,500 members in the food retail, wholesale and manufacturing sectors, including some of the largest employers in the state, that are committed to working with government officials and business community leaders on public policies that affect one of New Jersey’s largest industries. One of the biggest victories for NJFC in 2022 was the successful implementation of a strict ban on single-use plastic bags. Since the law went into effect in May 2022, food retailers have found the majority of shoppers complied and embraced the mandate, thanks in part to public outreach efforts by the NJFC in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, New Jersey Clean Communities Council and New Jersey Business Action Center. As a result, more than 4.8 billion plastic bags and 95.9 million paper bags were eliminated from the waste stream, according to the NJ Food Council. While it’s a big win in helping supermarkets become eco-friendly, it has resulted in growing number of reusable bags for consumers whose orders occur online for pickup or delivery. As a result, NJFC is working with legislators, policy makers and other stakeholders to develop ways to address the issue without backtracking on the intent of the law. Other legislative priorities for NJFC include extended producer responsibility – which requires producers of packaging products sold in the state to implement stewardship plans – and liquor license reforms.

John Donnadio

“As a non-partisan organization that advocates for all 21 counties with a unified and proactive voice, the New Jersey Association of Counties is committed to advancing innovative programs and initiatives that enhance the level of service provided and save valuable taxpayer dollars,” Don-nadio recently told NJBIZ. And in his role as executive director, Donnadio is on the front lines advocating for legislation, regulations and policies that empower the county governments here in New Jersey to operate more effectively and efficiently. Those advocacy efforts cover a range of issues and topics, such as grant funding for 911 call centers, regionalization of services, pension and health benefits reform, the costs of operating court facilities, property tax cap levy restrictions, and much more. “County governments must play a vital and growing role in relieving residents and businesses of the Garden State of the highest property tax burden in the land by delivering traditional local services and functions in a more cost-effective and efficient manner through the regionalization and sharing of services,” he said. Donnadio also spearheads the NJAC Foundation, which has awarded nearly $500,000 in scholarships to 750 county vocational graduates who plan on continuing their education at a New Jersey county or state college.

Joaquin Duato

Duato began 2022 by taking over as CEO of Johnson & Johnson after more than 30 years of service that spanned multiple business sectors, geographies and functions. He began 2023 by taking over the role of chairman, following the announcement that Alex Gorsky was stepping down in November. “Joaquin’s appointment to the additional role of chairman reflects his tremendous 30-year track record at Johnson & Johnson,” said Anne Mulcahy, lead independent director. “During Joaquin’s career with the company, the board has witnessed firsthand his ability to effectively lead, collaborate, and create value for all our stakeholders. We have the utmost confidence that he will continue to be an excellent steward of the business and look forward to working closely with him in this next chapter.” Duato, who leads a global workforce of 135,000, is a believer in the power of technology to accelerate progress in health care and is leading an effort to harness data science and intelligent automation to solve the world’s toughest health challenges. “I am inspired by our employees who make a difference in the health and lives of people around the world every day,” Duato said in January. “As we look ahead to 2023, Johnson & Johnson is well-positioned to drive near-term growth, while also investing strategically to deliver long-term value.”

Franceline Ehret

Ehret leads perhaps the state’s most powerful labor union, which represents more than 70,000 workers here in the Garden State. Communications Workers of America Union members work in such sectors as telecommunications, health care, higher education, manufacturing, broadcast and cable television, commercial printing and newspapers, state, local and county government. Its members include more than 35,000 state workers and some 15,000 municipal and county workers. In 2021, Ehret took the helm after Hetty Rosenstein stepped down. “For the last 14 years, Hetty Rosen-stein has played an indispensable role in everything that District 1 does in New Jersey,” said Dennis Trainor, CWA District 1 vice-president, when Ehret’s appointment was announced. “But there is no one with better collective bargaining skills, stronger political instincts or who reflects CWA’s values more than Fran Ehret. Hetty has left big shoes to fill, but I am confident that Fran Ehret will do an outstanding job.” Ehret is a key voice at the table on a number of critical issues facing her members. Last April, she applauded the governor for proposing a Pilot Telework Program for the state workforce. “This is a significant step forward and demonstrates the progressive leadership of the administration to carve out a new path for fairer and stronger public services,” she said.

Dale Florio

Florio remains one of the state’s most influential lobbyists, leading one of its powerhouse firms, Princeton Public Affairs Group, which celebrated its 35th anniversary in 2022. In that time, the firm has grown from humble beginnings into perhaps the state’s most influential lobbying firm with a roster full of high-profile clients. He is constantly described as one of the go-to lobbyists in Trenton with a well-developed network of contacts and relationships that helps his clients navigate New Jersey’s notoriously complex regulatory and legislative systems. He is also a longtime heavy hitter in Somerset County’s Republican circles with close ties to former state Assemblyman and 2021 gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli, who is poised to run once again in 2025. Florio is frequently seen on news programs and quoted in articles commenting on some of the most critical political and policy issues going on in the Garden State. He serves as an adjunct professor at Seton Hall Law School and is an Eagleton Visiting Associate at Rutgers University. He also serves on the board of the Crossroads of the American Revolution Association.

Warren Geller

“Travel should never be a barrier to comprehensive, high-quality health care,” Geller said in September when Englewood Health opened its new outpatient center in Jersey City. “That’s why we continue to expand our services throughout northern New Jersey.” Since being appointed president and CEO of Englewood Health in 2013, Geller has made strides to modernize the hospital’s campus, facilities and technology infrastructure while strengthening key clinical programs and expanding outpatient services and developing an integrated physician network. After leading Englewood through the pandemic and now into the next phase, Geller is overseeing the continued growth of the health system with more investments in North Jersey. Among current priorities are major expansions into Fair Lawn, Englewood Cliffs and Jersey City. “I want to push the convenient care off of our campus and for the campus – it’s really for those esoteric tests that you need – cancer treatment, wellness center, in-patient care, advanced surgery,” Geller told NJBIZ last April. “So more complex on campus. Less complex, more affordable, less expensive – off campus.” Under Geller’s leadership, patient volume and acuity, financial performance, and quality and safety outcomes have all improved. He was also the first hospital leader in New Jersey to sign the CEO Action Pledge to support advancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace and reducing health care disparities.

Frank Giantomasi

CSG Law’s Giantomasi is one of the most prominent real estate players in the Newark-Elizabeth corridor, serving as redevelopment counsel to several notable mixed-use projects in the area. His work includes the New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s signature master plan for a mixed-use redevelopment on 6.1 acres surrounding the cultural institution that would create a new arts neighborhood, as well as redevelopment and land use counsel to LEG-BP Bayonne Owner – the developer of a 152.9-acre site slated for port-related development – in a pivotal land swap agreement with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Giantomasi has represented numerous developers on projects including Netflix in its successful bid to convert the former Fort Monmouth Army base into a state-of-the-art production facility; the $35 million Newark Courtyard by Marriott hotel; the Newark Hotel Indigo; seven historic building conversions on Market Street developed into 35,000 square feet of retail with more than 80 residential units in a $35 million mixed-use project; and much more. Additionally, he chaired CSG Law’s lease committee in the redevelopment of the former Arthur Andersen offices in Roseland into the firm’s new 120,000-square-foot headquarters. Giantomasi chairs the board of trustees of Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of New Jersey, and he also sits on the board of advisors for Saint Peter’s University’s Guarini School of Business in Jersey City.

Jamie Giovinazzo

If you live in New Jersey, chances are you have spotted countless billboards over the years for Eat Clean Bro, an Eatontown-based service that brings healthy, chef-prepared meals right to customers’ doorstep. Since he founded the business in 2013, Giovinazzo, along with his wife, Kayla, have grown Eat Clean Bro into a multimillion-dollar company, amassed a loyal clientele of influencers and celebrities, and lent support to numerous charitable causes. What sets Eat Clean Bro apart from the competition is that its meals are made with all natural ingredients, free of processed food, chemicals and preservatives. With kitchen facilities in New Jersey and Georgia, Eat Clean Bro currently serves 15 states and has plans to enter new areas and expand its menu. Ahead of its 10th anniversary, Eat Clean Bro moved into a new headquarters (complete with a state-of-the-art kitchen facility) after outgrowing its previous location in Freehold. As Eat Clean Bro marks a milestone, Giovinazzo is looking forward to continuing to help make it as easy as possible for customers to eat clean. “This is only the beginning,” the company’s president said recently. “We are grateful for the past decade and cannot wait to see what the future holds for Eat Clean Bro.”

Aisha Glover

Audible had been innovating since its founding in 1995. In 2020, Glover was tapped as vice president for the audio book company’s Global Center for Urban Development, an innovation that has been coming up with creative community and economic initiatives in addition to creating new and measurable models to help advance equality and racial justice. In its relatively short time, the Center has found success with a number of programs. This past year, Glover was on hand, along with Audible Executive Chairman and fellow Power 100 list denizen Don Katz, to celebrate the debut of public art installations at the company’s revamped 1 Washington Park headquarters and in the surrounding downtown area. At the time, Glover described the Newark Artist Collaboration as proof of what happens with investments in a community and local talent. Just a couple of months later, the City of Newark announced plans to create an arts and education district centered on the newly renamed Harriet Tubman Square (the former Washington Park). The Center is also behind Newark Working Kitchens, which has delivered 1.5 million meals from 37 local restaurants to residents in need since its launch amid the pandemic. Building on that effort, the program has evolved to include NWK Delivers, which aims to help those local eateries persevere and grow as companies rethink their office strategies, thus affecting the lunchtime rush. An app allows employees to order directly from restaurants–and can include a company-provided stipend to encourage engagement. And, for each order, Sharebite makes a charitable contribution to address food insecurity in Newark. The pilot program is available to Audible employees, but may expand to other city-based corporations to increase investment in the restaurant economy. Glover told Fast Company over the summer she thinks NWKD “can be a great disruptive model” by also helping local restaurants to counter costs from other meal delivery apps.

Carl Goldberg

Goldberg is the founder and managing member of family-owned real estate consulting and development firm Canoe Brook Development. He was also a founding partner of Roseland Property Co., which was sold to Mack-Cali – now Veris Residential – in 2012. Since helping to establish Rose-land, Goldberg has been involved in the development of communities throughout the Northeast with a special emphasis on the state’s urban waterfronts. He has a long history of political and industry-wide activism in New Jersey, with relationships with leaders throughout the state. He served as chairman of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority under four governors. Having served as inaugural co-chair of the Rutgers Center for Real Estate since its inception, this past year Goldberg passed the torch, with the center’s academic director crediting him and co-chair James Han-son as being integral to its evolution. He is a trustee for Morristown Medical Center, the chairman of the New Jersey Builders Political Action Committee and a former president of the Community Builders Association.

Brian Gragnolati

A recognized voice in the national health care conversation, Gragnolati is one of the most influential executives in the state. The CEO of Atlantic Health System, Gragnolati is a former chair of the American Hospital Association. Atlantic Health’s Morristown Medical Center consistently ranks as the No. 1 hospital in New Jersey on US News & World Report’s Best Hospitals list for the fourth year in a row. In the beginning of 2022, Morristown and Overlook Medical Center were the only Garden State hospitals to make Healthgrades 2022 America’s Best 50 Hospitals list, placing the system in the top 1% of nearly 4,500 hospitals nationwide. Last July, Gragnolati was named as an executive partner at Concord Health Partners, an investment firm focused on the health care industry. “We are thrilled to add someone with Brian’s experience, knowledge and expertise to Concord’s executive team,” said James Olsen, Concord’s founder and managing partner, when the move was announced. “We established Concord with the goal of creating lasting partnerships with strategic investors to help drive the adoption of our portfolio company technologies and solutions across a broad universe of healthcare providers and payors. Brian brings unique perspective from his roles as a health system chief executive officer and at the AHA, and has distinguished himself as a valuable partner to Concord in those roles. We look forward to leveraging his insights and network as he helps identify new opportunities and accelerate growth at our portfolio companies as executive partner.”

Jon Hanson

The Hanson name celebrates a milestone this year: a century in the real estate business. Jon Hanson, the founder and chairman of The Hampshire Cos., has more than 60 years in the industry and is one of the most well-known developers in the state. “My father began his career in the real estate industry 100 years ago on the simple foundation of tireless hard work and steadfast integrity,” Hanson said on the occasion of the anniversary. “As a family and across our businesses we honor his legacy in the work we do each day and use the lessons he taught us over the years to continue to build success in an increasingly competitive real estate landscape.” And Hampshire continues to see success. After hitting lease-up within a year at Molly Brook on Belmont – a luxury multifamily offering from Hampshire and JV partner Tulfra Real Estate in Passaic County – the 180-unit community sold for $89 million last October. Meanwhile, work from the firm and its partners is attracting both commercial and residential tenants to the transformation of the former Bergen Record site in Hackensack, with residential leasing for phase one – that’s 371 units – hitting 80% leased just three months after launch. Hanson’s leadership has been responsible for helping to bring to fruition two of New Jersey’s largest developments: American Dream and the Atlantic City Gateway Redevelopment project. Hanson is chairman of the New Jersey Hall of Fame – to which he was also inducted in 2018 – and chairman of A.C. Devco. He is a director of Yankee Global Enterprises, the owner of the New York Yankees. This past year, Stockton University bestowed an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree on Hanson, recognizing him during a topping off ceremony for the second phase of another project he had a hand in helping come to fruition, the school’s Residence Hall on its growing Atlantic City campus.

David Hardy

As CEO of Ørsted Offshore North America, Hardy is overseeing Ocean Wind 1, the state’s first offshore wind farm project in the burgeoning sector. In January, Ørsted took full ownership of the project, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2024, when PSEG sold its 25% equity stake. “PSEG has been a valuable partner as we have advanced Ocean Wind 1 to this point and as we’ve successfully advanced our offshore wind vision in the United States,” he said. “With a well-established presence in the U.S., we’re confident in our ability to drive the project forward with commercial operations beginning as planned.” And that well-established presence includes a new North American Digital Operations Headquarters in Newark, which Ørsted cut the ribbon on in October. That is in addition to the company’s first New Jersey office, which opened in Atlantic City in 2018. “Da-vid’s strong commercial experience and deep knowledge of the wind power industry will be a huge asset for Ørsted, and for an industry that is poised to become a dominant source of energy for millions of Americans,” said Martin Neubert, global executive vice president and CEO of Ørsted Offshore Wind, in 2020 when he hired Hardy for this current position. “His leadership comes at a time when the U.S. is looking to renewable energy to help drive job creation, economic growth, and solutions to minimize the impacts of climate change.” Hardy is also a U.S. Navy veteran who served more than eight years in the submarine community.

John Harmon

Harmon is the founding president and CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey, which aims to ensure the success of the more than 80,000 Black-owned businesses across New Jersey. And he works energetically toward that end. Last fall, the AACCNJ established a Black Business Expo, a collaboration of community, public and private sector components that featured products and services from more than 80 major corporations and Black businesses. “We have come a long way since Booker T. Washington founded the Negro Business League, and since the formation and subsequent destruction of Black Wall Street; however, more must be done to create opportunities and partnerships for Black business owners,” Harmon said at the time. “The Business Expo is a great way to network, promote your business and learn about new business opportunities for your company.” Earlier this year, the Chamber graduated 31 incarcerated persons at Northern State Prison in Newark from its New Jersey Reentry Entrepreneurial Program. The eight-week program is funded through a partnership with the New Jersey Department of Corrections, Office of Community Engagement, and Reentry Initiatives’ 2022 New Jersey Locally, Empowered, Accountable, and Determined grant. “Our collaboration with NJDOC in this critical engagement of New Jersey citizens who need understanding of transformational resources, opportunities and information is essential to improving the competitiveness of New Jersey,” Harmon said. “We are delighted that NJDOC has afforded us an opportunity to contribute to this important and mutually beneficial endeavor.”

Debbie Hart

Hart has led BioNJ since its inception in 1994. In that time, the organization has become the trusted voice of the life sciences industry here, representing some 400 research-based organizations and stakeholders across the state’s health care ecosystem. The organization just marked the 30th anniversary of its Annual Dinner Meeting and Innovation Celebration. “As always tonight is dedicated to you, New Jersey’s remarkable life sciences ecosystem making the dreams of patients around the world come true,” Hart said at the event. “In 2022, nearly 50% of new FDA approvals came from companies with a footprint in New Jersey, officially continuing our legacy as the ‘Medicine Chest of the World.’” Hart is recognized as a respected thought leader and influential advocate collaborating with business, legislative, academic leaders and more to advance the life science industry, foster medical innovation and patient access while ensuring health equity and health care affordability. BioNJ’s motto is “Because Patients Can’t Wait,” and patients are at the center of all of Hart’s efforts. In September, she was appointed by Gov. Phil Murphy as chair of the Commission on Science, Innovation, and Technology, which is tasked with promoting the Garden State as home for academic and technological research, development, and commercialization. “Debbie has a long history of advocating for young, innovative companies in the Garden State and her decades of involvement has helped shape New Jersey innovation ecosystem and make it the ideal place for startups to grow and flourish,” Murphy said.

Jonathan Holloway

Work continues on the 550,000-square-foot New Jersey Innovation and Technology Hub in New Brunswick, which is also home to New Jersey’s flagship public university. Not only does Rutgers plan to use the $665 million facility, but so do Princeton University, Hackensack Meridian Health and Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. The project is one of several that have defined Holloway’s tenure as Rutgers’ president. The university last year also said it would waive tuition costs for students whose families earn up to $65,000 a year, and it’s lowering the costs for families that earn up to $100,000 a year. The new program, called the Scarlet Guarantee, is available on the New Brunswick-Piscataway campus and was expected to benefit approximately 7,600 first- and second-year students, or 20% of the undergraduate student body. The Scarlet Guarantee operates on a sliding scale. Students whose families earn between $65,001 and $80,000 a year in gross income would pay no more than $3,000 a year toward tuition and fees. Students with families earning between $80,001 and $100,000 a year would be responsible for no more than $5,000 a year. Eligibility is only open to full-time students eligible for in-state tuition who are pursuing a bachelor’s degree, but not a graduate degree. Only the first four years are covered, so students enrolled in a program that might go beyond that — like pharmacy degrees, which take six years — would still be responsible for those final two years. University officials said the program would cost the school $14 million next year. Clearly, ambition is not cheap. Holloway’s presidency will also be defined by how he deals with increasing costs and some of the highest public school tuition rates in the country.

Ed Jimenez

Jimenez was named as president and CEO of Newark’s University Hospital in December, stepping into the prominent and highly visible role. The hiring came months after his predecessor, Shereef Elnahal, joined the Biden administration as Under Secretary of Veterans Affairs for Health. Jimenez most recently served as chief executive officer for the University of Florida Health Shands Hospital where he guided the operations, financial performance and strategic direction for the teaching hospital. Before joining UF Health, Jimenez was the system vice president for St. Joseph’s Healthcare System and served in administrative leadership roles at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, which is now University Hospital, and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. “I return to University Hospital with a profound appreciation for its continued commitment to the underserved communities of Newark,” Jimenez said when his appointment was announced. “I would like to thank [interim CEO] Mary Maples for assisting with a smooth transition, and the board of directors for choosing me to build upon the mission and values of University Hospital as a community-first facility dedicated to the public good. I look forward to working with the UH team to expand the Hospital’s influence as a leading advanced care resource for the region and beyond.” As CEO, he will be responsible for continuing the work of Elnahal and others to protect the hospital’s financial standing and its future.

Jill Johnson

Johnson is the co-founder and CEO of the Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership and has been an advocate for women and minority entrepreneurs. In September, the state Chamber of Commerce recognized Johnson’s work to create economic opportunities for marginalized New Jerseyans and to help make the Garden State a more equitable place innovation in finance and social advancement. The same month, IFEL received a $100,000 grant from the Surdna Foundation for the launch of the Women of Color Connecting Capital Access Accelerator Program. According to the Newark-based nonprofit, in 2021, $330 billion in venture capital funding was spent, yet only 0.34% went to Black female founders. The WOCCON program will focus on smoothing the path to capital for this group of entrepreneurs, especially for Black and Latinx women working outside of tech. “The difference between the access to and availability of capital for people in resource-rich communities is striking,” Johnson said. “We are proud to partner with the Surdna Foundation to work toward redefining how risk is assessed in lending and how founders are evaluated as worthy.” According to IFEL, part of the issue with a lack of diversity in funders’ pipelines and portfolios is that people invest in people they “know, like and trust” and too few investors “know, like or trust enough women of color.” The Accelerator seeks to leverage its network to help foster relationship building to increase capital access for more women of color.

Todd Johnson

As the rollout of the Garden State’s recreational marijuana marketplace accelerates, 2023 promises to be an important year for all stakeholders, including the New Jersey Cannabis Trade Association. Amid a growing need to further address complex matters affecting the state’s legal cannabis industry and unite around initiatives of the group’s members, the NJCTA appointed industry veteran Todd Johnson to serve as its first-ever executive director. As part of its mission, the NJCTA – a statewide coalition of licensed medical and recreational dispensaries – seeks to ensure the state’s emerging cannabis marketplace is not only safe, accessible and affordable, but also equitable and just. To achieve this goal, the organization works to shape public awareness and encourage New Jersey to implement “thoughtful and responsible cannabis policy.” In his new role, Johnson is responsible for managing internal communication among member organizations and external efforts with policymakers, government officials and other entities. After working as a trader in New York City, Johnson transitioned to a 16-year-career as a consultant for Wall Street investors before getting involved in New Jersey’s medical cannabis industry in 2018. Two years later, he helped found NJCTA and held the position of treasurer since then. Johnson also acted as an NJCTA trustee on behalf of member Justice Cannabis Co., a multistate operator. While working with Justice, Johnson served as executive vice president and head of New Jersey operations, leading the buildout and operations of the company’s cultivation facility and dispensaries in the Garden State. Additionally, Johnson is co-founder of Community Greenhouse, a mission-driven cannabis company that recently received a conditional license from the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission to operate a retail dispensary. In taking the helm of the NJCTA, Johnson has said his passion for the industry and professional background equipped him “with the tools needed to effectively carry out the association’s mission.” He also said he is looking forward to working with coalition members “to promote all that is good” about the industry while ad-dressing issues and finding solutions to challenges that impact the sector and operators.

Don Katz

After founding Audible in 1995, the former journalist grew the company into the top provider of audiobooks and then sold it to Amazon.com 13 years later for $300 million. Along with its reputation for quality content, the Newark-headquartered company is known as one of the city’s most prominent – and highly regarded – corporate citizens. In 2019, Katz stepped down as chief executive officer to become executive chairman, focusing on Audible’s global content strategy, as well as its social and public policy missions. Outside of Audible, Katz is the founder of Newark Venture Partners, a social-impact early-stage investment fund and accelerator that has attracted dozens of startups to the city’s growing tech ecosystem.

Douglas Kennedy

In addition to serving as president and CEO of Peapack-Gladstone Bank, Kennedy was reelected as a Class A Director representing Group 2 – banks with capital and surplus from $40 million to $2 billion – to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in December 2022. At the time, he described the opportunity as an “exciting and critical time” in the industry, an undeniable assessment as the Fed continues to keep a close watch on the economy and inflation. At Peapack-Gladstone, his work is driven by a connection to the community and a desire to innovate. The bank closed 2022 on a high note – reporting total revenue of $64.85 million and net income of $20.58 million for the fourth quarter, compared to $56.17 million in revenue and $14.86 million of net come for the same period the year prior. Kennedy’s made it his mission to transform the institution and its wealth management division, Peapack Private, into a financial services powerhouse; work that has paid off. For Q4, fee income from the segment made up 20% of total revenue. “Our fourth quarter results represent a fitting end to a tremendous year for our Company,” Kennedy said in the earnings release. The company also earns high marks from its employees. The bank was one of just three from the Garden State to make American Banker’s 10th annual Best Banks to Work For 2022 list, a ranking it’s been recognized on since 2018, making for a “tremendous” year, indeed.

Karen Kessler

Kessler PR Group, the former Evergreen Partners, turns 30 years old in 2023. The public relations firm Kessler founded and leads as CEO is known for working with clients that run the gamut from Fortune 100 companies to colleges and universities, health care systems, financial institutions, and law firms (regionally, nationally and internationally), offering litigation support in addition to crisis communications and reputation management. Though discretion is at its core, the firm was publicly instrumental in the launch of the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund, including organizing and supporting the Jersey4Jersey Bruce Springsteen telethon. More recently, Kessler has been busy in public as the spokesperson for mixed martial arts athlete Conner McGregor, a man whose Wikipedia page includes a “Controversies” subheading, further driving home the point that if you’re maybe in trouble Kessler’s the call to make. This past year, it was reported she was reappointed to a three-year term (her fourth) on the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct by New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Stuart Rabner.

Jim Kirkos

The Meadowlands Chamber of Commerce represents a tight geographic area, but that doesn’t mean its reach – or Kirkos’ influence – is limited. The president and CEO of the group had a hand in finally bringing American Dream to reality; working with “New Jersey’s” two NFL teams; and focusing energy on the former Izod Center, which was retrofitted to serve as a studio for NBCUniversal. He was also a vocal proponent of the region’s bid to serve as host for the 2026 FIFA World Cup – work that paid off over the summer when FIFA made the announcement that MetLife Stadium was chosen as one of 10 host venues in the U.S. for the tournament – ensuring an influx of hundreds of thousands of visitors, and millions of dollars in economic activity – for the area. “MetLife Stadium’s 82,000-seat capacity and proximity to hospitality both in New Jersey and New York City will be a historic and defining moment for our region, not only in terms of sports history, but also in terms of economic activity,” Kirkos said at the time. And he’s still pushing for visionary projects in the region, like a conference center that would bring a business function to the area, alongside the shop-ping and entertainment destinations. A proposal unveiled by the Meadowlands 2040 Foundation, an economic development affiliate of the Chamber, and prepared by Hunden Strategic Partners, calls for 300,000 square feet of exhibit space – including a 100,000-square-foot ballroom and a 40,000-square foot arena that could seat between 2,000 and 5,000 spectators – at the Meadowlands Arena. There would be an additional 60,000-square-foot ballroom and 100,000 square feet of meeting spaces, which could be split into as many as 75 meeting rooms. Kirkos told NJBIZ that the new facilities could compete with the 3.3 million-square-foot Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan. All that activity will inspire a lot of movement, and Kirkos has backed a potential light rail proposed by state transportation officials that would connect the Secaucus Junction train station with Meadowlands entertainment hubs. Such a connection is something he told NJBIZ is “exactly what we need … creative ways to do a secondary means of transportation from Secaucus transfer into the sports complex and American Dream.”

Scott Kobler

One of the most prominent M&A lawyers in New Jersey and partner at McCarter & English, Kobler has spent the last 40 years handling some of the state’s largest and most complex health care transactions, including mergers & acquisitions and capital financing. Kobler is also currently chair of Public Media New Jersey (NJ PBS), as well as director of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, a trustee of the Newark Alliance and director of the Catholic Medical Mission Board. In August 2020, he was recognized with the NJBIZ ICON award for the importance of his legal work not just at McCarter, but for the state’s larger business community.

Jeff Kolakowski

Kolakowski is chief executive officer of the New Jersey Builders Association. His organization represents residential and commercial builders, developers, remodelers, subcontractors, suppliers, engineers, architects, consultants and other professionals through its advocacy, education, promotional and networking opportunities. In Trenton, the NJBA represents the building industry by promoting its own pro-housing proposals – particularly pertinent as the state, along with the rest of the country, faces a shortage of housing – in addition to providing feedback on other initiatives or regulatory measures. Among its successes, the group counts amendments to local redevelopment and housing laws and the Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act, which provides $500 million to certain vocational and county college projects to help address a labor shortage across the building industry. Last month, NJBA added another success when Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation that aims to expedite the construction permit process in the Garden State. At the time, Kolakowski said the effort exemplified how the public and private sectors can collaborate effectively to find sensible solutions, in this case to an issue that has long plagued New Jersey. “The bill signed today will foster a more efficient system of handling building code inspections that will result in a more affordable housing market, revitalized economic strength, and additional career and business opportunities in the construction industry,” he said.

Jonathan Koppell

Koppell took over as president of Montclair State University in August 2021, and he has quickly put his mark on the school. In October 2022, just over a year into his tenure, Montclair State and Bloomfield College announced that they would merge, creating Bloomfield College of Montclair State University. Months earlier, Montclair State announced plans to financially support Bloomfield through the 2022-23 academic year as the two institutions worked to establish a permanent relationship. The move was in response to the private university’s earlier call for support. As part of the agreement, Bloomfield – which is New Jersey’s only four-year Predominantly Black Institution, as well as a Hispanic-Serving Institution and Minority Serving Institution – will continue to operate independently through the 2022-23 academic year, but in close collaboration with Montclair State, until the two merge. Bloomfield students will be able to continue their education without interruption and without additional costs. Montclair State will also try to provide employment opportunities for Bloomfield College’s current employees. Koppell said the merger “could serve as a new national model for how institutions with similar missions can innovate through integration and become partners in ensuring student success instead of competitors.”

Anthony Labozzetta

Labozzetta was elevated to president and CEO of Provident Bank last January after joining the Iselin-based financial institution in 2020 following its merger with SB One Bank, where he served as president and CEO. Nine months later, Provident and Lakeland Bank announced a $1.3 billion merger agreement that is scheduled to close in the second quarter of this year. Among its highlights, the partners pointed toward enhancing scale and building on existing strengths. For instance, fortifying their position in the tri-state commercial real estate market. Amid economic headwinds, local lenders are stepping up to fill the void while larger players retreat from the market and Provident is no exception. In December and January two multifamily projects announced a cumulative $54.8 million in construction financing from the bank, funding that will help keep people working and developments on task. And that’s pre-merger. With $25 billion in assets, the Provident-Lakeland combo would create the second-largest financial institution based in the Garden State – a “super community bank” – with Labozzetta at the helm.

Greg Lalevee

It’s finally happening. The Gateway Project is getting off the ground – and under the river. Right there is Lalevee, the business manager of the Inter-national Union of Operating Engineers Local 825 and vice president of the IUOE’s general executive board. His members – which number more than 8,000 – will be among the first beneficiaries of that and other infrastructure projects because they are doing a lot of the work. Other projects that Local 825 members would build include improvements at the South Jersey wind port and the Newark Penn Station rehabilitation. The New Jersey Building Trades vice president and member of the state’s Licensed Crane Operators Advisory Board also keeps a close watch on the economy as a whole, with his membership sensitive to shifting winds as the pandemic begins to recede. Lalevee also acts as an advocate for infrastructure improvements, most recently the widening of the turnpike leading to the Holland Tunnel, which has come under fire from local officials and environ-mentalists. Lalevee publicly called those opponents short-sighted. “One look at traffic coming out of the pandemic tells you all you need to know,” Lalevee wrote in an op-ed for NorthJersey.com. “That’s why the Murphy administration is right to ignore project opponents and move forward with its plans to improve and expand the New Jersey Turnpike in the direction of the Holland Tunnel.”

Dana Lancellotti

After taking the helm of the New Jersey Restaurant & Hospitality Association in the midst of the pandemic two years ago, Lancellotti has been hard at work advocating for the thousands of restaurants and bars across the state. Despite labor shortages and higher costs, business is up for many Garden State operators, leaving Lancellotti feeling cautiously optimistic the industry is on the rebound. Although there are still concerns about inflation and supply chain issues, she believes that, overall, the public is less fearful to be out and about and more comfortable about social gatherings, which will help hospitality businesses bounce back stronger. This year, Lancellotti will be keeping a close eye on the latest efforts to revamp the state’s Prohibition-era liquor license laws and finding a way to redesign the regulations in a way that is fair for all stakeholders, including restaurants and bars that have already shelled out hundreds of thousands of dollars for liquor licenses.

Ralph LaRossa

A more than 30-year veteran of the Newark-based energy company, LaRossa took over as president and CEO at PSEG last fall, succeeding Ralph Izzo who led the company for the previous 15 years. At the start of 2023, LaRossa added chair of the board to his title and duties. Upon the announcement of his appointment, he said he aimed to carry on Izzo’s vision and strategy, citing a focus on developing the workforce of the future. To that end, in June, PSEG graduated participants from its Supplier Diversity Mentorship program. With a focus on a clean energy future, PSEG has also won recognition for its efforts around EV charging, both for building infrastructure and for the acceleration of fast charger deployment. The supplier diversity mentorship, PSEG notes, supports the New Jersey CEO Council’s pledge to spend an additional $250 million on procurement with state-based, diverse companies by 2025. In 2022, that group – the CEO Council – was integrated into Choose New Jersey, where LaRossa also serves as chair. As the Garden State made gains toward a return to routines that reflect a pre-pandemic atmosphere in 2022, the organization said it helped 43 companies to either relocate or expand in New Jersey, adding up to more than 4,700 new and retained jobs and generating more than $3 billion in capital investments. Upon the figures’ release, LaRossa commented that Choose NJ spent the 12-month period “putting a global spotlight on our state and reconnecting with business leaders in New Jersey, the U.S., and all over the world.” A light that undoubtedly will continue to shine as 2023 unfolds.

Thai Lee

SHI International, which Lee leads as president and CEO, has seen some big growth in recent years. In March, the company reported a 14% increase in revenue for the second half of 2021, bringing in $12.3 billion for 10% growth over the year prior: “another record-breaking year” for the IT solutions provider that calls Somerset home. Across the Raritan River, you’ll see SHI’s new brand identity, launched at the start of last year, emblazoned above the home of Rutgers Scarlet Knights football team in Piscataway, where SHI has had naming rights since 2019. This fall, Lee’s company announced a multiyear agreement to serve as the official technology partner of the LPGA Tour. The organization has dubbed 2023 the Year of Women’s Golf in New Jersey, with four events – including a major championship – set to take place here. SHI is also growing its footprint outside of the state, and the country. The company launched a new data center in the United Kingdom, its second in Europe, which was announced as a “key milestone” in the company’s continuing U.K. and European expansion plans. Certainly something to keep an eye on, which explains why her company was included in 2022’s NJBIZ Companies to Watch feature. With net worth of approximately $4.1 billion, last year, Forbes named Lee No. 6 on its Self-Made Women list.

Teik Lim

The first member of his family to earn a college degree, Lim took over as the ninth president of New Jersey Institute of Technology this past sum-mer. Ahead of beginning his tenure, he told NJBIZ that NJIT is a natural destination for someone with his background. “The most attractive feature is the diversity of the campus,” Lim, the first person of color to hold the post at the school, said. “I think we can make full use of the diversity here to really strengthen NJIT’s academic and research enterprises and then use that diversity to make NJIT a supercharged engine.” And he isn’t wasting any time digging into that work. In the fall, NJIT said it welcomed its most diverse first-year class ever. That group was 31% women, another record-high, and half of the school’s newly hired professors for that semester were also women. In another high mark for admissions, in October, S&P Global Ratings upped NJIT’s credit rating to stable, reflecting “a firmer enrollment trend and expectations of improved financial operating performance.” A proponent of the benefits of private-public partnerships, NJIT’s collaboration with Ørsted was expanded this fall with a new scholarship and career development opportunities, allowing the school to get a foothold in one of the state’s burgeoning new industries. And NJIT is also making moves to preserve established sectors: the school will receive $1.3 million in federal funding to support initiatives to bolster engineering education in addition to manufacturing and mechatronics apprenticeship training.

Charles Lowrey

Lowrey is CEO of Fortune 500 company Prudential Financial, an anchor institution in the state’s largest city of Newark. Aside from having its foot-print there for its entire history (nearly 150 years), its logo emblazoned on the skyline from its state-of-the-art headquarters space, and naming rights to the home of the New Jersey Devils and entertainment landmark the Prudential Center, the business – and Lowrey as its leader – has its fingerprints all over the city as well, as a corporate citizen with the community in mind through its corporate giving, impact investing and local engagement. Some of that work is exemplified through its Emerging Visionaries program, which will announce 2023 winners in February. The national program celebrates adolescents, ages 14-18, who come up with innovative solutions for societal and financial issues — with the opportunity to travel to Pru’s HQ for coaching and skills development. While the company’s recently released 2022 fourth quarter and year-end results were a mix, it saw dividends increase for the 15th consecutive year. In a statement issued with the results, Lowrey said Prudential had made progress on “its transformation to become a higher growth, less market sensitive, and more nimble company.” As economic pressures persist, he also touted Prudential’s achievements when it comes to cutting back, saying it exceeded a $750 million cost savings target one year ahead of schedule. Lowrey also lends his leadership capabilities elsewhere. To start 2023, he was tapped as co-chair for another Newark anchor institution’s board: the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. The appointment makes him the third person from Prudential with his titles to lead the group. He’s also the co-chair of the state’s CEO Council. In that capacity, Prudential and other heavy hitters – Merck, Verizon and Johnson & Johnson among them – have pledged to hire or train 30,000 residents by 2030. In November, the group, which the governor characterized as “a prime example of the public and private sectors working together to address structural inequality across the state,” was integrated into Choose New Jersey.

Chris Maher

Maher is the CEO of OceanFirst Bank and the current chair of the New Jersey Bankers Association. He has led OceanFirst since 2015, two years after joining as president and chief operating officer. Maher is also a keen observer of the state and national economy. “The degree of the recession – you know recessions are, and I don’t want to minimize them because they cause pain throughout the economy – but they happen,” he recently told NJBIZ. “They’re part of the business cycle. Most of our clients, although they may be a little apprehensive, it’s not getting in the way of them making important decisions for their business. So it’s not getting in the way of them hiring thus far, making large capital decisions. … We’ve come to appre-ciate the quality of the workforce we have. I know I do here at the bank and whether conditions are optimal or not optimal, if you’ve got good employees, you want to hang on to them. And if you’re looking for talent, it could take you three, six, nine months – in some cases a year – to find great talent, so think our clients are saying, [it] might be a little softer next year, but I’m not going to jump the gun. I’m not going to resort to laying people off if I don’t have to. It’s hard enough to find people. Why would I? Why would I separate them from my company?”

Mark Manigan

Manigan took over Jan. 1 as president and CEO of RWJBarnabas Health, after the retirement of Barry Ostrowsky. In announcing Manigan’s elevation, Ostrowsky called him “a formidable strategist” who helped the system grow. “In defining those attributes for success needed in our next leader, the board sought an individual with a broad portfolio of experiences, plus a bold vision for the future. I am confident that Mark brings these skills and much more to this position.” Manigan joined RWJBarnabas in 2019 as executive vice president for business development and was named chief strategy and development officer in 2020. He was responsible for the evolution of the strategic plan and oversight for RWJBarnabas Health’s Ambulatory Services Division. Manigan also served as a member of the system’s Strategic Council. Before joining RWJBarnabas Health, he was a leading health care attorney at Brach Eichler LLC, and served on both Govs. Phil Murphy’s and Chris Christie’s health care transition teams. “I am humbled and honored to have been given the opportunity to lead this incredible health system,” Manigan said when he was elevated to the top job. “I have been proud to work with Barry Ostrowsky, a true luminary in the field, whom I consider a friend and mentor. I am deeply moved by the commitment my 38,000 outstanding colleagues have to our mission and the communities we serve, particularly in response to the challenges presented by the pandemic.”

Michael Maron

As the CEO of Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, Maron is leading the hospital through a period of independence with a consolidation wave still exerting pressure on the industry. While the future remains uncertain, Maron and Holy Name push forward. The medical center received a $3.3 mil-lion appropriation to launch a new residency program aimed at addressing a critical shortage of physicians, as part of the omnibus spending signed by President Joe Biden. Through the new Graduate Medical Education Program, the Teaneck hospital intends to train 90 doctors per year in clinical specialties including Internal medicine, psychiatry, general surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, orthopedics, nephrology and palliative care. Holy Name said the funding will be used to renovate an 8,400-square-foot-space and purchase equipment needed to launch the new residency program. Maron said there is nothing more important in health care than strengthening the future workforce. He credited the state’s congressional delegation for securing the funding for this much-needed new training program, especially the efforts of Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez. “No one fought harder than Sen. Menendez to ensure adequate funding to launch a new Graduate Medical Education program, training 90 new physicians here at Holy Name each year,” said Maron. “With New Jersey’s physician workforce facing significant pandemic-related retirements, this will be an important game-changer.”

Kevin McCabe

McCabe is a commissioner of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey and partner and head of public affairs at the influential Trenton consulting firm River Crossing Strategy Group. He’s also chairman of the Middlesex County Democratic Party, a post he’s occupied for a decade and where he holds considerable sway in Central Jersey politics. McCabe has connections with some of the key power players in the state Legislature, and he’s on good terms with the governor. With his Woodbridge ally Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin a Middlesex County resident, and the new Senate President Nicholas Scutari hailing from neighboring Union County, the Central Jersey voting bloc now holds even more sway in New Jersey politics at a time when that leverage may be exhausting itself in previous power pockets in the state. And with 2023 being a general assembly election year, you can bet McCabe will be hard at work. The former New Jersey labor commissioner and president of the Carpenter Contract Trust, which he led from a single-state to multistate organization, McCabe boasts years of advocacy for organized labor. He also serves as a board member of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University and as a trustee for the New Jersey Hall of Fame Foundation.

Mike McGuinness

As CEO of NAIOP’s New Jersey chapter, McGuinness is at the forefront of the state’s commercial real estate industry and oversees the daily operations and programs of the trade group. In addition to working with the officers and board of trustees to carry out the group’s mission, McGuinness is a registered legislative agent who directs the advocacy program and manages the Developers Political Action Committee. He regularly testifies before and meets with lawmakers and regulatory agencies on matters of importance to the industrial commercial real estate development industry. A recent win came last month when the governor signed legislation to help speed up the permitting process for construction projects. McGuinness also helped lead the sector through the throes of the pandemic, work that persists in its wake due to changes in how and where people work. NAIOP’s mission statement says it is committed to improving the professionalism of the individual, the image of the industry and the quality of life in communities. In addition to its advocacy and the network it provides, the group also engages via educational opportunities and strives for membership diversity to be representative of and responsive to the changing industry. NAIOP’s business development initiatives aim to continue improving opportunities across the industry. Moving further from COVID, McGuinness’s leadership is key as economic headwinds persist more broadly and sectors – like industrial – face pushback statewide from new warehouse developments.

Carlos Medina

Medina is the president and majority owner of Robinson Aerial Surveys, a newly appointed board member for NJ Transit, and the president and CEO for the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey — the largest chamber in the state, according to NJBIZ lists. Last year, that membership shot up to 7,500, a total that bests the next-ranked organization by nearly 6,000. He’s also the host of “Que Pasa NJ” on PBS, a pro-gram that broadcasts the ideas of connectivity and community fostered by SHCCNJ, literally, along with its success stories. In 2022, the chamber’s Hispanic Entrepreneurship Training Program – just one of its educational initiatives – exemplified its reach. According to the Annual HETP report, the program has seen applications increase by 512% over seven years and class sizes have gone up by 238% over six years. Last year, the program had a 98% graduation rate with 50 businesses completing the course. The SHCCNJ also works with others to advance its mission. Sustaining partners include ADP, PSE&G, Hudson County Community College and Cross River Bank. In March, SHCCNJ and Cross River announced they would partner on the HETP effort. “Based on recent studies, New Jersey is among eight states (Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, New Mexico, New York, and Texas) that collectively have approximately three-quarters of the U.S. Latino population,” Medina said at the time. “The eight states have a Latino GDP of $2 trillion. We need to continue to add partners like Cross River, that value the economic power of the Hispanic business community incentivizing its growth through education and networking.”

Audrey Meyers

Meyers is one of the longest-serving health executives in the Garden State, overseeing the Valley Health System. She was named president and CEO, first of the Valley Hospital in 1999 and then system president and CEO in 2003. On her watch, Valley continues to be one of the state’s busiest hospitals and one of the few highly successful standalone hospital systems in the country. Revenue has grown since she took the helm from $250 mil-lion to more than $1 billion with profitability increasing from breakeven to among the most profitable in the state. And the system is expanding un-der her leadership with an $800 million hospital under construction in Paramus that is on schedule and set to open this year. In January, Valley Hospital was named one of the America’s 100 Best Hospitals for 2023 by Healthgrades, putting it in the top 2% of hospitals nationwide for overall clinical performance. Valley was one of three hospitals in the Garden State to receive the honor. “This prestigious award for clinical outcomes demonstrates the importance we place on delivering the highest-quality care and service to our patients and their families,” said Meyers.

Patrick Murray

Since 2005, Murray has led the Monmouth University Polling Institute, which serves as one of the most respected and highly regarded measures of public opinion in the nation. Murray is regularly turned to by major news networks as a source for insight and commentary on political races and issues around the country. At this tense political time, polling can often be a thankless job where much criticism is thrown your way. But Murray remains undeterred and does the work of monitoring and studying the public’s opinion on critical state and national issues. The Polling Institute’s mission is to foster greater public accountability by ensuring that the public’s voice is heard in the policy discourse. And with a looming presidential race in 2024 and what is likely to be a wild New Jersey gubernatorial campaign here in 2025, Murray figures to be a busy man. In a recent poll following the State of the Union, Murray warned about how the growing chasm between the two political sides is weakening our democracy. “There is a deep-seated distrust of folks at the other end of the political spectrum,” said Murray. “That’s not a good situation for a functioning democracy to be in. You need a critical mass of the public to feel the world won’t fall apart if the other side has the upper hand from time to time. We just don’t have that right now.”