Montclair State University has appointed Carley Graham Garcia executive director of the Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, effective Sept. 3.
Garcia spent the last 12 years at Google, most recently as head of external affairs, responsible for public policy, government relations and community engagement for the New York City region, including New Jersey. She succeeds Dennis Bone, the center’s founding director, who retired after serving in that role for six years.
Garcia is prioritizing developing a new strategic plan, increasing investments in women’s entrepreneurship week, attracting businesses to Montclair State and creating an innovation hub at the center so “the center is a place where students come to collaborate and to heighten the awareness of what our students can do to create startups.”
Garcia sees the most common obstacles that inhibit Montclair State University students from starting businesses center on their competing priorities: balancing family, work and school.
“I am attracted to Montclair State University because our students show a lot of grit,” Garcia told NJBIZ. “I am attracted to helping these students being working professionals.”
Greg Cant, dean of the Feliciano School of Business, said Garcia’s leadership will usher the center into a critical second phase, one that looks more externally to connect and serve the broader Montclair community, while preparing students for future workforce demands. Cant said Garcia’s experience at Google, building community relationships, brings valuable business connections as the Center works to expand its network of partners.
“This is really an exciting chapter,” Cant said. “She’s going to really help imagine and create what we’re going to do as we prepare people for the skill sets that will be essential for the careers of the future.”
We want to teach students the skills not only to survive, but to thrive in a constantly changing business landscape.
– Carley Graham Garcia
Garcia said the center’s second phase will put more focus on resilience, whether as an individual, a business, an industry or community.
“You can only learn if you can build, then pivot and change,” Garcia said. “We want to teach students the skills not only to survive, but to thrive in a constantly changing business landscape.”
Launched in January 2013 as part of the Feliciano School of Business, the center seeks to provide students with tools to turn creative sparks and innovative ideas into successful ventures. It offers a concentration in entrepreneurship, a minor in entrepreneurship, a certificate of entrepreneurship and a certificate in innovation design.
The center facilitates the 5,200-member Montclair Entrepreneurs Meetup group, and created Women Entrepreneurship Week, a global movement celebrated in 2018 at universities in 32 countries and 46 states.
Garcia first became involved with the center in 2018, visiting the MIX Lab innovation center, meeting with leaders and students, and presenting at the Women Entrepreneurship Week Conference.
She said the new role marries her passion for business, policy and the community, offering her an opportunity to help develop connections with employers and cultivate workforce skills to drive economic growth across the region.
“This should be a place where students can see themselves, and where they can feel inspired and empowered to create,” she said.
Garcia earned a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University, and an MBA from the Stern School of Business at New York University. She is currently on leave from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where she is pursuing a Mid-Career Master’s in Public Administration.
She lives in Montclair with her husband, son and daughter.