The ballroom at The Palace at Somerset Park was packed with over 260 people Thursday morning for NJBIZ’s Icon Honors event, celebrating the careers of men and women 60 and over who have made it their business to pioneer change and innovation in their workplaces and communities.
The 29 honorees were selected by an independent panel of judges, representing industries from health care to technology to law.
One such honoree was Lynne Katzmann, founder and CEO of Bloomfield-based Juniper Communities, which owns and operates senior living communities in New Jersey, Colorado, Florida and Pennsylvania.
“She’s a phenomenal leader and advocate for all people, especially women,” said Jeanine Genauer of Montclair-based JRP Group, who nominated Katzmann for the honor. “She started with a dream to do good for older people and grew it into one of the top 40 national companies in the United States that serves the elderly where they can live their lives to the fullest – body, mind, and soul.”
To Genauer’s point, all but one employee representing Juniper at the event were women.
Katzmann’s business has grown over 30 years from a small outfit in Chatham to one that employs 1,800 people and does $80 million in business annually.
“The difference with Juniper is that it’s a women-owned company that’s asset-based,” said Genauer. “You don’t see many women owning asset-based companies. You see more women in soft-type industries, but very few women owning asset-based companies owning physically plants or buildings.”
Another honoree, Byron Yake, is the founder and executive director of Write on Sports Inc. in South Orange. Write on Sports holds camps that give at-risk middle-schoolers personal and professional skills useful for a future in writing. Yake started the business 13 years ago after retiring from The Associated Press.
“The idea is to find a way to teach kids in at-risk communities self-confidence, how to interview, how to write,” Yake said.
This year, Write on Sports held 11 two-week summer camps across four states: New Jersey, Indiana, Rhode Island and Connecticut.
Some of his former campers are now professional journalists or pursuing that path in college. One, he said, works for MLB Network.
On today’s award, he said, “It’s lovely, it’s wonderful. It’s always nice to get recognition for what you do. The idea is to grow and to find more ways to build this thing so we can help more kids.”
Another former journalist is Pete Taft, CEO and Managing Partner of Lawrenceville’s Taft Communications, who also was honored. After 10 years as a journalist and three as the spokesperson for the state labor commission under Gov. Jim Florio, he started Taft Communications in 1983.
“Doing business, particularly in New Jersey, is not easy, as every one of these people will tell you,” Taft said. “It’s a rough state, it’s a smart state, so to be noticed and told ‘you done good,’ it’s very satisfying.”
Also honored were Anthony Bastardi, chairman and CEO, Strategic Development Group; Laura Carabello, chief creative officer, CPR Strategic Marketing Communications; Mario Casabona, founder and managing director, Casabona Ventures LLC; Jerry Creighton, managing partner, The Creighton Group; Edwin Cohen, principal partner, Prism Capital Partners; Stan Danzig, vice chairman, Cushman & Wakefield; Kathleen Davis, executive vice president and COO, Chamber of Commerce of Southern New Jersey; Steven Denholtz, CEO, Denholtz Associates; Leonard Green, chairman and founder, The Green Group; Anthony Gruppo, CEO, Marsh & McLennan Agency Northeast Region; Alan Hammer, member, Brach Eichler LLC; Michael Kempner, founder and CEO, MWWPR; Gordon Litwin, co-chairman, Hackensack Meridian Health; William Mentlik, managing partner, Lerner, David, Littenberg, Krumholz, & Mentlik LLP; Andrew Merin, executive vice chairman, Cushman & Wakefield; Raymond Nisivoccia, founding partner, Nisivoccia LLP; Mary Pomerantz, CEO, TPG HR Services, TPF Staffing and Mary Pomerantz Advertising; Lawrence Powers, partner and co-chair of the construction law department, Hoagland, Longo, Moran, Dunst & Doukas LLP; Thomas Ryan, managing partner, Laddey, Clark & Ryan LLP; Joseph Sanzari, CEO, Joseph M. Sanzari Inc.; Daniel Schwartz, managing member, Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi PC; Judith Sheft, associate vice president, technology and enterprise development, New Jersey Innovation Institute at NJIT; Charles Stanziale, partner, McCarter & English; Ralph Albert Thomas, CEO and executive director, NJCPA; Joan Verplanck, president, Profit by Association; and James Zazzali, of counsel, Gibbons PC.
Supporting sponsors were Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi PC, NJCPA, Denholtz Associates, The Green Group and Hackensack Meridian Health.
NJBIZ’s next awards event, 40 Under 40, will be Thursday, Sept. 20, at iPlay America in Freehold.