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Power 100: I – M

Ralph Izzo

The chairman and CEO of the Public Service Enterprise Group, Izzo heads the parent company of Public Service Electric & Gas, one of the country’s largest utilities. Since he took over the top job in 2007, he has staked out an unusual position among power executives as a leading advocate of clean energy and conservation. Izzo is a believer in the need for action on climate change. As he says, the science is pretty clear about what is happening as well as why it is happening. In September Izzo launched his 5 Things to Tackle Climate Change – a climate strategy that fits on one hand. The main prongs of the strategy are energy efficiency; preserving carbon-free nuclear energy; a price on carbon; renewable energy and electrifying transportation. “You don’t need to be a physicist or an engineer to see that we need to act on climate now to avoid the most damaging impacts of climate change in the future,” Izzo said. “If we hope to mitigate the most damaging impacts of our changing climate, it’s clear that there are five things we need to do – some more quickly than others.”

Thomas Kemly

From his perch as chairman of NJBankers, Thomas Kemly has a birds-eye view of the issues and opportunities surrounding the state’s banking sector. Kemly is also the chief executive officer of Columbia Bank and was lauded for successfully managing the bank’s recent IPO, promoting affordable housing and small business development throughout the state, creating Team Columbia, a concept that allows every employee to volunteer, and greatly enhancing the giving reach of the Columbia Bank Foundation which helps so many local causes. Kemly also supervised several mergers including the $137 million acquisition of Atlantic Stewardship Bank Columbia’s deal for Roselle Bank.

Michael Kempner

MWWPR Group ranks among the largest Independent public relations firms in the nation and one of the largest independent firms in the world. Kempner has been leading the firm since he founded it in 1986 and continues to expand. But his real influence is as a top Democratic fundraiser. He was one of Hillary Clinton’s main money people during the 2016 presidential campaign. And last summer, Kempner held an event for California Sen. Kamala Harris, who was then seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, at his home in Water Mill, N.Y. The price of admission reportedly started at $2,800. Kempner is the chairman of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, in addition to a current member of the Fulbright-Canada Scholarship Board and a founding board member of ConnectOne Bank, one of the nation’s most successful community banks. Kempner is a board member of the New York Coalition for the Homeless.

Douglas Kennedy

Kennedy, the president and CEO of Peapack-Gladstone Bank, was appointed to the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in January 2020. With more than 40 years in the industry, Kennedy is described as a passionate, competitive, creative, and versatile financial services leader with a track record of building and repositioning businesses. He has made it his mission to transform Peapack-Gladstone Bank and its wealth management division, Peapack Private, into a financial services powerhouse, able to compete at the highest level. In 2018 and 2019, the Bank was recognized by American Banker as a “Best Bank to Work For.”

John Kennedy

As the CEO of the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program, which helps manufacturing companies to improve their profitability and competitiveness. According to NJMEP, the organization helped create or retain 36,951 jobs from 2000 to 2019. Kennedy told NJBIZ that New Jersey provides more than 378,000 manufacturing jobs with an average salary of more than $90,500 per year. In interviews with NJBIZ, Kennedy lamented that high schools do not introduce students to careers in manufacturing. As a result, fewer younger adults are entering the industry. In the meantime, people in their 60s are retiring at a greater rate, leaving a gap in the number of filled positions. As manufacturers struggle to find skilled workers, Kennedy and the organization he runs will be at the forefront of the effort to make the industry work in New Jersey.

Karen Kessler

Decades ago, the trial lawyer Edward Bennett Williams was “The Man to See” — in Evan Thomas’s formulation — for anyone going through a professional crisis in Washington. Today in New Jersey, Kessler is the Woman to See. For more than 25 years she has led a team considered the go-to communications firm for corporations, public institutions, religious groups, sports teams and athletes, elected officials and high-profile individuals facing allegations of legal, business and personnel misconduct; political corruption; professional integrity issues; social media fallout; large-scale public investigations; #MeToo allegations and other matters. Kessler’s clients, notes one insider, are so high-profile and their issues so sensitive that they won’t let on that they’ve hired her. “And she won’t either,” this person says.

Jim Kirkos

Because the Meadowlands Chamber of Commerce represents such a tight geographic area, you’d think it wouldn’t be that powerful of an organization. But when its president, Jim Kirkos, beats the drum for the area, he beats it loudly; and between American Dream, working with New Jersey’s two NFL teams (or, ahem, “New York’s”), and focusing energy on the former Izod Center, Kirkos is breathing new energy into the area. The New York Times reported that he’s sent proposals to Gov. Murphy to turn the arena into a destination venue for acts like Cirque du Soleil or to be repurposed into a convention center. With all the activity, Kirkos is breathing new energy into the area. “If anybody besides Kirkos was pushing for the convention center, it wouldn’t have a chance,” one insider said. “He punches above his organization’s weight. If I were a betting person, Kirkos can make it happen.”

Charles Kushner

Yes, he has a nationally famous name, and yes, he served prison time for tax evasion and witness tampering. But Kushner is also quite literally reshaping some of the most important real estate on the Shore. The Kushner Cos. is responsible for several projects in Long Branch and Asbury Park, “Long Branch is different now because of him,” is how one observer put it , and is leading the $350 million redevelopment of the Monmouth Mall in Eatontown. And Kushner is responsible for adding thousands of residential units in Eatontown, Colts Neck and elsewhere in Monmouth County.

Greg Lalevee

Lalevee’s members may be among the first beneficiaries if the Gateway project gets built because they will be doing a lot of the work. But thousands of businesses will ultimately reap the rewards of his tireless work on behalf of the project. Lalevee is both the business manager of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 825 and vice president of the IUOE’s general executive board. And he is vice president of the New Jersey Building Trades and a member of the state’s Licensed Crane Operators Advisory Board. Journeymen workers and apprentices are training on heavy equipment and cranes at an instructional center in Dayton, getting ready to build the biggest infrastructure project New Jersey has seen in decades. “From a pure economic development perspective, we want the Gateway project,” Lalevee told NJBIZ in January 2020. “Construction is cyclical. We have had very good years for a number of years in a row. It does not necessarily always last and you cannot predict when it will end. But whether the [construction season] is very good or very bad, the Gateway project has a resume that stands on its own. Thirty percent of the nation’s gross domestic product goes through the Northeast Corridor. Thirteen percent of Manhattan’s workforce goes through the Hudson tunnels.” Lalevee looks forward to seeing the federal money start flowing. The spending would result in a major boost to local engineers, apprentices and journeymen — along with the rest of the state’s economy.

Jeffrey Le Benger

Le Benger, chief executive officer of Summit CityMD, is viewed by his peers as a visionary and thought leader in physician group practice management, value-based care and population health management. Le Benger played a major role in the merger between Summit Medical Group and CityMD. He helped turn Summit CityMD into one of the nation’s premier physician-governed multispecialty medical groups. The first integrated delivery of care network of its kind, the combined organization has more than 1,600 providers, 6,400 employees and 200 locations in New Jersey and New York. Summit CityMD handles more than 4.6 million patient visits annually, with a vision to provide patients an exceptional, seamless experience across a full spectrum of high-quality primary, specialty, and urgent care.

Thai Lee

Until last year, few New Jerseyans likely knew anything about SHI International. As a privately held company, the Somerset-based provider of information technology products and services largely flew under the public’s radar — despite its claimed $10 billion valuation. Founder, president and CEO Lee changed that with several high-profile moves. First, the company bought the naming rights to Rutgers Stadium, located several miles from its headquarters, in a deal reportedly valued at nearly $11 million. The agreement will put the company’s name in front of a relatively small, but perhaps growing, coterie of Big Ten Conference football fans most weekends. Then, in the fall, SHI expanded its presence in Piscataway by opening a new data center and unveiling plans for an IT configuration facility. According to the company, the new Ridge Integration Facility – along with its existing 300,000-square-foot Integration Center – makes SHI the operator of two of the largest such facilities east of Chicago. In all, Lee leads a company that employs thousands of people and operates out of 35 offices around the world.

Charles Lowrey

As CEO of Prudential Financial Inc., Lowrey runs the company that is perhaps the most important corporate entity in Newark, its name emblazoned on the city’s skyline. In 2019, under Lowrey’s watch, Prudential committed more than $180 million through 2025 to support young people ages 15 to 29 worldwide who lack access to school, training or regular jobs—a segment of the global population known as opportunity youth. Prudential also launched a process, talent and technology transformation initiative, which is on track to realize $500 million in run rate cost savings by 2022. In October, Prudential completed the $2.35 billion acquisition of Assurance IQ adding a leading direct-to-consumer financial wellness solutions platform.

Jose Lozano

Choose NJ, which Lozano leads as president and CEO, sponsored the Murphy administration’s 2018 trip to Germany, as well as two trips to Israel, and a visit to India. The organizaiton runs an office in Berlin to promote the state in Europe, and another in Gurugram to promote New Jersey to Indian businesses. Choose NJ and Lozana remain key figures in promoting New Jersey to businesses across the world, through trade missions, international offices, or the $3 million marketing campaign to tout New Jersey as a place to do business.

Walter Lynch

Walter Lynch is currently chief operating officer of Camden-based American Water, the largest publicly traded U.S. water and wastewater utility company and will assume the president and CEO role on April 1, 2020. He began working at American Water in 2001 and has served as chief operating officer since 2008. Lynch will succeed current CEO Susan Story, who will retire. According to American Water, Lynch is responsible for the company’s performance in 16 regulated states that serve about 14 million people as well as leading a system-wide engineering, health and safety and the Military Services Group. When he takes over the top job, he will be leading one of the primary corporate entities in Camden amid what local boosters hope will be an ongoing recovery.

Mike McGuinness

The CEO of NAIOP, McGuiness oversees the daily operations and programs of the association. He frequently meets with and testifies before New Jersey legislative committees, representatives of the governor’s office and regulatory agencies on matters of importance to the commercial real estate development industry. Before joining NAIOP in 1997, McGuinness served as acting director for Gov. Christine Todd Whitman’s Office of the Business Ombudsman in the New Jersey Department of State. He currently serves as a member of the Council on Port Performance, administered by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, a founding member of the Smart Growth Economic Development Coalition, and a trustee and environmental chair of the New Jersey Society for Environmental, Economic Development (NJ SEED). He also co-chairs the Economic Competitiveness Committee for the North Jersey Sustainable Communities Consortium, an affiliate of the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority.

Kevin McCabe

McCabe is a commissioner on the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, the president of the Carpenter Contract Trust, a multistate labor-management cooperative, and chairman of the Democratic Party in Middlesex County. As Gov. Murphy and other officials work to push through the $14.3 billion Gateway Program mega-project to construct a new rail tunnel from New Jersey into New York, the Port Authority will be a key ally. “Since being confirmed as a Port Authority commissioner in 2017, I have focused on upgrading the agency’s assets and infrastructure to meet 21st century standards and to create a better commuting and travel experience,” McCabe told NJBIZ in February 2020. “With our partners in the community and organized labor, the Port Authority is revitalizing and improving its services, including completing the raising of the Bayonne Bridge – which has spurred unprecedented growth at the Port – the completion of the new Goethals Bridge and the installation of cashless tolling on all Staten Island crossings, which will reduce congestion and improve air quality. The extraordinary growth occurring in Harrison surrounding the new PATH Station shows the fruits of the agency’s commitment to reliable mass transit, part of the Port Authority’s historic level of investment in New Jersey and New York. The Port Authority generates nearly $60 billion in overall economic activity. As a commissioner, I’m committed, along with my fellow commissioners, to seeing that momentum continue.”

Brandon McKoy

McKoy was named president of New Jersey Policy Perspective in February 2019 and leads the think-tank’s attempts to help policy debates in the halls of the Statehouse. The South Orange native joined NJPP in 2014 as a policy analyst, and has become one of the most progressive voices in the state for policies aimed at boosting economic security for the state’s working families. He and the organization have backed many progressive and left-leaning policies, including those rolled out by Gov. Murphy, with whom the organization has a relatively easy rapport. In Murphy’s first two years in office, those policies have ranged from a $15 minimum wage to paid sick leave and expanded family leave. And NJPP has supported Murphy’s push to tighten oversight of New Jersey’s controversial tax incentive program. And like last year, the group supports many of the policy priorities which Murphy laid out in his State of the State address in January. “The governor mentioned this refrain — changing the culture in Trenton — with regard to economic justice and fiscal responsibility, transparency in government leadership, and the toxic culture of sexual violence that harms women throughout politics in New Jersey,” McKoy said after the Jan. 14 speech. “These are all crucial issues that have been long overdue for impactful change.”

Carlos Medina

The 119,000 Hispanic-owned businesses in New Jersey contribute over $20 billion to the state’s economy, and the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey has their best interests in mind. Medina is at the helm of the organization, which acts as a vehicle to access the people and purchasing power of the Latino community. Non-Hispanic membership is at 45 percent, according to the chamber’s website. Medina is also a board member of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce.

Robert Menendez

After surviving a trial on bribery charges in 2018, the state’s senior U.S. senator had a relatively quiet year in 2019. And while Menendez does not have the national profile that comes from running a presidential campaign he is still an important figure in New Jersey. He serves on the powerful Senate Finance Committee and is the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, the latter a critical role for a state with large immigrant population, many of whom own small businesses.

Audrey Meyers

Meyers joined Valley Hospital in 1980 and was named president and CEO in 1999 and assumed that role for Valley Health System in 2003. Meyers is one of the longest-serving CEOs in the state. In addition to breaking ground on a new hospital campus in Paramus to be completed by 2023, in 2019 Meyers also oversaw the opening of Women’s & Children’s Primary Care Center in Montvale; the launch of a new service, Dispatch Health, which brings urgent care to a patient’s home and the opening of a new Wellness and Walk-In Care Center in Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus. Her career accomplishments include strategic affiliations with the Mount Sinai Health System and the Cleveland Clinic.

Tammy Murphy

Nationally recognized in her own right, the First Lady of New Jersey has not labored in the shadow of her husband, the governor. Since assuming the role of first lady, Murphy has used her public stature to focus on issues of women’s and maternal health, infant mortality affecting communities of color, environmental justice and climate change. In January 2018 at a Women’s March in Morristown, Murphy emerged as a central figure in New Jersey’s #MeToo movement against sexual harassment when she went public with her story of being sexually assaulted while a sophomore at the University of Virginia. Given her prominence, Murphy can be a strong advocate on the issues she has chosen to focus on.

Patrick Murray

Murray is a legitimate political celebrity. The Monmouth University poll, which he runs, is highly regarded as a measure of public opinion and with a presidential campaign the dominant news story of 2020, the poll and its director will be ubiquitous in print, online and on the air. Murray is a sought-after political analyst and is able to dissect poll results in a way anyone can understand. He also makes sure to run reality checks on his own poll and is not afraid to admit when it might be an outlier. Murray’s candor, his experience as a campaign-watcher and his media-friendly demeanor make him one of the most authoritative voices in politics, both in New Jersey and across the country.

NJBIZ STAFF
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