As president and CEO of Bergen New Bridge Medical Center in Paramus, Visconi oversees one of the nation’s largest public hospitals. A feat in and of itself, but even more staggering given that when she took up the helm five years ago, the future of the facility was in question.
Following years under the microscope due to reports about potential safety lapses, in the fall Bergen New Bridge received its second A grade for safety in two years in The Leapfrog Group’s seasonal assessment. But her work isn’t done. As the facility pivots to build on its upswing, Visconi continues to lead transformation at the medical center, elevating the quality of care and providing it equitably.
As a Latinx hospital CEO, she understands the needs of traditionally underserved communities and makes these groups a priority in ongoing outreach efforts. In 2022, the hospital received a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2022 Healthcare Equality Index, an assessment of the equitable treatment and inclusion of LGBTQ+ patients, visitors and employees. To reach patients where they are, it’s also opened several satellite locations to deliver care.
The clinical affiliate of Rutgers has forged partnerships with other key players both across the state – such as the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and the NJ Reentry Corp. – and beyond its borders, with the likes of Guardian Research Network and CareRev. The latter, an effort to look for potential answers to impending (and present) nursing shortages.
A nationally recognized leader, Visconi was named one of the Top 25 Women Leaders in Healthcare by Modern Healthcare for 2022. Her outreach efforts have led to the creation of the only LGBTQIA+ health center in northern New Jersey; multi-cultural long-term care services for Muslim, Korean and Asian Indian patients; and more. In 2022, Visconi was honored as one of 2022’s NJBIZ Best 50 Women in Business. She started 2023 off with an appointment to Felician University’s board of trustees.
The top 10 honorees are ranked numerically; the remaining 90 are listed alphabetically. Click here to read more about this year’s list.
Editor’s note: This slideshow was updated at 2: 30 p.m. ET on Feb. 20, 2023, to correct Jerry Zaro’s title.
The trajectory of sports is notoriously difficult to predict, especially on the collegiate level. In years past, these pages have featured Greg Schiano, the head coach of Rutgers University’s football team, and Woody Johnson, the owner of the New York Jets. In both cases the teams seemed headed in a positive direction.
That did not last long. But there is reason to believe that Pikiell can buck that trend.
In his six seasons as the head men’s basketball coach at Rutgers, Pikiell has transformed the program from a national punch line into a force in the Big 10 Conference. Rutgers has emerged as a legitimate contender for a conference championship and, more important, has made the NCAA tournament for two consecutive years – and would have made it three but for the COVID-19 pandemic. Barring an epic and unlikely collapse, the Scarlet Knights will make the Big Dance again this year.
But most encouraging for Rutgers fans – and for the decision to put him on this list – is what the future could hold. Pikiell has secured commitments from several highly regarded recruits who could ensure that the program will be a national power over the next couple of years. All of which leads to reports that the university is interested in extending his contract, perhaps for the rest of his life. Pikiell could be one of the few “can’t miss” personalities in the New Jersey sports world. But we’ll see.
Jersey Mike’s Subs is heading to America’s “Last Frontier.” The Manasquan-based sandwich chain – which has more than 2,500 restaurants in 49 states – expects to make its debut in Alaska this year, starting with locations in Anchorage and Wasilla.
Founded in 1956, Jersey Mike’s started out as Mike’s Subs, a small sandwich shop in Point Pleasant, and is now one of the fastest growing quick service restaurants in the country. Driving that growth is CEO and founder Peter Cancro, who began his business career in 1971, when he worked at Mike’s Subs. Shortly thereafter, at age 17, he decided to forego a potential college football career and purchased the sandwich shop.
In 1987, Cancro changed the name of the original Mike’s to Jersey Mike’s and spent the next couple of decades turning the brand into a nationwide empire. Over the past three years, Jersey Mike’s increased its number of units by 37.9%, earning the chain the No. 3 spot on Entrepreneur’s newly released ranking of 2023’s top 500 franchises. This year marks Jersey Mike’s fifth year on the list — and its highest ranking ever.
The chain was just named the Official Sub Sandwich of the National Hockey League as part of its first-ever partnership with a professional sports league. Jersey Mike’s also recently signed on to sponsor the Harlem Globetrotter’s 2023 tour across the United States. And its naming rights deal for Rutgers University’s arena is paying dividends as the men’s basketball team raises its national profile.
Philanthropy also remains a priority for Jersey Mike’s, with each of its stores partnering with local charitable organizations as a way to give back to the community. Since 2011, more than $67 million has been raised during the annual Jersey Mike’s Day of Giving campaign. The chain has also donated more than $11 million to Feeding America. Cancro is also leading, along with former New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, a major fundraising campaign for Hackensack Meridian Health and made a significant personal donation to the network.
Paladino is a mainstay at the top of these types of lists, and with good reason.
Since the New Brunswick Development Corp., which Paladino leads as president, was established in 1976, it has overseen and managed more than $3.5 billion of redevelopment activity in New Brunswick.
And Paladino continues to churn out transformative projects, such as the $750 million Jack and Sheryl Morris Cancer Center, which is expected to be complete next year, and the New Jersey Health + Life Sciences Exchange, or HELIX.
That latter project received a jolt just before this list went to publication, as the NJEDA approved its first award under the Aspire program to an entity of DEVCO for $271 million in tax credits over the next 10 years toward the first phase of HELIX.
“The creation of H-1 at the HELIX represents a singular opportunity to create a first-in-class ecosystem to fuel New Jersey’s innovation economy, allowing the state to reclaim its leadership of the American innovation economy,” Paladino said. “This ecosystem will allow academic translational research to expand its connection to the innovation economy, state of the art medical education to lay the groundwork for a healthier New Jersey, the attraction of more National Institute of Health research funding, and the NJ Innovation HUB’s establishment of a collaborative platform where companies will accelerate innovation and commercialization.”
In June, Coscia received the Industry Service Award from NAIOP New Jersey, and it’s not hard to see why. He’s a partner at Windels Marx – the firm he’s been with for nearly 40 years and where he’s a member of the Executive Committee. In that work, he focuses on corporate, commercial and real estate matters, concentrating on the financial side of things.
In May, he was renominated to a third term as chairman of Amtrak by President Joe Biden, and he serves as a commissioner and vice chair of the Gateway Development Commission, putting him – one of the effort’s biggest proponents – squarely in the middle of the biggest infrastructure project in the U.S. After years of fits and starts, federal funding for the Gateway project is finally moving. Earlier this year, Biden announced a $292 million Mega Grant to Amtrak that will fund an early phase of the Hudson Tunnel Project — overall a more than $16 billion investment that officials anticipate will create 72,000 direct and indirect jobs.
And according to a statement from Coscia and his fellow Gateway commissioners, “With President Biden’s support and tireless work, Gateway will start active construction this year to deliver a more reliable, climate-resilient, 21st Century rail link for the region and the nation.”
It’s a point in time that, not too long ago, seemed might never be reached. When the Portal North Bridge celebrated its groundbreaking in August, Coscia touched on that sentiment. “Having shovels in the ground means that the planning and talking are over,” he said, “it’s time to build state-of-the-art infrastructure and make rail travel more reliable to the region’s train travelers.”
Following the launch of New Jersey’s recreational cannabis marketplace in April 2022, eight out-of-state entities have dominated the industry, opening and operating all 21 dispensaries currently licensed to sell. Moving into 2023, the Cannabis Regulatory Commission, which regulates the industry and oversees licensing, said it wants to see more local, small business owners participate in a market that is expected to be valued at more than $2 billion a year by 2026.
Leading the charge to make New Jersey’s adult-use market more equitable and sustainable is Brown, who previously headed the state’s medical cannabis program, and Houenou, who spent years pushing for the end of cannabis prohibition while with the ACLU-NJ.
In New Jersey, entrepreneurs face several challenges in entering the market, including high start-up costs and access to capital. They’re also up against more established, multistate operators with years of experience and more resources at their disposal. Houenou has said the five-member board “has from the beginning understood that if we want New Jersey’s cannabis market to reflect the diversity of its residents, and if we want to ensure that it is inclusive of groups that bear the scars of prohibition, then designated access to capital would be essential for some applicants.” She has pointed to the CRC’s priority application process, as well as new initiatives like the no-cost Cannabis Training Academy being launched by the New Jersey Business Action Center this year as “paving that path for them to be included.”
The CRC also partnered with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority on a recently announced pilot program that will provide grants of up to $250,000 to those who seek to establish themselves in the marketplace. In 2023, the CRC is continuing efforts to collect feedback that will help determine how the state invests social equity excise fees raised from recreational cannabis sales.
Based on input the CRC has received so far, as well as SEEF revenue projections, the state plans to invest in grants and low-interest loans for aspiring entrepreneurs in impact zones and economically disadvantaged areas. Additionally, the five-member board is working on a framework that would allow medical dispensaries and recreational-use retailers to operate consumption lounges.
None of these lists are complete without perhaps the most influential man in New Jersey business and politics, George Norcross III.
Between his roles as executive chairman of Connor Strong & Buckelew, chairman of the board of trustees of Cooper University Health Care, and as a Democratic powerbroker, Norcross is a busy man who continues to move full steam ahead.
Cooper capped off a big 2022, which was headlined by a $2 billion expansion project in Norcross’s native Camden that was announced in September, the largest capital investment in the history of the region.
“Not only does this announcement represent the culmination of Cooper’s amazing turnaround since it faced bankruptcy at the turn of the century, but it is also a sign of our commitment to and faith in Camden, its residents and our shared future,” said Norcross during the September announcement, which included the attendance of Govs. Murphy and Christie, and a video message from TV personality Kelly Ripa. “Cooper’s commitment to its home community is a model of how corporate leadership can spark imagination and new opportunities that benefit local residents,” Norcross said.
Norcross has also made headlines over the last year as he leads an activist investor group, along with his brother, Philip, and former TD Bank CEO Greg Braca, amid a proxy fight at Republic First Bank.
While some cynics deride the World Economic Forum’s annual meetings in Davos, Switzerland, as a playground for purveyors of conventional wisdom, Garrett takes the conference seriously.
As CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health, Garrett runs New Jersey’s largest health network with 17 hospitals, 500 patient care locations, 35,000 team members and 6,500 physicians. Upon his return from Davos this year, Garrett described the work he and HMH have done to reduce health care equity gaps – a major theme of the WEF’s health care programs.
A forthcoming study should provide the data to back up his assessment that the efforts have paid off. “It’s an intense schedule,” Garrett said of Davos and the work that goes on there. “You go from 6:30 or 7:00 in the morning until 10:00 at night. … They have bilateral meetings, where you’re sitting down one on one with stakeholders … In our case, I met with leaders of some organizations and companies that potentially we could partner with. It also gave me a chance to connect with colleagues, for example Kaiser on the West Coast, who I don’t see on a regular basis. … I do find it to be useful. … I would not go to a conference just to shoot the breeze. You’re going a long distance, you’re taking five important days out of your routine, this job and this field is challenging enough, but I think what we come back with is something significant.”
Under Garrett’s leadership, HMH has made strides in medical education, behavioral health care, cancer care, and innovation and research. It opened the first private medical school in New Jersey in decades. The Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine offers a curriculum that includes a three-year path to residency, a community immersion program and inter-disciplinary learning. According to Garrett, the school is on track to secure its final accreditation before the summer.
After five years running the Camden Community Partnership as CEO in South Jersey, Kolluri was tapped last May to serve as chief executive officer of the Gateway Development Commission, a post he assumed officially in July. “There is no more urgent infrastructure project in the nation than the Hudson Tunnel,” the former commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Transportation said at the time — and that puts Kolluri at the forefront of a massive public investment.
At the end of January, President Joe Biden revealed a $292 million Mega Grant that will fund an early phase of Gateway’s Hudson Tunnel Project. That component of the work made a number of advances in the latter part of 2022, beginning with the GDC becoming the Project Sponsor, making it responsible for overseeing and completing the task on time – and within budget – in addition to applying for federal loans and ensuring all federal requirements and responsibilities are met.
In November, GDC took steps to secure a $6.5 billion federal grant and the group closed the year issuing a call for a potential Project Delivery Partner. Along with its request to the federal government to enter into the Engineering Phase of the Capital Investment Grants Program process, the GDC sent an updated financial plan for the project, fulfilling a promise Kolluri made when he came on board and signaling the kind of leadership he brings to the project.
The plan emphasized efforts to seek more federal funding to reduce project costs by up to $1.4 billion, to undertake a value engineering exercise to potentially reduce costs further, and to pursue opportunities to cut down the project’s overall schedule.
“When I became CEO in July, we committed to the U.S. Department of Transportation that we would have an updated financial plan and an agreement between all our partners to deliver the Gateway Hudson Tunnel by the fall, and that’s what we’ve done,” he said. “These actions advance the series of steps we’re taking to demonstrate GDC is serious about funding and building the tunnel project as soon as possible, because the region, the nation, and the riders shouldn’t have to wait any longer.”
Is there a better lawyer in New Jersey than Porrino? Arguably, no.
The former state attorney general is now plying his craft at Lowenstein Sandler, and doing a remarkable job. Over the past couple of years, he has lured a former chief counsel to the governor, a state Supreme Court justice and New Jersey’s retired chief federal judge to the firm. While Matt Platkin, Gov. Phil Murphy’s former chief counsel, has since left Lowenstein to fill Porrino’s old job atop the Department of Law and Public Safety, former Justice Barry Albin remains at the firm. And former Chief Judge Freda Wolfson just joined the Roseland office after retiring from the federal bench.
But hiring is only part of Porrino’s role at Lowenstein. He is also still regarded as a top flight litigator — one with connections on both sides of the political aisle, making him the man to see in New Jersey. In a real sense, he is New Jersey’s Edward Bennett Williams, the ultimate insider with a brilliant legal mind. If you have a legal problem in New Jersey, Porrino is the person you want on your side.
Porrino has also continued to advocate for bipartisan criminal justice reform around the country and is leading the Newark Police Foundation, making good on his promise to provide opportunities for friendly interactions between police and Newark’s young people. The effort is proceeding apace, recently concluding its first contest among precincts to design a program that will enhance community policing. Porrino reports that the department and the community have both responded enthusiastically.