ROI Influencers: People of Color 2019 — From M to Z

Wes Mathews
Vice president
It’s his last year in the state, but Mathews has left an indelible impression on the state’s global outreach and economic agenda. Murphy’s former right hand from his days as a U.S. ambassador, Mathews helped oversee the launch of an Office of International Trade and Investment at the NJEDA and has been on both trade mission trips with the governor in the past two years. Mathews will return to his post with the U.S. State Department this fall.

Shadae McDaniel
City leader
All Stars Project of New Jersey
One of the key leaders of a nonprofit that has helped enrich the lives of more than 35,000 inner-city youths since starting in Newark in 1999. One of its key programs connects young people to the corporate world through a series of development workshops and paid summer internships at companies.

Brandon McKoy
New Jersey Policy Perspective
Though younger than his peers in similar positions, McKoy has proved his worth at the helm of the NJPP. He can hold his own against some of the top economists in the state. Acutely aware of the inner workings of the state as well as how external and federal factors also impact New Jersey, McKoy has been a go-to source for many — especially during budget season.

Frank Moran
City of Camden
In the ongoing battle against incentives, Moran is the face for Camden, standing up to the Murphy administration and fighting for the work of his predecessors. He understands how important incentives are to his city — and region — and has shown deft touches in influencing the narrative around them.

Raj Mukherj
Assemblyman (D-Jersey City)
State of New Jersey
His story of entering politics, and serving the country, continues to resonate as the young assemblyman paves a path for South Asians in New Jersey politics. Mukherji’s name can be found as a sponsor or co-sponsor on any number of bills that would benefit minorities in the state. Whenever there is an issue, such as awareness of state programs or accessing benefits, that will affect the state’s diverse population, Mukherji takes a stand.

Wendy Neu
Chair and CEO
Hugo Neu
She brings a fresh face to the development community as the head of the company behind the transformative Kearny Point project, which features more than 2 million square feet of office spaces for all sizes of companies over a 130-acre campus that once served as shipyard in World War I.

Rajiv Parikh
Genova Burns
An early supporter of Murphy, Parikh continues to have the ear of the governor and is a rising star in his own right. His legal expertise and knowledge of the way things work in the state make him a strong asset for Genova Burns. A credible and thoughtful individual, his ability to work quickly but quietly are what make him a sought-after ally. He is one of the most powerful unelected South Asians and one who gives back, through leadership and mentorship, to his community.

Marjorie Perry
CEO and president
MZM Construction & Management
She has a well-earned reputation as a tell-it-like-it-is leader in the rough-and-tumble construction industry, often giving speeches that inspire the next generation of minority and female leaders in the industry. An alum of New Jersey Institute of Technology, she serves as the chair of the school’s board of overseers and has a room named in her honor.

Eliana Pintor Marin
Assemblywoman (D-Newark)
State of New Jersey
Alongside Sen. Loretta Weinberg, Pintor Marin proved her ability as a fierce inquisitor as state lawmakers sought to dig into the sexual assault allegations by Katie Brennan against Al Alvarez. Word on the street is she prefers to be a wallflower, but when placed in front of the microphone in the State House, she is sharp and a force to be reckoned with.

Braxton Plummer
Director of N.J. government affairs
A longtime player in Democratic circles, Plummer has worked up and down the state, working for Booker when he was mayor of Newark, and Murphy — and in numerous organizations, including Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, the EDA and the Department of Community Affairs. He’s currently the lead lobbyist for Verizon, where he is the director of state government affairs.

Satish Poondi
The health care lawyer is a key factor in the rise of South Asians in politics in the state. Poondi has tried to hide behind the scenes as a key leader at the Indian Business Association, but the state’s political circles are acutely aware of him, especially in terms of strongholds of South Asians. He is also vested in grooming future politicians as part of the advisory council of the New Jersey Leadership Program.

Dennis Pullin
CEO and president
He’s in the second year as the head of the largest employer in South Jersey. And he’s making a good first impression. New to the state, he has spent much of his time meeting other system CEOs — and his employees — to get a better lay of the land.

Lata Reddy
Senior vice president
Prudential Financial
She serves two roles at Prudential, working as both the senior vice president of diversity, inclusion and impact, and as the chair and president of the Prudential Foundation. In both roles, she is a leader in finding ways to eliminate barriers to financial and social mobility, as well as helping the company make long-term commitments that yield tangible results through both grants and program related investments.

Ron Rice
Senator (D-Newark)
State of New Jersey
He often is seen as both the legislator with controversial viewpoints but also a respected elder statesman in Trenton. Especially in leading the black caucus, Rice has been able to hold the line on legalizing marijuana and has warned against rushing a bill through that doesn’t truly address the social justice aspects of legalization. He has paved the way for the next generation to take strong stands on issues that have negative implications for the African American community.

Venida Rodman Jenkins
Speicher-Rubin Women’s Center for Equity and Diversity at New Jersey City University
She is the longtime head of an organization that has spent four decades fighting for equality and inclusion at the state’s most diverse campus. The center aims to make NJCU more welcoming by eliminating barriers, prejudice and bigotry while creating a hospitable climate for all women and underrepresented students.

Carlos Rodriguez
Sure, he’s the head of one of the most important and successful companies in the country, not just New Jersey. But he makes this list by making sure ADP is known as a leader for diversity and inclusion at all levels — and in all areas — of the company.

Natasha Rogers
Chief operating officer
City of Newark
She came to Newark city government a little over a year ago with a strong resume of leadership in urban initiatives — including a stint as a senior investment banking associate, public sector and infrastructure at Goldman Sachs. A thought leader in urban housing solutions, she was recently promoted to chief operating officer of the city.

Marcus Samuelsson
Owner and chef
Marcus B&P
He’s not on the list because he runs one of the best restaurants in New Jersey, not just Newark. He makes the list because of his willingness to invest in Newark, proving the Brick City can draw the best of the best as it slowly regains its importance and stature as a top city on the East Coast.

Ommeed Sathe
Vice president
Prudential Financial
As the vice president in charge of the impact investment unit in Prudential’s Office of Corporate Responsibility, Sathe oversees all the underwriting, origination, pipeline development and portfolio management activities for the group in Newark and beyond. The unit manages a portfolio of over $600 million in investments and Prudential recently committed to grow its impact investing portfolio to $1 billion by 2020.

Andre Sayegh
City of Paterson
The son of a Syrian mother and Lebanese father, Sayegh became the first Arab American mayor in New Jersey when he was sworn into office last summer. Sayegh, a longtime councilman, wants to be known as the hard-charging, hard-working mayor who brings economic prosperity back to a city that has fallen on hard times.

Troy Singleton
Senator (D-Moorestown)
State of New Jersey
His profile in Trenton increases annually as he finishes his second year in the state Senate after eight years in the Assembly. Many feel his personality and passion have him in line for even greater state offices.

Monica Slater Stokes
Managing director, corporate and government affairs
United Airlines
United Airlines is making big strides to make its Newark hub a model for the industry — all while increasing its impact and profile as one of the state’s largest employers. Slater Stokes, the longtime government affairs leader, has been a key player in all of it.

Dan Smith
Senior adviser
Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin
Knowledgeable and a formidable force behind the scenes is how some have described Smith. Don’t let his gentle demeanor fool you, though — he’s razor-sharp and ready for any political battle that comes the speaker’s way.

Rick Thigpen
Senior vice president
Public Service Enterprise Group
The influence Thigpen wields spreads to outside the four walls of PSEG, where he helped fight — behind the scenes — for the utility to get $300 million annually in subsidies for its nuclear business. And, as an African American executive, Thigpen shares the wealth by getting involved in various events geared toward greater engagement of the community, including supporting the African American Chamber of Commerce.

Ralph Thomas
CEO and executive director
New Jersey Society of CPAs
Being the voice of the accountants of New Jersey, which is a diverse population of its own, is no easy feat. Thomas just makes it look that way. Come budget season, he makes sure the opinion of his organization is heard.

Robert Unanue
He is the head of one of the largest Hispanic-owned companies in the country, generating more than $1.5 billion in revenue with more than 4,000 global employees. The company’s commitment to New Jersey is just as impressive. Not only did it build a new facility in Secaucus, its Goya Gives program quietly aids hundreds of companies and causes in the state.

Jen Velez
Executive vice president, community and behavioral health
RWJBarnabas Health
A former commissioner of the state’s Department of Human Services, Velez is one of the most powerful Latinas in the state’s health care space. Working for one of the megasystems in New Jersey, RWJBarnabas Health, Velez has taken to the non-public office sector with a quiet fervor. Her attention continues to be on the ever-growing behavioral health needs in communities in the state.


Anton Vincent
Mars Wrigley North America
Our lists look forward as much as they do back, and that’s why Vincent — who is headed to New Jersey to oversees Mars Wrigley’s new offices in Newark — makes the list. Coming to the Brick City is a milestone moment for the company and the city; Vincent will be the man charged with integrating the company into the area.

Bonnie Watson Coleman
U.S. Representative
D-New Jersey
Backed by more diversity and more women in the House of Representatives, Watson Coleman has been amplified more than ever before in the past year. Her newest position as chair of the task force on Black Youth Suicide and Mental Health — at a time when both topics are buzzing in the health care world and in the mainstream — is sure to boost her to new heights.

Tahesha Way
Secretary of State
State of New Jersey
She is a connector, an overseer, an organizer. Or, as one person said it, “I can’t tell you how many times I’m looking to do something and someone says, ‘We need to get Tahesha involved to make it work.’ ” Way, a graduate of Brown and the University of Virginia School of Law, has a long history of legal and political roles.

Nina and Ted Wells
Lawyers; philanthropists
One of the biggest power couples in the state, they are both high-powered attorneys who devote time to various causes throughout New Jersey. Nina Wells served as secretary of state under Gov. Jon Corzine.

Ken Wright
Senior vice president
Cooper University  Health Care
He joined Cooper in August 2017 as a consultant before assuming the role of controller, bringing nearly two decades of health care leadership and management experience — including top roles at both Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and Somerset Medical Center in 2015.

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