ROI Influencers: People of Color 2019 — The Top 10

1: Gurbir Grewal
Attorney general
State of New Jersey

There are lots of things heating up locally and nationally, and he has been at the forefront of all of them. Whether it’s the opioid battles or protecting immigrant communities from federal rule changes and ICE raids, Grewal is involved in everything. The state also is benefiting from his quick responses, such as when he released new rules on handling sexual assault as the state was learning about the Katie Brennan case.

2: Jose Lozano
Choose New Jersey

Navigating the current geopolitical landscape is no easy feat, but Lozano has been doing so as he guides the state’s growth in key markets globally. Whether it is bringing companies to New Jersey — without tax breaks — or taking the governor to shake hands in countries where the state has strong ties, this Latino workaholic is a clear leader. He has few, if any, enemies in the state and is focused on diversifying (pun intended) the state’s economy.

3: Sheila Oliver
Lieutenant governor
State of New Jersey
New Jersey’s most powerful African American politician, Oliver continues to fight for social justice while supporting Gov. Phil Murphy’s wildly progressive agenda. Oliver is willing to admit mistakes, as she did about the 2013 Economic Opportunity Act, and is the face of the administration in reinvigorating Atlantic City’s economy. Most of all, she is a steadying hand and the voice of experience in an administration filled with newcomers to an arena she has played in for decades.

4: Luis De La Hoz
Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of N.J.
De La Hoz, along with No. 6 Carlos Medina, deserves accolades for the way they have made the Hispanic chamber arguably the most influential in the state. De La Hoz earns a Top 5 spot for another reason: He has made it a personal mission to help lift and inspire the owner of every Hispanic business — no matter the size — he meets. Few powerful figures in the state are so willing and eager to be so hands-on for the causes they support.

5: Ras Baraka
City of Newark
Last year’s No. 1 pick slides a bit. How far remains to be seen. Newark’s water crisis is not the same as the one that rocked Flint, Michigan — it’s not as big and there’s no evidence of a coverup. But there have been missteps, the first from a mayor who has shown great skill in getting projects to the finish line. Being a finalist for the Amazon second headquarters race last year made companies across the country give Newark a look. Only time will tell if they will turn away because of the water problems.

6: Carlos Medina
CEO and president
Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of N.J.
Medina and De La Hoz (No. 4) are the strong leaders of the state’s Hispanic chamber. Fostering relationships between the consuls general of key Latin American countries and the governor, and ensuring the recognition of Latinos in the state, are just some of the achievements in the past year. The chamber was also the first minority chamber in the state to create a new relationship with a lender to help provide more access to capital for Latino entrepreneurs.

7: Aisha Glover
Newark Alliance
She is called the second-most-powerful person in Newark for a reason: She has the experience, intellect and connections to get things done. Her rise to the top amid the Amazon HQ2 race has been sustained by ongoing economic interest in the Brick City. Glover has become a respected voice on economic development in urban areas. She is eloquent, fierce but reserved, commanding respect whenever she enters a room. Her no-nonsense attitude lets you know she means business.

8: Bob Menendez
U.S. Senator
D-New Jersey
The state’s senior senator has been striking a balance between fighting for the state and flexing his muscles to thwart President Donald Trump’s nominees for certain posts as the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. How can a Washington insider be a power player here? Easy: The senator always has been one of the most powerful Latinos in New Jersey, especially after surviving a significant political battle in past years.

9: Cory Booker
U.S. Senator
D-New Jersey
The Newark native is reaching all corners of the country as he garners support for his bid as a Democratic candidate in the 2020 presidential race. Though the jury is still out on his chances, Booker remains a strong voice for the state at the federal level. His Opportunity Zone legislation has helped boost economic interest in the state and around the country. Without a doubt, he’s one of the most powerful and popular minority lawmakers in the country.


10: John Harmon
African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey
Aleading voice for the African American community, Harmon continues to fight for greater access to capital and push for greater inclusion of the community in conversations at the state and federal level. More so, Harmon is not one who is happy to just talk the talk. He pushes — hard — for greater access for his members. The chamber’s board has been a clear reflection of the status it has with major corporations in the state.

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