ROI Influencers: People of Color 2020 (Difference Makers, D to G)

Michellene Davis, Ken Frazier, Alberto Garofolo, Don Ghermezian, Aisha Glover, David Gould and Gurbir Grewal appeared in our Top 25 rankings. View them here.

Marilyn Davis
N.J. state director, government affairs

The former Labor Department official now works out of Altice’s office in Newark, where she is responsible for all state regulatory matters, negotiates franchise renewals with municipal governments and manages philanthropic support.

Alfa Demmellash
Co-founder and CEO
Rising Tide Capital

Born and raised in Ethiopia, she came to the U.S. at age 12 and graduated from Harvard, cum laude, in 2003. She founded Rising Tide Capital in 2004 to empower underserved urban entrepreneurs. She was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2015.

Uli Diaz
Vice president of government affairs
Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of N.J.

Diaz is a guy who everyone knows — and respects. The quintessential New Jersey political operative, Diaz the highest-ranking Hispanic executive at the state’s largest insurer and plays a role in local politics in North Jersey, where he remains close to U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez.

Gunjan Doshi
Founder and CEO

Doshi serves as the chairman of the EDA’s Commission on Science, Innovation and Technology. He also is head of InRhythm, one of the fastest-growing product engineering consultant agencies in the country — recognized on the Inc. 5000 six years running.

Tara Dowdell
Founder and president
Tara Dowdell Group and TDG Speakers

Dowdell is a highly accomplished entrepreneur and communications strategist. She is the founder of the Tara Dowdell Group, a marketing and strategic communications firm driven by a passion for helping socially conscious organizations and businesses grow.

Shereef Elnahal
CEO and president
University Hospital

Elnahal and his team have been a calm in the middle of a COVID-19 storm, as the former health commissioner has seamlessly transition into the role of hospital executive, doing so at a health care facility challenged by all of the happenings that occur in an urban environment.

Shirley Emehelu
Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi

Emehelu led the firm’s response to the racial injustices that took place in the spring, helping the firm to raise more than $24,000 for the N.J. Institute of Social Justice. She currently is spearheading efforts to expand the firm’s training and development programs. 

Marcheta Evans
Bloomfield College

The first African American woman to be president at a college in New Jersey, Evans is out to change the way the state educates. At Bloomfield, more than 83% of the students are of color. Evans is determined to raise the number of students. And, more importantly, the number of graduates.

Nariman Farvardin
Stevens Institute of Technology

COVID-19 hit New Jersey hard. Farvardin and his team did what STEM specialists do: Search for science-based answers and solutions. Stevens did just that, one of the many reasons it is continually ranked as one of the Top 10 tech schools in the country.

Jose E. Feliciano and Kwanza Jones
Princeton University

The alumni couple said their said their recent $20 million gift demonstrates that people of color belong in the room and sit at the table as patrons and to help the university.

Lloyd Freeman
Partner and chief diversity officer
Archer & Greiner

Freeman created Archer’s affinity group, L.E.A.D. (Lawyers Encouraging Archer’s Diversity), in 2012 and has coordinated the firm’s summer associate program for the past three years, resulting in the most diverse classes. Freeman himself was a summer associate at Archer.

Jeannine Frisby LaRue
Senior vice president
Kauffman Zita Group

Perhaps the most well-known lobbyist and advocate for social and racial justice issues in the state, she has a 50-year career that includes stints in government as well as prominent positions at some of New Jersey’s most prestigious health and higher education organizations.

Rudy Garcia

Few in the state understand the intersection of business and politics as well as Raul “Rudy” Garcia. At MBI, he manages issues covering roadway improvement, environment, commercial development and lending. All while keeping a close eye on the political game.

Parimal Garg
Senior deputy counsel
Office of Gov. Phil Murphy

Everyone acknowledges that Garg has a sharp legal mind and hand a hand in virtually every important issue facing the front office, assisting chief counsel Matt Platkin. The only question: Will Garg be called on to assume Platkin’s role upon his departure?

Angela Garretson
County commissioner/Chief external affairs officer
Union County/New Jersey Institute of Technology

How’s this for influence: Garretson nearly singlehandedly led the drive to change the title of freeholder to county commissioner. She has nearly 20 years of political, civic and higher education.

Damien Ghee
Senior vice president
TD Bank

Ghee has 20 years as a top-flight banker. But his volunteer efforts set him apart. He is chairman of the Metro PA/NJ Regional Diversity Council at TD Bank, vice chair of the Virtua Foundation board and on the board of the Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey.

Gerry Gibbs
Capital Impact Group

Gibbs is a longtime, well-respected figure in Trenton politics. Known for his political and governmental process prowess, Gibbs is one of the most sought-after voices when it comes to economic and business development and strategic relationship-building. 

Alberto Goncalves
Gonsosa Development

Goncalves is half-Cuban, half-Cape Verdean — and all in with Queen Latifah. His company, based in Union County, is helping to develop Latifah’s $14 million project in Newark that will feature 20 three-family townhomes, affordable housing and room for local nonprofits.

Diana Gonzalez
Interim secretary
Office of the Secretary of Higher Education

At a time when there is much turmoil and uncertainty around higher education, Gonzalez took over the top spot when her boss, Zakiya Smith Ellis, became the governor’s chief policy adviser. The department hasn’t skipped a beat.

Jessica Gonzalez
CEO and entrepreneur

A longtime entrepreneur, Gonzalez quickly pivoted her companies to meet needs created by COVID-19. She is now working with Newark Venture Partners — and was asked to represent small business on Murphy’s Restart and Recovery Commission.

Vin Gopal
Senator (D-Ocean Twp.)
State of New Jersey

The South Asian state senator sets an example that others should follow. He actively engages with his and other minority communities, while also shouldering the responsibility of fighting for the district he represents. Want more? Gopal is seen as a tempered voice of reason. 

Hervé Gouraige
Sills Cummis & Gross

Gouraige is a civil and criminal lawyer who practices in the areas of white collar and regulatory defense, securities litigation and federal and state RICO actions, among other areas. He has served as an AUSA and as counsel to a former president of the UN General Assembly.

To view the entire list, click here.