Patricia Teffenhart has left the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault to join the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce as senior vice president for strategic initiatives, the state chamber announced Wednesday.
“This is a hiring coup for the state chamber,” CEO and President Tom Bracken said in a prepared statement. “Patricia is highly regarded both in the business community and in the halls of state government, because she has been a force for positive change on some of New Jersey’s most difficult and sensitive issues.”
Teffenhart, who will report directly to Bracken, will be responsible for ensuring that the objectives of the chamber’s diversity and inclusion strategic initiative are met, and her lobbying experience will bolster the government relations team, the chamber noted.
“I was flattered when Patricia proactively reached out to me to discuss the possibilities of joining the state chamber,” Bracken said. “There was no doubt in my mind we wanted her on our team. Patricia said she was looking for new challenges; I told her she would be coming to the right place — the business community is facing new and more complex challenges all the time.”
Teffenhart has spent the past seven years as executive director of NJCASA. In 2019, the chamber partnered with the organization to help address the continuing issues of sexual assault and harassment of women in the workplace.
“During my tenure with NJCASA, I had the privilege of working with a diverse pool of stakeholders, including the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce,” she said in a statement. “I saw how seriously the chamber approached the issue, and I was impressed with the integrity they brought to the initiative, demonstrating a commitment to creating safer work environments that went well beyond a standard of compliance.
“It was this level of commitment and intentionality that compelled me to reach out to Tom as I contemplated the next step in my career. I want to be a part of a successful organization that pushes beyond the status quo, and I’m thrilled to be joining the chamber’s team in support of our collective commitment to workplace safety, diversity and inclusion. I look forward to building upon the expertise I’ve established to weave these principles into the fabric of New Jersey’s business community.”
Linda Bowden, chair of the chamber’s board of directors, praised Teffenhart’s hiring in a statement: “We need people who are not shy about leading, and Patricia is not shy. We saw that as she brought the issues of workplace sexual assault and harassment to the forefront, and demanded action both from the state Legislature and the business community.”
The chamber has been working with the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey on a diversity initiative since last August.
“The fact that the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce has added Patricia to its team speaks to the importance the chamber attaches to diversity and inclusion,” John Harmon, founder, CEO and president of the AACCNJ, said in a statement. “Having watched Patricia effectively lead NJCASA, I believe she is the right person to ensure our diversity initiative will have the impact across the business community we all want it to have.”