New Jersey’s most influential DEI leaders 2021: M to Z

Dee Marshall
Diverse & Engaged
Marshall’s firm has been doing what many companies suddenly realized this summer they should be doing: Creating a workplace that will help companies attract and retain diverse talent, diverse suppliers and diverse consumers. And she’s been doing it for more than a decade, making her a highly sought-after thought leader and mentor.

Michele Meyer-Shipp
Chief people and culture officer
Major League Baseball
A well-known thought leader nationally, she was named head of all of MLB’s human resources activities, including workplace culture and diversity & inclusion, last summer. A lawyer, she previously served in global positions at KPMG, Prudential Financial and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. Has served on many industry and association tasks forces and committees, including Twitter’s Diversity Advisory Council. 

Neil Mody
Co-chair, Diversity & Inclusion Committee
Connell Foley
In an industry that historically has been lacking in diversity, Mody has been passionate about instituting measures to demonstrate Connell Foley’s commitment to a diverse workforce. This includes leading the firm’s registration for Mansfield Rule certification, a legal industry standard that recognizes firms that affirmatively consider at least 30% women, attorneys of color, LGBTQ+ lawyers and attorneys with disabilities for recruitment, leadership and governance roles, equity partner promotions and formal client pitch opportunities.

Trina Parks
Chief diversity & inclusion officer
RWJBarnabas Health
Responsible for corporate diversity & inclusion efforts, including but not limited to trustee and leadership engagement, employee optimization, diverse community partnerships, cultural competency development, health equity and population health management. These efforts include the creation of the operational plan with defined, mission-driven strategies, business goals and measurable outcomes for systemwide implementation and expansion of diversity, equity & inclusion initiatives.

Thomas H. Prol
Sills Cummis & Gross P.C.
Past president and the first openly gay leader of the New Jersey State Bar Association, Prol has been a vocal advocate on issues of equality and access to justice, working to advance marriage equality and LGBT rights. Successfully argued the defense of both the New Jersey Criminal Justice Reform Act and the New Jersey Anti-Bullying Act. Founding member of Garden State Equality, the leading LGBT civil rights organization.

Lata Reddy
Senior vice president, Inclusive Solutions
Prudential Financial
A civil rights lawyer by training, Reddy is the head of Inclusive Solutions at Prudential Financial, which sets the vision and strategy for the company’s impact investment, philanthropic, corporate contribution and employee engagement activities. In this role, Reddy leads efforts across the company to leverage these resources in conjunction with Prudential’s full capabilities to create pathways for all to achieve financial and social prosperity.

Elena Richards
Chief diversity & inclusion officer
Joined the firm last fall; Richards will lead KPMG’s Accelerate 2025 Initiative, a “Five-Year Strategy to Drive Meaningful Change,” starting with, but not limited to hiring a more diverse workforce. An accomplished HR, talent management and diversity professional with deep knowledge of the professional services industry, she came to KPMG from PricewaterhouseCoopers, where she most recently served as a managing director on PwC’s national diversity team.

Avonia Richardson-Miller
VP, diversity, equity & inclusion
Hackensack Meridian Health
Driven by a motivation to uplift others by creating more equitable opportunities, Richardson-Miller helped develop a comprehensive Diversity Equity & Inclusion Strategic Plan for Hackensack Meridian Health. In her role, she has spearheaded processes and project improvements for the Human Equality Index survey, supporting the LGBTQ community and launched a new Team Member Resource Group: the Aspiring Women Leaders.

Craig Robinson
Chief diversity officer
Comcast/NBC Universal
In addition to defining and building a culture that embraces and values diversity in its workforce, culture, content and perspectives, Robinson is working with Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts in leading the company’s $100 million commitment to fight injustice
and inequality, and to accelerate company efforts in all areas of diversity, equity
& inclusion. Oversees the company’s nine Employee Resource Groups with over 80 global chapters. Company routinely is honored with national diversity & inclusion awards.

Patricia Rossman
Chief diversity officer
At a company well-known and frequently honored for its diversity programs, Rossman provides strategic leadership to help BASF create a more diverse and inclusive work environment. She is part of the leadership of the Diversity + Inclusion Council, and has oversight of its critical recruitment, retention and diversity education activities. She is a member of the board of trustees of the American Conference on Diversity.

Sheila Rostiac
Chief diversity officer
Public Service Enterprise Group
In an industry that traditionally has been dominated by white males, Rostiac is making sure PSEG is welcoming and inclusive to women and people of color. Designs and delivers human capital programs that attract, develop and retain a highly skilled and diverse workforce. Previously served as the president of the PSEG Foundation and the director of its Corporate Social Responsibility initiative.

Monika Shealey
Senior vice president for diversity, equity & inclusion
Rowan University
Now leads DEI Council. Previously served as dean of College of Education, where she developed a Ph.D. program in education with an emphasis on addressing issues of access, success and equity and launched the Center for Access, Success, and Equity. Also developed Project Increasing Male Practitioners and Classroom Teachers, a unique recruitment and retention program for diverse males in education. Her research has focused on traditionally marginalized groups in special education.

Arianna Savoca
Human resources manager
Core member of Grassi’s internal HR department, Savoca oversees the firm’s professional development and DEI initiatives. Since joining Grassi in 2019, she has relaunched the Grassi Women’s Council and formalized the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Council to promote the equality and advancement of the firm’s diverse workforce.

Raul Suarez-Rodriguez
Director, global economic inclusion & supplier diversity
Diversity in supplier chain is a key area for raising support for minority-owned businesses. Suarez-Rodriguez heads the effort at Merck, where he is responsible for driving diverse supplier inclusion, innovation and economic growth through lens of the company mission by partnering with internal business leaders and external advocacy groups to grow mutual value and create a lasting impact on the business and communities where we live and work.

Shaquan Williams
DEI counsel
Advises the firm’s executive leadership and consults with human resources on talent acquisition and management, learning and development, business development and client experience. Williams teams on internal communications regarding action plan priorities and serves as recruiting chair of the firm’s Black Employee Network ERG group. He is an active member of the National Association of Black Accountants, where he works on recruitment, retention and development opportunities.

Simone Wilson-Brito
Co-chair, Social Justice Project, Women’s Initiative
McCarter & English
Leader at a firm well-known for its diversity efforts and pro bono work. On the Women’s Initiative, Wilson-Brito presides over the policies that have led to McCarter receiving Gold Standard Certification from the Women in Law Empowerment Forum for seven of the last eight years. Last summer, she helped launched the Social Justice Project, which was created to expand opportunities for pro bono work dedicated to dismantling structural racism.

Magda Yrizarry
Chief diversity, equity & inclusion officer
Responsible for strengthening Verizon’s business objectives through clear and quantifiable DEI goals around hiring, development, advancement, retention, representation and supplier diversity. To cultivate a more diverse workforce, Yrizarry partners internally and externally to expand mentorship and development opportunities for women, people of color, LGBTQ, people with disabilities and neurodiversity, as well as veterans — and she works to ensure DEI strategies care for all four stakeholders — employees, customers, society and shareholders. 

Click here for New Jersey’s most influential DEI leaders: A to E

Click here for New Jersey’s most influential DEI leaders: F to L