ROI Influencers: People of Color 2021 — Difference Makers, G-J

Rudy Garcia

Few in the state understand the intersection of business and politics as well as Garcia, a longtime go-to leader for many. At MBI, he manages issues covering roadway improvement, environment, commercial development and lending.

Gerry Gibbs
Capital Impact Group

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. He is a longtime, well-respected figure in Trenton.

Vin Gopal
D-Ocean Twp.
N.J. Senate

Is he an up-and-comer — or has he already arrived? The South Asian state senator actively engages with his and other minority communities, while also shouldering the responsibility of fighting for the district he represents.

David Gould
Chief diversity and impact officer
Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment

Among other major initiatives, Gould helps oversee the organization’s Buy Black Program, which it developed to promote local, Black-owned businesses and provide them with expert marketing consultation, advertising value, educational programs and additional tools.

Ryan Haygood
N.J. Institute for Social Justice

Pursuing racial justice in the state — and around the country — may no longer be front-page news, but it is no less important. Haygood and the NJISJ have been out in front on voting rights and other issues.

Bernel Hall
New Jersey Community Capital

The former investment banker, public housing and real estate executive and Invest Newark CEO will bring his more than two decades of management and finance experience to New Jersey Community Capital, starting Oct. 25.

Zenola Harper
Vice president, litigation, labor and employment
Horizon BCBSNJ

Harper has multi-industry experience in business counseling, litigation strategies and management, and cost management — and just as much experience giving back, serving with organizations including NJ LEEP, a college readiness program in Newark.

Nicole Harris-Hollingsworth
VP of social determinants of health
Hackensack Meridian Health

Harris-Hollingsworth is responsible for the building and scaling of solutions to address social determinants and social health disparities, while also creating localized community-based solutions for specific populations.

Jason Holt
Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi

Holt has relayed his more than two decades’ worth of experience in private practice and in municipal leadership roles in New Jersey into his intimate involvement with organizations leading the charge on DEI changemaking across the state.

Sunita Holzer
Chief human relations officer

Holzer, who oversees Verisk’s global human resources operations and strategy, also serves on the board of South Jersey Industries and as a member of the advisory board at Rutgers’ School of Management and Labor Relations.

Ali Houshmand
Rowan University

Few higher-education institutions anywhere have fared as well as Rowan during the pandemic — a direct credit to Houshmand and his long-stated approach of running the school with a business-first approach.

Jessica Jadue
Estimating executive
Gilbane Building Co.

Has played a key role in the growth and expansion of firm’s New Jersey business unit — as well as with her efforts to inspire women to grow and excel in their personal and professional lives in a male-dominated industry.

Mila Jasey
N.J. Assembly

Deputy speaker, who serves as chair of higher education and vice chair of education committees, has been a leader in helping the state’s schools navigate the pandemic and a return to in-person learning. 

David Jefferson
Metropolitan Baptist Church

A powerfully articulate advocate for economic justice with a rare blend of business, law and religious credentials, Jefferson leads the historic Metropolitan Baptist Church in Newark. Well-respected and considered indispensable thought leader.

Robert Johnson
Rutgers N.J. Medical School

Johnson, a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, serves as the dean of the state’s oldest medical school, where he also is a professor of pediatrics and director of the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine.

Robert Johnson
Partner and chief diversity officer
Gibbons P.C.

Johnson, who represents public and private companies, commercial banks and governmental agencies in M&As and stock and asset purchase transactions, also heads firm’s DEI initiatives.

Leroy Jones
Principal founder
1868 public affairs

This summer, Jones was elected as the new chair of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee. A former four-term assemblyman, Jones also is the principal founder of 1868 Public Affairs, a top lobbying firm in the state. 

Sarah Jones
Director of government affairs
Horizon BCBSNJ

An invaluable asset to the state’s largest insurer, she handles all issues in Trenton. A former aide to U.S. Rep. Donald Payne (D-10th Dist.), she commands respect at both the state and federal level for her political acumen and ambition.

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