ROI Influencers: People of Color 2021 — Difference Makers, N-S

Taneshia Nash Laird
CEO
Newark Symphony Hall

She is using her position as head of the historic performing arts center to be a social change agent and community developer by expanding programming to respond to community needs and leveraging the planned $50 million renovation for neighborhood revitalization.

Wendy Neu
Chair and CEO
Hugo Neu

An entrepreneur and activist, Neu leads the company in all aspects of strategy and development — while continuing a lifetime of passionately pursuing projects of importance, everything from economically sustainable recycling to improved inmate work programs.

Nichelle Pace
Principal/Vice president
Brand Enchanting Media/Camden Business Association 

Founder of a culturally responsible creative brand consultancy while serving as a cheerleader and advocate for diversity, equity & inclusion in the media/advertising industry, equity and opportunity for diverse entrepreneurs.

Chaya Pamula
Co-founder and CEO/Founder and director
PamTen/SheTek

PamTen has helped Fortune 500 enterprises, small businesses and nonprofits around the world with technology and staffing solutions for more than a decade, while SheTek is addressing the need to increase the percentage of women represented in tech.

Rajiv Parikh
Partner
Genova Burns LLC

No longer a rising star, he clearly has arrived. His legal expertise and knowledge of the way things work in the state make him a strong asset for Genova Burns — and a go-to person for Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration.

Trina Parks
EVP, chief diversity and inclusion officer
RWJBarnabas Health

She supports the successful work of the corporate office of diversity and inclusion, which is focused on attracting and developing diverse talent and engaging respectfully with RWJBarnabas Health’s diverse communities. 

Eric Pennington
Business administrator
Newark

Responsible for Newark’s $600 million budget and the administration of more than 3,000 city employees, Pennington joined after an extensive legal career, serving as an attorney at numerous prestigious law firms, including Gibbons.

Chris Pernell
Chief strategic integration and health equity officer
University Hospital

Pernell is a sought-after thought leader who can be found frequently on national news programs — often explaining community-based health programs, such as the ones she takes into Newark for University.

Marjorie Perry
CEO and president
MZM Construction & Management

She has a well-earned reputation as a tell-it-like-it-is leader in the construction industry, often giving speeches that inspire the next generation of minority and female leaders. An alumna of New Jersey Institute of Technology, she serves as chair of the school’s overseers.

Braxton Plummer
Director of N.J. government affairs
Verizon

A longtime player in Democratic circles, Plummer has worked up and down the state, for Booker when he was mayor of Newark, and for Murphy — and in numerous organizations. He’s currently the lead lobbyist for Verizon, where he is the director of state government affairs.

Satish Poondi
Partner
Trenk Isabel P.C.

The health care lawyer is a key factor in the rise of South Asians in politics in the state. Poondi is a prominent leader at the Indian Business Association. Political circles are acutely aware of him, especially in terms of strongholds of South Asians.

Rodney Priestley
Vice dean for innovation
Princeton University

Will serve as co-director of recently announced National Science Foundation Innovation Corps, a coalition of colleges that will aim to accelerate the economic impact of federally funded research in numerous areas, including energy and the environment and artificial intelligence.

Dennis Pullin
CEO and president
Virtua

His background includes many leadership positions in hospitals, academic medical centers, physician group practices and private industry. Previously a fellow and past regent of the American College of Healthcare Executives, he was once named the “most admired” CEO in South Jersey/Philly.

Suuchi Ramesh
CEO
Suuchi Inc.

Nationally recognized leader in software and manufacturing, but her greatest influence may be inspiring next generation of females, especially those of color. Ramesh is a prime example of the innovation economy Murphy aims to build.

Dana Redd
CEO
Rowan University/Rutgers-Camden board of governors

Longtime power player and influencer in Camden, where she previously served as mayor and a state senator. She is now impacting region as head of the Rowan University/Rutgers-Camden board of governors.

Kimberly Reed
Chief transformation officer
Reed Development Group LLC

Reed, who owns her own company, based in Cherry Hill, is an award-winning international speaker, author, corporate trainer and diversity, equality and inclusion executive. Some consider her the top thought leader on DEI issues in South Jersey.

Avonia Richardson-Miller
SVP, chief diversity officer
Hackensack Meridian Health 

She has helped hospitals across the HMH network land on the Human Equality Index from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation — and launched a new resource group called Aspiring Women Leaders, which helps support and promote women across the network.

Brenda Ross-Dulan
Founder and managing principal
The Ross Dulan Group

A former top-level bank executive in the state, Ross-Dulan leverages more than two decades in the ever-changing financial industry to help executives successfully navigate through periods of change and realize strong and sustained results.

Indy Samra
Co-chair
Punjabi Chamber of Commerce

A private wealth adviser at Samra Wealth Management, he also serves as co-chair of the Edison-based Punjabi Chamber of Commerce, which aims to unite the global Indian Punjabi diaspora through commerce and cooperation.

Troy Singleton
D-Moorestown
N.J. Senate

He’s an up-and-comer in the political world who is not afraid to take strong stands, especially on issues involving health care costs and the business community.

Monica Slater Stokes
Managing director, corporate and government affairs
United Airlines

Well-respected throughout the state, Slater Stokes is working hard for United, one of the 10 biggest employers in the state, as it begins its comeback from the pandemic slowdown.

Sharon Smith
Chief medical officer
Prudential Financial

Prudential’s top priority is the safety and wellbeing of its employees, customers and communities. Smith’s leadership ensures that focus guides the company’s response to the evolving global pandemic, as well as its efforts to reimagine the workplace in its post-pandemic world.

Shelley Smith
Chief diversity officer
Archer & Greiner

Powerhouse lawyer who counsels clients in commercial litigation and labor and employment matters, Smith also heads up the diversity, equity and inclusion efforts for one of South Jersey’s top firms.

Michael Soliman
Partner
Mercury

Soliman, a partner at one of the top public affairs agencies in the state, continues to impact in New Jersey and Washington. He is key adviser to Menendez.

Jean Stennett
Vice president of oncology services
Holy Name

Experienced health care administration executive recognized for leadership in achieving business results with more than 20 years of experience. Stennett is recognized as a financially savvy agent for change, diversity and an operationally strategic high potential leader.

Nikki Sumpter
EVP, chief administrative officer
Atlantic Health System

Her leadership, which has contributed to an inclusive and dynamic workplace culture at the health system, is a reason why Atlantic Health routinely is mentioned on numerous “Best Places to Work” lists. 

Shavonda Sumter
D-Paterson
N.J. Assembly

Longtime legislator was recently elected the first female chair of the New Jersey Legislative Black Caucus. She gets the nod here for leading the efforts to help underserved communities that have been disproportionately hurt during the pandemic.

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