ROI Influencers: People of Color 2021 — Nos. 11-20

11 Mo Butler

He’s a partner at one of the most influential public affairs firms in the state, represents and advises some of the state’s biggest politicians (Booker and Baraka), biggest companies and biggest developers while serving on two top boards (Casino Reinvestment Development Authority and New Jersey Performing Arts Center). His stature — and resume — should continue to grow.

Luis De La Hoz has joined Valley Bank. (File photo)

12 Luis De La Hoz; Carlos Medina
Chairman; CEO
Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of N.J.

Their efforts to help the Hispanic business community in the state are well-known and frequently lauded. And for good reason. This dynamic duo has contacts with the top elected officials and leading CEOs — but they have made it their mission to serve and assist Hispanic businesses of all shapes and sizes, particularly the mom-and-pop entrepreneurs.

13 Shereef Elnahal
University Hospital

In the middle of treating the hard-hit minority communities in Newark — and while pushing to get more of the population vaccinated (which is as much an education campaign as a logistical test) — Elnahal is quietly but quickly rebuilding University Hospital. The former state health commissioner is transforming the culture while pushing New Jersey to build a new facility.

14 Carlos Rodriguez

CEOs and elected officials across the state scurried to come up with plans to address social inequities in their ranks and workforce this spring when the issue exploded onto the national scene. They should have just looked at how ADP operates. The company has long set the standard for racial and gender equity and opportunities — something Rodriguez pushes as well as any leader in the state.

15 Thai Lee
SHI International

Yes, she owns the company whose name is on the football stadium at Rutgers. And what a company it is. The Somerset-based information technology solutions provider earned a record $11.1 billion in revenue for 2020. Lee didn’t slow during the pandemic. In fact, she launched a scale-up subsidiary, Stratascale, last November. 

16 Ranjini Poddar
Co-founder and CEO

Artech, the full-service staffing firm Poddar started in 1992, is now the largest woman-owned IT staffing company in the U.S. It has more than 10,000 employees globally and serves nearly 100 Fortune 500 companies. The private company is believed to be nearing $1 billion in annual revenue.

17 Bob Unanue
Goya Foods

Perhaps you don’t like his politics (his board apparently does not, but half the country does), but you can’t overlook his impact on the New Jersey economy. The Jersey City-based Goya is the country’s largest Hispanic-owned food company. And then there’s this: It has donated approximately 5 million pounds of food since the pandemic began. 

18 Parimal Garg
Chief counsel
Governor’s Office

Has received rave reviews since stepping into the chief counsel job. Smart … dedicated … hard-working — and he’s getting an experience (operating during a time when executive order has changed the game) that will serve him well in the future, wherever that future takes him. Garg, another rising star in the administration, will have impact and influence for years to come.

19 Zakiya Smith Ellis
Chief policy adviser
Governor’s Office

Here’s all you need to know about Smith Ellis: Despite being a well-respected expert on all things higher education (and at a young age), her intellect and insights were so great that the governor moved her out of the secretary of higher ed role to a more all-encompassing post of chief policy adviser. Sky is the limit for her — and likely extends far beyond the administration.

20 Lata Reddy
Senior vice president
Prudential Financial

In her role, Reddy harnesses the power of capital markets to drive financial and social mobility through her oversight of Prudential’s $40 million in annual grants and $20 million in corporate contributions, in addition to its $1 billion impact investing portfolio. In the past year, she also has championed company’s response to the pandemic and ongoing issues of social and racial justice.

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