ROI Influencers: People of Color 2023 — A to G

Andrés Acebo
New Jersey City University

After helping to pull school out of financial mess, he is leading the charge toward a bright future — one that emphasizes educating first-generation students from underserved areas.


Rosalie Acevedo
Chief operating officer & chief financial officer
Genova Burns

She is in one of the key roles as firm transitions into next-generation leadership.


Eva Addae
Summit Prep

She’s a nationally recognized advocate for equity in education, specifically surrounding standardized testing.


Baye Adofo-Wilson
Founder & CEO
BAW Development

Rebuilding Hinchliffe Stadium was as much about honoring the past (it’s the last remaining Negro Leagues stadium) as providing a path for a bright future in Paterson.


Dr. Noelle Aikman
Residency program director for obstetrics and gynecology
Jersey Shore University Medical Center

Leader of highly respected program that gives residents the resources and guidance needed to provide comprehensive, evidence-based care to diverse patient populations, while maintaining core values of respect, reliability and professionalism.


Toney Anaya
Global head of government relations

One of the top leaders in a globally growing company makes his home in South Jersey.


Regina Appolon
Strategic adviser
Princeton Public Affairs Group

Former chief of staff of Assemblywoman Angela McKnight, Appolon is highly respected political operative with a wealth of legislative experience in financial education, civil liberties, commerce and transportation.


Guillermo Artiles
McCarter & English

An advocate for clients in the courtroom and in the State House in many sectors, he chairs the firm’s Government Affairs Practice and leads its Cannabis Group.


Mishael Azam
Vice president of external affairs
UnitedHealth Group

In addition to her work at UHC, she serves as chair of the board of the New Jersey Association of Health Plans.


Alexis Bailey; Althea D. Ford
Vice presidents, government affairs
N.J. Business & Industry Association

Key players for an organization that has a long history of powerful — and influential — advocacy on key issues for the business community. Bailey soon will be headed to similar role at Public Strategies Impact.


Jacqueline Baptiste
Executive assistant to founder, CEO & president
African American Chamber of Commerce of N.J.

Her leadership ensures that the fast-growing organization, whose influence is growing by the day, stays focused on the mission.


William Best
Senior vice president & Northeast market manager, community development banking
PNC Bank

In addition to his key role at PNC, he serves as chair of the board of governors at Rutgers University.


Neha Bhalani
Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi

Practices with the firm’s Intellectual Property Group, providing domestic and international intellectual property strategy planning. Co-chair of the firm’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee.


Ravi Bhalla

One of the top mayors in the state — if not the country. Is having a big impact in small (at least geographically) space.


Karteek Bhavsar
Senior vice president, operations and business development
Valley Health System

A 25-year employee, Bhavsar continually has been promoted — moving to senior vice president for operations and business development in 2020 after serving as vice president of administration for five years.


Michelle Bodden
Chief diversity & inclusion officer
N.J. Economic Development Authority

Bodden, who has a long history driving D&I strategies, standards and policies at numerous organizations, leads efforts at EDA, both internally and within the dozens of programs it oversees.


Brian Bridges
N.J. Office of the Secretary of Higher Education

Few things are as valued as the state’s efforts to ensure its higher education institutions not only are on solid ground but are producing the next generation of employees — and leaders — the state’s business community leads.


Vanessa Broadhurst
Executive vice president, global corporate affairs
Johnson & Johnson

Leads company’s global marketing, communication and philanthropy functions, in addition to oversight of J&J Health & Wellness Solutions and Global Public Health.


Stephanie Brown
Associate director, government affairs

Well-connected throughout the state from her time in Governor’s Office and other key organizations, she is a key leader at Wonder — a cool upscale food delivery startup.


Dale Caldwell
Centenary University

To call him a thought leader on so many levels on so many things only details part of his persona. Caldwell is a dynamic leader ready to take Centenary — and its student body — to new heights.


Patricia Campos-Medina
Executive director
Worker Institute at ILR School, Cornell University

She is a researcher and labor educator focusing on the intersection of race, immigration status and worker’s rights.


Joe Cardona
Vice president, university relations
Rowan University

He’s closing in on three decades at the school (and that does not include his time as an undergrad), which means he has seen (and been a big part of) its transformation. Throughout it all, he has had years of service as a volunteer in community sports leagues.


Jennifer Carrillo-Perez
Connell Foley

A sought-after adviser on key development projects and legislative issues, she is an expert in land use and zoning, redevelopment, municipal law and regulatory and government affairs.


Dr. Will Carroll
Chief pharmacy officer
Hackensack Meridian Health

He provides strategic and operational oversight for the pharmacy division that supports 18 hospitals and over 500 patient care locations.


Vic Carstarphen

His commitment and longtime connection to the city is evident in all that he does.


Eric Chau
Chief revenue officer
Kvibe Studios

He also serves as founder & CEO of World Consulting Inc., a business and financial consulting firm to provide technical and financial assistance to small businesses and tech startups — and a capital access specialist for the U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce.


Dr. Erik Chu
Chief of emergency medicine
Englewood Health

Chu, a respected clinician and leader, was the recipient of the system’s annual Physician of the Year Award, nominated by his colleagues for his commitment to the organization’s core values, in 2020.


Alixon Collazos
Public affairs specialist
BGill Group

A top public affairs specialist, who has been active in numerous organizations that are mentoring and assisting Latinas in politics, has become a candidate herself. She is running for the Assembly.


Francine Conway
Rutgers University – New Brunswick

Oversees more than 300 programs and more than $700 million in research while helping school aim for equity among students, staff and faculty.


Tai Cooper
Vice president of policy and communications
N.J. Economic Development Authority

Well-known throughout the state, Cooper has a large influence in numerous projects and programs at the EDA.


Claribel Cortes
Middlesex County

A key Ieader at the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of N.J., she always is searching for ways to help small business owners in her community. And, make no mistake: She is one to watch in Middlesex.


Francisco Cortes
Setroc Group

In addition to running a multicultural marketing and public relations agency, he is a key player in the N.J. State Veterans Chamber of Commerce.


Gary Crosby
Saint Elizabeth University

The first African American and first male president in the university’s history is starting to put his stamp on the school as he enters the third academic year on the job.


Jose Cruz
Senior managing director

It seems as if every big commercial real estate deal is connected to Cruz and his all-star team.


Janet Davis
JADE Grill and Café

Her food is great; her influence is greater. It’s not just because she’s a frequent speaker and TV personality, but that she gives back, including a recent event that taught dining etiquette.


Marilyn Davis
State director
Altice USA

Known as a government affairs expert, she also is a former congressional staffer and state government official with policy and programmatic management and campaign experience.


Michellene Davis
National Medical Fellowships

Her current role (where she works to help more people of color overcomes hurdles to becoming a doctor) keeps her out of the state — but her influence here remains strong.


Sonia Delgado
Strategic adviser
Princeton Public Affairs Group

She has more than 20 years of experience in the analysis and management of legislative and regulatory issues in public sector, corporate and health care settings.


Alfa Demmellash
Co-founder & CEO
Rising Tide Capital

Heads a nonprofit that not only assists those from underserved communities, but gives them the tools to become successful entrepreneurs and community leaders.


Uli Diaz
Vice president of government affairs
Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of N.J.

One of the best in the business, in and out of the halls of Trenton.


Tara Dowdell
Founder & president
Tara Dowdell Group; TDG Speakers

Her Jersey City-based public relations and marketing agency is driven by a passion for promoting organizations and businesses that are engaged in social good. And, when she’s not booking speakers, she’s a respected political commentator herself.


Jeremy Farrell
Special counsel & senior managing director, government and community affairs

His experience with LeFrak and with Mayor Steve Fulop makes him a major influencer in Jersey City and the commercial real estate industry.


Nariman Farvardin
Stevens Institute of Technology

He heads one of the top tech schools in the country — a distinction earned as much for what it has done as where it is going. Stevens always is ahead of the curve.


Victoria Fernandez; Tyneisha Gibbs
Nonprofit Professionals of Color Collective

The collective, created by Gibbs (head of 144th and Vine) and Fernandez (director of thriving communities for the Grunin Foundation), envisions being a network of equity-driven leaders of color, supported in deepening their equity analysis and leadership skills as agents of change.


Donald Ferrell
Vice president, facilities, capital construction and campus development
Hackensack University Medical Center

Was instrumental in helping HUMC transform its hospital during the pandemic and expand its footprint with the nine-story, 530,000-square-foot Helena Theurer Pavilion.


Jeannine Frisby LaRue
Senior vice president
The Zita Group

Longtime lobbyist in Trenton has seen it all and done it all. That’s why she’s one of the best in the business.


Andrea Garcia
Co-founder & managing partner

The award-winning public relations strategist has been a business owner since opening her own firm in 2018. She also has been key ally for N.J. Pride Chamber of Commerce.


Rudy Garcia

You can talk about his time as an elected leader, a political consultant or a big-time lawyer — or bring up the fact he was an all-state football player who went on to play at Columbia.


Angela Garretson
Chief external affairs officer
New Jersey Institute of Technology

With two decades of political, civic and higher education experience — and a passion for serving the community — she’s a huge plus for NJIT as it continues to grow in stature in the state and around the country.


Barbara George Johnson
Vice president of external affairs & urban policy and research
Kean University

Among other duties, she oversees the work and mission of the New Jersey Urban Mayors Association, a one-of-a-kind organization of 32 urban mayors engaged in collective policymaking.


Damien Ghee
Senior vice president & regional vice president for the Greater Philadelphia Area
TD Bank

Actively involved in community efforts in South Jersey and Philadelphia areas. Spot on board of directors of Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey is one of many community roles he fills.


Don Ghermezian
Triple Five

American Dream continues to move forward — overcoming numerous obstacles.


Gerry Gibbs
Capital Impact Group

Highly respected figure in public service with more than a decade of legislative, policy and political experience at the local, state and federal levels.


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

Strong, sharp and outspoken politician — and he’ll need all of those skills to survive in what is becoming a 50-50 district.


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

Whether it’s helping to elevate the number of minority vendor partners or explaining the impact of new arena planned for Philadelphia, Gould is deeply involved in numerous DEI-type initiatives and issues.


Balpreet Grewal-Virk
N.J. commissioner
Gateway Development Commission

In addition to her work on the all-important Gateway Tunnel project, Grewal-Virk also serves as a senior vice president for community health at RWJBarnabas Health.


Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti
Department of Transportation

Longstanding transportation commissioner has been mentioned as a possible successor as chief of staff, should that position open.


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