ROI Influencers: People of Color 2023 — O to Z

Nichelle Pace
Principal; Vice 4
Brand Enchanting Media; Camden Business Association

All of her efforts go to creating an inclusive and thriving business landscape for Camden, as she actively advocates at the city, county and state levels for opportunities and resources for small and minority-owned businesses as well as large corporations.


Chaya Pamula
Co-founder and CEO; founder and director
PamTen; SheTek

Entrepreneur, philanthropist, mentor and innovative thinker: Pamula has more than 25 years of experience leading IT initiatives for businesses, but it is her willingness to help the next generation that sets her apart.


Nish Parikh

His firm helps place neurodiverse individuals in the workplace — a noble and important effort in a state where everyone is connected to someone on the spectrum.


Rajiv Parikh
Genova Burns LLC

He is what every attorney should strive to be: a highly acclaimed litigator, crisis manager and counselor in many practice areas, an adviser to political leaders at all levels and someone eager to give back to the community through volunteer efforts.


Grace Park
Deputy general counsel & chief litigation counsel
Public Service Enterprise Group

She is responsible for the oversight, representation and counsel of PSEG and all of its subsidiary companies in connection with all litigation and government inquiries.


Liz Paskas
Chief experience officer
Hackensack Meridian Health

She performed in several roles at Hackensack University Medical Center, including frontline cardiac surgery, critical care RN and nursing leadership — always excelling in what matters most: connecting with patients. She was elevated to current role in 2017.


Sara Peña
Director of external affairs
Public Service Enterprise Group

In addition to her role at PSEG, where she will coordinate outreach, Peña is known for founding the Boys to Leaders Foundation in 2013 with a mission is to empower and motivate young men by providing leadership training and personal development.


Gus Penaranda
Executive director
N.J. Pride Chamber of Commerce

From advocacy to opportunity … to championing equality and against hate … Penaranda and the Pride Chamber fight the good fight every day of the year.


Eric Pennington
Business administrator

Experienced attorney with a demonstrated history of working in the law practice industry at the highest level for over 25 years (he once clerked on the New Jersey Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit).


Dr. Chris Pernell
Founder & CEO
The Esther Group

A dynamic physician leader and social change agent, she recently launched the Esther Group, a public health consulting and health equity strategy firm that has a mandate to dream of a future where organizations, communities and systems innovate for a better world.


Marjorie Perry
CEO & president
MZM Construction & Management

After growing up in the projects in Newark, Perry has built a successful business from the ground up — more than once. With her no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is style, she excels at the negotiating table as well as the podium. She is a sought-after speaker.


Cristina Pinzon
Founder & president
Stateside Public Affairs

Stateside Public Affairs won a prestigious Silver Stevie Award in the Small Business subcategory of the Advertising, Marketing, & Public Relations category. The contest featured nominees from 60 nations. The best thing: The award ceremony takes place in Rome.


Braxton Plummer
Director of N.J. government affairs

He’s a strong community and social services professional skilled in public affairs, nonprofit organizations, political science, grassroots organizing and government.


Ranjini Poddar
Co-founder & CEO

Under her leadership, Artech has become the largest women-owned IT staffing company in the U.S., generating $810 million in revenue with over 10,500 global professionals.


Eric Poe
Chief operating officer
Cure Auto Insurance

Sure, he oversees the operations of more than 220 employees and over $100 million in assets — but his true talent is advertising: No one has funnier ads than Cure.


Satish Poondi
Trenk Isabel Siddiqi & Shahdanian P.C.

As a registered pharmacist, he brings a unique perspective to his role as co-chair of his firm’s Health Law & Pharmacy Law Practice Group. Politically savvy, he works to help build the next generation of South Asian officials.


Dr. John Porter
Head, Division of Trauma Surgery
Cooper University Health Care

Earlier this year, he was selected to serve as the state trauma medical director, where he provides subject-matter expertise to assist the leadership of the N.J. Department of Health in the development and implementation of the statewide trauma system plan.


Tomas Porturas
Vice president, social impact and sustainability
Wells Fargo

A dedicated civic leader, he is responsible for regionwide corporate social responsibility initiatives, community reinvestment act compliance management, team member volunteerism and external stakeholder engagement.


Nellie Pou
National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators

A member of the Legislature since 1997 (first, the Assembly, now, the Senate), Pou was both the first woman and the first Latina elected to represent the 35th Legislative District. She was installed to her national position in 2022.


Stan Prater
African American Chamber of Commerce of N.J.

Longtime executive at Jersey Central Power & Light remains active in the community. He is the founding member of George Gramby Observance Committee (community drug and alcohol prevention group) and founding member of Hope Chest Scholarship Foundation, among numerous other groups.


Rodney Priestley
Dean, Graduate School
Princeton University

Since joining Princeton’s faculty in 2009, Priestley has performed groundbreaking fundamental research in materials science, and expanded Princeton’s ties with industry, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, alumni and other partners.


Crystal Pruitt
External affairs lead
Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind

Prior to joining Atlantic Shores, Pruitt was the deputy director in the clean energy division of the N.J. Board of Public Utilities and ran the Office of Clean Energy Equity. This office, created in 2020, was the first of its kind.


Suuchi Ramesh
Suuchi Inc.

Entrepreneurial success story is betting that her GRID software solution will be the new standard for supply chain operations — one that solves the gaps left behind by legacy technology stacks.


Marcus Randolph
Invest Newark

Invest Newark, the city’s economic development corporation, was the first recipient of money from the N.J. Redevelopment Authority’s latest initiative to turn derelict urban properties into affordable homes.


Dana Redd
Camden Community Partnership

Former Camden mayor is growing into latest role, which aims to be a catalyst for the preservation and growth of a vibrant Camden, a city she served in a variety of capacities for decades.


Kimberly Reed
Chief transformation officer
Reed Development Group LLC

Firm aims to turn around troubled global talent organizations’ diversity & inclusion practices, while enhancing, designing or developing organizational DE&I strategies and shaping high-performing diverse cultures.


Lamont Repollet
Kean University

The university has taken dramatic steps for the good since Repollet took over during the middle of the pandemic.


Lyneir Richardson
Executive director
Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development

He leads capacity-building programs that have assisted over 400 entrepreneurs — and he serves an assistant professor at Rutgers Business School, where his commitment to teaching intersects with his passion for equitable economic development.


Lilia Rios
La Providencia; Nuuku

Come for info on her company that makes authentic Mexican products for restaurants — stay for a look at her boutique hotel located in the heart of the jungle of the Mexican Riviera Maya.


Suzette Robinson
Vice president, diversity & inclusion
RWJBarnabas Health

Dedicated and visionary health care leader with more than 20 years’ experience in strategic planning, new service initiatives, fiscal management and operations. Champion of targeted initiatives that aim to infuse diversity, equity & inclusion into policies, processes and practices.


Nicole Rodriguez
New Jersey Policy Perspective

The governor considers himself a hero to progressives — Rodriguez and her group keep him honest. And call him out when he’s not.


Natasha Love Rogers
Global head of transformation

As talented as they come. She’s an engineer, lawyer and financier. She’s overseen billions of dollars in supply chain, health care, utilities, tech and housing industries.


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

Highly thought of business executive, thought leader and board director, her diverse woman-owned strategy consulting is designed to help CEOs and executives become better leaders.


Cara Sabin
President, beauty & wellbeing
Unilever North America

Former CEO of Sundial (which was acquired by Unilever) is now tasked with amplifying SheaMoisture, a key player in the Black haircare space.


Indy Samra
Punjabi Chamber of Commerce

A leader at nonprofit group that aims to unite the global Indian Punjabi diaspora through commerce and cooperation. It is the world’s first organization dedicated to serving the needs of Indian Punjabi businesses and professionals — and it’s free to join.


Marcus Samuelsson
Owner & chef
Marcus B&P

His food is fantastic — but the impact of his efforts in Newark to help those who are hungry make him a true influencer.


Ishan S. Shah
Director, local government and stakeholder engagement; President
N.J. Natural Gas; N.J. Leadership Program

The New Jersey Leadership Program, which aims to increase South Asian youth participation in N.J. government and politics, recently concluded its 2023 Speakership Series. Its impact will be felt for years.


Rana Shanawani
Executive director
Women’s Center for Entrepreneurship

Shanawani, who received her Master’s in Public Health from Johns Hopkins, and her bachelor’s degree in biology from Cornell University, also holds three certifications in health and human rights. She puts them all to good use.


David Singletary
Founder & CEO
DJS Digital

His more than 25 years in the technology industry has taught him this: He is a firm believer in equality and fairness for individuals and believes all businesses should have access to the latest technology.


Troy Singleton
N.J. Senate

Influential South Jersey legislator does all he can to create jobs and economic opportunities for working families.


Amol Sinha
Executive director
ACLU of New Jersey

He is a nationally recognized civil rights leader who has dedicated his career to advancing racial justice, holding institutions accountable, and promoting and defending rights and liberties.


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

A Newark native, she sits on several boards, including the Regional Plan Association and Choose New Jersey, and serves as chair of the board of the Newark Regional Business Partnership.


Shelley Smith
Chief diversity officer
Archer & Greiner

She heads firm’s commitment to DEI with initiatives that focus on recruitment and retention, mentoring, professional development and advancement, education, client partnerships and community outreach.


Sean Spiller
President; Mayor
New Jersey Education Association; Montclair

He heads up one of the state’s most important and influential unions — and leads one of the state’s most impressive towns.


Madhu Stemmermann
SunRay Scientific

Brings more than 25 years of experience in senior leadership roles at major corporations in sales, manufacturing, supply chain, engineering and product management.


Eric Strauss
Senior managing editor

Unheralded hero at ROI-NJ. Strauss is as good an editor as there is in the business (and wickedly funny). If you think ROI-NJ reads well, it’s because of him.


Ken Tanji
Chief financial officer
Prudential Financial

Longtime Prudential exec oversees global financial management matters, including financial reporting, investor relations, treasury, tax, corporate development and actuarial.


Dr. Lisa Tank
Chief medical officer
Hackensack University Medical Center

She is the chief medical officer at the top-rated hospital in the state, where she also is a recognized expert in geriatrics, internal medicine and hospice and palliative care.


Faith Taylor

Women@NJPAC has been the driving force behind the N.J. Performing Arts Center’s success since before the building even opened. Taylor is its highly effective leader.


Jackie Taylor
U.S. government and public sector alliance & ecosystems leader

Yes, she is based in Atlanta now. But you’d never know it by how much time she still spends here Here’s another fact: Few leaders anywhere are as respected as much as Taylor is by her colleagues and clients.


Anna Maria Tejada
Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr

Former president of Executive Women of New Jersey is still a leader in fighting for equity for women and the underserved — not to mention, being a great attorney.


Darrell Terry
Newark Beth Israel Medical Center; Children’s Hospital of N.J.

The hospital’s recent facelift is symbolic of the positive impact it has on its patients and in its community.


Sam Thevanayagam
Parts Life

He believes that leaders are not born, but shaped by influential people — and that it is their responsibility to mentor talent and inspire others, especially those from underserved communities.


Rick Thigpen
Senior vice president, corporate citizenship
Public Service Enterprise Group

Handling government affairs for a highly regulated company is not an easy job — Thigpen just makes it look that way.


Kenya Tyson
Garden State Bar Association

She also serves as a co-director for the New Jersey Reparations Council and a member of the New Jersey Supreme Court advisory committee on access and fairness.


Bob Unanue
Goya Foods

The outspoken leader of one of the top Hispanic food brands in the world doesn’t apologize for his faith, his support of former President Donald Trump — or his belief that Goya can be an agent for good, helping to feed those around the world.


Jen Velez
General counsel
Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of N.J.

Velez’s long history of jobs and service in the public and private sector makes her one of the most respected health care executives in the state and the region.


Anton Vincent
Mars Wrigley North America

He’s a global enterprise executive who has ushered multiple organizations to new stages of growth, value creation and corporate reputation for more than two decades.


Jacob Walthour
Co-founder & CEO
Blueprint Capital

He has more than 25 years of experience in capital markets, traditional and alternative asset management. He oversees the business and investment activities of the firm and is responsible for strategy, business development and execution.


Robin Walton
Vice president of government and external affairs
Inspira Health

One of the top government affairs professionals in the state is on track to become chair of the influential Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey.


Tahesha Way
Department of State

Long-running secretary of state has influence in a wide variety of areas, including N.J.’s fast-growing film industry. Many feel she will be the next lieutenant governor.


Elnardo Webster
Connell Foley

It was a big get for Connell Foley earlier this year when Webster and three other top real estate attorneys joined the firm.


Anthony Welch
Vice president & chief government relations officer
Cooper University Health Care

He provides strategic guidance on public policy issues affecting health care and Cooper, and helps oversee Cooper’s advocacy efforts in connection with legislative, policy and regulatory initiatives at the federal, state, county and local levels of government.


Dreena Whitfield-Brown
Founder & CEO

Runs integrated strategic communications agency that helps connect brands to multicultural audiences. Her firm shapes and amplifies stories that not only celebrate Black culture, but support the advancement of marginalized communities.


Steve Williams

A nationally recognized authority on best practices for jazz radio programming, research, marketing, administration and content production — and a jazz aficionado — Williams guides what is considered a crown jewel of Newark.


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