AACCNJ’s Business Leadership Conference on Thursday marked by diversity of topics — and panelists

John Harmon, the CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey, is proud of the diverse list of panelists — and wide range of topics — that will be present at the group’s annual Business Leadership Conference on Thursday at the APA Hotel in Woodbridge. (Ticket info is here.)

Harmon said the goal for the event is the same as it is for every AACCNJ event: To bring business and government leaders together to build relationships and improve opportunity and access for everyone involved.

“The African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey’s Annual Business Leadership Conference illustrates our collective effort to improve the competitiveness of New Jersey,” he said.

“The special guests, keynote speaker and conference panelists were invited based on the significant roles that they play in New Jersey’s economy, as well as their embrace of the mission of the AACCNJ to derive mutual success through strategy partnerships and alliances.”


Lt. Gov. Tahesha Way will serve as a panelist and give one of her first public speeches since assuming office.

Even more, the diversity of the lineup on the five 25-minute panels — which includes Kris Kolluri of the Gateway Development Commission, Karen Reif of Public Service Electric & Gas, Lovell Pugh-Bassett of Camden County College and Bob Garrett of Hackensack Meridian Health, among a host of others — will lead to solid discussion throughout the day.

“We are highlighting the new LG, but also really shining a spotlight on the panelists, and their commitment to DEI, which they show by their eagerness to speak directly to our members and the general public in an open forum,” Harmon said.

“Without forums such as our Business Leadership Conference, when would our members have the opportunity to hear firsthand from the decision-makers? We have empaneled a cross-section of our members and partners, from diverse sectors and industries, who are invested in our mission.”

Len DeCandia, the former global chief procurement officer at Johnson & Johnson, a supply chain expert with nearly three decades of experience in C-suite positions at companies such as J&J, Estee Lauder, AmerisourceBergen and Roche, will give the keynote address at 11:30 a.m.

The conference also will feature cocktail networking event from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the hotel.

The panels will be as follows:

Panel 1: Capital, Energy & 21st Century Efficiency (10-10:25 a.m.)

  • Kris Kolluri, Gateway Development Commission
  • Doug Mokoid, Atlantic City Electric
  • Karen Reif, Public Service Electric & Gas
  • Mayra Rinaldi, Columbia Financial/Columbia Bank

Panel 2: Venture Capital/Fund Managers (10:30-10:55 a.m.)

  • Jacques-Philippe Piverger, GoodLight Capital
  • Maude Delice, Arkview Capital

Panel 3: Technology (11-11:25 a.m.)

  • Veda Shamsid-Deen, ARConnex
  • Nicole Jones, Denali Therapeutics
  • Gary Mann, Jasfel Analytics

Panel 4: Education (12:45-1:15 p.m.)

  • Antonio Tillis, Rutgers University – Camden
  • Lovell Pugh-Bassett, Camden County College
  • Sancha Gray, Kean University/Wenzhou Kean University

Panel 5: Innovation and Infrastructure (1:15-1:45 p.m.)

  • Bob Garrett, Hackensack Meridian Health
  • Tim Sullivan, N.J. Economic Development Authority
  • Tahesha Way, lieutenant governor/secretary of state
  • Seth Wainer, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey