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2016 Women Business Leaders Forum Speakers

Building the Next Generation of Women CEOs

Although women continue to comprise more of the Fortune 500 CEO positions each year, they still have a long way to go. Gather together with New Jersey women at our Sept. 23 forum to network, exchange ideas, and identify how we can help women make headway in corporate leadership, and build the next generation of women CEOs. The event will feature speakers from more than 10 leading industries such as NJTV, Wells Fargo, NJM, Deloitte and more. To register, please visit www.njbia.org/wblf16.

michele-siekerkaNEW110215-ED-MAGMichele N. Siekerka
President and CEO, NJBIA 

Michele Siekerka, Esq. became the 11th President of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) in October 2014.

Siekerka came to NJBIA from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) where she served as Deputy Commissioner. Prior to serving as Deputy, she served as Assistant Commissioner for Water Resource Management.

In those positions, Siekerka was a principal player in Governor Christie’s charge in “Rebuilding New Jersey” in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. She was responsible for coordinating funding, outreach and resources for the rebuilding of impacted environmental infrastructure.

While at DEP, Siekerka also co-authored the State Strategic Plan, served as the Governor’s representative on the Delaware River Basin Commission and the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust and was instrumental in the drafting of the 2010 New Jersey State Energy Master Plan.

Prior to DEP, Siekerka served as President and CEO of the Mercer Regional Chamber of Commerce, and, earlier in her career, she served as senior legal counsel and vice president of human resources with the Automobile Association of America (AAA) Mid-Atlantic. Before AAA, Siekerka was a partner in a Mercer County law firm.

A Robbinsville resident, Siekerka earned a BA in Political Science and German from Rutgers University and a JD from Temple University School of Law.

MAG-WBLF-HS-1LTKim Guadagno
Lieutenant Governor, State of New Jersey 

Kim Guadagno was sworn into office on January 19, 2010 as New Jersey’s first Lieutenant Governor. She was re-elected to a second term in 2013. In addition to serving as the Lt. Governor, Guadagno serves as the 33rd Secretary of State.

Lt. Governor Guadagno leads the Christie Administration’s efforts to improve New Jersey’s economic vitality, encourage job growth, streamline government, and make businesses feel welcome again in New Jersey. She oversees the New Jersey Partnership for Action (PFA), the state’s four-pronged comprehensive economic development strategy. Moreover, the Lt. Governor also chairs the Red Tape Review Commission, which is engaged in an ongoing review and reform of the state’s regulatory process.

Lt. Governor Guadagno additionally chairs the New Jersey Military Installation Growth and Development Task Force, which is charged with forging an effective blueprint for securing the long-term growth and viability of New Jersey’s military bases and US Coast Guard installations.

As the Secretary of State, Lt. Governor Guadagno is New Jersey’s chief election official, oversees promotion of the state’s $40-billion tourism industry, and administers programs related to the arts, culture and history.

She began her public service career as a federal prosecutor with the Organized Crime & Racketeering Strike Force in Brooklyn, New York, and later became an Assistant United States Attorney in Newark. Later, Guadagno served as a ranking member of the State of New Jersey Attorney General’s Office. In 2001, she left the public sector to practice law closer to home and became a teacher at Rutgers University School of Law-Newark. In 2007, Guadagno was elected as the first woman sheriff in Monmouth County’s history, where she managed an extensive 650-member law enforcement agency.

Lt. Governor Guadagno is a cum laude graduate of Ursinus College, and received her JD degree, cum laude, from the American University Washington College of Law in Washington, DC. She and her husband reside in Monmouth Beach, with their three sons.

MAG-WBLF-OstrowskyBarry H. Ostrowsky
President and CEO, RWJ Barnabas Health

Barry Ostrowsky is the president and chief executive officer of RWJ Barnabas Health, New Jersey’s largest integrated healthcare delivery system. He leads the system’s initiatives in responding to the new dynamics of health reform and, through his vision and stewardship, has created the most comprehensive health system in New Jersey.

RWJ Barnabas Health includes 11 acute care hospitals (six are teaching hospitals), three children’s hospitals, a pediatric rehabilitation hospital, ambulatory care centers, geriatric centers, a free-standing behavioral health center, New Jersey’s largest statewide behavioral health network, comprehensive home care and hospice programs, pharmacy services, multi-site imaging centers, three accountable care organizations as well as medical groups with primary and specialty care physician practices.

Ostrowsky joined Saint Barnabas Medical Center in 1991 as executive vice president and general counsel and served in the same role when Barnabas Health was created in 1996. At Barnabas Health, he became president and chief operating officer in 2010 and president and chief executive officer in 2012. In April 2016, with the merger of Barnabas Health and Robert Wood Johnson Health System, he assumed his present positon.

Ostrowsky was previously a senior partner at the law firm of Brach, Eichler. Among an array of active memberships, he serves on the Board of Directors of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, for example.

Ostrowsky received a BA from Rutgers University and a JD from the University of Tennessee School of Law.

Business Leaders Panel 

NJTV’s Mary Alice Williams will lead an interactive discussion with a diverse panel of leaders that will empower and educate attendees on the values, behaviors, skills and characteristics women need to excel to the board/CEO level, as well as what men and women at the board/CEO level can do to help other women succeed. 

MAG-WBLF-WilliamsMary Alice Williams
Anchor, “NJTV News, with Mary Alice Williams” 

Mary Alice Williams is anchor of New Jersey public television’s weeknight newscast, “NJTV News with Mary Alice Williams.” She is a highly-acclaimed broadcast journalist with a wealth of experience in the field. Her investigative work on such topics as foreign policy, ethics, technology and health have made her a respected authority and recognized voice for public information. As one of the primary architects behind the design of CNN, the first worldwide television network, Williams oversaw the construction of CNN’s New York Bureau at the World Trade Center prior to the launch of Cable News Network (CNN) in 1980 and served as the channel’s principal anchor and vice president in charge of the New York Bureau until 1989. She contributed to CNN’s award-winning program lineup and played a major role in the network’s development and globalization. She was a critical member of CNN’s political anchor team and oversaw the planning and operation of the network’s second largest bureau with responsibility for seven hours of original programming per day. In 1982, Williams was appointed vice president, becoming one of the highest ranking female executives in American television.

Williams was an anchor on the NBC News team that won a national Emmy Award for its coverage of the fall of communism. During her tenure with NBC from 1989 to 1993, she also anchored “Sunday Today,” “NBC News Special Reports,” “Yesterday Today & Tomorrow” and NBC’s extended coverage of “Desert Storm: War in the Gulf.” Williams was a frequent anchor and correspondent for “NBC Nightly News,” “Sunrise” and “The Today Show.” In the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks, she wrote and hosted a three-hour PBS special “Reaching Out to Heal.” She also hosted a companion program to Bill Moyers’ “On Our Own Terms,” about death and dying, which aired in fall 2000 on PBS. As host of Hallmark’s weekly “True North” program on personal ethics, Williams earned the 2001 Gracie Allen Award and the 2001 Donald McGannon Ethics in Media Award. Her 90-minute PBS special on alcoholism and addiction, “Within Reach,” along with her work as a PBS contributing correspondent and anchor on “Religion & Ethics Newsweekly” have established Williams as a recognized commentator and reporter on broad issues of ethics. One of the highest-rated documentaries ever broadcast on Lifetime Television, “Picture What Women Do,” about women, work and the American family, was written and hosted by Williams. It won the 1995 Exceptional Merit Media Award given by the National Women’s Political Caucus.

A published author, Williams adapted her weekly interview program for the Hallmark Channel about strategies for overcoming life’s toughest challenges into a book, “Quiet Triumphs,” published by Harper Collins.

Williams has received 14 honorary doctorates for her outstanding contributions to journalism and television. Born in Minneapolis, she chose to raise her family in New Jersey, where she still resides.


MAG-WBLF-FlynnBernie Flynn
President and CEO, NJM Insurance Company

Bernard “Bernie” Flynn has served as president and CEO of NJM Insurance Company since April 2008. From 2009 to 2013, he was chairman of the board of NJM Bank FSB, which was a wholly owned subsidiary of NJM.

Since joining NJM in 1993 as a staff attorney, Flynn subsequently was named vice president and general counsel in 2001 and senior vice president and general counsel in 2004. He was elected to the NJM Board of Directors in 2003 and served on the board of NJM Bank FSB from 2004 to 2014.

Before he joined NJM, Flynn was a New Jersey Deputy Attorney General from 1987 to 1993, serving as Counsel for the Commissioner of Insurance from 1991 to 1993.

In October of 2015, Flynn was named co-chair of Greater Trenton, a non-profit organization whose mission is to advance economic development and revitalization projects of importance to New Jersey’s capital city. He is also a founding board member of Choose New Jersey, an independent, privately funded and managed non-profit corporation that markets the Garden State as a premier location for domestic and international businesses looking to expand or relocate their operations. This group was inspired by Gov. Chris Christie in 2010 to encourage and nurture economic growth throughout New Jersey. From 2012 to 2014, Flynn served as Choose New Jersey’s chairman.

In June of 2014, Flynn joined the Rutgers Business School’s Institute for Ethical Leadership Executive Business Cabinet. He has served as a trustee for Public Media NJ, Inc., since 2011 and as a board member of the New Jersey Network (NJN) Foundation from 2009 to 2011. He has been a member of the New Jersey Chapter/Eastern Division of CEOs Against Cancer since 2011; board member of Junior Achievement of NJ from 2010 to 2012; and member of the Property Casualty Insurers (PCI) Board of Governors since 2008.

Several committees benefited from Flynn’s expertise during a time of great change in New Jersey’s personal auto insurance market. From 1999 to 2002, he served as a member of the New Jersey Insurance Department’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Technical Advisory Committee, and from 2000 to 2001 he was a member of the New Jersey Insurance Underwriting Association. In 2001, he co-chaired Governor-Elect McGreevey’s Banking and Insurance Transition Team. From 1999 to 2001, Flynn served as Secretary of the Insurance Council of New Jersey (ICNJ).

He graduated from Rutgers University School of Law in 1986 after obtaining his BS from Fordham University in 1982. In 2001, Flynn earned the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) Designation.

Flynn and his wife, Ann, live in Delran. They have two children.


mag-wblf-forminardElizabeth (Liz) Forminard
Worldwide Vice President, Corporate Governance, Johnson & Johnson

Forminard is Worldwide Vice President, Corporate Governance at Johnson & Johnson, the world’s largest and most broadly based healthcare company. A regulatory lawyer by training, Forminard has held a number of central leadership positions within Johnson & Johnson as well as Pfizer. Her experiences inform her global, cross-functional view, including past roles establishing a legal department in Asia Pacific for Pfizer Consumer Healthcare (PCH), leading the Johnson & Johnson MD&D Health Care Compliance function, and overseeing global Johnson & Johnson legal groups supporting a variety of health care products, devices and services.

Forminard holds a B.A. degree from Cornell University and a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.


MAG-WBLF-FucciMike Fucci
Chairman of the Board, Deloitte LLP 

As chairman of the board, Deloitte LLP, Mike Fucci leads the board in providing governance and oversight as well as guidance on firm strategy, brand positioning, risk mitigation, talent development and leadership succession. For the past 34 years, he has been a practitioner and principal at Deloitte, with specialties in HR transformation, talent strategies, and total rewards.

Fucci serves in several leadership positions: member of the Deloitte LLP board of directors; chairman of the Deloitte Foundation; and member of the Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited board of directors and its Global Governance Committee.

In 2008, Consulting magazine included Fucci on its distinguished “Top 25 Consultants” list for his work with clients and leadership excellence.

Of note, Fucci serves as a sponsoring executive for the US 30% Club, an organization focused on gender balance in the boardroom. A thought leader within the HR consulting market, Fucci has been featured as a Conference Board speaker on HR, compensation, and talent management topics. He was profiled in a Fortune article about sponsorship.

Fucci attended Montclair State University, where he earned a BS in mathematics. He resides in Far Hills, with his wife and three children.


mag-wblf-girlingPhilippa Girling
Senior Vice President & Chief Risk Officer, Investors Bank

Girling is Senior Vice President, Chief Risk Officer at Investors Bank and has over 20 years’ experience in the global financial services industry. During her career she has held operational risk leadership roles at several leading financial institutions, including Capital One Bank and Morgan Stanley. Having established a global reputation as a risk management leader, Girling was named one of the decade’s “Top Fifty Faces of Operational Risk” by Operational Risk and Regulation magazine and has become a much sought after public speaker. Girling has also authored two college textbooks, and has been recognized by Working Mother magazine as one of the Top 100 Working Mothers in America.

Girling holds a PhD in global affairs from Rutgers University, is a member of the New York State Bar, and is a certified Financial Risk Manager (FRM).


MAG-WBLF-MandelGail Mandel
President and CEO, Wyndham Destination Network 

Gail Mandel is president and CEO for Wyndham Destination Network, part of the Wyndham Worldwide family of companies. Wyndham Destination Network is the world’s largest provider of professionally managed, unique vacation accommodations – from houseboats and cottages to rental homes and timeshare resorts. Its network comprises more than 112,000 properties in more than 100 countries and consists of a collection of renowned brands including RCI®, The Registry Collection®, Wyndham Vacation Rentals, Hoseasons, Landal GreenParks, Novasol, cottages.com and James Villa Holidays.

Mandel has more than 20 years of financial and business experience in the hospitality industry. As president and CEO, she oversees the overall operations and strategy for the timeshare exchange and vacation rentals businesses.

Prior to this role, Mandel held senior finance positions at Wyndham Destination Network, Wyndham Worldwide, Cendant Corporation and HFS Incorporated. She began her career in the financial industry at Deloitte & Touche as a senior auditor.

Mandel received her bachelor’s degree from Pace University.

Session 1: Leading in an Entrepreneurial Environment 

Being an entrepreneur takes hard work, perseverance and a lot of patience. In this session, you will learn from experienced speakers about what it takes to start your own business. To succeed as an entrepreneur, you need to develop a strong network of advisers, mentors, supporters and collaborators. The session will also discuss how women at any level of an organization can become effective leaders using entrepreneurial skills. Successful leaders behave differently by optimizing risk, innovating to take advantage of opportunities, taking personal responsibility and managing change within a dynamic environment for the benefit of an organization. This session will show you how to develop and use your entrepreneurial skills to move ahead in your career.

MAG-WBLF-BaikowitzDeena Baikowitz
Chief Networking Officer, Fireball Network

Deena “Fireball” Baikowitz comes from four generations of feisty career women and business owners. Her favorite expression is “I know someone you should meet. Let me introduce you!” Baikowitz is a dynamic speaker, published writer, experienced coach and skilled facilitator. As the founder and chief networking officer of Fireball Network, she helps her clients develop strategic relationships and access hot business opportunities. She has more than 20 years of professional experience – with diverse careers in theatre, social work, business development, marketing and training. Baikowitz is passionate about empowering women in all stages of their career and business to build their confidence, improve their skills, expand their networks and succeed. Baikowitz is an active member of CREW New York (Commercial Real Estate Women) and served as board member and co-chair of their Young Leaders Group in 2015. She is a member of Ellevate Network and NEWH (The Hospitality Industry Network) and can “work a room” in four languages. Born and raised in Montreal, Canada, Baikowitz earned degrees in Liberal Arts and Social Work from McGill University.


MAG-WBLF-DowlenBJ Dowlen
Founder and President, Bodyworks Enterprises, LLC

BJ Dowlen is founder and president of Bodyworks Enterprises, LLC, an elite sports writing and sports performance group, established in 1999. The teams consists of leading sports performance therapists, fascial flexibility stretch therapists, massage therapists, sports event planners and ghostwriters around the world. Bodyworks Enterprises develops top health and fitness products used to teach office wellness and travel wellness.

Dowlen started her career as an entry level employee in a small exporting company. Seven years after joining the company, she was offered a partnership, where she helped take the small exporting company to the highest level – it was consistently one of the Top 50 exporting companies in the United States. Four years later, she and her three partners sold the multi-million-dollar company to a billion-dollar global company, where she remained employed under contract. During this time, Dowlen was put in charge of creating all global policies and employment practices policies for the multi-cultural, multi-national global company.

Dowlen attended Cornell University, where she earned her advanced accreditation in strategic human resource management. As an active member of SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management), Dowlen continues to stay current on global policies by attending classes at Harvard University. During her tenure as vice president, head of H.R. and corporate compliance officer, she created all the global policies such as: employee handbooks, at will hiring agreements, anti-harassment policies and separation agreements. She created the first code of conduct, Foreign Corrupt Training Practices Act, anti-bribery/anti-trust policies and began the first formal mentoring programs.

Dowlen started “branching out,” performing human resources, corporate wellness and compliance consulting for small companies. She provided employee handbooks and annual audits to make sure all required employment postings were current. Her first passion was and still is getting people out of pain. In 1999, she went back to school at night to study massage therapy, and she quickly became a favorite sports performance therapist for her elite athletes. At the same time, she dedicated her personal time to charity work, where she helped with fitness events for children in lower economic regions.

In doing consulting work with multi-billion-dollar companies like Bain Capital, along with her sports performance work with elite athletes, Dowlen combined her background in business and bodywork to begin creating American-Made products to help solve the issue of pain and mobility. Her first product line, the BodyworksBall, has won numerous awards including, for example: the 2015 S.T.E.P. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Production) Award by the Manufacturing Institute in Washington, DC.

Dowlen has been featured in numerous periodicals and other media outlets, and her products are offered at an array of household-named retailers. She has authored books and top-tier teaching programs.

Session 2: Strategic Networking 

Today, being good at your job isn’t enough to get you ahead in your career, and some people feel uncomfortable at the thought of promoting themselves, so they assume a more passive role in the workplace. Get tips on how to maximize your exposure and make key people aware of you so you don’t miss out on opportunities to improve your skills and take on interesting assignments when they arise.

MAG-WBLF-CirelliSarah Cirelli

Director of marketing, internationally recognized marketing strategist, Sarah Cirelli has spent more than 10 years coordinating and implementing various interactive marketing strategies to professional service firms across the country. Perhaps best known for her famous viral video sensations produced for the accounting profession and strategic social media strategy, Accounting Today honored Cirelli as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential People” in the accounting profession two years in a row. Her success also helped her land a spot as a hand-selected attendee at the first-ever Forbes Under 30 Summit before reaching the age of 30.

With a decade of professional marketing experience and many national marketing awards under her belt, Cirelli has conducted a multitude of trainings, presented to many organizations across the country and has had multiple published articles.

Cirelli has found her home with The Video Corporation of America – an IT integrator that provides companies with the ability to do that very thing.

Among other accolades, Cirelli was honored as the 2016 “Woman of the Year” under her campaign created for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which, in total, helped raise more than $400,000 for blood cancer research.


MAG_WBLF-KauffmanBarbara E. Kauffman 
Co-leader, Newark Regional Business Partnership (NRBP)

Barbara E. Kauffman is co-leader of the Newark Regional Business Partnership (NRBP), and drives the branding of the organization to fulfill its mission to “Connect Business for a Greater Newark.” She collaborates with NRBP’s president to set the yearly program agenda and co-directs NRBP’s involvement in Newark’s revitalization. Recently, she was responsible for the complete overhaul of NRBP’s communications across all platforms and is spearheading its implementation.

Prior to NRBP, at Renaissance Newark, Inc., Kauffman garnered support to create NJPAC in Newark and help establish light rail service from Penn Station to Broad Street station Newark. Kauffman’s experience also includes the creation of a walkway master plan for New Jersey’s Hudson River waterfront, which started her on her path to building coalitions and making connections to achieve great results.

Building networks across the state is one of Kauffman’s areas of expertise. She has accomplished this, in part, through her long relationship with Lead NJ, as well as her ongoing board service with Executive Women of NJ (board appointments and Dine and Connect chair, governance and finance committees), Leadership Newark, Newark Museum Business & Community Council (president), and Regional Plan Association NJ Committee.

Kauffman has been recognized as one of NJBIZ’s “Best 50 Women in Business” and received the Tri-County Scholarship Fund’s “Woman of Achievement” award. Among other accolades, she was honored by the Executive Women of NJ at their “Salute to Policy Makers” event.

Kauffman completed her MS in Natural Resource Management and BS in Aquatic Ecology from the University of Michigan. She also studied at the University of Nottingham, England.


MAG-WBLF-LaRueJeannine LaRue
Founder, LaRuelist Report and Senior Vice President of the Kaufman Zita Group

Jeannine LaRue, founder of the well-known blog LaRuelist Report and senior vice president of the Kaufman Zita Group, has spent almost 40 years serving the public on policy, governmental and political issues in the public and private sectors.

LaRue spent almost two decades in public service. She was a school board member, locally elected municipal official, a casino gaming, deputy chief of staff to a governor, and retired in 2011 as vice president and cabinet member to the president of Rutgers University.

LaRue has spent most of her professional life in the fields of labor, health and education, serving in roles that dealt with public and governmental affairs. She served as senior vice president of governmental affairs for Barnabas Health from 1997-2006, after spending a year developing an ambitious mentoring program in the City of Newark.

In 1974, LaRue kicked off her professional career at Penns Grove High School as an English teacher, which led her to the New Jersey Education Association, where she served as a lobbyist for a decade.

She is the founder of the New Jersey Governor’s Conference for Women, formerly the New Jersey Women’s Summit. That conference was held for two decades, drawing more than 2,000 women and men from across the region.

Over the past several years, LaRue repeatedly appeared on various lists of Who’s Who in NJ, including PolitickerNJ’s Most Influential People and this year, NJBIZ’s most influential women.

Serving on scores of charitable and non-profit boards, LaRue has been honored by more than 70 organizations. She is former chair of both Women Advocating for Good Government (WAGG) and Women’s Political Caucus-NJ’s (WPC-NJ) Political Action Committee. LaRue currently serves on WPC-NJ’s executive board. She is a founding board member and former chair of the Wynona’s House Child Advocacy Center in Newark. During the 1980s, she became the first African-American woman to serve as president of the prestigious Executive Women of New Jersey (EWNJ), the region’s leading not-for-profit organization promoting women’s executive leadership in business and on corporate boards.


MAG-WBLF-MakfinskyMary Makfinsky
Senior Vice President and Business Banking Manager for Northern New Jersey Wells Fargo & Company

Mary Makfinsky is a senior vice president and business banking manager for Northern New Jersey at Wells Fargo & Company. A banking industry veteran with more than 25 years of experience, Makfinsky held leadership positions at Citibank and Santander before joining Wells Fargo in 2013.

As Wells Fargo’s top business banking executive in the region, Makfinsky and her team of seven relationship managers help small- to-mid-sized businesses in Hudson, Union and Essex counties reach their financial goals. She is an active community presence, currently serving as an ambassador and board member for the Newark Regional Business Partnership as well as The Newark Greater Holiday Fund. She also has served as a chapter board member for the American Conference on Diversity and as a board member for the Raritan Bay Medical Center Foundation.

Mary attended Middlesex County College and the American Institute of Banking. She is based in Summit.

Session 3: How To Brand ‘Product YOU’ 

Developing one’s personal brand is very similar to product or corporate branding. The overall goal is to differentiate yourself by defining your brand and attributes that succeed in positioning you in a way that is different than competitors. This discussion will walk participants through the process of doing a personal SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis to identify how to stand apart from the crowd.

MAG-WBLF-OHaraKatherine O’Hara
Founder and President, the O’Hara Project

Katherine O’Hara is the founder of the O’Hara Project, a Morristown-based integrated marketing firm offering marketing, public relations, social media and ideation services. With a client roster including Fortune 500s, startups and non-profits, the agency invents and implements solutions that succeed in achieving meaningful connections.

Her career has earned her both national and global experience in building brands for Fortune 500 companies and over 200 awards, including being named Business Woman of the Year by the Morris County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, a 2008 “40 Under 40” Winner by NJBIZ and recognition as a 2014 Top 25 Leading Women Entrepreneur by LWE.

O’Hara is an active member of Women’s National Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), National Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Women President’s Organization (WPO).

She lives in New Jersey with her husband and children.



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