AFE 2021
General Business

2021 Awards for Excellence

New Jersey Business magazine is proud to present the 2021 Awards for Excellence to four executives and 16 companies who have improved the quality of life in New Jersey in outstanding ways. Powered by NJBIA, the awards honor select employers from NJBIA’s membership for outstanding achievements.

Outstanding Employer Award

For companies celebrating creative and forward-looking approaches to managing HR.

Atlantic Health System 

Atlantic Health System puts PRIDE values behind its standing as one of the largest nonprofit healthcare networks in New Jersey – specifically Professionalism, Respect, Involvement, Dignity and Excellence. AHS’ commitment to quality care and service of its customers and patients is grounded in establishing and maintaining a workforce, which has an open pathway to a long-lasting and enriching career. To that end, AHS encourages broad participation of staff in terms of influencing the direction of the company. 

The company also places great emphasis in the well-being and emotional resilience of its team. It launched a #CaringTogether initiative at the onset of the pandemic with the goal of unifying all of its efforts to overcome COVID-19. 

Additionally, AHS also has a strong commitment to inclusivity – the practice of engaging with diverse populations when making decisions that affect the health and well-being of AHS communities. AHS also recently launched nine voluntary Business Resource Groups to align with the organization’s missions, values and goals.  


DSM began as a coal mining company nearly 120 years ago, but has since transformed as a diamond leader in nutrition, health and sustainable living. DSM, now short for “Do Something Meaningful,” has New Jersey locations in Parsippany and Belvidere, and its associated companies deliver annual net sales of about $13.8 billion worldwide, to go along with its 23,000 employees. 

DSM prioritized social well-being in 2020 with its “People & Organization Strategy,” effectively launching a Culture Compass initiative that embraces a broader Inclusion & Diversity agenda – including pillars on generations, race, disability and LGBTQ+. It also launched its BLEND (Black Employee Network at DSM) Employee Resource Group to focus on issues of race and to help highlight and address racial inequality. 

To address COVID-19 challenges, DSM also created an #optimizeyourimmunity awareness campaign by arranging an internal network distribution system to provide recurring, 3-month supply shipments of proprietary blends of immune boosting micronutrients to every DSM employee across the globe. 

Manasquan Bank 

For more than 147 years, Manasquan Bank has provided direct support to organizations seeking to make a positive difference in the community. Continuing to support those serving unmet local needs, the Manasquan Bank Charitable Foundation – established in 2014 – offers financial assistance to qualified nonprofits that create positive societal change. Additionally, Manasquan Bank’s CREW Cares program encourages employee volunteerism throughout its market area. In fact, employees are supported to volunteer up to 15 hours per year during company time. 

The results for both programs have been astounding this year. Through the first quarter of 2021 alone, the Foundation awarded 14 nonprofits with grants in the amount of $27,500. Additionally, bank employees devoted 13.5 hours to community service outreach. Manasquan Bank also does right by its employees through quarterly enterprise conference calls, employee after-hours events, student loan repayment and tuition reimbursement, and an internal focus group called the New Wave Advisory Panel. 

T&M Associates 

As a leading consulting, engineering, environmental, technical services and construction management company, T&M Associates is used to wearing a lot of hats. However, with businesses encountering historic challenges from the pandemic, T&M has provided more cover for its workforce. Its innovative wellness program aims to create a healthy workforce through education, and support – including a wellness portal and outcome-based rewards. 

T&M even hosts annual fitness competitions, yoga/meditation, weight loss, and stress management seminars for employees. T&M has also focused efforts on attracting and retaining a diverse workforce, while fostering a culture of inclusion. Its active Diversity and Inclusion team meets regularly to support a culture that aligns with T&M’s core values, while also encouraging every employee to be heard. Prioritizing staff hiring and retention is also a mission for T&M, while catering to a remote and hybrid workforce. It also supports STEM education through participation in Project Lead the Way, which trains and teaches students studying STEM in local high schools.

Member of the Year Award

For company contributions to NJBIA and efforts to improve the state’s business climate.

Delta Dental

As the nation’s leading provider of dental insurance, Delta Dental’s core purpose is the advancement of the oral health of its customers, partners and consumers through dental insurance and philanthropic efforts. Delta Dental invested more than $102.5 million in communities in 2020, supporting more than 2,400 programs, impacting 24.7 million lives, and volunteering 20,000 hours. Separately, Delta Dental companies across the country also committed $1.1 billion in COVID-19 response relief.

The company allocated significant dollars in its very first year partnering with NJBIA, and as a member, it has committed a designated person to NJBIA’s Diversity Equity & Inclusion Leadership Team, and has committed numerous speakers and coaches to the Women Business Leaders Forum.

The Delta Dental Plans Association comprises a network of 39 independent Delta Dental companies operating in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and other US territories. The company provides coverage to more Americans than any other dental insurance company.

New Jersey Institute of Technology

The New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) acts as a launching pad for its students, preparing them to excel in the fields and jobs that are in high demand and that are at the core of today’s technology-driven economy. NJIT is a catalyst for economic growth, and its New Jersey Innovation Institute (NJII), VentureLink, and Makerspace at NJIT provide direct linkages to industry and foster innovative partnerships.

The Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Ranking of 2021 ranked NJIT second among US institutions within the Decent Work and Economic Growth goal that promotes inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. The Princeton Review ranked NJIT No. 39 as a Best Value College and No. 10 for Best Career Placement among public colleges and universities nationwide for 2021.

Dr. Joel Bloom, NJIT president and chairman of the NJII Board of Directors, provides valuable leadership and guidance to the New Jersey Business & Industry Association as a Board member.

Northfield Bank

For more than a century, Northfield Bank has been providing exceptional financial service and a deep commitment to its customers. As an NJBIA member, the company has committed $10,000 across a spectrum of events and initiatives. Additionally, it has allocated speakers to some of NJBIA’s most popular events such as the annual Women Business Leaders Forum.

Northfield Bank has been the Featured Partner at the Table For Four virtual networking initiative, and has become active in NJBIA’s councils, adding both attendees and leadership.

Over the course of the pandemic, Northfield Bank helped many of its business clients apply for, and secure, life saving Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, and helped guide business owners through some of their toughest of times.

The Woodbridge-based community bank’s commitment to the community goes beyond offering financial services, and together with the Northfield Bank Foundation, the bank actively supports community organizations that are working to make local neighborhoods a better place to live and work.


Annandale-based Paradigm is an award-winning, turnkey marketing agency committed to providing individualized marketing and design services to clients ranging from start-ups and nonprofits, to large, multi-faceted companies with revenues in excess of $50 million.

The Marketing Minute partner at NJBIA’s monthly Women Business Leaders Council (WBLC) meetings, Paradigm regularly spends its own money marketing NJBIA events to businesses.

Continually coming up with unique ideas to help businesses grow their brand and spread awareness, Paradigm helped NJBIA partner on the Table For Four virtual networking initiative, and also pitched the idea to launch a Sales & Marketing Roundtable, which has spotlighted NJBIA to an audience of 75-100 attendees per month who are introduced to the organization for the first time.

Paradigm is committed to being responsive, knowledgeable and supportive to ensure its clients feel as though they can count on the firm for all their marketing needs.

Executive of the Year

For individuals who demonstrate leadership and passion while achieving business success.

Mary Pat Angelini

CEO, Preferred Behavioral Health Group

Mary Pat Angelini has always been about helping New Jersey’s most vulnerable – whether it be sponsoring an Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights during her eight-year term in the New Jersey General Assembly, leading a staff that trained Monmouth County first responders to de-escalate encounters with the mentally ill, or urging New Jersey lawmakers to study the impact of recreational marijuana use before legalizing it.

When COVID-19 hit in 2020, it was Angelini to the rescue once again. The CEO of Preferred Behavioral Health Group in Lakewood inspired her team of 450 professionals to provide critical services through virtual telehealth and telepsychiatry, “drive-bys” with children and teenagers sheltered at home, and delivery of food and clothing to senior shut-ins and others.

In addition to this award, Angelini’s career of service earned her an NJBIZ Best 50 Women in Business Award in 2019, as well as 2017 Lakewood Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year and 2016 Youth Advocate of the Year honors.

Zina Hassel

Founder and CEO, ZLH Enterprises

When COVID-19 disrupted business as we knew it last year, Zina Hassel turned an obstacle into an opportunity. Founder of the full-service technology company ZLH Enterprises, Hassel helped clients migrate to a work-from-home model, facilitated COVID-19 hotlines, and procured thermal touchless scanners at a reasonable price for end-user companies.

This type of “spring into action” attitude is nothing new for Hassel, whose company is known for outside-the-box solutions, as well as providing white-glove customer service to businesses of all sizes for all things technology.

First and foremost, Hassel is an advocate for women striving to enter C-suite positions or move up the technology ladder. Such efforts won her three Stevie Awards this year, including a gold for Entrepreneur of the Year – Telecommunications. Her award-winning book, My Armadillo Skin – How I Made It as a Woman in the Field of Telecom, has been called a “road map” for women looking to follow in her footsteps.

Clelia Pergola

COO, NJ Elder Law Center at Goldberg Law Group

According to Clelia Pergola, today’s women can have it all. A leading voice in the Morris County Chamber of Commerce Women In Business Program and a working mother of two boys, her mission is to personally show women they can “juggle life’s challenges” and “achieve spectacular results while raising a family.”

Pergola’s other passion is the elderly. From personal experience with her grandparents (“Nonna” and “Nonno” in her native Italian), she knows the challenges of the long-term care system and has used that knowledge to implement a streamlined, procedures-based model for elder care in her role as chief operating officer of the NJ Elder Law Center at Goldberg Law Group.

A winner of NJBIZ 40 Under 40 and 50 Best Women in Business awards, Pergola is also a founding member of WomenCare and Women Rising, a Certified Dementia Practitioner, and has been honored by the Boy Scouts of America Tribute to Women, showing a strong commitment to children as well.

Vincent Vicari

Regional Director, New Jersey Small Business Development Center

Vincent Vicari has made it his business to turn entrepreneurial dreams into reality. As Regional Director of the New Jersey Small Business Development Center (NJSBDC) at Ramapo College, he works with current and aspiring business owners to help them create successful businesses in New Jersey.

After working in such industries as retail management, sales, food service, higher education, and consulting, Vicari joined the NJSBDC in 2008, helping New Jersey business owners bounce back from the financial crash, Superstorm Sandy, and the COVID-19 pandemic through his organization’s Economic Recovery Task Force Initiative.

Vicari is also known for his work with veterans, women and minorities, but perhaps his strongest passion lies in helping immigrants. Inspired by his grandfather, who came to the US from Italy in 1917, he has partnered with organizations like the American Muslim Union, Irish Business Organization of New York, United Nations Association, and South Korean Consulate to help people from all backgrounds achieve the American Dream.

Disability Inclusion

For companies focused on delivering equal opportunities to qualified people with disabilities.

Best Buddies

Best Buddies New Jersey, a nonprofit based in Clinton, is part of an international global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for intellectually and developmentally delayed individuals to benefit from one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development and inclusive living. Dedicated to breaking down the social, physical, and economic isolation experienced by the IDD community, Best Buddies programs empower people with disabilities to form meaningful friendships with peers, secure successful jobs, live independently, improve their communication skills, advocate for themselves, and feel valued by society.

Since opening in January 2018, Best Buddies New Jersey has continued to expand its programs, with a strong focus on placing qualified candidates into meaningful jobs. Working with partners all over the Garden State, Best Buddies New Jersey has placed more than 40 individuals with disabilities into internships and employment positions this year alone.

Career and Communities Studies Program at TCNJ

The College of New Jersey’s Career and Communities Studies program is a national leader in diversity and inclusion excellence. For more than a decade, it has worked with intellectually disabled individuals to provide a second-to-none college experience and prepare them for a productive future in the workforce. TCNJ started its pioneering program in 2006 to give adults age 18 to 25 with intellectual disabilities the chance to attend college within a specialized course of study where they learn personal and job skills, and gain some independence as they strive toward a focused career outcome.

Disabled students in this college-based certificate program can be placed in internships, participate in clubs and activities with other TCNJ college students, and attend special classes designed to improve their academic and personal living skills. Peer mentors are central to the program’s success and ensure inclusion within the college community.

Easterseals New Jersey

For 73 years, Easterseals New Jersey has been working to meet the needs of people with disabilities and their families by increasing opportunities for them to live, work and play in the Garden State. Easterseals New Jersey’s residential, employment and recreational programs serve thousands of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, autism, physical disabilities, mental illness, and other special needs.

This nonprofit organization’s vocational training and employment programs are renowned for preparing people with intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities to enter the workforce and achieve financial independence. Staff partners with local businesses in all 21 counties to secure employment and full-community integration for program participants.

Despite the constraints of the pandemic last year, Easterseals New Jersey’s employment programs assisted 266 individuals with disabilities, including 148 who received services virtually. Over the past three years, Easter Seals New Jersey has helped 215 program participants secure community employment.

Rangam Consultants

As one of the fastest-growing professional staffing agencies attracting both neurotypical and neurodiverse talent globally, Rangam Consultants is renowned for its work helping people with autism find employment. Based in Somerset, Rangam delivers an integrated recruitment solution combining technology, training and education to candidates while providing clients with a large, diverse network of qualified personnel options.

With a philosophy of “Empathy Drives Innovation,” Rangam advances both mainstream and autism employment in IT, engineering, scientific, clinical, healthcare, administrative, finance and business professional sectors. Rangam has also launched to help other companies integrate autism hiring programs into their existing recruitment practices.

As a diverse workforce solutions company, Rangam leads by example by hiring talent with autism, neurodivergence and disabilities to enhance its own workforce. As of 2021, it is halfway to its goal of having 20% of its global workforce be team members with disabilities, autism and/or neurodivergence.

Community Service Award

For companies committed to leadership in finding solutions to social or economic challenges.


The pandemic placed a new light on food insecurity in Newark and, ironically, the fragility of local restaurants. In response, Don Katz, president and CEO of Newark-based Audible, launched Newark Working Kitchens (NWK) in April 2020 with the goal of supporting local restaurants in Newark to deliver free, nutritious meals to the city’s at-risk population. NWK has delivered more than one million meals to more than 10,000 low-income seniors and families, the homeless, and frontline medical workers across Newark. The program also helped 30 restaurants remain open and sustain hundreds of jobs during the pandemic. To date, NWK has raised over $11 million (including $4.2 million from Audible) with both private and philanthropic support, including a $500,000 grant from the City of Newark, $2 million from NJEDA, and donations from PSEG, TD Bank, NJ Pandemic Relief Fund, the New Jersey Devils’ Devils Care Foundation, as well as numerous other local organizations and individuals.

Hopewell Theater

Forced to close for many months, New Jersey’s theaters and performance venues were thrust into dire circumstances that threatened their very existence. Rising to the challenge, Hopewell Theater President and CEO Sara Scully took the extraordinary measure to create the New Jersey Independent Venue Association (NJIVA). Banding together 20 different organizations and a petition signed by more than 800 New Jersey residents, she successfully lobbied the governor’s office and the state Legislature for $15 million in relief funds through the CARES Act. The money, being administered through the NJEDA, provides grants to live performance venues in New Jersey. The funds will be split, with $7.5 million going to independent for-profit venues, while the New Jersey State Council on the Arts is receiving the balance to be used as grants to nonprofit arts and culture entities.

Studio Hillier

Even in wealthy Princeton, food insecurity is a real and growing challenge. Recognizing the need, Princeton-based architectural firm Studio Hillier opened its doors for Mr. Rogers’ Neighbors Kindness Project to run a free food store out of its office. The firm also helped struggling area restaurants, asking patrons to add an extra meal to their phone or online orders. In return, donated meals were distributed to residents on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from Studio Hillier’s office. Yielding spectacular results, the free store distributed tens of thousands of goods to needy area residents.

Co-founded in 2011 by Partners Barbara A. Hillier, AIA and J. Robert Hillier, FAIA, PP, the interdisciplinary design firm also partnered with Princeton University School of Architecture and STEAM Works Studio to establish the Princeton PPE Collective, a collaborative team that 3D printed and donated 2,800 face shields to 21 healthcare facilities and nonprofit organizations.

YMCA of Greater Monmouth County

Like many organizations, the pandemic forced the YMCA of Greater Monmouth County to adapt overnight. Taking swift action, President & CEO Laurie Goganzer activated her YMCA Togetherhood® program, enlisting the help of 300 volunteers who transformed YMCA health and fitness centers into community centers for administering essential services. Partnering with a diverse collection of nonprofits, Goganzer expanded the services available from her organization. As a result, she was able to collect and distribute more than 35,000 meals to needy families; provide emergency child care services; and establish a baby pantry distributing more than 80,000 items. The YMCA also tapped healthcare resources to provide remote mental health and suicide prevention counseling as well as a free health and wellness day for seniors. Goganzer even enlisted the help of the VNA of Central New Jersey Health Center to administer 15,000 vaccines at their YMCA facilities.

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