General Business

2021 New Jersey Business Thought Leaders Volume 2

NJBIA has gathered some of the most influential CEOs in the state to be part of its Business Roundtable. New Jersey Business Magazine is proud to spotlight these executives. Throughout the year, this group of Thought Leaders has met with some of New Jersey’s top policymakers to help determine the true tenor of business in the state, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, while also providing critical input to help drive policy solutions that will help make a meaningful difference for workers, families, communities and job creators of all sizes. We recognize these exceptional Thought Leaders for their valued contributions to NJBIA and for advancing the competitive nature of business in the state of New Jersey.

Below is part two of our two part series spotlighting these executives.

Mark McDonough

President, New Jersey American Water

Senior Vice President, American Water

Mark McDonough is president of New Jersey American Water and senior vice president of American Water. At New Jersey American Water, McDonough oversees 850 employees who serve approximately 2.8 million people. He was also president of the Military Services Group and Chief Compliance at American Water. Before joining American Water in 2005, McDonough was an attorney. Prior to graduating law school, he was a special agent with the U.S. Government. McDonough received his B.S. in criminal justice from the University of Delaware, his M.S. in justice from American University, and his J.D. from George Mason University.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: The key to taking advantage of New Jersey’s diverse workforce is to act with intention. Industry must take specific steps to engage diverse communities through workforce development programs designed to overcome historical inequities. It also requires that companies continue development efforts after employees are hired through things like employee business resource groups.

Catherine Milone

President, JA New Jersey

Catherine Milone is president of JA New Jersey where she oversees operations impacting 86,000 New Jersey students annually. In her tenure, Milone and her team built an award-winning NGO resulting in five JAUSA Peak Performance Awards, and the prestigious Charles R. Hook Award. Milone serves on the Boards of the Kearny Bank Foundation, NJBIA, Focus NJ, and the NJ State Employment and Training Commission. Acknowledgements include the NJBIA Leonard C. Johnson Award; YWCA Princeton Tribute to Women; NJBIZ Best Women in Business; South Jersey Biz Magazine’s Women to Watch; Muriel Siebert Partnership Award; Cristo Rey President’s Award; Fellow, Lead New Jersey Class of 2011.

Lessons Learned: Seek out a mentor and then pay it forward. A mentor is someone willing to share their wisdom to help achieve your goals. They can challenge and advise you; celebrate you and hold you accountable. Having a mentor is invaluable; being a mentor to others is truly a gift!

Mike Munoz

Market President, AmeriHealth New Jersey

Mike Munoz is market president of AmeriHealth New Jersey. He has overall responsibility for profit-and-loss management and business operations for the statewide health plan. Munoz assumed his current role in 2017 after leading the company’s sales and marketing organization for more than a decade. During that time, he oversaw new business sales and retention across all market segments in addition to product management, marketing and public relations. Munoz has more than 25 years of experience in the health insurance industry. Prior to AmeriHealth New Jersey, he held several leadership roles at Oxford Health Plans.

Off the Grid Advice: It’s important to keep a healthy balance. Being well rested and balanced enables you to be a better associate at work and a better family member at home. I like to take long walks with my dog every day, listen to music, and spend time with my family to re-energize.

Colin Newman

Director of Public Policy, Amazon

Colin Newman is director of public policy for Amazon. He was previously vice president of Amazon-subsidiary Audible, where he led global government and community affairs. Before Amazon, Newman was Deputy Chief Counsel to Governor Chris Christie. Earlier in his career, he was chief counsel to the Republican caucus of the New Jersey General Assembly, law clerk to Chief Justice James Zazzali of the New Jersey.

Supreme Court, congressional advisor at the U.S. State Department, and White House aide to President George W. Bush.

Recovering from COVID-19: From the outset of the pandemic, the health and safety of Amazon’s employees, partners and customers has been our No. 1 priority. We created a COVID-19 testing program and offered our front-line employees access to free, regular testing. We also stood up vaccine clinics, making vaccine doses available to more than 1.5 million employees and their families. We continue working to create jobs and support our teams and our communities now and in the future.

Barry H. Ostrowsky

President and Chief Executive Officer, RWJBarnabas Health

Barry H. Ostrowsky is president and CEO of RWJBarnabas Health, the largest, most comprehensive academic healthcare system in New Jersey. He has been a key part of the RWJBarnabas Health system for three decades, having joined Saint Barnabas Medical Center in 1991 as executive vice president and general counsel. In 2016, with the merger of Barnabas Health and Robert Wood Johnson Health System, he assumed his present title. Ostrowsky is co-chair of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and serves on the Boards of PSEG, the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce and Public Media NJ, Inc.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: To be successful, committing to DE&I must start at the top. At RWJBarnabas Health, at least 50% of director-level and above candidates must be diverse in race and ethnicity. We also employ a diverse pool for talent acquisition, and our nationally recognized corporate DE&I practice is active in all facilities.

Celestina Quintana

Owner/Operator, McDonald’s Restaurants

Celestina S. Quintana came to the US from Spain when she was 10. She grew up in Newark with eight brothers and sisters. After graduating from East Side High School, Quintana worked as a dental assistant for 15 years. At age 28, she opened a clothing store with two friends called “Impulse” in Harrison. She then moved the boutique to Newark as a single proprietor. In 1992, Quintana opened her first McDonald’s Restaurant in North Bergen. Through steadfast expansion, she now owns and operates, with her daughter Jessica Quintana, 11 restaurants in Jersey City, Newark, Irvington, East Orange, and Parsippany. Her restaurants employ more than 500 people.

NJ’s Economy: A key strategy would be for the government to get out of the way and allow businesspeople to run their businesses. Make New Jersey a friendly place to start and maintain a business: Stop with the overreaching regulations, stop with all the mandates. … Help with the issue of outmigration among our educated workforce.

Mike Renna

President and CEO, South Jersey Industries

Mike Renna is the president and CEO of South Jersey Industries (SJI), one of New Jersey’s largest energy companies, serving more than 700,000 natural gas customers across 14 counties through its South Jersey Gas and Elizabethtown Gas utilities. Under his leadership, SJI (a 100+ year-old company) now operates one of the most modern, reliable and resilient energy delivery systems in the country. This past spring, SJI released a comprehensive plan to eliminate the company’s carbon footprint, reduce energy consumption and costs for customers, and advance the clean energy goals of the state and region. Renna and SJI are at the forefront of this transformation, committed to delivering safe, reliable, affordable clean energy for a better today and tomorrow.

Role Models: I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn from my father, Gene Renna, a former executive leader at Mobil Corporation and later ExxonMobil. His strong work ethic and people-centric leadership have significantly influenced my life and career.

Lori A. Roth, CPA/ABV, CFF

Global Managing Partner, Prager Metis

Lori A. Roth, CPA/ABV, CFF is the global managing partner of Prager Metis International and co-managing partner of Prager Metis CPAs. In her role, Roth oversees day-to-day operations of the firm and provides guidance to office managing partners and service line leaders. As a member of the firm’s leadership team, she plays a key role in developing strategic goals and policies, monitoring performance, and driving growth. She empowers team members to achieve organizational goals while maintaining a flexible, transparent and diverse environment. Roth is a member of the AICPA and NJCPA and holds Board of Trustee positions at NJBIA and Unchained at Last.

Embracing Technology: To ensure team members are on-board, it is essential that they understand the benefits and values that the use of technology presents for themselves, our clients, and our firm. Having a qualified IT team in place to oversee implementation and troubleshoot difficulties is also key, as are initial and ongoing training programs.

Alan Sobel

Managing Member, SobelCo

Alan Sobel is a CPA and Managing Member of SobelCo, a New Jersey-based accounting and advisory firm serving entrepreneurial businesses, nonprofits and high net worth clientele. His expertise is strategic and tax planning for middle market companies. Sobel is a board director and audit committee chair with Cytosorbents, an emerging medical device company. He is also the immediate past president of the NJCPA, a 2020 recipient of the NJBIA Leonard C. Johson award, and was a leader in the development and passage of the NJ Business Alternative Income Tax, resulting in approximately $500 million in annual tax savings for businesses.

NJ’s Economy: The state should focus on becoming the BEST state for business by evaluating and eliminating unnecessary and disproportionately expensive regulations. The Garden State should establish a bold strategy to leverage its schools, human talent, and infrastructure to emerge as the “go-to” state for the development, manufacturing, and deployment of environmental technologies.

James Spano

Managing Director, Spano Partners Holdings

James Spano, managing director of Spano Partners Holdings, has played a key role in the development of projects totaling over 400 megawatts in solar generation facilities. Spano Partners Holdings companies are now recognized as some of the top privately-owned utility-scale and C&I alternative energy developers and financiers in New Jersey. Spano is the founder and president of the New Jersey Solar Grid Supply Association, a director of the Mid-Atlantic Solar Energy Industries Association, and a Board Member of the International Battery and Energy Storage Alliance. He is also a director of the Spano Family Foundation, a 501(c) that supports charities in the US, Africa, India and Haiti.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: Business owners need to recognize the unique value each individual brings to the organization and provide access to training and continued education to ensure every worker has an equal opportunity to advance within the organization. Providing career path training and education affords equal opportunity for promotion.

Deanna Sperling

President and CEO, Barnabas Health Behavioral Health Center

Deanna Sperling, MAS, RN, NE-BC, is president and CEO of Barnabas Health Behavioral Health Center and COO of RWJBH Behavioral Health Network. Sperling began her career with Barnabas Health as a registered nurse in 1985 and has held several leadership positions during her 30-year tenure. Previously, Sperling served as the vice president of patient care services at Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus and Barnabas Health Behavioral Health Center. She has served as a board member and president of the New Jersey Organization of Nursing Leaders. Additionally, Sperling serves as a Board of Trustee for the New Jersey Hospital Association, Central Jersey Blood Center, NJBIA, and is a member of New Jersey Board of Social Work Examiners.

Off the Grid Advice: It is important to plan downtime in order to support work/life balance. This helps me recharge and reduce stress. My downtime includes cooking, activities with my family, being outdoors and enjoying nature.

Gary D. St. Hilaire

President and CEO, Horizon BCBSNJ

Gary D. St. Hilaire is president and CEO of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, the region’s leading health solutions company. For more than 30 years, St. Hilaire has worked as a healthcare executive, entrepreneur and financial leader with experience in strategy, start-up operations, and business turnarounds. Prior to joining Horizon, he led the transformation of Capital Blue Cross into a nationally diversified family of companies, stressing the importance of leadership and corporate citizenship while driving innovation with patient-focused care models, growth in ancillary services, and leading-edge data analytics.

Recovering from COVID-19: Even before the pandemic, Horizon was leading to better integrate mental and physical healthcare. COVID-19 clearly brought new urgency to those efforts. We’ve significantly increased the number of behavioral health treatment providers in our network, and engaged new technology-enabled partners to give our members greater access to the care they need.

Gary R. Stockbridge

Former Region President,
Atlantic City Electric

Gary Stockbridge, former Atlantic City Electric region president, who has recently announced his retirement, was responsible for engaging in stakeholder relations with state and local officials, community leaders, and business, consumer and nonprofit organizations within the company’s service areas. In that capacity, he played a critical role in shaping policy and managing issues to deliver value to customers and key stakeholders. Stockbridge has 35 years of utility experience. He worked in Philadelphia for PECO Energy for almost 15 years before moving to Delmarva Power in 1997 to run the retail energy business, selling electricity and natural gas to customers in the Northeastern United States. In 2000, he was promoted to vice president, customer care, in the regulated utility and remained in that position until 2005, when he was named region president of Delmarva Power. In 2018, his role was expanded to include Atlantic City Electric. Stockbridge received his undergraduate degree in engineering and a Master of Business Administration in Finance from Drexel University in Philadelphia.

Ralph Albert Thomas, CPA (DC), CGMA

CEO & Executive Director,
New Jersey Society of CPAs

Ralph Albert Thomas, CPA (DC), CGMA is CEO and executive director of the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJCPA). Prior to joining the NJCPA in 1999, he was a vice president and region audit head for Citibank, and previously held various management accounting positions at AT&T, Potomac Electric Power Company, and PriceWaterhouse. Thomas earned a B.S. in business and economics as well as an M.B.A. from Lehigh University. He is a member of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and is a lifetime member and former national president of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA).

NJ’s Economy: Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and their growth is critical to New Jersey’s business recovery. More state resources should be committed to support those businesses, including providing relief from burdensome taxes and regulations that drive businesses and taxpayers from the state.

Michelle Weese

Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS)

As executive vice president, corporate affairs, Michelle Weese oversees BMS’s initiatives to protect, promote and enhance the company’s brand and reputation through strategic communications, government relations and policy, corporate social responsibility and patient advocacy. Previously, she served as General Secretary for North America and led strategic corporate functions at Danone.

“At BMS, we work to help people spend more time with their loved ones, so they can experience more birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and graduations,” Weese says. “Patients are the center of everything we do – they inspire us, and they are our purpose.”

Role Model: Mary Robinson, Ireland’s first female president, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Chair of The Elders – a leading global peace, justice and human rights group. Strong, courageous and transformative, she legalized contraception, ensured the marriage bar on civil service women was revoked, and championed a law decriminalizing homosexuality.

Steve Westhoven

President and CEO, New Jersey Resources

Steve Westhoven is the president and CEO of New Jersey Resources, a premier energy infrastructure company that provides natural gas and clean energy services, and its principal subsidiary, New Jersey Natural Gas. A veteran of the energy industry, Westhoven has held key leadership positions in his 30-year career at NJR, including senior vice president of NJR Energy Services and executive vice president and COO before being named president and CEO in 2019. Under his leadership, NJR implemented a comprehensive sustainability strategy across the company that aligns with the state’s emission reduction goals and provides a long-term platform for growth in a clean energy future.

Embracing Technology: The next great idea that will transform business is not reserved solely for the corner office. You never know from where innovation will come. If you are going to be successful, you need to encourage creativity, be open to new ideas and be ready to act on them when they provide a benefit.

To access more business news, visit NJB News Now.

Related Articles: