thought leaders
General Business

2022 New Jersey Business Thought Leaders

Below, we present the New Jersey Business & Industry Association’s CEO Business Roundtable members. Comprising some of New Jersey’s most influential executives, these Thought Leaders meet with top policymakers throughout the year to discuss the most pressing business and economic issues and explore opportunities to make New Jersey more affordable and regionally competitive.

New Jersey Business Magazine is proud to spotlight these executives because of the major contributions they, their companies, and their workforces continuously make to our great state of New Jersey. If you are interested in learning more about the Roundtable, please contact NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka, at [email protected]

Our Thought Leaders offer their expert views on the: economy, technology, culture & recruitment, role models, lessons learned, and being “off the grid.”

Rashaad Bajwa

CEO, Integris

Embracing Technology:We are in the business of helping our clients leverage technology to better serve their employees and clients. Embracing technology means remaining current and competitive. The world has changed, the workforce has changed – and embracing technology differentiates those who are leading the change from those who are at risk of getting left behind.

Marcy Bliss

CEO, Wedgewood Pharmacy

Culture & Recruitment:The culture of Wedgewood Pharmacy is built around our mission of improving the lives of animals and those who love them. We attract and retain people by bringing our mission and values to life through our actions. We look for colleagues who share their passion for animals and the quality they bring to our lives.

Dr. Joel Bloom

President Emeritus, NJIT

Lessons Learned:Organizations are either growing and improving or declining and dying. Homeostasis is not an option given the rapidity and pervasiveness of technology innovation, global competition, and the knowledge explosion. To lead growth and improvement, you need to understand the “situation” of the organization, its history, culture, successes and failures. Then, you build a team of experts that is hard working and high achieving in order to plan strategically and implement with accountability.

Dan Borok

Managing Partner, Newark Venture Partners

Improving the Economy:We have to continue to invest in our innovators and entrepreneurs who are solving problems and creating jobs. Areas like supply chain, fintech and healthtech are evolving as we speak, and they are central tenets of tomorrow’s economy.

Domenick Cama

President NY/NJ region, Citizens Bank

Lessons Learned:As you navigate your career, you will find that in addition to hard work, commitment and dedication – a little luck can help. While I am a firm believer in making your own luck – I also believe luck comes from a foundation of working well with others, transparency and treating everyone with respect. It is my No. 1 lesson to my children and to the young people I speak to.

Bernie Corrigan

President, IBEW Local 102

Off the Grid Advice:I personally enjoy a good long run. I find it almost meditative. From a more general and daily perspective, I would say, “Be where your feet are.” A true work/life balance is tough to navigate, so if you only have 30 minutes with your family or friends, be with them for 30 minutes – no distractions. Be willing to escape to those closest to you!

Joseph Divis

State President, AT&T NJ

Off the Grid Advice:Working out is a huge way to de-stress. For me, there is an enjoyment to sweating and pushing the weights, and a great sense of satisfaction when a workout is finished. And, within the last few years, spending time with my grandkids has been an incredible joy.

Alberto Garofalo

President, Bank of America New Jersey

Improving the Economy:At Bank of America, we promote economic mobility both nationally and locally in New Jersey by focusing on helping to make financial lives better for our clients, teammates and communities. One way we do this is by partnering with organizations that solve social challenges, strengthen communities, and promote economic opportunity.

Robert C. Garrett, FACHE

CEO, Hackensack Meridian Health

Embracing Technology:Hackensack Meridian Health is transforming healthcare in part by embracing digital innovation to address major challenges:expanding access to care; attracting and retaining staff; and creating more health equity. A great example is our partnership with Google Cloud. It provides digital solutions to enhance quality, the patient experience, and operational performance.

Angelo J. Genova, Esq.

Co-Founder, Chairman, Genova Burns

Embracing Technology:We understand that technology is a tool that, if used properly, can increase the efficiency of any lawyer rather than displacing them. This is a firmwide outlook that has greatly contributed to our ongoing growth. The best way to compete is to embrace technology, and if you do, clients won’t look elsewhere.

Jessica Gonzalez

CEO InCharge of InCharged

Off the Grid Advice:Mom-time is unplugged time for me. So, when I’m with my kids – if something is extremely urgent – I ask my team to call me, since I try not to look at my phone. Also, I try to plan off-the-cuff trips like a weekend in the volcanos of Guatemala or glacier climbing in Iceland, which forces me to focus.

Kim Hanemann

President and COO, PSE&G

Lessons Learned:The most important business lesson I’ve learned in my career is to engage your team and tell them where they need to go, but not necessarily how to get there. When we eliminate constraints, we make room for creativity and innovation can flourish.

Jonathan Hirschfeld

NJ Managing Partner, PwC

Lessons Learned:The pandemic and time away from the office reinforced something that I, like many others, have taken for granted; the importance of collaboration. While there are benefits to a hybrid schedule, there is no replacement for in-person interaction to foster relationships, work together to innovate and solve problems, and most importantly, have fun!

Clifford F. Lindholm, III

President and CEO, Falstrom Company

Off the Grid Advice:First and foremost, spending time with my family is a priority. Second, a trip to a mountain or beach is a great way to relax. Water is a key part of both of those. Finally, a round of golf with family or friends is a great escape even if just for a few hours.

Dr. Joseph R. Marbach, Ph.D.

President, Georgian Court University

Lessons Learned:Demographics are destiny! Leaders need to understand the stakeholders they serve and the shifting landscapes of their industry. In higher education, leaders must recognize and adapt to meet the educational needs of their students, while addressing the evolving needs of the community and requirements of employers.

Michael McBride

Co-Chair, Construction Practice Group, Connell Foley

Lessons Learned:You should not only try to hire the best people, but it is equally – if not more – important to recognize those people and inspire them to be their best (and make sure that your door is always open).

Mark McDonough

President, NJ American Water

Culture & Recruitment:As the state’s largest water and wastewater company, we leverage our industry leadership, innovations in technology, historical stability, and culture of inclusion to cultivate diverse candidates and the next generation of workers to our industry. American Water values and promotes commitment to our customers in our workforce and aims to reflect the local communities we serve through the people we employ.

Catherine Milone

Chief Development Officer, Junior Achievement USA®

Role Models:I’ve met extraordinary role-models throughout my career; NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka and Wells Fargo Regional Banking Executive Vice President Michelle Lee are two glowing examples who lead with the strongest moral compasses, and the gift to empower and inspire others. Through these remarkable women, I’ve learned how four simple words can truly change a life … “I believe in you.”

Doug Mokoid

Region President, Atlantic City Electric

Culture & Recruitment:Improving social equity is a strategic pillar of our business. We are extremely proud of our efforts in fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace while executing several workforce development initiatives to advance equity, inclusion and career opportunities in the communities we serve. These efforts are having a real impact, transforming the lives of those who participate and providing a pathway to the middle class.

Will Morey

President & CEO, Morey’s Piers

Off the Grid Advice:When possible, it’s a must to regularly engage beautiful, natural settings. For me, that includes a 500-yard ocean swim course, cycling, paddling and being appointed athletic director for two really fun Vizsla grand dogs that require at least three solid beach runs per week. … Happy to rent you the dogs!

Mike Munoz

Market President,
AmeriHealth New Jersey

Role Models:My mom came to the US, not speaking English. She worked three jobs, took care of her kids, and was a source of strength, support and motivation to her family. Her work ethic, determination and sacrifice taught us that anything is possible as long as you’re willing to put in the effort.

Colin Newman

Director, Economic Development, Amazon

Culture & Recruitment:Amazon’s culture is deeply rooted in our leadership principles, including our goal to be Earth’s Best Employer and our recognition that Success and Scale Bring Broad Responsibility. As the state’s largest private-sector employer, we have a responsibility to lead in workforce development and are committed to empowering our employees to pursue their professional dreams.

Frank A. Preston

President, ACI Medical & Dental School

Improving the Economy:We need to optimize the value of higher education by applying the same standards and expectations regarding the educational outcomes and resources to those schools that display consistent success and results of their graduates. These measures should apply to all higher education, non-profit and for-profit institutions.

Celestina Quintana

Owner/Operator, McDonald’s Restaurants

Role Models:Two of my best role models were my parents. They had strong values, work ethics, and faith in God, country and community. They immigrated to the US from Spain legally in 1964 with eight children, looking for a better life for us. That took tremendous courage. My parents always reiterated that honesty is your word and your bond. I have always carried those words throughout my business career.

Nick Rafanello

President and CEO, Eastern Janitorial Company

Role Models:My grandfather immigrated to the US from Italy, didn’t speak English, and was missing three fingers due to a bomb explosion in WWII. He became a carpenter, learned English, and built a beautiful life. Never seeking sympathy, he taught me to enjoy the gifts given in life and not focus on what is missing.

Mike Reagan

Sr. VP Consulting Services, CGI

Culture & Recruitment:CGI’s constitution is a reflection of our culture and is shared with potential employees. Our dream, vision, mission and values drive us to build a leading global IT and business consulting services company. CGI professionals have the opportunity to participate in the life and development of the company, which results in client loyalty and shareholder growth.

Mike Renna

President and CEO, South Jersey Industries

Improving the Economy:Maintaining energy affordability and reliability is challenging as we transition our energy economy towards renewables. If approved, support for Senate Bill No. 1366 & Assembly Bill No. 577 can help New Jersey utilities capture and repurpose methane for usage within existing gas systems, which would keep energy costs low while promoting continued investments in infrastructure and generating jobs.

Lori A. Roth​​, CPA/ABV, CFF

Global Managing Partner, Prager Metis CPAs

Lessons Learned:Life and business is not about what happens to you, it’s about how you react to what happens. Oftentimes, we have no control over what comes our way, but if you have a thought-out response, you can have a positive impact on what happens next. Be nimble, be smart, and learn how to turn whatever happens into an opportunity.

Harvey Rottenstrich

President, Zago

Embracing Technology:At Zago, embracing technology has allowed us to increase our productive capacity and the speed at which we respond to customer orders. By embracing technology, we have been able to make our employees more productive, providing them with important IT skills that will enhance their careers.

Gary St. Hilaire

President and CEO, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey

Culture & Recruitment:Horizon has prioritized a culture of excellence as a core value and enabler of success. Talented people are attracted to organizations like Horizon whose culture is innovative, collaborative and inclusive, and where they can understand, believe and actively engage in the company’s mission and vision. Our employees embrace and actively contribute to that culture of excellence.

Alan D. Sobel, CPA

Managing Member, SobelCo, LLC

Culture & Recruitment:Our strong culture increases the chances of making “right-fit” hiring decisions as we match candidates’ competencies and values with indicators that increase alignment and the likelihood of successful retention. We embrace family, flexibility and diversity as the ways our culture distinguishes SobelCo as an employer of choice.

James Spano, CEC, CIC

Managing Partner, Spano Partners Holding, LLC

Role Models:My role model is a rather historic figure who lived the exemplary life to which I aspire. A gentleman who understood the value of humility and encouraged equitable treatment of all people. A business and personal principal adhered to and inspired by a man named Jesus.

Deanna Sperling

President/CEO, RWJBH Behavioral Health Center

Lessons Learned:Never make business decisions based solely on financial gain. Financial success is an important motivator, but I have learned to balance financial gain with the passion for the work at hand.

Ralph Albert Thomas, CPA (DC), CGMA

CEO/Executive Director,
New Jersey Society of CPAs

Culture & Recruitment:Current and prospective employees expect opportunities for growth. The NJCPA places a special emphasis on helping staff advance their skills through training and learning. By providing our employees with upskill-training opportunities, we can make them feel that they are valued and have a dedicated future within the company.

Joris Veldhoven

CEO, Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind

Improving the Economy:Atlantic Shores has made significant investments in workforce development and our communities to build the skills and capabilities necessary for workers in the clean energy economy. We believe that increasing capacity for engagement, education and job training across all sectors will support growth and prosperity while addressing climate change.

Steve Westhoven

President and CEO, New Jersey Resources

Role Models:Hands down, the biggest role model in my life is my dad. He taught me the value of hard work, keeping your head down, and never losing sight of the things that really matter, including family, community and faith – and that effective leadership means treating all people with dignity and respect.

Related Articles: