There’s an old saying about approaching opportunities that goes: “Whatever you decide to do, make sure it makes you happy.”
As the new Chief Government Affairs Officer at NJBIA, I’ve arrived where I want to be. I’m honored to join an association with such a rich history of advocacy for New Jersey businesses, ready for the challenges and excited by the possibilities of what can be accomplished in the weeks and years ahead.
As an introduction, I joined NJBIA on March 1, taking over from veteran Melanie Willoughby, who retired earlier this year. While I’m new to NJBIA, I’m not new to business associations. For the past five years, I served as president and CEO of the Home Care and Hospice Association of New Jersey. I also know my way around Trenton, having lobbied for businesses in our state capital, and served in a prior administration and on several boards and commissions, including Gov. Phil Murphy’s 2018 Transition Healthcare team.
Of course, working at the largest statewide business association in the country requires covering a broader range of issues. In addition to healthcare, NJBIA advocates on employment law, environment, energy, economic development and taxation, among others. NJBIA’s Government Affairs team has a well-deserved reputation for expertise and professionalism throughout the state. Legislators will often listen to what NJBIA has to say, even if they don’t agree with us on a particular issue.
NJBIA also has a great culture, embracing values like teamwork, innovation and courage. No one has to go at it alone here; we are all looking out for what’s in the best interest of our member companies, and we’re not afraid to look for new and better ways of getting the job done.
So, it’s easy to see why I am excited about the future. But I am also aware of what is at stake. Our members employ more than 1 million workers; that’s 1 million people who count on an NJBIA business for their livelihood, and that’s why we must continue to build a business climate that makes New Jersey a good place to work, support a family, and own a business.
I also know first-hand what it’s like to be a small business owner in New Jersey. Growing up, my family owned a small business and I still have family members operating a successful enterprise today. The pride of owning your own business is unique, but business ownership invariably brings struggles and challenges.
One of the things NJBIA does very well is give member companies the opportunity to speak up on the issues that impact them. All members can join one of our policy committees, where business owners analyze new legislative initiatives and give the association insights into how it will impact their operations. For those who don’t have time for meetings, you can sign up for one of our Issue Networks and receive regular emails about the issues that interest you most.
You also have opportunities to communicate directly with legislators and government officials. NJBIA’s Meet the Decision Makers series will get underway this month. These are great ways for businesses to take their problems and concerns directly to the government officials that deal with them, either in the public forum or in one-on-one conversations afterward.
The months ahead will be challenging. We have a new governor and Legislature who have different approaches on taxes, environment, energy and a host of other issues that will keep NJBIA busy and engaged. We look forward to working with legislators and the administration on behalf of our members and to have our voice heard.