Thought leaders
General Business

Meet Our Thought Leaders

At the beginning of 2019, NJBIA gathered some of the most influential CEOs in the state to be part of its inaugural Business Roundtable. Throughout the year, this group has met with some of New Jersey’s top policymakers to help determine the true tenor of business in the state, 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. For the first time, New Jersey Business recognizes these exceptional thought leaders for their valued contributions to NJBIA and for advancing the competitive nature of business in the state of New Jersey.

Rich Bagger

Executive Vice President, Celgene Corporation

baggerAt press time, Rich Bagger is executive vice president, corporate affairs and market access for Celgene, which is being acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb. He is responsible for communications, patient advocacy, government relations, market access policy, global health and corporate responsibility. He currently teaches at Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institute and serves as a commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, a member of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships and a Director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Previously, Bagger was Chief of Staff for Governor Chris Christie and served in both houses of the Legislature. Bagger also worked at Pfizer, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, and the law firm of McCarter & English.

Lessons Learned: “Decision making. The best leaders are decisive and deliberate. Decisive by: leaning into tough decisions, not avoiding them, making the call, moving forward, not looking back. But also deliberate: listening to all viewpoints before deciding, ensuring their teams evaluate the options thoroughly and debate their recommendations openly.”


Rashaad Bajwa

President & CEO, Domain Computer Services

Rashaad Bajwa is the president and CEO of, ApprenticeIT and Domain Computer Services, one of the largest IT Service providers serving the New Jersey and New York City metro areas. He is an active leader in local cybersecurity and business groups, including serving on the Board of Directors for the Princeton Mercer Regional Chamber and the New Jersey Business & Industry Association. Bajwa is also passionate about promoting electric vehicle infrastructure in New Jersey, and was recently asked to serve on the Board of Keep Middlesex Moving – New Jersey’s official Transportation Management Association for Central New Jersey.

Embracing Technology: “Technology is one of the most important employee benefits in an organization. Today’s best employees want to work for companies that are a part of progress. If your firm doesn’t keep up with the times and leverage technology to compete in the marketplace, your smartest employees will find someplace that will.”


Dr. Joel S. Bloom

President, NJIT

Dr. Bloom joined NJIT in 1990 as a vice president and later became the founding dean of NJIT’s Albert Dorman Honors College before becoming the university’s president in 2011. Dr. Bloom and his team have added a million square feet of teaching and research facilities to NJIT’s campus, appointed 130 new faculty, grown research expenditures from less than $80 million to nearly $170 million, and created the New Jersey Innovation Institute.  Dr. Bloom holds a master’s degree and a doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University. He also earned masters and bachelor’s degrees from Hunter College of the City University, New York City.

Embracing Technology: “As one of only 32 polytechnic universities in the nation, NJIT and its employees readily embrace technology in all aspects of our operations. We also are one of the elite universities in the US for STEM research, and NJIT research focuses on creating and advancing technologies that solve real world problems.”


Charlene Brown

President, AT&T – New Jersey

As president of AT&T – New Jersey, Charlene Brown is responsible for providing overall strategic direction for AT&T’s external relationships in the state, including serving as liaison with the Governor’s office, the State Legislature and other elected and appointed officials. Brown previously held various positions at AT&T, including serving as AT&T’s Eastern Region Public Affairs Director. She is the board chair of the research organization New Jersey PRO, a trustee of Felician University, secretary of the Board of Trustees of the Drumthwacket Foundation, and serves on many other boards. Brown earned her BA in Journalism and English from Douglass College and received a master’s degree in Public Administration from Rutgers University.

Role Models: “Two politicians who I admire are Eleanor Roosevelt and Michele Obama. Both women used their platforms as First Lady to advocate for human and civil rights for people in the US and around the world. They were strong and smart, and – most importantly – they led by example.”


Bernie Corrigan

President, IBEW Local 102

Bernie Corrigan is the president of IBEW Local 102 where he also serves as a trustee on the local’s pension, welfare, and surety funds. He holds a BA in Leadership and Administration from the National Labor College and received his master’s degree in Labor and Employment Relations from Rutgers University. Corrigan spearheaded the movement that resulted in Local 102 becoming the first labor union to gain membership in NJBIA. Outside of Local 102, Corrigan holds a board seat on the NJ Chapter of the Labor and Employment Relations Association, was appointed to the Red Tape Review Commission under Governor Chris Christie, is a partner of Choose NJ, and serves on the New Jersey Economic Development and Advisory Council.

Role Models: “Rich with a 90-year history of leadership in labor, the Delle Cava family has had a great impact on me. Patsy Delle Cava was a mentor who provided me with the guidance and opportunities that led me to where I am today. His son, Patrick, is the current Business Manager at Local 102. His vision for labor has garnered us respect in the business community.”


Kevin Cummings

Chairman and CEO, Investors Bank

Kevin Cummings is the chairman of the board of directors and CEO of Investors Bank. Under his leadership, the bank has been listed on Forbes magazine’s “Best Banks in America” since 2013. Prior to joining Investors, he had a 26-year career at KPMG, where he became a CPA and partner.

Throughout his career, he has generously donated his time and support to community-based organizations and currently serves on the boards of several non-profit and industry organizations.

Cummings has a BA in Economics from Middlebury College and earned an MBA from Rutgers University School of Business.

Off the Grid Advice: “Be balanced and appreciate what’s important, such as family, faith and community. I look for ways to be better today than I was yesterday by reading a book, taking time for a bike ride on Nantucket, or enjoying a home-cooked meal with my wife. Live in the moment – Carpe Diem – Seize the Day!”


Gary Dahms, PE, PP, CME

President, CEO & Chairman,
T&M Associates

Since 2012, Gary Dahms has proudly served as President, CEO and Chairman of the Board of T&M Associates, a leading consulting, environmental, engineering and technical services company. He spearheaded the company’s evolution from a New Jersey municipal engineering firm to a national, multi-disciplined consulting company. T&M’s tagline – “Your Goals. Our Mission.” – was created under Dahms’s leadership. It encapsulates the firm’s commitment to developing effective strategies to achieve clients’ business objectives. Dahms serves on the Executive Committee and as 2nd Vice Chair for the NJ Chamber of Commerce; the Board of Directors for the NJ Alliance for Action; is Vice President and Trustee at HabCore: and serves on the NJIT Board of Trustees.

Handling Diversity: “We value and celebrate our employees’ heritage, backgrounds and lifestyles. This diversity provides a culture that is aligned with T&M’s core values and enriches our environment with people of different experience, knowledge and unique capabilities.”


Robert C. Garrett

CEO, Hackensack Meridian Health

Robert C. Garrett is the CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health, New Jersey’s largest health network, with 17 hospitals and 500 patient care locations. Under his visionary leadership, the network has made major strides in medical education, behavioral health, cancer care and innovation and research. The network opened the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University in 2018. A merger with Carrier Clinic has resulted in the opening of the state’s first urgent care behavioral health center and a new addiction center on target to open this winter in Bergen County. Garrett is the recipient of many honors and is included in CEO Forum Magazine’s “10 CEOs Transforming Healthcare in America.”

New Jersey’s Economy: “The state should work with the healthcare community to tout the excellent innovation and quality of healthcare in New Jersey. We have exceptional care right here provided by many outstanding health organizations, which continues to attract major employers and benefits countless employees.”


Angelo J. Genova

Co-Founder, Managing Partner & Chairman, Genova Burns LLC

Angelo J. Genova is a complete lawyer: noted trial and appellate advocate, labor negotiator, employment litigator, government contracts & procurement counsel, campaign finance and election lawyer. He counsels clients in matters involving the development of urban landscapes and provides government and strategic affairs advice. His precedent-setting legal representations have touched all corners of the state and federal legal landscape. He represents numerous New Jersey premiere institutions and businesses. Genova is a former Commissioner of the Port Authority of NY/NJ, and former Chairman of the New Jersey Urban Development Corporation
(a predecessor to the NJ Economic Development Authority).

Handling Diversity: “New Jersey has the opportunity, through our businesses, to realize America’s mission – inclusion of all who maximize their potential and work hard. We embrace that mission as an extension of our founders who themselves are children of immigrants. Supporting diversity is not only the right thing to do, but it makes business sense.”

Lisa Hirsh

President, Accurate Box

Lisa Hirsh is the president of Paterson-based Accurate Box, a leading manufacturer of high graphic corrugated, display and e-commerce packaging. The company’s customers are manufacturers of worldwide recognized consumer products. Accurate Box is a third-generation, family-run business founded in 1944. After graduating from Smith College, Hirsh joined her father in the family business. She led projects in every area of the company before being appointed president in 1998. Since then, she has led Accurate Box in several multi-million-dollar expansion and modernization programs. Her commitment to investing in cutting-edge technology and specialty applications has been a driving force behind Accurate Box’s successful niche in the packaging industry.

Lessons Learned: “Learn from everyone, the good leaders as well as the bad leaders. Trust people. Every once in a while people will disappoint you, but for the most part, people want to work hard. Put the right people in the right seats. In business, you must learn to pivot, and that means changing your direction as the market changes.”


Ralph Izzo

Chairman, President & CEO, PSEG

Ralph Izzo joined Public Service Enterprise Group Incorporated (PSEG, Inc.) in 1992 and was elected chairman and CEO in 2007. As a utility industry leader, he is frequently asked to testify before Congress and speak on matters pertaining to national energy policy. His career began as a research scientist at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, performing numerical simulations of fusion energy experiments. Today, he is chair of the Nuclear Energy Institute and a member of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee. He also serves on the boards of the Edison Electric Institute, New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, and New Jersey Performing Arts Center.

Handling Diversity: “Because of the universal nature of our relationship with customers, PSEG has a greater responsibility to reflect our customers’ values and differences. Our company has set big goals for addressing climate change. As we transform to a clean energy economy, reflecting the diversity of our communities will help put those goals within reach.”


Jill Kaplan

President of NJ/NY, United Airlines

Jill Kaplan is president of NJ/NY for United Airlines, the top leadership position in the region. She works closely with government/community/airport affairs, operations, sales and others to ensure United continues growing, innovating and investing locally to deliver excellence to customers, employees and everyone else it serves. Previously, Kaplan was publisher of Crain’s New York Business, where she managed business and news operations, strategy, vision, branding and product development, in addition to hosting Crain’s “New York Stories” television series. Prior to that, Kaplan held management positions at The Wall Street Journal and The Economist. Kaplan serves on several boards in the NJ/NY region.

Lessons Learned: “Don’t hire yourself; hire those who fill deficits in your organization. Never react to an e-mail in anger; take a walk, clear your head, then answer. Speak up for yourself; what you believe in and what you don’t agree with. Evaluate a new career opportunity on the merits of the role, responsibilities and ability to grow vs. high/low compensation driving your decision.”


Clifford F. Lindholm, III

President & CEO, Falstrom Company

Falstrom Company is a contract manufacturer of custom enclosures for a wide variety of military applications. Founded in 1870, Falstrom is today headed by Clifford F. Lindholm, III, a fourth-generation family member to work at the company. Lindholm earned a bachelor of science from Allegheny College, and an MBA from Rutgers University. In 2004, he was named chairman of NJBIA’s Manufacturing Council; he was elected a trustee of NJBIA in 2005, and he additionally serves as a director of NJM Insurance Company. He is chairman of the Passaic Enterprise Zone Development Corp.

Role Models: “The individual who has influenced me the most is my father. He preceded me as president of Falstrom, leading the company through good times and bad. He has been a great coach, allowing me to lead the company in ways he likely would not have chosen. His patience and support have permitted my growth as a leader. When Falstrom celebrates our 150th year of operation in 2020, it will be in part due to his stewardship of the company and the lessons I have learned from him.”


Mitch Livingston

President & CEO, NJM

Mitch Livingston has served as president & CEO of New Jersey Manufacturers (NJM) since 2018. Prior to assuming that role, he served as NJM’s chief operating officer and general counsel. Livingston also serves on the Boards of Directors of Choose New Jersey, a private association that works with the New Jersey Governor’s office to encourage business development in the state, and of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC). He earned a B.A. in economics from Rutgers University in 1987, and a J.D. from Rutgers University School of Law in 1990.

New Jersey’s Economy: “Continued efforts to improve the business environment from both a fiscal and a regulatory perspective are important. New Jersey likely will never be the least expensive state in which to operate, but it can compete on ease of doing business by simplifying and right-sizing regulatory processes, and addressing unnecessary costs.”


Mike Luzio

Managing Director, The LVE Group

Mike Luzio is Managing Director of the LVE Group, which provides financial, growth, and consulting services covering the lifespan of client companies, from idea to exit. Formerly the CEO, President, and Co-founder of Industry Retail Group (IRG), Luzio and his two partners bootstrapped that company with an initial investment of $15,000 and a business plan written on a napkin. In 2014, IRG sold for upwards of $50 million. While IRG never sought outside capital to grow, today Luzio and the LVE Group help entrepreneurs and young companies get to the next level via angel investments, growth strategies, and network expansion.

Lessons Learned: “Some people think you should work smart rather than work hard – but I say do both. Because working smart shouldn’t mean less effort. There’s always someone out there who wants to beat you, so work smart, but don’t slow down to do so.”


Philip F. McGovern, Jr.

Managing Partner, & Executive Committee Member, Connell Foley

From initiating Connell Foley’s initial key expansion into Jersey City 15 years ago, to a vision for continued growth throughout the region, Philip F. McGovern Jr. applies a keen business sense in identifying opportunities – for the firm and for clients. A savvy transactional attorney, he concentrates on commercial real estate and corporate transactions, real estate development, land use, complex commercial financing and commercial leasing. McGovern also serves as general corporate counsel to numerous mid-cap companies, providing advice on entity formation, financing, contractual negotiation, acquisitions/dispositions and succession planning.

Lessons Learned: “Listen before making decisions/judgements, as there is typically some truth on both sides of any issue. Lead by example: nothing replaces commitment and hard work. Be mindful of the personal lives of those you are guiding. Adverse personal situations can negatively affect performance, but an empathetic ear often ameliorates difficult situations.”


Brian Neuwirth

President, Unex Manufacturing, Inc.

Brian Neuwirth’s career at Unex Manufacturing began in 1975. The family-owned business is an industry leader in providing order-picking solutions. Realizing how little he knew about the industry, Neuwirth decided to attend Columbia University to obtain his MBA. He then took a position at CBS Television in 1978, spending the next 17 years at the network. Two memorable achievements there were being on the start-up team for CBS cable television and serving as CBS vice president of sales, where he helped launch the “Late Show with David Letterman.” After 20 years at CBS, Neuwirth was ready to head Unex. Over the next 22 years, he guided the company through two downturns while maintaining its growth.

New Jersey’s Economy: “New Jersey continues to lag its neighboring states in GDP growth, angel investing and job creation. The main reason is the tax climate. Our legislators´ should be working with business associations, chambers and companies to attract new business to create jobs and generate economic growth.”


Cheryl Norton

President, New Jersey American Water, Sr. Vice President, Eastern Division,
American Water

Cheryl Norton has more than 30 years of experience in water utility leadership and operations. She joined American Water in 1988 as a microbiology research technician at the company’s central laboratory in Illinois and rose to become director of the Central Laboratory, vice president of Operations for Illinois American Water, and president of Kentucky American Water and Missouri American Water before taking on her current role. Norton was awarded the Professional Service Award from the Illinois Section of the American Water Works Association, and was named one of the “Most Influential Businesswomen of 2017” by the St. Louis Business Journal.

Embracing Technology: “Our company and employees understand the importance of using technology to better serve our customers. New technology provides more user-friendly customer self-service options, easier information access for employees and innovative leak detection to prevent disruptive and costly main breaks.”

Barry H. Ostrowsky

President & CEO, RWJBarnabas Health

Barry H. Ostrowsky leads New Jersey’s largest, most comprehensive healthcare system with a service area of nine counties and five million residents. He is spearheading a system-wide endeavor promoting healthier living for employees and the members of its diverse communities through a strategy to address the social determinants of health. RWJBarnabas Health has forged a partnership with Rutgers University to create New Jersey’s largest academic health system. The collaboration aligns RWJBarnabas Health with Rutgers’ education, research and clinical activities, and the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. After serving 25 years at Saint Barnabas Medical Center and Barnabas Health, Ostrowsky assumed his present position in 2016.

Lessons Learned: “Learning someone’s motivations and values is always extremely important when interacting in life. What are their interests? Their needs? What are they passionate about? Often, I have found that successful business transactions have resulted from having first shared a friendship.”


Celestina S. Quintana

Owner/Operator, McDonald’s Restaurants

Celestina S. Quintana came to the US from Spain when she was 10 years old. 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 on Tonnelle Avenue in North Bergen. Since then, she has steadfastly expanded, now owning and operating, with her daughter Jessica Quintana, 11 restaurants in Jersey City, Newark, Irvington, East Orange and Parsippany. Her restaurants employ more than 500 local residents.

Lessons Learned: “My advice to future business leaders is to do something you love and have a passion for. Make sure you learn all of the ins and outs of your endeavor before venturing out. Trust and verify the work that your colleagues perform, but give them enough space to grow on their own. Being consistent and following up is key to a successful business operation.”

Lori A. Roth

Managing Partner, Northeast Region, Prager Metis CPAs

Lori A. Roth is managing partner, Northeast Region, for Prager Metis CPAs. She provides leadership and guidance to partners and team members and is on the firm’s management and executive committees. She has worked with a variety of clients including closely held businesses, real estate, and the US subsidiaries and branches of foreign banks and corporations. She strongly believes in working closely with business owners in a team approach, and often adds much-needed depth at the top level to these business owners. Roth’s entrepreneurial spirit and dedication to clients and team members alike are cornerstones of her leadership philosophy.

Lessons Learned: “The biggest lesson I’ve learned is the importance of empowering and elevating my team members. The best leaders encourage the people around them to be their ‘best selves.’ Also, stay true to yourself and your values, while always being open to learning from everyone and everything around you.”


Michael J. Smith

President, Berkeley College

Michael J. Smith was named president of Berkeley College in 2015. He places particular focus on delivering student support services, integrating career-focused preparation into academics, and using assessment and technology to improve teaching and learning. Smith held key leadership positions at Berkeley College for 19 years before becoming president. Under his leadership, the college has garnered numerous best workplace and best employer awards. Before joining Berkeley, Smith was managing director and CFO of MetLife Realty Group. He was twice elected to the Westchester County Board of Legislators.

Off the Grid Advice: “Multitasking, and the impact it has on one’s mind, is problematic. In business, optimally one needs to stay in the moment. I practice mindfulness for relaxation, and I encourage continual self-development using whatever resources are available – be it podcast, reading or speaking – especially with those whom you do not necessarily understand or agree with.”

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