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General Business

New Jersey Business Thought Leaders – Vol 1

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 in this month’s and next month’s issues. 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.

Marcy A. Bliss 

CEO, Wedgwood Pharmacy 

Marcy A. Bliss is chief executive officer of Swedesboro-based Wedgewood Pharmacy, one of the largest compounding pharmacies in the US, serving more than 40,000 prescribers of compounded medications. Wedgewood Pharmacy provides specialty medication to both human and animal patients when a prescriber feels a commercial drug does not meet the unique needs of the patient. Bliss joined the company in 1999 as marketing director and, through the years, was promoted to vice president of sales and marketing, executive vice president of business operations, president and CEO. 

On COVID-19: We are fortunate that pet owners love their companions and that our pharmacy is considered essential so that we may continue to take care of our patients. We are still hiring and, while unemployment overall remains high, the availability of strong talent for the roles we need – warehouse workers and pharmacy technicians – is very limited. As a result, we are developing new, creative ways to attract and retain talent. 

Christopher Boerner 

CCO, Bristol Myers Squibb 

Christopher Boerner is chief commercialization officer of Bristol Myers Squibb, where he leads commercial strategy and execution across all geographies. He joined the company in 2015 as head of international markets. Boerner previously served as the executive vice president of commercial for Seattle Genetics, Inc. Before joining Seattle Genetics, Boerner worked for Dendreon Corporation, Genentech, and for McKinsey & Company. He received his Ph.D. and M.A. in business administration from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, and holds an A.B. in economics and history from Washington University in St. Louis. 

On COVID-19: We’ve taken steps to protect the health, wellbeing and safety of our workforce, and to ensure the continued supply of our medicines to patients and to support relief efforts across the globe. I’m proud that our workforce has demonstrated incredible resolve and support for one another and patients during the pandemic. 

Charlene Brown 

President, AT&T New Jersey 

As the president of AT&T New Jersey, Charlene Brown helps develop and implement AT&T’s public policy and philanthropic initiatives for the state. Brown is also AT&T’s primary contact for state and local government officials, as well as policymakers and community leaders statewide. Brown was a reporter for the Elizabeth Daily Journal and the Asbury Park Press. She moved on to New Jersey state government, serving for nearly 10 years as press secretary for the state’s Department of Human Services. Brown serves on several boards focusing on education, technology and economic development. She has received several awards for her career achievements and community involvement. 

Off the Grid Advice: Downtime allows you to recharge your batteries and develop creative solutions that you may not have otherwise thought of. It also gives you an opportunity to focus on issues that may be important to you as an individual and perhaps reach out and help those less fortunate than yourself. I enjoy reading, and I am on several nonprofit boards. 

Bernie Corrigan 

President, IBEW Local 102 

Bernie Corrigan is the president of IBEW Local 102, where he also serves as training director and sits as a trustee on the organization’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 become a NJBIA member. 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 Gov. Chris Christie, and serves as a trustee of Focus NJ. 

On Diversity: Nothing contributes more to a productive workplace than the 3 R’s – relationship, respect and resolution. Facilitating open dialogue across all levels of your organization provides the foundation to create relationships and build mutual respect between team members. Once you have this, creativity flows and resolutions to obstacles are easier to achieve. 

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.

On NJ’s Economy: Circumstances may make it impossible for New Jersey to ease business tax burdens now. However, the state should look to: offering incentives to bring outsourced manufacturing back to New Jersey; making it easier to operate by streamlining and reducing regulations; and improving efficiencies in state and local governments.” 

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, the company is today headed by Clifford F. Lindholm, III, a fourth-generation family member. Lindholm earned a bachelor of science degree 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. 

On NJ’s Economy: The manufacturers in the State of New Jersey should be better supported with additional property tax discounts and energy tax reductions. This will help manufacturing companies be more competitive both nationally and internationally. 

Mitch Livingston 

President and CEO, NJM Insurance Group 

Mitch Livingston is president and CEO of NJM Insurance Group, New Jersey’s largest domestic property and casualty insurer, and a leading writer of both personal and commercial insurance. Historically a single state writer, under Livingston’s leadership, NJM has expanded into a regional insurer, with a growing presence in Pennsylvania and Connecticut, and as of January 1, 2021, will begin offering auto, home and umbrella insurance in Ohio. Prior to assuming the role of president, Livingston served as chief operating officer and general counsel, and has served on the company’s board of directors since 2014. 

On Diversity: NJM’s core values include fostering diversity and inclusion in the workplace and supporting the communities we serve. These values aspire to embrace fully the diversity of New Jersey for the benefit of NJM, our employees, and our policyholders, and we recognize that their fulfillment will require continuous effort and improvement. 

Mike Luzio 

Managing Director, 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 2016, 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.  

On NJ’s Economy: Businesses suffering most in this climate rely heavily on foot traffic and in-person transactions. Much of that revenue has gone away, not because of decreased demand, but lack of accessibility due to lockdown restrictions. The state could provide resources to impacted businesses to promote alternative solutions such as e-commerce. 

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. 

On COVID-19: The accelerated implementation of telehealth has been remarkable. Telehealth is a best practice, allowing us to deliver safe, convenient and effective treatment for many ailments while also increasing access to care. It is another tool for our heroic workforce to utilize in caring for the New Jersey community. 

Celestina 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. 

On Diversity: I think the best way to take advantage of diversity within our communities is to understand the population as a whole; their wants, needs and their lifestyle to bring forth a cohesive environment that everyone in the community can benefit and thrive from. If we can work together with decision-making, we can yield better results. 

Lori A. Roth 

National Managing Partner, Prager Metis 

Lori A. Roth serves as national managing partner of Prager Metis. In this role, Roth oversees the day-to-day operations for the entire firm and provides guidance to each office managing partner and service line leader. As a member of the firm’s leadership team, she holds a key role in developing firm strategic goals and policies, monitoring performance, and driving business growth. She empowers the teams in each office to achieve organizational goals while maintaining an environment that is flexible, transparent and diverse, in keeping with the firm’s credo. Roth is a member of the AICPA and NJCPA and holds Board positions at Unchained at Last and NJBIA. Additionally, she serves as Gala Chairperson for Cancer Hope Network. 

On Business Strategy: Continue to create an environment of communication that empowers leaders to focus on the health and well-being of the state’s businesses and residents. The greatest success comes when you inspire and encourage those around you to grow and perform at their highest levels. 

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 over 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. 

On COVID-19: Keeping our promise to be there for our members when they need us most required swift action during an unprecedented pandemic. Examples include: moving 5,500 employees to work from home overnight, removing barriers to telemedicine, acquiring and donating desperately needed PPE, and providing philanthropic and volunteer support to communities across our state. 

Michael J. Smith 

President, Berkeley College 

As president of Berkeley College since 2015, Michael J. Smith embodies the college’s chief principle, “The Student Always Comes First,” with his emphasis on student lifelong success. He previously held key leadership positions at Berkeley, including senior vice president, finance, and chief financial officer of BES Inc., the corporate office of Berkeley College. Smith was treasurer for the Berkeley College Board of Trustees. He is a Certified Public Accountant and a Chartered Financial Analyst. Smith is a member of the New Jersey Higher Education Restart Advisory Group and has served on evaluation teams for the Middle State Commission on Higher Education. 

Off the Grid Advice: Downtime is important because it helps rejuvenate your mind, spirit and mental health. Getting “off the grid,” is difficult for many individuals, with unprecedented demands placed on parents and caregivers. Taking planned times to merely breathe daily is an important way to regenerate. I meditate daily and it truly calms the mind and supports your overall well-being. 

Cheers to our Thought Leaders. New Jersey is fortunate to have such dynamic business leaders as those that we are profiling this month and in January. Their tireless efforts, especially in a COVID world, are to be commended. Having the opportunity to bring these leaders together with our policy makers has helped to break down barriers, form relationships and move the needle on polices that are important to New Jersey’s business community and economy.

— Michele N. Siekerka, Esq.,  

NJBIA President and CEO 

To access more business news, visit NJB News Now.

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