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NJBIA Welcomes New Trustees

Association’s board matches the fabric and diversity of its membership.

This is a very important time in the history of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA). As we enter our 111th year still impacted by a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic, our tireless advocacy on behalf of New Jersey businesses of all sizes has never been more critical. At the same time, we continue to strive to bring more new and dynamic product offerings to our valued members in order to carry out our mission of advancing the competitive excellence and financial success of our members.

We’re extremely proud of our history, transforming from our earliest days of representing manufacturers exclusively, to one of the largest business associations in the nation. We embody a wide range of business interests, company size, geographic location, gender and ethnicity. And NJBIA well represents the rich diversity of our great state. Likewise, our 2021 NJBIA Board of Trustees matches the fabric of our membership and displays the same diversity that our organization enjoys. 

NJBIA is pleased to announce the election of Celestina S. Quintana as the new chairperson of the NJBIA Board of Trustees. Celestina, along with her daughter Jessica, owns and operates 11 McDonald’s restaurants. Celestina has been an NJBIA board member since 2008. She follows Brian F. Neuwirth, who served as the NJBIA chairperson from 2018-2021. Brian is the chairman of UNEX Manufacturing, Inc., and has been an NJBIA board member since 2005. We welcome Celestina and look forward to her leadership, while thanking Brian for his leadership during a very transformational time in our history. 

NJBIA is pleased to welcome two new Trustees who are joining with our returning Trustees to take the association into the future. Here are their impressive biographies: 

Jessica Gonzalez

jessica gonzalez

Jessica Gonzalez

Jessica Gonzalez is a lifelong New Jersey entrepreneur and self-starter. She founded her event technology company, InCharged, 10 years ago by selling everything she had, moving in with her parents, and working three jobs – all while retaining 100% ownership of the company. 

Over the last decade, Gonzalez has grown InCharged into an event technology fixture – partnering with brands like Google, Coca-Cola and T-Mobile to implement cutting-edge experiential marketing campaigns and events. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, the event business came to a grinding halt. Gonzalez knew she needed to pivot not only to keep her company afloat, but more importantly, to support a new economic landscape where businesses and organizations had entirely different operational needs. She channeled her in-depth knowledge of event operations and applied finely honed, cutting-edge research & development processes to start Lux Disinfect, a company offering a complete suite of tools, products and services to help others safely reopen their businesses. 

Gonzalez has never fit the mold of a “typical” business leader, but she prefers it that way. She brings a fresh, think-outside-the-box approach to every problem she tackles and is ready to leverage her experience and perspective to help keep the families and communities of New Jersey moving forward and safe. 

Richard Thigpen

thigpen

Richard Thigpen

Richard T. Thigpen is senior vice president, corporate citizenship of PSEG, and chairman, PSEG Foundation. He is responsible for areas of the business that drive public policy through advocacy, including: federal, state and local government affairs; sustainability; charitable activities; and corporate social responsibility. 

Thigpen joined PSEG in March 2007. He has been a public affairs consultant since 1999 and was a co-founding partner of 1868 Public Affairs. Previously, he served as an associate at the New York law firm of Thacher Proffitt and Wood and was district director for US Representative Donald Payne (NJ-10) (1990 to 1996), and executive director of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee (1996 to 1999). 

Thigpen also was a former assistant to the president of the NAACP State Conference for Public Affairs. He is currently a member of the boards of the Regional Plan Association, the New Jersey Climate Change Alliance, the New Jersey Legislative Black Caucus Foundation, NJ PBS, New Jersey’s public television network, the Brown University Alumni Association, and the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund. He also is a member of the American Association of Blacks in Energy’s national board and chair of the Legislative Issues and Public Policy Committee. Thigpen holds a Doctor of Law degree from Columbia University School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Brown University. 

Trustees 

These new Trustees join the following NJBIA Trustees: 

  • Celestina S. Quintanachairperson, owner/operator McDonald’s restaurants 
  • Brian F. Neuwirth, immediate past chairperson, chairman, UNEX Manufacturing, Inc. 
  • Rashaad Bajwa, president & CEO, Domain Technology Partners 
  • Marcy Bliss, president, Wedgewood Pharmacy 
  • Dr. Joel S. Bloom, president, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) 
  • Dan Borok, managing partner, Newark Venture Partners 
  • Kevin Cummings, president & CEO, Investors Bank 
  • Clifford F. Lindholm, III, president & CEO, Falstrom Company 
  • Catherine Milone, president, Junior Achievement of New Jersey 
  • Lori RothCPA/ABV, CFF, co-managing partner, Prager Metis 
  • Deanna Sperling, MAS, RN, NE-BC, president & CEO, Barnabas Health Behavioral Health Center 

Retiring Trustees 

NJBIA would like to thank our retiring Trustees for their sage guidance and leadership in assisting NJBIA to be the pillar of strength it is today. These valued individuals include: 

  • Michael P. Luzio, founding partner & managing director, The LVE Group 
  • Robert J. Staudinger, retired president and CEO, National Manufacturing Co., Inc. 
  • Matthew Wright, president, Piper Holdings, LLC.

To access more business news, visit NJB News Now.

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