Women Business Leaders Forum Program

Building the Next Generation of Women Executives

Though women continue to comprise more of the Fortune 500 CEO positions each year, they still have a long way to go. This event, to be held September 25 at the Hilton Parsippany, will bring New Jersey women together to network, exchange ideas and identify how we can help women make headway in corporate leadership, and build the next generation of women executives. To register, please visit www.njbia.org/events.


Video Presentation

Barbara Byrne and Candace Straight will share information from the set of EQUITY, the first female-driven Wall Street film, which follows a senior investment banker who is threatened by a financial scandal and must untangle a web of corruption forcing her to re-examine the rules of the cutthroat world she has always loved.

Two-time Emmy winner for her starring role in “Breaking Bad,” Anna Gunn toplines this drama, which will be filmed this summer and released in 2016. The male lead is played by British actor James Purefoy, who starred in the FOX TV drama “The Following” with Kevin Bacon and was Mark Anthony in the HBO production of “Rome.”

EQUITY is being produced by Broad Street Pictures, which was founded last year by “Orange is the New Black” star and SAG award winner Alysia and “Backwards” star Sarah Megan Thomas. Broad Street was founded to produce films with strong females roles both in front of and behind the camera.

8:00 am 

Conference Opening

Lt. Governor, Kim Guadagno MAG-WBLF-HS-1LT

Kim Guadagno was elected New Jersey’s first Lieutenant Governor in November 2009 and was sworn into office on January 19, 2010. She was re-elected to a second term on November 5, 2013. In addition to serving as the Lt. Governor, Kim Guadagno serves as the 33rd Secretary of State.

Lt. Governor Guadagno leads the Christie Administration’s efforts to improve New Jersey’s economic vitality, encourage job growth, streamline government and make businesses feel welcome again in New Jersey. She oversees the New Jersey Partnership for Action (PFA), the state’s four-pronged comprehensive economic development strategy. The Lt. Governor also chairs the Red Tape Review Commission, which is engaged in an ongoing review and reform of the state’s regulatory process.

Furthermore, Lt. Governor Guadagno chairs the New Jersey Military Installation Growth and Development Task Force.

As the Secretary of State, Lt. Governor Guadagno is New Jersey’s chief election official, oversees promotion of the state’s $40 billion tourism industry, and administers programs related to the arts, culture, and history.

Lt. Governor Guadagno began her public service career as a federal prosecutor with the Organized Crime & Racketeering Strike Force in Brooklyn, later moving to Monmouth County, when she became an Assistant United States Attorney in Newark. After her federal service, Guadagno served as a ranking member of the State of New Jersey Attorney General’s Office.

In 2001, Guadagno left the public sector to practice law closer to home and became a teacher at Rutgers University School of Law-Newark.

In 2007, Guadagno was elected as the first woman sheriff in Monmouth County’s history. She left both the Office of Sheriff and her position as a teacher at Rutgers Law School upon becoming Lt. Governor. Guadagno is a cum laude graduate of Ursinus College. She received her juris doctorate degree, cum laude, from the American University Washington College of Law.

9:00 am 

Business Leader Keynote

Barbara Byrne MAG-WBLF-HS-2BB

Barbara Byrne is a vice chairman in the Banking Division at Barclays, responsible for leading the firm’s global relationships with multinational corporate clients. She is a member of Barclays Senior Leadership Group and is chairman of Barclays Social Innovation Facility, a cross-business resource dedicated to the development of self-sustaining global commercial solutions to social challenges.

Byrne has more than 30 years of financial services experience and has been at the forefront of developing longstanding partnerships with some of Barclays’ most important corporate clients. She has held senior management positions in energy and technology investment banking groups, managed cross business teams, and was the primary architect of several of the firm’s marquee transactions.

Byrne participates in industry conferences as a forum leader on strategic issues and trends facing the financial sector. She speaks frequently on behalf of women in business, finance and leadership. She has attended Fortune’s Most Powerful Women’s Summit for over 10 years and leads Barclays’ strategic partnership with Clinton Global Initiative. In 2012, Byrne was named one of the “100 Women to Watch” by the Cranfield School of Management. For the past four years, she was ranked by American Banker as one of the “25 Most Powerful Women in Finance.” She is a member of The Council on Foreign Relations and The Women’s Forum for the Economy & Society. Moreover, she serves on the New York City Board of the British-American Business Council and on the Investment Committee for the non-profit organization, Catalyst.

9:45 am 

Panel Disussion 

Hear from women in leadership / executive roles about the values, behaviors, skills and characteristics women need to excel to the board / executive level. 

About the Speakers 

MAG-WBLF-HS-3aJMJeanne Murphy (Moderator) 

Partner and Co-Founder of Jeanne Murphy Public Relations and Marriah Media, LLC

Jeanne Murphy, Partner and Co-Founder of Jeanne Murphy Public Relations and Marriah Media, LLC is a best-selling, nonfiction published author with 12 printed titles offered worldwide from several major US publishers. Collectively, Jeanne’s books have sold more than half a million copies and are available in several different languages.

Jeanne’s company Marriah Media is a globally recognized media and content distribution company promoting mainstream news, entertainment, features, events and business. Jeanne is the host of Marriah Media’s “Talented People” television and radio programming.

Throughout her career as a writer and media professional, Jeanne has served as the managing editor of www.Mom.com, and as a marketing, public relations and distribution strategy expert and specialist for highly respected corporations including, The Walt Disney Company.

Celestina S. QuintanaMAG-WBLF-HS-3CQ

Owner/Operator McDonald’s Restaurants

Celestina S. Quintana came to this country from Spain when she was 10 years old. She grew up in Newark with eight brothers and sisters. She graduated from East Side High School. Celest worked as a dental assistant for 15 years in Newark. At age 28, she opened a clothing store with two friends called Impulse in Harrison and then moved the boutique to Newark as a single proprietor. In 1992, she opened her first McDonald’s Restaurant on Tonnelle Avenue in North Bergen. Since then, she has steadfastly expanded, now owning a total of 11 restaurants in Jersey City, Newark, Irvington, East Orange and Parsippany. Her restaurants employ more than 500 local residents.

Kathryn E. WengelMAG-WBLF-HS-4KW

Vice President,  Johnson & Johnson Supply Chain

Kathy Wengel is vice president, Johnson & Johnson Supply Chain (JJSC), serves on the Johnson & Johnson Management Committee, and chairs the JJSC Leadership Team. With 27 years at Johnson & Johnson, Wengel has worked with almost every business segment across the company, and her expansive and global work experience includes seven years in Puerto Rico and eight years in Europe where she assumed broad leadership roles. Prior to Wengel’s current role, she was vice president, quality & compliance (Q&C) and the first chief quality officer for Johnson & Johnson, for four years. She is also a member of the AWESOME (Achieving Women’s Excellence in Supply Chain Operations, Management and Education) Cross-Industry Supply Chain Leadership Initiative and a recipient of the 2014 AWESOME Legendary Leadership Award. Wengel was born and raised in New Jersey, and holds a BSE degree in Civil Engineering and Operations Research from Princeton University.

Brenda Ross-DulanMAG-WBLF-HS-5BRD

Region President, Southern New Jersey Wells Fargo & Company

Brenda Ross-Dulan is an executive vice president and Southern New Jersey region president for Wells Fargo, overseeing 150 community banking stores and $12 billion in deposits.

Ross-Dulan has more than 25 years of banking experience. Prior to assuming the above role in April 2009, she served as the region president for Wells Fargo’s Los Angeles/San Gabriel Valley Region.

Ross-Dulan’s many accolades include being recognized as one of the Top 100 Most Influential Blacks in Corporate America and as an Executive Making a Difference by the Los Angeles Times. She has also received the Martin Luther King, Jr. Economic Justice Award and the 2015 Black Enterprise 50 Most Powerful Women in Corporate America, in addition to other distinctions.

Ross-Dulan serves on the boards of NJTV, Coopers Ferry Community Development Corporation, Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce and Southern New Jersey Chamber of Commerce.

She holds a Bachelors of Business Administration from Howard University, and an MBA from the Anderson School of Management at UCLA.

11:00 am 

Breakout Session One

Getting to the C-Suite

It’s not enough to want to be in the C-Suite, women have to believe they can do the job, step up for consideration and make the right choices. Much has been studied – and written about – the lack of women in the C-Suite, even though women make up 52 percent of all professional level jobs. This break-out session is for those who want to engage in the dialog on what critical factors are needed to get to the top and stay there. 

About the Speakers 

Cynthia HamburgerMAG-WBLF-HS-6CH

Chief Operating and Chief Information Officer at Learning Ally

Cynthia Hamburger has more than 25 years of leadership experience and is recognized as a dynamic and innovative executive with a deep understanding of global technology management, business operations, sales and marketing, customer service and professional services.

As chief operating officer and chief information officer (CIO) for Learning Ally, a 65-year-old, national non-profit delivering products and services for students with print disabilities, Hamburger is focused on developing strong technology leadership, continuous improvement of audiobook production processes, and the dynamic evolution of a national volunteer community. As a member of the executive team, she also leads sales and marketing and community engagement teams across the US.

Prior to Learning Ally, as founder of The Bach Group, Hamburger had multiple engagements that included: early stage startup CIO/COO roles; national and global non-profits interim CTO and COO roles; executive coach for the CEO and leadership team of a start-up national political organization; and leadership coach for technology leaders at one of the largest US government agencies. Hamburger served as the CIO/COO for Zweena, L.L.C., a healthcare start-up.

Prior to this, Hamburger: was SVP and CIO at Dun & Bradstreet (D&B); a partner at Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC); vice president of technology for Fidelity Capital Markets; a founding shareholder and director in Seer Technologies; and also held managerial positions at Credit Suisse First Boston and the General Electric Company. Moreover, Hamburger is also a member of the board of directors for Morristown Neighborhood House, a non-profit dedicated to serving the needs of immigrant children and families in Morris County.

She is an applied mathematics graduate of the University of Rhode Island.

Leanne Leonard (Session Chair) MAG-WBLF-HS-7LL

Executive Coach and Senior HR Consultant, A.J. O’Connor Associates

With more than 25 years of human resources experience, Leanne Leonard has consistently driven company strategy through enterprise wide programs utilizing her leadership and coaching skills to deliver organizational performance through employee engagement. She has enabled these changes for Fortune 500 publicly held, private and non-profit organizations in both domestic and global settings. As a senior consultant and executive coach since 2009, she leverages her diverse experience to provide practical and relevant coaching, mentoring and training of senior leaders and their teams to improve performance and develop their careers. She is also an adjunct professor, having taught HR management at the undergraduate and graduate levels of two higher education institutions.

Leonard began her career in an accelerated HR development program for a Fortune 100 global organization and progressed through a series of management roles in Westinghouse, Schindler and Dun & Bradstreet. Her most recent corporate role was leading human resources, employee relations & internal communications for the US business and Corporate Global groups at Dun & Bradstreet.

Leonard is a 2002 New Jersey Tribute to Women in Industry award winner. Meanwhile, she is an avid golfer, who, among other distinctions, currently serves on the executive board of directors of the Women’s Metropolitan Golf Association.

Leonard holds an MBA with a concentration in human resources from Syracuse University, a Bachelor of Science in education from SUNY College at Cortland, as well a certificate in training and development from New York University.

11:00 am 

Breakout Session Two

Becoming a Board Member

Despite the strides women are making in the C-Suite, gender diversity on corporate boards remains a persistent problem. Women have been shown to be effective board members, so why aren’t there more of them? Attend this breakout session to hear what boards look for and learn how to effectively position yourself as a candidate for board director consideration.

About the Speakers 

Caren S. FranzinMAG-WBLF-HS-8CF

President of Franzini Consulting, LLC

Caren S. Franzini is president of Franzini Consulting, LLC, a firm which provides strategic assistance with real estate development projects; identifies local, state and federal incentives to fill funding gaps; and assists economic development organizations with their development and review of programs and projects.

From January 1994 until October 2012, Franzini served as CEO of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA). The NJEDA is New Jersey’s “bank for business,” providing financing to small- and mid-sized businesses; administering tax incentives to retain and grow jobs; revitalizing communities through redevelopment initiatives; and supporting entrepreneurial development. Franzini oversaw an organization with over $500 million in assets, a $28-million operating budget and more than 150 employees. Annually, NJEDA provided between $600-$800 million in financial assistance to businesses, not for profits and public organizations throughout New Jersey to leverage additional private sector investment and the retention and growth of jobs.

Franzini has been recognized for her contributions to business growth and economic development in the state. She is a past recipient of the New Jersey Chapter of NAIOP’s Industry Service Award; the New Jersey Technology Council’s John H. Martinson Technology Supporter Award; the New Jersey Business & Industry Association’s Paul L. Troast Award for her commitment to improving the state’s economy; and the Wharton Club of New York’s Joseph Wharton Award for Social Impact. She has also been honored with six additional – and significant – awards.

Prior to joining the NJEDA, Franzini was an assistant state treasurer with the New Jersey Department of the Treasury. Before that, she was employed at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and with Public Financial Management.

Franzini currently serves on the board of directors of NJM Insurance Group, The New Jersey Business & Industry Association, Horizon Blue Cross NJ Foundation Board, New Jersey Community Development Corporation, NJ Future and the NJ Alliance for Action. She also serves as a Visiting Associate at Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institute of Politics.

Franzini holds a BA in Urban Studies from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA in finance and public management from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Erin M. Hamrick (Session Chair)MAG-WBLF-HS-9EH

Founding Partner, Sterling James, LLC

Erin M. Hamrick has 18 years of experience as an executive search consultant. Prior to co-founding Sterling James in 2014, Hamrick served as a partner with the insurance practices of both Heidrick & Struggles and Spencer Stuart. During this time, she also took a year sabbatical to work for the US Department of Defense, where she supported reconstruction efforts in Iraq.

Hamrick has worked extensively with board members, CEOs and other senior executives in all sectors of the insurance industry: property/casualty, reinsurance, life/annuity, brokerage and in insurance related business services. Additionally, she has worked with both private equity firms and venture-backed concerns with interests in the insurance industry.

Earlier in her career, Hamrick served in both line and staff roles at The Hartford and at the brokerage firm Hamilton, Dorsey Alston.

She is a contributing writer for Carrier Management and a supporter of research efforts at both Saint Joseph’s University and Drake University, to better understand gender disparity in the insurance industry. In 2014, she was named one of the top 50 women globally in re/insurance by Reactions magazine. Hamrick is a graduate of Villanova University.

Joanne PaceMAG-WBLF-HS-10JP

Independent Board Director and Senior Advisor

Joanne Pace is a global Fortune 100 senior executive with more than 30 years of financial and operating experience in complex regulated businesses. She is currently an active independent board director for public and private companies, and an advisory board director in the financial and investment arena.

Pace is chair of the Audit Committee for the Oppenheimer Funds and is a member of its Regulatory and Oversight Committee. Moreover, she is a member of the Audit and Compensation Committees for Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. She is an advisory board director for The Alberleen Group, a middle markets investment and merchant banking incubator, and for Massey Quick & Co., a wealth management and investment consulting firm. Pace co-chairs the 100 Women in Hedge Funds’ Women on Boards initiative.

Pace held multiple senior leadership roles at major financial firms during several challenging periods. She was managing director and chief operating officer of Morgan Stanley Investment Management and chief operating officer before, during and after the 2008 financial crisis. Prior to that, she was a partner and chief operating officer at FrontPoint Partners, a multi-strategy hedge fund. She was global head of human resources for Credit Suisse and a member of that firm’s executive committee. Earlier in her career, Pace was Morgan Stanley’s controller and principal accounting officer, a role she assumed after serving as CFO of the oversight committee for the financial industry’s bailout of Long Term Capital Management during the 1998 financial crisis.

Pace holds an MBA from New York University and is a certified public accountant.

Candace L. StraightMAG-WBLF-HS-11CS

Private Investor and Investment-Banking Consultant

Candace L. Straight is a private investor and investment-banking consultant specializing in the insurance industry. Throughout her successful career, she has worked for numerous corporations including, Merck & Co. Inc. and Bankers Trust Company. Straight has also served as a principal of Head and Partners and as an advisory director of Securitas Capital, L.L.C., a global private equity investment firm specializing in insurance and financial services related industries.

Straight is also a director of Montpelier Re, a Bermuda-based property and casualty reinsurer, and Neuberger and Berman’s mutual funds, which have assets of approximately $45 billion. From 2004 to 2008, Straight served as a director at National Atlantic Holdings Corporation and its subsidiary, Proformance Insurance, a personal and commercial lines insurance company.

From 1987 to 1997, Straight was a principal of Head and Partners, a merchant banking firm specializing in the insurance industry. The Head Group acquired numerous companies including Integon Corporation, Sphere Drake, Marketing One, and Ango American. Straight was president of Integon Corporation from 1990 to 1992, and served as a director until 1995. Straight also served as a director of Integon Life, Marketing One and Drake Holdings.

In 1982, Straight was appointed by Governor Thomas Kean to be a trustee of the Public Employees Retirement System of the State of New Jersey, serving until 1988. Straight was co-chair of Governor Christine Todd Whitman’s Budget Advisory Committee and served on Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s Budget Transition Team.

Straight was a member of Governor Chris Christie’s Treasury Transition Team and appointed by Governor Christie to the board of governors of Rutgers University.

In 1994, Straight was appointed by Governor Whitman to the Board of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (NJSEA), serving until 2003. Straight was vice chairman of the NJSEA from 1996 to January 2002. She also served on Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Private/Public Initiatives Council and is a former trustee of the New Jersey Network Foundation and a past president of the Financial Women’s Association of New York. From 1982 to 1990, Straight was a trustee of Wilson College, and chairman of the College’s Investment Committee. Straight was named trustee emeritus in 2006.



Michele N. SiekerkaSiekerka

President and CEO, New Jersey Business & Industry Association

Michele N. Siekerka, Esq. became the eleventh president of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) in October 2014. NJBIA is the nation’s largest employer association, representing over 20,000 member companies and 1.1 million employees within the state. It is the premier public policy advocate for its member companies, promoting positive business-oriented policy decisions through direct advocacy initiatives at all levels of government, as well as facilitating forums and seminars on relevant business-related issues.

Siekerka came from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection where she served as Deputy Commissioner. She was a principal player in Governor Christie’s charge in rebuilding New Jersey in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, and has been serving on the board of directors for Investors Bancorp (formerly Roma Bank) since 2006 and served as chairman of the Roma Board from 2011-2013.

Siekerka served as president and CEO of the Mercer (County) Regional Chamber of Commerce, the second-largest regional chamber in the state, from 2004 to 2010, where she won praise for significantly growing membership and revenue, as well as for introducing innovative programs and partnerships.

From 2000 to 2004, Siekerka worked with AAA, first as vice president for employee relations for the Central West-Jersey organization, and following a merger with AAA Mid-Atlantic, as senior legal counsel. While at AAA, Siekerka’s major responsibilities included strategic planning, administrative reform and numerous business advancement issues.

Siekerka graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in both Political Science and German. She received her Juris Doctorate from Temple University School of Law.

1:00 pm 

Keynote Speaker

MAG-WBLF-HS-12KKKaren J. Kessler

Principal, Evergreen Partners, Inc.

Karen J. Kessler is a recognized leader in the public relations industry and was in the first class of PR NEWS’ “Top Women in PR”. She is a founding partner and president of Evergreen Partners, a full-service public relations firm specializing in reputation management, crisis communications and event planning.

Kessler counsels private companies, public companies and individuals on sensitive issues ranging from legal inquiries, personnel matters, business practices and opportunities for increased visibility. She was sought after as technical consultant to the television shows, “The Good Wife” and “Nashville”, and as an on-air reputation consultant to the “NBC Today Show.”

Kessler was the inaugural Chairman of the Board of Trustees of AllSpire Health Partners, the nation’s largest health consortium, and served as Chair of the Board of Atlantic Health System from 2008 to 2015. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of Northfield Bancorp, Inc., serves as Co-Chair of the Chambers Center for Wellness, and is a member of the NJ Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct. In 2015, Kessler accepted the Thurgood Marshall “Award of Excellence” for outstanding achievement. She has been recognized as: NJBIZ’s “50 Most Powerful Non-Profit Board Members”, and “50 Most Powerful Women”; Jewish Women International’s “10 Women to Watch in the USA”; and NJ Monthly magazine’s “Leading Women Entrepreneurs.”

Kessler earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Vassar College (’78), and also studied at the London School of Economics and Princeton University.

Among other roles, in 1984, Kessler joined the American Stock Exchange and became the vice president of corporate communications. In 1989, she served as director of transition for the Governor-Elect of New Jersey.

1:30 pm 

Dessert Reception Networking


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