Women We Admire is pleased to announce The Top 50 Women Leaders of New Jersey for 2022. The Garden State is known for its diverse economy including major pharmaceuticals and life sciences, financial services, manufacturing, information technology and more. With the highest density population of any state in the US, New Jersey is full of women who are leaders in the workforce. This year’s awardees provide direction, inspiration, and guidance. They embody the courage, passion, commitment and confidence that propel their organizations toward continued success.
Among this year’s awardees is Allyson Johnson, Chief Information and Governance Officer of OPEN Health, who leads the global IT, risk, governance, legal and facilities strategy and operations for 15 offices across 6 countries. Awardee Wanda Hope, Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer of Johnson & Johnson, is a sought-after speaker and thought leader on advancing DEI to drive business performance and results. Also awarded is Maria Black, President of ADP, whose experience across ADP’s global portfolio has provided valuable perspective while leading sales, marketing and all business operations.
Please join us in celebrating the accomplishments of The Top 50 Women Leaders of New Jersey for 2022.
1. Maria Black
Maria Black is President of ADP. In this role, she oversees sales, marketing, and all business operations for the global leader in HCM technology. With sales and operations united under her leadership, she is committed to simplifying and modernizing the company’s service delivery to its clients, in a more comprehensive and holistic way. A native of Sweden, Maria’s experience across ADP’s global portfolio has provided valuable perspective into the changing world of work and the evolving needs of the global workforce. Throughout her tenure at ADP, she has worked to provide businesses – from small business to global enterprise – the right solutions to drive success.
Joining ADP in 1996 as a sales associate, Maria learned the business from the ground up by selling payroll door-to-door. She went on to assume leadership roles in sales, client services and operations, and led the successful expansion of ADP’s human capital management offerings as the general manager for ADP United Kingdom. Prior to her current role, she served as president of worldwide sales and marketing. Previously, she served as president of small business services and HR outsourcing.
With a mission to foster diversity, equity and inclusion and ignite meaningful collaboration across the business and industry, Maria has championed corporate social responsibility efforts and serves in a number of professional organizations. Dedicated to empowering people to realize their fullest potential, Maria also plays a key role in fostering development and leadership opportunities, including acting as executive sponsor for ADP Women in Leadership (WIL)®. She holds an undergraduate degree in political science and international affairs from the University of Colorado, Boulder.
3. Sonia Luaces
Sonia Luaces is a Partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Trust Solutions segment and has twenty years of experience working with public and private multinational companies, focusing on the service of global SEC clients. She has extensive experience in the pharmaceutical and life science sector, providing insights and knowledge related to Sarbanes-Oxley, compliance and internal audit effectiveness, IFRS, US GAAP and SEC Reporting as well as special transactions, such as mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, carve-outs, and offerings. Sonia is proactive in initiating collaborative discussions with her clients on events and other matters impacting their business, including: COVID-19; healthcare reform; product launches; loss of exclusivity; the evolving regulatory landscape; finance transformation; revenue, research and development and manufacturing related issues; and various types of transactions.
Sonia actively participates in various charitable initiatives and is most passionate about her work as the executive co-chair of the Women@NJPAC (New Jersey Performing Arts Center). Her professional affiliations include Healthcare Business Women’s Association (Recipient of the 2018 Rising Star Award), American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and the New Jersey State Societies of Certified Public Accountants. Sonia received her master’s and undergraduate degrees in accounting from Seton Hall University.
4. Kellie Terry
Global Head, DEI, Strategy and Portfolio Management, Johnson & Johnson
Kellie Terry offers more than a decade of IT and PMO leadership expertise. As a dynamic high energy Diversity, Equity and Inclusion/IT professional possessing strong leadership skills, she has effectively delivered the desired results to internal and external customer facing clients. Having been continually challenged and rapidly promoted throughout her career, Kellie led numerous large scale systems integration teams through a variety of complex implementations, re-engineering of business processes, change management programs, and integration of data systems in acquired and restructured business units.
Kellie fosters close working relationships between business and technical teams to define and implement critical business improvement initiatives that turn business strategies into sustained operational performance. Prior to joining Johnson & Johnson, she served in leadership roles with inVentiv Health Clinical, AstraZeneca, and MDS Pharma Services. Kellie graduated from Chestnut Hill College with an undergraduate degree in business administration.
5. Gerilyn Horan
Vice President Group Sales & Strategic Accounts, Hilton
Gerilyn Horan has had a 25+ year career in leadership roles in global hotel sales & marketing beginning with Hilton Hotels at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, then moving on to re-open the Hilton National Sales Office in San Francisco. From there she joined Four Seasons in their New York Worldwide Sales Office, marketing the hotel brands portfolio to the New York corporate segment. She then spent five years at Meadowood Napa Valley, leading the luxury resorts group sales efforts.
Gerilyn then joined Langham Hospitality Group where she was director of global sales-North America, responsible for bringing this new, Hong Kong based luxury hotel brand to market in North America and building their US global sales organization. She joined HelmsBriscoe, the leading global event procurement firm in 2011 as director where she was responsible for leading the company’s efforts to establish their procurement solutions in the global marketplace. In 2013, she was promoted to VP and in 2017 to VP of North America, where she led the 700+ associates in the Eastern and Western Regions. She was responsible for client acquisition and retention, as well as ensuring the support and growth of the HelmsBriscoe associates.
In 2018, Gerilyn rejoined Hilton Worldwide as VP of Group Sales, overseeing the Hilton Worldwide Group Sales teams. In this role she is responsible for the growth of the group segment for Hilton brands and ensuring our team members are a collaborative partner and trusted advisor to our customers. In 2020 her role expanded to include the management of Hilton Worldwide's Global Strategic Accounts team, who provide a total account management approach to Hilton’s largest customers. Gerilyn is a graduate of the University of San Francisco with a degree in organizational behavior.
6. Jennifer Carter-Lawyer
VP & Advice Channel Team Lead, TD Bank
Jennifer Carter-Lawyer has worked in corporate and regional level positions in the field of Human Resources for over 24 years. Her career began in 1998 at State Farm Insurance, Inc., in their executive regional offices located in Wayne, New Jersey. She collaboratively worked with HR and the Public Affairs division while servicing the Greater New York Area. She later took on recruiting and operational roles at Kelly IT & Engineering Services in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania.
In 2002, Jennifer embarked on a career with Comcast Cable at their Corporate Headquarters in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and later managed the Moorestown, New Jersey site for Comcast Commercial & Online Services. Jennifer then moved to Comcast’s Eastern Divisional Call Center in Voorhees, New Jersey. She then became the senior human resources manager at the corporate offices of excelleRx, Inc., an Omnicare company that oversees medication management for hospice patients. Jennifer later joined ComVerse under their global HR division. Within six months she was asked to join TD Bank in 2012 and transitioned to the Advice Channel department at TD Bank's Corporate Headquarters first for the Risk Management and Finance lines of business. In 2015, she transitioned to their Retail Markets handling areas from Maine to Florida.
Jennifer has master’s and undergraduate degrees in human resources and business management from Rowan University and was accepted into their doctoral program. She is a member of The Society of Human Resources Management and is a Diamond lifetime member of the public service-based organization, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. She held several leadership roles and was elected president of her initiating chapter, Theta Chi, in 1994 and 1996. She was later given the astute honor of being appointed the New Jersey State Facilitator in 1995. She currently serves in their New Jersey Garden City Alumnae Chapter. Jennifer received a full scholarship to attend Rowan University’s Master’s Program and was the recipient of the Comcast Credo Spotlight Award. She was also selected as one of the diversity representatives for Comcast Headquarters.
7. Debalina Bera
Associate Partner, IBM
Debalina Bera is an Associate Partner at IBM. As an account executive, she has been assisting clients power their business needs through the digital transformation journey. She is also serving as the Corporate Social Responsibility Executive Sponsor to make a meaningful positive impact to the community.
Debalina joined IBM in 2020. Prior to that she was a senior manager in Accenture. She started her career with Tata Consultancy Services about 24 years ago and grew as a professional serving clients across various industry sectors before moving onto Accenture in 2015. Debalina earned her graduate degree from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur and completed her MBA specializing in supply chain and finance from the Rutgers Business School in New Jersey.
8. Elizabeth Koehler, CFA
Managing Director, BlackRock
Elizabeth Koehler is a Managing Director at BlackRock. BlackRock is a multinational investment management corporation based in New York City. Founded in 1988, initially as a risk management and fixed income institutional asset manager, BlackRock is the world's largest asset manager, with US$9.5 trillion in assets under management as of 2021. Koehler has 19 years in the financial services industry. She began her career in 2003.
Koehler first joined BlackRock in 2003 as a marketing analyst before moving on to product, strategy and client engagement. She is a Chartered Financial Analyst, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a master’s degree in applied positive psychology and graduated from the University of Virginia with an undergraduate degree in business.
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9. Jennifer N. Nevins, CMCA
Chief Operating Officer, PS&S
Jennifer Nevins, CMCA became part of the PS&S team in 2019, and now serves as the Chief Operating Officer. She had been a Principal of DW Smith Associates since 2001 after being a significant team member since 1988. Nevins successfully created the Community Association Services division within DW Smith and is now proud to offer enhanced professional services to the industry including civil and structural engineering, surveying, architecture, MEPF, landscape architecture and construction management Services.
Nevins is an active Business Partner of the Community Associations Institute (CAI) of New Jersey, Pennsylvania/Delaware Valley, Hudson Valley, North Carolina, and South Gulf Coast (Florida) Chapters and has immersed herself in the industry, participating in events, attending networking functions and delivering presentations to property managers. Nationally, she presented a leadership webinar for CAI and spoke at a CAI National Conference in Las Vegas. She served on the executive board of directors for six years and was the CAI New Jersey chapter president in 2020. She was a panelist at Montclair State University in April 2019, discussing the Engineer’s involvement in Transitions. Nevins received her CMCA® certification and developed a “Boot Camp” to assist property managers in attaining theirs. She additionally served a two-year term on the CAI Business Council for CAI National.
Nevins has also been an advocate for women’s leadership, including advising and mentoring businesswomen and female students through the Rutgers Institute for Women’s Leadership and the Wall High School Business and Finance Academy. Her most recent undertaking was to author three family cookbooks, dedicated to her parents, that document her family’s recipes and history for future generations.
10. Rachel Richter
VP of Insights, Analytics & CRM Operations, Change Healthcare
Rachel Richter is a business oriented, revenue generating data and analytics executive. She has deep experience overseeing analytics, insights and operations, including predictive modeling, segmentation & targeting, marketing & digital analytics, business intelligence, data warehousing, customer/market research, marketing operations and lead management. Rachel has a background in research & analytics across industries such as information services, healthcare, media, financial services and CPG. She is currently the Vice President of Insights, Analytics & CRM Operations at Change Healthcare.
Previously, she was the VP of analytics, insights & operations at Dun & Bradstreet, where she was responsible for overseeing the application of data & analytics internally to drive revenue growth. She also co-led Dun & Bradstreet's Corporate Social Responsibility Program and founded a pro bono analytics program in 2017. Prior to that, she worked as a research director at Turner Broadcasting, where she was responsible for supporting Digital Ad Sales by analyzing trends and visitor behavior across Turner’s digital properties and assessing the impact of advertising campaigns. She is a founding member of Women Leaders in Data & AI.
11. Patricia Morreale
Professor & Chair of Computer Science & Technology, Kean University
Patricia Morreale is Professor and Chair of Computer Science and Technology at Kean University, where she is broadening participation in computing through the development of new programs and curriculum to engage a wider audience, particularly students from groups underrepresented in computing. Her research on human-centered computing explores methods for equitable software design and improved computer science education, including the use of a growth mindset. Her earlier work on machine learning and network systems led to advances in error detection and secure processing, later patented and commercialized.
She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a Distinguished Contributor of the IEEE Computer Society. Her leadership positions include National Center for Women and Information Technology’s Academic Alliance and the Computing Alliance for Hispanic Serving Institutions. She holds an undergraduate degree from Northwestern University, a master’s degree from the University of Missouri, and a doctorate from Illinois Institute of Technology, all in computer science.
12. Cassandra Porter
Associate General Counsel and Global Privacy Team Lead, Zuora
Cassandra Porter is the Associate General Counsel and Global Privacy Team Lead of Zuora. Zuora helps recurring revenue businesses nurture and monetize direct, digital relationships. After starting with Zuora Billing nearly 15 years ago, Zuora’s award-winning multi-product portfolio now includes Zuora Revenue, Zuora Collect and Zuora Central Platform. More recently, the company added subscription experience platform Zephr to its family, further expanding its capabilities to serve as an intelligent hub that monetizes the complete quote to cash and revenue recognition process at scale. Through its combination of technology and expertise, Zuora helps more than 1,000 companies around the world, including BMC Software, Box, Caterpillar, General Motors, Penske Media Corporation, Schneider Electric, Siemens and Zoom nurture and monetize direct, digital customer relationships. Porter has 26 years of experience. She began her career in 1996.
Before joining Zuora, Porter was a director and Americas privacy team lead at Cognizant, and before that, a counsel at Lowenstein Sandler LLP. Earlier in her career, she worked with the American Arbitration Association as a case administrator. Porter graduated from Brooklyn Law School with a JD, from Pratt Institute with an undergraduate degree in management information science, and from Hunter College with an undergraduate degree in political science and government.
13. Allyson Johnson
Chief Information and Governance Officer, OPEN Health
Allyson Johnson, currently Chief Information and Governance Officer and member of the Executive Committee for OPEN Health, leads the global IT, risk, governance, legal and facilities strategy and operations for 15 offices across 6 countries. She is the lead executive implementing sustainability through environmental, social and governance pillars while currently sitting as Global Health and Safety Committee Chair.
Allyson is responsible for defining and implementing the vision for technology in the organization while creating and maintaining the systems and processes that underpin cross-functional company operations. She successfully reinvented the IT, Governance and Legal departments to globalize their effectiveness ensuring their value is maximized in an efficient manner. Setting a foundational approach to minimizing risk in the organization, Allyson has been successful in working with data privacy officers, establishing business continuity plans and enforcing data retention rules to meet the standards set forth by clients and governing bodies.
With over 20 years of experience in strategic planning, cross-functional leadership, operational expertise and business analytics, she enjoys the breadth of challenges presented in business operations and the opportunities to translate executive-level strategic discussions to all personnel resulting in engagement, high morale and positive financial results.
15. Shawn Abner-Purnell
Chief Diversity Officer, SJI
As Chief Diversity Officer for SJI, Shawn Abner-Purnell builds human capital strategies to create a culture of inclusion and belonging for all, where employees feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work each day. Abner-Purnell joined SJI in 2016, advancing through various managerial roles within SJI’s HR department before being appointed director of organizational development and diversity/inclusion in 2018. Prior to being named Chief Diversity Officer, she served as VP of DEI since 2021.
As Chief Diversity Officer, Abner-Purnell oversees the full scope of SJI's diversity, equity and inclusion strategy, which includes career development programs, employee engagement initiatives, and talent management practices, to name a few. In addition, she collaborates with leaders to drive advocacy and adoption of business strategies that address talent, diversity and inclusion gaps in all areas of the company. She also drives the organizational capabilities of SJI's workforce through talent development and culture transformation initiatives.
Before joining SJI, Abner Purnell spent a majority of her career in the insurance industry, where she held leadership positions in organizational development and talent management. In these roles, she drove organizational performance through leadership and workforce development strategies. An alumna of Morgan State University, she earned her undergraduate degree in business administration. In addition, she holds a master’s degree in organizational development and training from St. Joseph’s University. She currently resides in southern New Jersey with her husband of over 20 years and her three children.
16. Tina Frey Clements
Vice President, The Retail Performance Company
Tina Frey Clements is an experienced leader, author of Amazon best-selling leadership book, The ART of Facilitation, keynote speaker, entrepreneur.com contributor and expert facilitator with a demonstrated history of success within talent management and employee engagement. She is the Vice President of rpc. rpc helps organizations remove roadblocks to elevate employee behaviors and to ultimately affect customer base in an extraordinary way through training, coaching, consulting, HR services and analytics.
Tina, a graduate of SUNY Plattsburgh is also a certified coach, mom, sushi-lover and addicted to NPR and TED Talks. Prior to joining rpc, she served with BMW of North America for nearly 10 years in a variety of roles including performance management manager and BMW sales training manager. She believes a company’s success is directly related to the engagement of its people; she’s always striving to create an environment where people can shine and create their own personal ‘a-has’, to become the best they can be.
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17. Jennifer D’Angelo
SVP & General Manager of the Healthcare Division, New Jersey Innovation Institute
Jennifer is a visionary leader, innovator, and strategist who currently holds the position of Senior Vice President and General Manager of New Jersey Innovation Institute (NJII)’s Healthcare Division. Under her leadership, the division manages federal and state grant funded programs focused on revolutionizing healthcare through data-driven transformation, including the management of the New Jersey Health Information Network (NJHIN) on behalf of the New Jersey Department of Health. The NJHIN is the only network that has been built specifically to facilitate the exchange of patient data for all New Jersey patients with their healthcare providers. With Jennifer at the helm, NJII and the NJHIN can increase interoperability, thus reducing the cost of healthcare and improving population health statewide.
Jennifer also oversees the NJII Healthcare Division’s for-profit subsidiary, Healthcare Innovation Solutions (HCIS), which assists thousands of physicians across the country in navigating the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Merit-Based Incentive Payment Program (MIPS) and Quality Improvement Program-New Jersey (QIP-NJ). Prior to her appointment at NJII, Jennifer served as the SVP and CIO at Bergen New Bridge Medical Center in Paramus, NJ; CIO and VP of information services at Christian Health in Wyckoff, NJ; and executive director of Jersey Health Connect in Newark, NJ.
Jennifer has more than two decades of HealthIT experience and is one of the few women in leadership in the healthcare industry. She is committed to furthering HealthIT through volunteering and giving back her knowledge. She currently serves as a Board Member of NJHIMSS, along with serving on several regional and state leadership associations and committees including Health Care Association of New Jersey (HCANJ), national HIMSS, AHIMA, LeadingAge CAST, Jersey Health Connect, AEHiT, New Jersey Hospital Association (NJHA) and NJHIN. Most recently, she was selected to become a member in CHIEF – an organization designed for the most powerful women executives to strengthen their leadership and magnify their influence – and a nominee for the Civitas Networks for Health’s board. Through her experience volunteering, collaborating, networking, and advising these organizations, she has helped to make a significant impact on growing healthcare technology initiatives across New Jersey and beyond.
18. Monika Saksena
Director of Global Partnerships & Tools, Google
Monika Saksena is the Director of Partnerships Tools at Google, leading product, engineering and solution delivery functions to provide leading technology solutions to the Global Partnerships organization. With over 20 years of experience across technology and field leadership roles, Monika specializes in ratcheting businesses to the next level through process reimagination and technology innovation.
With an authentic and energetic leadership style, Monika holds a strong bias for action and outsized impact. She is passionate about diversity in the workforce. Before joining Google, she led the Corporate Card Business for US West and South at American Express. She has also held IT leadership positions at Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard. Saksena graduated from St. Stephens College, Delhi University, with an undergraduate degree in chemistry and holds a master’s degree in computer science from Florida Atlantic University.
19. Cheryl Beqaj
Managing Director, Slalom
Cheryl Beqaj is a Managing Director leading the Healthcare and Life Sciences Client Partner team at Slalom in New Jersey. She is celebrated for her ability to co-create unique and innovative transformation solutions with her clients, as a thought leader in Customer Experience and Design Thinking. Slalom is a purpose-led, global business and technology consulting company. From strategy to implementation, their approach is fiercely human. In six countries and 43 markets, Slalom deeply understands their customers—and their customers—to deliver practical, end-to-end solutions that drive meaningful impact.
Cheryl is a lifelong New Jerseyan, and a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in economics and political science.
20. Erika Hagberg
Director & Global Client Lead, Google
Erika Hagberg is Director of Global Sales within Google's Global Client and Agency team (GCAS). Her team leads a portfolio of global brand partnerships across CPG and Technology in order to solve critical business challenges, drive digital transformation and shape next into now. clients in solving their biggest business and marketing challenges.
An inspiring leader, Erika has a proven track record for driving growth and advocating for her customers. She joined Google in 2005 and built the financial services vertical and helped Fortune 500 companies build their brands digitally by helping them understand how to utilize Google's search, display, video, social, mobile and programmatic offerings across all screens. Prior to Google, Erika worked in Time Inc's Corporate Sales & Marketing group, leading clients and building integrated marketing programs to drive her client's business. Before that, she worked at AOL in their interactive marketing department, leading clients across healthcare, retail and financial services verticals.
A graduate of Washington & Lee University, Erika majored in journalism. She sits on the Entrepreneurship Board at W&L, The Williams School of Commerce advisory board, and is an active member of the Fountain House & Shore House as a staunch advocate of mental health.
22. Sree Vadlamani
Director of Quality Engineering, UnitedHealth Group
Sree Vadlamani, as Director of Quality Engineering at Optum Technologies, a UnitedHealthGroup company, manages challenging product deliverables in the healthcare insurance domain, while building and mentoring high performance teams. Sree believes a leader’s true success is reflected by how successful their team is and enables everyone on the team with opportunity and the guidance needed to excel.
Starting out as a quality engineer, Sree has progressed to the director level with increasing responsibilities on the way. She is a certified SAFe practitioner with the right mix of technical and soft skills needed to navigate the modern workplace. Apart from her regular responsibilities, Sree volunteers to Women In Technology and Women In Leadership group activities.
23. Neetu Sangari
Head of Advanced Data Analytics and Visualization, Pfizer
Dr. Neetu Sangari is passionate about contributing to drug development using advanced innovative methods for patients that will have a meaningful impact on their lives. She has progressive experience in delivering diverse strategic, global projects and solving business problems by harnessing the power of People, Processes, and Technology. She is Head of Advanced Data Analytics and Visualization (Director, Programming Standards) at Pfizer. She has over 16 years of experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry, Clinical Research Organizations, and Academia. She is leading the Standards Centre of Excellence Advanced Analytics and Data Science Team, cross-functional partnerships with Programming, Statisticians, Clinicians, and Digital Team. She established a strategy for using multiple programming software in the clinical area and assisted in decision-making Best-Fit analytical tool. She led multiple projects and accomplished identifying innovative solutions to ambiguous/complex problems using agile data analytics. She governed teams across global cultures and takes on ownership for quality and timely delivery through leadership and guidance of internal and external resources. She delivered multiple presentations at industry conferences and academic symposiums.
Academically, she earned a PhD in computer science, MS physics, and MS education. Externally, she is leading Global Healthcare Data Science Community, Pharmaceutical Users Software Exchange Working Group, collaboration with Food and Drug Administration and American Statistical Association on Data Visualization: Advanced Visual Analytics for Drug Safety Review. She is also contributing to the mentoring circle within the Health Business Women Association. Additionally, she is the regional liaison of Tri-state NY/NJ/CT region in Tomorrow's Executives Affinity Group in HBA where the group goal is: "To promote the professional advancement and impact of young professionals in the healthcare industry through leadership development education, skill-building volunteer opportunities, and networking with peers and industry leaders". Within Pfizer, she is guiding the Summer Growth Experience Internship Program for university students. She is a role model of her organization's values of courage, excellence, equity, and joy with her leadership skills and qualities. In 2023, she will lead AI/ML projects and continue transforming pharma using big data analytics-based innovation.
24. Catherine Tantillo
Head of Social Impact, Lord Abbett
Catherine Tantillo is the Head of Social Impact at Lord Abbett, a global asset management firm based in Jersey City, NJ. During her 23-year career at Lord Abbett, Catherine has held a variety of senior positions and serves as chair of the firm’s Inclusion Networks. In her current role, she is responsible for overseeing high-impact programs that advance community engagement aligned with the firm’s corporate values.
Catherine is passionate about creating innovative strategic initiatives that elevate marginalized communities and foster social advancement. She is a vice chair for the Hudson County Chamber of Commerce and a New Jersey Regional Council Member for the American Red Cross.
View the complete list of awardees.
26. Stephanie E. Barrett
Senior Principal Scientist, Merck & Co., Inc.
Stephanie E. Barrett, PhD., is a Senior Principal Scientist at Merck & Co., Inc. and is one of Merck’s leading experts in polymer and bioconjugate chemistry for enabled delivery of small molecule and macromolecular drugs, having made influential contributions to the discovery of novel polymer conjugates for siRNA therapeutics, polymer excipients for oral dosage forms, and polymer-based long-acting injectables and implantables. She is currently leading the team responsible for the design of Merck’s next generation of long-acting implant and injectable products—with potential applications in Neuroscience, HIV and other infectious diseases. For her technical and leadership achievements, Stephanie was recently recognized by Business Insider as one of the top 30 under 40 biopharma leaders shaping the future of medicine.
27. Kristine Keane
System Wide Clinical Director, Hackensack Meridian Health
Kristine C. Keane is Clinical and Sports Neuropsychologist who has been in practice in New Jersey for the past fifteen years specializing in the neuropsychological evaluation and treatment of concussion, traumatic brain injury, mild cognitive impairment, dementia, learning disabilities and neurological disorders. She is the Founder and Clinical Director of Shore Neuropsychology and Behavioral Health since 2006, a leading provider of comprehensive health care services for children, adults and families with a range of mental health and neurological symptoms and disorders. She has extensive training in neuropsychological assessment, therapeutic feedback/remediation of traumatic brain injury patients and patients with various neuro-developmental and neuro-cognitive difficulties.
Keane is also the Clinical Lead of the Hackensack Meridian Neuroscience Program. She coordinates regional care for children and adults who sustain concussion and mild traumatic brain injury through sports, falls and accidents. She also coordinates with athletic trainers, coaches, guidance counselors, school nurses and school administration to create and provide up to date concussion management and return to play/learn decisions for individual school districts and recreational teams. She proudly served as the official Neuropsychologist for the Sky Blue FC of the National Women’s Soccer League.
Dr. Keane is an associate professor at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall. She is also a Clinical Supervisor for psychiatry residents at the HMH School of Medicine at Ocean Medical Center. She is an active member of the Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey (BIANJ) and serves on the NJ Youth Sports Concussion Committee for the past five years. She also serves on the BIANJ Speakers Bureau and provides lectures and workshops to New Jersey elementary, middle and high school students, teachers, guidance counselors, speech therapists, and school nurses.
28. Jillian Baker
Executive Director, Center for Parent & Teen Communication of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Dr. Jillian Lucas Baker is the Executive Director of the Center for Parent and Teen Communication (CPTC) at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She will lead CPTC as it continues working to ensure that every caring adult has the knowledge and skills to promote positive youth development and foster the kind of strong family connections that position parents to raise youth with character. Dr. Baker holds her Doctorate in Public Health (DrPH) from Drexel University. She is a trained community mental health counselor with a BA degree from the University of Pennsylvania and an EdM from Temple University. She completed postdoctoral training at the National Center on Fathers and Families (NCOFF)/Graduate School of Education and the School of Nursing (both at the University of Pennsylvania). She will complete her Certification in Health and Wellness Coaching at Rowan University in Spring 2023.
Dr. Baker has over 23 years of experience in designing, implementing, and translating community driven, evidence-based prevention programs for vulnerable populations, nationally and internationally. Her research has examined cultural and social phenomena of vulnerable populations and the ways in which health risks are defined and experienced. More specifically, her scholarship has explored how community spaces are crucial for implementation and sustainability of community health programs. Baker is also the CEO of a coaching company “A Tribe Called Fertility LLC” for couples of color who need infertility and prenatal support and her podcast “A Maternal Health 911”, a support system for BIPOC women and families as they endure fertility and maternal health issues.
30. Beth Collington
Director of Digital Materials & Laboratory Equipment, Zahn Dental
Beth Collington is the Director of Digital Materials and Laboratory Equipment at Zahn Dental, a Division of Henry Schein, and Global Prosthetic Solutions. Henry Schein is a worldwide distributor of medical and dental supplies. Beth is fully immersed in the global dental industry researching new technologies and materials for development, management, and implementation for dental markets. Her core focus is on software, digital materials, CAD/CAM equipment and development of global best practices for strategies to launch, educate and market new products and services. She is currently leading key teams focusing on technical support and education to help customers navigate and support their digital transformations and profitably by incorporating operational cost reductions and value realization.
Beth has 28 years of experience in the dental industry and is a graduate from Temple University with an undergraduate degree in communications. She is an avid supporter, volunteer, advisor, published author and mentor in the dental industry and active board member of the Foundation for Dental Laboratory Technology. She spends her spare time enjoying horses and activities on her farm in NJ.
31. Vanitha Chockalingam
Director of Data Management Standards, Kite Pharma
Vanitha is the Director of Data Management Standards at Kite Pharma, a Gilead Company. Kite has been at the forefront of cancer immunotherapy since 2009. Being a leader in engineered T-cell therapy, Kite has changed the cancer treatment paradigm as one of the most significant medical breakthroughs in the past few decades. Vanitha has been in the Clinical Trials Space for over two decades and has been a Data Capture, Management, and Standards leader over the past decade and a half.
Before joining Kite, Vanitha was at Bristol Meyer-Squibb and Celgene Corporation and helped reduce Clinical Study build time. While at Westat Inc., Vanitha worked with the National Institutes of Health, implemented and integrated Clinical Data Management Systems, and received the National Cancer Institute Director's Award. Vanitha is an alumnus of Anna University, Chennai, and Frostburg State University.
32. Amanda DeMartino
Executive Director of Athletics, The College of New Jersey
The College of New Jersey appointed Amanda V. DeMartino Executive Director of Athletics in 2017. DeMartino is the fifth full-time athletic director for the Lions in the history of the department. A native of Toms River, NJ, DeMartino oversees 20 varsity sports at TCNJ and a staff of over 35 full-time employees. Her responsibilities include managing the department budget, oversight of all departmental operations and events and fundraising.
DeMartino took the reins of one of the most successful NCAA Division III athletics departments in the nation, and the department continues to thrive under her leadership. She currently serves on several committees including the NJAC Diversity & Inclusion Committee, Women Leaders in College Sports Membership Committee, and the New Jersey Athletic Conference Awards, Membership and Men’s Tennis Committees. Amanda also serves on TCNJ’s Campus Emergency Response Team, the group that provides leadership and recommendations to the President’s Cabinet on navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.
DeMartino arrived from Raritan Valley Community College, where she had been the director of athletics since August of 2011. Prior to her tenure with the RVCC Golden Lions, DeMartino was the athletic director at Northwood University in West Palm Beach, Fla. She graduated from Brandeis University with an undergraduate degree in economics. She earned her master’s degree in organizational leadership from Gonzaga University. DeMartino is also a member of the National Association of Collegiate Director of Athletics, Women Leaders in College Sports, Women in Sports & Events and Collegiate Athletic Administrators of NJ.
View the complete list of awardees.
34. Sandra La Foca
Director of Customer Account Management, Seqirus US
Sandra La Foca is a seasoned executive with a knack for inspiring teams to row in the same direction, even amidst changing tides. As Director of Customer Account Management for Seqirus US, she is responsible for driving strategy while optimizing workflow processes, continuous improvement initiatives, and workforce planning. She has also been empowered to implement a future state operating model for enterprise service and operations, including key strategic initiatives to drive transformational services, operations strategy and initiatives with an omnichannel focus. As she navigates uncharted waters, Sandra is actively developing and engaging a diverse crew, with her characteristic focus on creating an inclusive work environment and giving opportunities for visibility and career growth to strong performers.
Prior to joining Sequiris, Sandra served as the senior manager for contact center strategy and operations at The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, where she consistently met the highest benchmarks of customer satisfaction through a comprehensive quality assurance and training program for her team of 84 customer specialists. At Guardian, she also implemented one of her signature “win wins” – a digital, self-service operation that yielded a 10% reduction in overhead for her company, while dramatically increasing staff satisfaction scores.
Sandra got her start at Sanofi Pasteur as the manager for marketing and sales meeting planning. During her seven-year tenure with the company, she rose to the position of customer service director, ultimately leading a team of 32 employees through the fluid and fast-paced world of vaccine commerce. She earned her undergraduate degree at Bloomsburg University in communications and public relations. She holds an MBA from Villanova University with a concentration in strategic management and marketing.
36. Michelle Lifschitz
Director of Inclusion & Diversity, Cowen
Michelle Lifschitz is a seasoned DEI practitioner and Human Resources professional with deep expertise in Diversity & Inclusion, Learning and Development, and Talent Management. Michelle is currently the Director of Diversity & Inclusion at Cowen and focuses on working with business leaders and stakeholders to create and execute data-driven strategies, programs, and processes to achieve organizational goals for diversity and inclusion.
Michelle is a skilled facilitator, trainer, coach, and instructional designer. She has designed, delivered, and implemented courses in Leadership, Professional Development, and Diversity & Inclusion for high potential talent at major banks and professional services firms. She is a certified coach in PDI’s 360 instruments as well as CCL's Skillscope and DiSC personal profile. Michelle holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from Boston University and a master’s degree in socio-organizational psychology from Columbia University. Michelle’s professional passions include advancing women in the workplace, understanding the unique challenges of a multicultural and multigenerational workforce, and championing flexible work strategies.
37. Denise Sena
Executive Director of Integrated Supply Chain, Celularity
Denise Sena is a strategic, forward-thinking global supply chain executive with a proven track record of accelerating revenue and enhancing customer experience in the life sciences, biotech, and pharmaceutical industries. She has worked with Fortune 500 companies including Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co., Celgene, Gilead Sciences, and most recently Celularity. Recognized for her passion for health and wellness, she understands the connection between preventative care and saving lives through innovative medicine.
Ms. Sena’s industry progression has given her an appreciation for all aspects of the business. From her industry roots in supply chain her experience is complemented by customer-centric, patient-first leadership roles including J&J’s Director of Customer and Payer Solutions for U.S. Marketing. She has developed a multifaceted approach to her roles as Executive Director of Global Supply Chain, Sales and Operations at Gilead and Acting VP of Supply Chain for Celularity.
38. Pratiksha Nirmale
Director of Data Engineering, Voyager
Pratiksha Nirmale is a performance-driven, strategic, and process-focused Data Engineering & Analytics Executive, recognized for delivering next-generation software and data products while using rigorous analytical skills, coupled with a passion for delivering customer value via automation, machine learning, and predictive analytics. She embraces and incubates emerging technology and open-source products across all platforms while modernizing existing tech stacks and data platforms as well as driving the implementation of new applications. She offers 18+ years of transferable experience in leading end-to-end engineering and data analytics solutions while developing and deploying visionary cloud-native enterprise data and analytics platforms to meet business goals. She champions all aspects of cloud-native databases, data discovery, data governance, technical troubleshooting, analytical & experimental design, change management, and business intelligence tools. She identifies discrepancies and generates innovative solutions to achieve competitive advantages across the industry.
As a thought leader with a unique industry perspective and hands-on data architecture expertise, Pratiksha builds best-in-class frameworks and facilitates seamless transition to data-driven organization culture in collaboration with business and enterprise architects. Throughout her career, she has earned a winning reputation for delivering holistic governance and data management initiatives, including optimizing data platforms, reporting, and tool standards to improve customer experience and success. She defines organization-wide data governance and consistency strategies, along with driving and scaling key performance indicators for data quality to identify and remediate hot spots and measure business impact. She utilizes a collaborative leadership style to motivate diverse teams towards achieving business goals while administering training and development initiatives to elevate team performance.
39. Maddy Cretella
Director of Operational Branding, Landmark Hospitality
Landmark Hospitality is a true woman steered organization, and Maddy Cretella inspired by the amazing industry contributions of her mother, Jeanne, embraces the opportunity to continue the memory-making culture of the company into the future. Currently, as Director of Operational Branding, Maddy’s strategic plan focuses on continuing to grow the Landmark brand as both a leader in hospitality and in business.
The multi-dynamic Cretella knew from a very young age that hospitality was her love, motivated by her parents, Frank and Jeanne’s passion for creating life’s most memorable moments, she completed her college education graduating with a double major in business management and public relations from Monmouth University. A lifelong fondness for events and celebrations, led to Maddy’s first industry role, designing wedding cakes for couples planning the most memorable day of their lives. Shortly after, she found her niche in hospitality marketing, embracing the excitement and creativity of the industry. Fast-forward to today, under Maddy’s guidance Landmark’s reach has grown with impactful social, digital, print advertising and email campaigns. Utilizing technology platforms and analytics, Maddy has incorporated eCommerce platforms, CRM databases, and revenue management programming, all contributing to the company’s continued financial achievement.
41. Hayley Guerra
Director of Franchisee Success, THE MAX Challenge
Hayley Guerra is the Director of Franchisee Success for THE MAX Challenge, a health and wellness franchise in its 11th year with locations in six states. In her role, she has a hand in all areas of corporate operations, including, but not limited to marketing, unit-level business operations, and franchise development. She is responsible for leading a team of remarkable individuals and for being directly involved in the planning and execution of projects that help franchisees run businesses that meet and exceed their personal and professional goals.
Guerra specializes in project management and the development and implementation of technological systems that help to streamline and simplify operations, while also having a notable impact on business results. Over the course of her five years with THE MAX Challenge, and with the support of her team, she has led the rollout of several such initiatives, including, but not limited to a full-service marketing agency, fully custom member-facing mobile app, and a social media management tool that completely changed the way the franchise system handled foundational social media content.
Prior to THE MAX, Guerra owned and operated Web Wellness Woman, LLC., a small business she created with the intent to help other small businesses take control of their internet presence. Guerra studied criminal justice at Kean University.
42. Tammy A. Duffy
Director of Sales & Strategic Services, MDS
Tammy Duffy, PhD is the Director of Sales and Strategic Services at MDS. She joined the company in 2022 coming after more than 25 years of leadership experience in sales leadership, product development, IT, cybersecurity, and product management. Duffy is driven to make healthcare better by advancing medical and IT technologies through innovative products and services and analyzing communities to increase outcomes for patients.
Duffy has worked at Siemens, GE Healthcare, Philips, during her career. She holds a PhD and Masters in Radiation Physics and a bachelor’s degree from Thomas Jefferson in Advanced Diagnostic Imaging. She also is the CEO of Elbra’s Dream, a 501c3 focused on animal education and pet pantries in Mercer County, NJ.
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44. Recia Howard
Program Director, Programs for Parents
Recia Howard is the Program Director for Programs for Parents, Inc. As the largest child care resource and referral agency in New Jersey, Programs for Parents has been providing comprehensive services to children and families for over thirty-eight years to ensure that children get the best start in life. Howard manages and oversees multiple critical programs and services provided by the agency, ensures that Programs for Parents meets the mandates and monitors standards of the Division of Family Development, Department of Children and Families and Department of Agriculture. She leads the growth and development of innovative programs to increase funding streams and advance the delivery of high-quality early childhood education.
Howard is an accomplished executive with a reputation for driven results through high performing teams. In April 2022, the agency received the Champion Award from the Department of Agriculture for her team’s creative and dedicated successes in promoting nutrition security among children during the pandemic. Howard joined Programs for Parents twelve years ago. She has been in the industry for twenty-five years. She is a graduate of Syracuse University. In addition to her work at Programs for Parents, she actively volunteers with several national and local organizations and serves on multiple advisory boards.
46. Gigi Polo
Design Director, Dauphin Americas
Gigi Polo is a Dominican artist, designer, filmmaker, researcher, and educator; her interdisciplinary practice brings together art and design, pedagogy, and research. A Parsons School of Design graduate, she launched her studio—Myellow Boots—in 2005, offering services to small and starting businesses in the non-profit industry, and as an independent contractor for Condé Nast, Hearst, Carnegie Hall, and NYC Department of Education, among others. In 2011, she co-founded the PrinterNet Foundation, which gives support to communities in Africa in developing sustainable processes that ignite self-sustained economies and educational opportunities—in alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Simultaneously, Gigi was the Creative Director of global branding and research fellow for the Nemetics Institute of Arts & Science in Kolkata, India (NIASK), doing research on complex adaptive systems within creative processes and cognitive neuroscience. Also a filmmaker, Gigi directed, produced, and edited Madly Gifted (released in 2013)—a documentary that explores the relationship between bipolar disorder and artistic temperament—which has been screened in several venues, such as Hawaii, New York City, and Dominican Republic, and available as open-source material on Vimeo and at madlygifted.com; in 2021, Madly Gifted was included in the syllabi of the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) psychiatry clerkship rotation, as a learning tool for medical students in training.
Gigi has been teaching since 2006 and is a Part-Time Associate Teaching Professor at Parsons, The New School for Design where she currently teaches Integrative Studio and Mental Health by Design. She has been an adjunct professor at Montclair University, LIM College, and CUNY, where she taught courses in design theory and practice, digital literacy, film theory and production, typography, infographics, editorial design, photography, color theory, advanced graphic design, and design for social change. She has also taught abroad at Chavón, the School of Design, and at the Museum of Modern Art (MAM), both in the Dominican Republic. Her passion for teaching lies at the intersection of student-centered instruction and brain-based learning, with a focus on the neuroscience behind holistic learning within art and design education. Informed by this passion, in 2017, Gigi completed her book Second Language through Design[ing] (supported by the 2016 New School innovation in Education fund, and yet to be published), which provides a framework—and a series of lesson plans—for studio teachers to integrate language development in diverse classrooms. Gigi is invested in developing new teaching approaches and curricula that foster digital literacy and equity, using as a premise her research on e-learning practices, multi-sensory stimulation, blended learning spaces, and emergent technologies such as AR, VR, and MixReality. In 2019, Gigi started pilot-testing her latest research on models for intense learning at Chavón, The School for Design in the Dominican Republic (a brief introduction of this model can be found in Parsons Notes).Her research has been published in many journals—such as Spark: UAL, ICDPCA, Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Design Studies, Paris College of Arts— and presented in a multitude of conferences like the American Psychiatry Association, DeL, FATE, Sense&Sensibility, Next School/Atmosphere, MozFest, eNABLE, amongst others (available on academia.com).
As research and practice blended, Gigi’s investment in mental health and social justice activism led her to start a still ongoing, personal project: an ethnographic investigation of self-and social identities within mixed-race women and apartheid communities, which then translated into a series of portraits that contest social prejudice, stereotypes, and otherness. In 2020, Gigi took on the design of the brand identity and strategy for NuWud, a socially responsible brand that provides clients with a sustainable, and 100% waterproof, flooring solution. In 2021, Gigi became the Design Director at Dauphin Americas, a German furniture manufacturer, where she manages the Design Services and Marketing departments; in this new position, Gigi leverages her design expertise and research capacities to service clients’ needs, and build partnerships that support industry efforts in sustainability and workplace wellbeing.
48. Gabrielle Centra-Taylor, MA, BCBA
Clinical Director, Rainbow ABA
Gabrielle Centra-Taylor is a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst who specializes in providing ABA therapy to individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. In addition to being certified as a School Psychologist and Board-Certified Behavior Analyst, Centra-Taylor holds an undergraduate degree in psychology, with a focus on child advocacy, and a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Montclair State University. She earned her Post Masters Certification in Applied Behavior Analysis from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.
Currently, Centra-Taylor oversees a team of 35 Board Certified Behavior Analysts and over 200 Behavior Technicians at Rainbow ABA. With 8+ years under her belt as a school psychologist and 4+ years as a BCBA, Centra-Taylor has made impressive professional strides early in her career. Prioritizing the scientific use of Organizational Behavior Management, Centra-Taylor prides herself in leading her team with effective performance management, a multitude of individualized positive reinforcement, consistent collaboration, and open availability. She ensures the health, happiness, and safety of her team is a top priority and a core value for all other leaders within the agency. Overall, Centra-Taylor places strong emphasis on the culture and climate of Rainbow ABA and ensures it is a space that is diverse, ethical, accepting, and inclusive for both employees and clients.
Centra-Taylor assisted in Rainbow's growth by expanding the clientele from 10 clients to 200. Being a medicaid-funded ABA agency in the State of NJ, Centra-Taylor has continued to push for ABA therapy for any and all areas, especially prioritizing outreach to inner cities and urban communities. Utilizing her unique perspective regarding growth and development, Centra-Taylor plans to continue expanding Rainbow ABA to other states within the United States to ensure high quality, effective ABA therapy can be provided to those who are in need while maintaining a warm, nurturing environment.
View the complete list of awardees.