Soledad O'Brien is an award winning journalist, documentarian, news anchor and producer. O’Brien was the originator of the highly successful documentary series “Black in America” and “Latino in America.” In June 2013 she launched Starfish Media Group, a multi-platform media production and distribution company, dedicated to uncovering and producing empowering stories that take a challenging look at the often-divisive issues of race, class, wealth, poverty and opportunity through personal stories. It was recently announced that O’Brien has entered into a multifaceted partnership with HBO, the premium cable and satellite television network. O’Brien joined the Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel team in June 2013, giving her the opportunity to further delve into the compelling storytelling she is known for, except now through the vast prism of sports. In addition to appearing on the award-winning program, the deal with HBO encompasses a first-look opportunity for scripted projects and long-form programming concepts with O’Brien’s Starfish Media Group. The production company will also continue to produce “Black in America” and “Latino in America” and additional programming for CNN. Furthermore, through Starfish Media Group, O’Brien will contribute short-form segments for the upcoming Al Jazeera America news program “America Tonight.” O’Brien will also take over the reigns as Executive Producer and moderator for the National Geographic Bee beginning in 2014. O'Brien has reported on breaking news from around the globe. In 2011 she won an Emmy for "Crisis in Haiti Report" on Haitian orphanages, following the massive earthquake. Her coverage of Hurricane Katrina earned her and CNN a George Foster Peabody award. She also received another Peabody award for her coverage of the BP Gulf Coast oil spill. Her reporting on the Southeast Asia tsunami garnered CNN an Alfred I. DuPont award. O'Brien's critically acclaimed documentary series, Black in America and its follow-up "Latino in America" are among CNN's most successful domestic and international franchises. In 2013, "Latino in America 2," the story of a Latina boxer who dreams of Olympic glory, won the celebrated Cine Award for documentaries. Her documentary "Gay in America: Gary and Tony have a baby", and "Unwelcome, the Muslims Next Door" also won numerous journalism awards. O'Brien was named journalist of the year by the National Association of Black Journalists and one of Newsweek Magazine’s "10 People who Make America Great". In 2013, O'Brien joined Harvard University as a Distinguished Fellow and was appointed to the Board of Directors of the foundation for The National Archives. In the wake of hurricane Katrina, O'Brien and her husband, Brad, created a foundation to help disadvantaged young women get to and through college. This year they will award scholarships to 25 deserving young women. O'Brien lives in Manhattan with her husband and four children.
Former New Jersey Governor James E. McGreevey has a long history of public service and leadership in local, state and national politics. Elected in November 2001, McGreevey took office as New Jersey’s 51st Governor in January 2002. As Governor, McGreevey launched a four-year literacy program designed to put reading coaches in elementary schools and oversaw the management of an $8.6 billion school construction program to improve New Jersey school facilities. As Governor, McGreevey also oversaw the complex overhaul of New Jersey’s automobile insurance industry. Today, the former governor is employed as executive director of the Jersey City Employment & Training Program, a group that administers the city’s employment program. The former Governor also works with the women of the Integrity House Program at the Hudson County Correctional Center in New Jersey. McGreevey presently guides and directs the Integrity House initiative's spiritual counseling as well as works with the women upon discharge to secure mentoring; a continued commitment to principles of recovery; and, reintegration into the Hudson County community. Having pursued seminary education and training, he served his field education working with formerly incarcerated women and men at Exodus Transitional Ministry in Harlem, New York City. Governor McGreevey previously served as a state Senator, a state Assemblyman and over ten years as Mayor of Woodbridge, one of New Jersey’s largest municipalities. He also served as Regional Manager, Merck and Company; as Executive Director, NJ State Parole Board; with the NJ Assembly Majority Office; and as Assistant Prosecutor in Middlesex County. Governor McGreevey received his B.A. from Columbia University in 1978. He was graduated from Georgetown University with a law degree and admitted to the bar in 1981. He also holds a Master’s of Education from Harvard University and a Master’s of Divinity from the General Theological Seminary.
As the CEO & Chief Social Media Strategist of Influence Expansion, Lena L. West has helped thousands of entrepreneurs profit from the power of Social Media and the Internet. A certified technical expert Lena learned about the intricate aspects of computers and networking while consulting with Fortune 500 companies such as IBM, Pitney Bowes, Philips Magnavox, Hyperion Software and MasterCard International. After cutting her ‘technical teeth’, she founded xynoMedia (now Influence Expansion) in 1997. Lena is the winner of several business awards, among them: The Network Journal’s “40 Under Forty”, AlleyCat News’ “25 Women of Silicon Alley”, The Women’s Congress’ Entrepreneurial Champion for Women in Business and was dubbed an “Entrepreneurial Hero” by NCWIT. She has also been featured on CNN, with Gayle King on CBS This Morning and as the cover story for publications such as The Westchester County Business Journal and Black Enterprise. She writes and speaks regularly about the merits and potential pitfalls of social media by sharing her expertise about social media and business growth via her regular column for the Huffington Post and ChamberofCommerce.com. Lena is also a former columnist for FastCompany.com and Entrepreneur Magazine. She has spoken on Capitol Hill and for organizations such as American Express, Wharton School of Business, SCORE, National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI), Syracuse University and The Learning Annex. Lena strongly believes that social media is a catalyst to uniting the world’s people and will continue to lead businesses and individuals toward greater levels of environmental accountability, social responsibility and corporate transparency – hence her passion for the medium. Influence Expansion’s goal is to make social media efficient, profitable and worthwhile for all business leaders.
Radia Funna is the Founder & Chief Blazer of Build n Blaze, a brand positioning and advisory services firm that began in 1999 and specializes in utilizing events and strategic alliances to build awareness, community and reputation. Radia has a deep expertise in relationships between entities as well as a focus on advising foreign businesses with interests in the United States and domestic businesses with interests abroad. She has a diverse writing, branding, events, operations, business development and legal background and has managed strategic partnerships with organizations such as World Economic Forum, Fortune magazine, Outstanding Directors Exchange (now Financial Times—Outstanding Directors Exchange), Chief Executive magazine and Women Corporate Directors. Radia previously managed worldwide strategic marketing programs and global operations for the CEO & Board practice at Heidrick & Struggles; and has also worked at Spencer Stuart, Calvin Klein, The Advertising Research Foundation, Nike, Horizon Blue Cross & Blue Shield and Ventiv Health U.S. Sales (now inVentiv Health). Radia was invited to serve on the World Economic Forum’s Responsible Capitalism Project Steering Board in 2011 to help drive global discussions including the responsibility of professional services organizations to create opportunities that stimulate global economies by fostering talent mobility and identifying global talent risks. In 2013, Radia was invited to serve on the Super Bowl XLVIII Huddle Zones One and Two Event and Regional Stakeholder Committees for Bergen County, NJ and Hudson County, NJ respectively. Radia is a Young Fellow at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City, a Young Lion at New York Public Library (NYPL) and a corporate donor of NYPL directly supporting the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Radia earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Pre-Law at The Catholic University of America.
Jim Kirkos has served as President & Chief Executive Officer of the Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce since 2002. During his tenure, Mr. Kirkos has expanded programs in the areas of networking, business learning and defined a regional jobs initiative as well as an economic development “Think Tank” called the Meadowlands 2040 Council, a group of C –Suite level executives whose mission is to identify critical initiatives that will lead to a sustainable Meadowlands economy through the year 2040. In 2004 Mr. Kirkos led the way for the establishment of the Meadowlands Liberty Convention & Visitors Bureau to address the economic impact that tourism and destination marketing could have on the Meadowlands economy. The Chamber played an integral part in bringing the Super Bowl 2012 to MetLife Stadium at the Meadowlands Sports Complex. He continues to expand collaborations between the Chamber, the NJ Sports and Exposition Authority, the NJ Meadowlands Commission and the NJ Office of Travel & Tourism to attract visitors from all over the world and enhance a destination related economy inclusive of eco-tourism. A 25-year veteran entrepreneur and business developer, Mr. Kirkos owned and operated hospitality foodservice businesses in the Meadowlands region. Prior to his tenure at MRC, Mr. Kirkos was elected to the Lyndhurst Board of Education(1980) and served two terms with one as Vice President and he served as a Lyndhurst volunteer fireman for over 13 years from 1980 to 1994. Jim served as Chairman of the Small Business Council (SBC) of the Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce as well as serving as a member of the Board of Directors of the Chamber. He has served on the Bergen County Vision 2020 Commission whose purpose was to develop a framework for business and quality of life growth in Bergen County. He also served on the New Jersey Transit Advisory Council, and the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority Stakeholders Committee and is currently serving the NJ Meadowlands Transportation Planning Board, the Meadowlands Renewable Energy Task Force, The Bergen & Hudson County Workforce Investment Boards, Bergen Community College Advisory Board, the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission Business Accelerator Advisory Board, Felician College Business Advisory Board and the Bergen Leads Advisory Board, an organization that provides leadership training programs to Bergen County residents who wish to assume leadership roles in government, community and business. He attended Montclair State University and Fairleigh Dickinson University majoring in Business Administration and Accounting.
Dr. Michael Cooper is the dean of the College of Business and Public Management. He has 25 years of leadership experience in senior executive positions in international market research, marketing services, management consulting and technology companies. Previously, Dr. Cooper served as dean at Bryant University and at Rutgers Business School (RBS). Dr. Cooper managed faculty and programs across two main campuses (Newark and New Brunswick), three international campuses (Shanghai, Beijing and Singapore), and multiple satellite locations. He initiated new programs that increased the school's success in recruitment and placement of graduates. Other hallmarks of Cooper's leadership at RBS include creation of the Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Center and the Ethics Leadership Institute, and development of corporate relationships with partners around the world. From 1989 to 1999, Cooper served as chair, president and chief executive officer of Opinion Research Corporation (ORC), which he took public on the NASDAQ. Prior to ORC, he was president of Hay Research for Management for ten years and senior partner of the Hay Group. In academia, he served from 2002 to 2004 as founding dean of the Executive Leadership Institute and associate dean of the Howe School of Technology Management at the Stevens Institute of Technology. Cooper earned a doctorate in industrial and organizational psychology from The Ohio State University. He also served as a psychologist in the U.S. Army Medical Service Corps.
A lifelong resident of the City of Hoboken, Anthony L. Romano has dedicated his life to advancing the interests of the public. Chairman Romano retired in the rank of Captain with the Hoboken City Police Department, where he helped make our neighborhoods safer for over thirty years. Freeholder Romano was an advocate for children long before taking his oath to represent residents at the County level. Examples of his service to local youth include a former teaching career at Hoboken High School and current commitments as the President of the Hoboken Babe Ruth League and the Chairman of the Hoboken Municipal Alliance Against Drugs and Alcohol. In addition, Anthony was proud to serve on the Hoboken Board of Education from 2006–2009, where he ensured the betterment of the public school system for students. Furthermore, Chairman Romano encourages academic achievement, having graduated from St. Peters College with a B.A. in History and M.S. in Criminal Justice from New Jersey City University. He later went on to complete the Command and Leadership Program at West Point and teaches as an Adjunct Professor at Saint Peter’s College. On the Board, Freeholder Romano serves as Chairman of the Public Safety Committee and the Senior Citizens & Veterans Affairs Committee. He is a member of the Hudson County Community College Board of Trustees and Board of School Estimate; he also serves as a member of the Education Committee, the Finance, Budget & Administration Committee, and the Tourism & Cultural Affairs Committee.
Mayor Michael Gonnelli is a life-long resident of Secaucus and was the Town’s long-time Department of Public Works Superintendent. A former fire chief, Mayor Gonnelli is also a former Commissioner of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission (NJMC). Mike served on the Planning Board and was founding member of the Environmental and Shade Tree Committees. He was honored as the Community Hero Torch Bearer for the 1996 Olympic Games. Mayor Gonnelli was the recipient of the 2004 UNICO Citizen of the Year, the 200 Club of Hudson County Valor Award and is past president of the Secaucus Babe Ruth League. An honoree of the Hackensack Riverkeeper for Excellence in Public Service, Mike served as a council member for three years before being elected mayor in 2009. Married to his wife, Linda, they have four children and one grandchild.
Jeffrey A. Robinson, Ph.D. is an award winning business school professor, international speaker and entrepreneur. Since 2008, he has been a leading faculty member at Rutgers Business School where he is an assistant professor of management and entrepreneurship and the founding Assistant Director of The Center for Urban Entrepreneurship & Economic Development. The Center is a unique interdisciplinary venue for innovative thinking and research on entrepreneurial activity and economic development in urban environments. Dr. Robinson’s research describes how business practices and entrepreneurship can be used to impact societal issues. He is particularly concerned about community and economic development issues for urban metropolitan areas in the United States and abroad. He is the author of books and articles on such topics as social entrepreneurship, African American women in entrepreneurship, and patterns of Black employment. In 2007, he was selected as the recipient of the Aspen Institute’s Social Impact Faculty Pioneer Award for his research, service and teaching activities at the intersection of business and society. In 2011, his course, Urban Entrepreneurship & Economic Development, was recognized as a model of Innovative Entrepreneurship Education by the U.S. Association of Small Business and Entrepreneurship. Professor Robinson is the co-editor (with Johanna Mair and Kai Hockerts) of the research volume Social Entrepreneurship (2006), International Perspectives in Social Entrepreneurship (2009) and Values and Opportunities in Social Entrepreneurship (2010) and co-founder of the International Social Entrepreneurship Research Conference. His current research projects cover the areas of high growth African American women entrepreneurs, early stage social entrepreneurship, inner city business development and economic development in western and southern Africa. Dr. Robinson is a sought after speaker and media commentator appearing on Dateline NBC and NBC Nightly News, PBS, NJN News, NJBIZ, The Star-Ledger and The New York Times. He is the co-author of Black Faces in White Places: 10 Game-Changing Strategies to Achieve Success and Find Greatness with Dr. Randal Pinkett. He has been the keynote speaker at international events and conferences in Shanghai, China; Lagos, Nigeria; Melbourne, Australia, and London, England and has presented his work on six continents. His research has appeared in the American Journal of Sociology, Business & Society, the Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship, the African Journal of Business and Management, the International Journal of Entrepreneurship and the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.
Thomas Swanzey is the Associate Dean of New College of Fairleigh Dickinson University and Professor of English. He has been with the University for over 35 years, and has taught undergraduate courses at New York University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Polytechnic Institute of New York, and in the Department of Defense P.A.C.E. program in conjunction with the University of Hartford. Dr. Swanzey received his Ph.D. and M.A. from Rutgers University and B.A. from St. Francis College. Dr. Swanzey has taught Professional Communications, Masterpieces of Literature, English Composition, and Perspectives on the Individual in the B.A.I.S. program.
Erick Lorenzana recently joined Fairleigh Dickinson University’s International School of Hospitality and Tourism Management’s full time faculty teaching various undergraduate and graduate hospitality management courses. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Florida International University and a Masters Degree in Hospitality Management from Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration. Professor Lorenzana has over 12 years of hospitality experience primarily in the area of Revenue Management, most of which was spent with Marriott International. Some of his previous management positions have included: General Manager, Director of Revenue Management, Manager of Revenue Analysis, and Front Desk Manager. Professor Lorenzana has won numerous awards with Marriott, some of which included: Marriott’s Leadership Excellence Special Award, Golden Circle Bronze Award, and multiple regional revenue management awards for Hotel with Most Improved RevPAR.
Toni Corsini is the Senior Trade Finance Specialist and NewYork/New Jersey Regional Manager representing the Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of International Trade at the U.S. Export Assistance Center in downtown New York City. Before becoming a Federal Government employee, Ms. Corsini was the Vice President and Manager of Trade Services Marketing & Communication for North America at a large global financial institution. Ms. Corsini is well known in the business and banking communities, having spent many years in trade finance as a Vice President for commercial banks in both New York and New Jersey and as an export manager in the manufacturing sector. She has conducted international trade finance classes and courses for many years for high-profile corporations and educational institutions in New York and New Jersey. Ms. Corsini holds a B.S. in Business Management (cum laude) and an A.A. in Banking.
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