Case Studies

Our LNJ case studies are a way for you to better understand the program and its impact on Fellows and Alumni. We've categorized the case studies by issue areas. 

Lead New Jersey Issue Areas: 

• Leadership in Action

• Criminal Justice & Corrections

• Diversity

• Economic Development & Enterprise

• Education

• Energy & Environmental Policy

• Health

LNJ 2016 Zoe Brookes, Former Executive Director of the Trenton Circus Squad
Leadership in 

LNJ alum continue to make New Jersey a better place to live and work for all of us! This week, we're highlighting LNJ Fellow Zoe Brookes from the class of 2016. She has recently moved on from her
position as Executive Director of the Trenton Circus Squad 
and continues to work on new projects to help the youth of Trenton. 


LNJ 2018 Amy Tuininga, Joe Marano, Melissa Rivera 
Leadership in 

LNJ alum continue to make New Jersey a better place to live and work for all of us! We're highlighting the first part of a Leadership in Action project from 2018 class members Amy Tuininga, Joe Marano, and Melissa Rivera. Together, they are working to expand discussions on the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and the challenges and opportunities in achieving it. 



LNJ 2007 John Bartlett, Freeholder, Passaic County
Leadership in Action

After going through the LNJ program, Passaic County Freeholder John Bartlett states was able to see projects related to his community in a more holistic approach. His experience in Lead New Jersey showed him that many of NJ's issues are interconnected. Therefore, he is able to use the subject matter and connections from the seminars in order to leverage himself forward in all aspects of his role as a Freeholder and as Passaic County’s representative on the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority.


LNJ 2014 Elizabeth Williams-Riley, President & CEO, American Conference on Diversity
Leadership in Action

Elizabeth Williams-Riley is the President & CEO of the American Conference on Diversity and has been heavily involved with Lead New Jersey since she graduated, most notably by leading our classes in the Privilege Walk during our seminars on Diversity & Inclusion. For Elizabeth's Leadership in Action project, she had the goal to be more engaged in civic justice work and community involvement. She joined her local NAACP branch, where she is now in her second term serving as President of the Perth Amboy branch. Elizabeth's action won her the NAACP New Brunswick Corporate Community Service Award and allowed her to truly make a difference in her community. 


LNJ 2014 John Hardiman, Public Affairs Director, NJM Insurance Company
Leadership in Action

John Hardiman is the Public Affairs Director for NJM Insurance and has been with the company for 23 years. John went through Lead NJ in 2014 and after graduation, he put into place his Leadership in Action Project. The project's goal was to grow NJM’s Teen Safety Driver Program in order to make the roads safer for everyone who travels on them. Since then, the program has won awards and gained national attention. Watch the video to learn more about how NJM and Lead NJ tie together to make the state a better place to live and work.

LNJ 2004 Lawrence Fox, President, Fox Valve/Co-Founder & Board Member, Students 2 Science
Leadership in Action

Lawrence Fox is the President of his own company, Fox Valve, as well as one of the founders and board members of the non-profit, Students 2 Science (S2S). The organization aims to inspire, motivate, and educate students to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). It does so by allowing students to experience STEM materials hands-on in a real science laboratory with trained professionals. During his time in Lead NJ, Lawrence was able to reinforce his interest in serving the state with civic engagement, keeping him involved with S2S today. 


LNJ 2014 Jamar Tyndale, Manager of State Government Affairs, Operations & Planning, PSEG
Leadership in Action 

Jamar Tyndale is the Manager of State Government Affairs, Operations & Planning at PSEG. He went through Lead New Jersey in 2014 and was able to tie in experiences from the opening retreat, seminars, and more to make him better equipped to tackle problems in his work at PSEG. PSEG has several programs that directly relate to LNJ's seminars, like Diversity & Inclusion. In addition, the connections and friends he made from his class enabled him to get involved with a national leadership organization for millennials where he now sits on the advisory board.  



LNJ 2014 Kim Vierheilig, Vice President, LAN Associates
Leadership in Action

Kim Vierheilig serves as Vice President of LAN. She oversees Design, Construction Documents and Management of the Architectural Department. In addition, she leads the firm’s Marketing Department. With her Leadership in Action Project, she was able to create a white paper which she presented to major organizations and public figures nationally. Kim's white paper received recognition because of the holistic approach she used to design schools in New Jersey. Her paper found that it is actually cheaper to build a school that takes in consideration elements that help students learn, like color and lighting, than to follow a kid of parts designed by the New Jersey Schools Development Authority.



LNJ 2016 Zoe Brookes, Executive Director, Trenton Circus Squad 
Leadership in Action

Zoe Brookes is the Executive Director of the Trenton Circus Squad, which empowers low-income and at-risk teens and younger children to make a difference, in their own lives and those of others. The squad uses circus arts as a vehicle to bring diverse youth together to cooperate, challenge themselves and serve their community through performing and teaching. Trenton Circus Squad helps develop self-reliant, empowered, inspirational, community-minded teen and young adult leaders and role models in the City of Trenton and provides engaging, artistic, community-building activities for under-served families. They seek tangible improvements in the ability of the teens they serve to make positive choices in their own lives and to take actions that benefit others. Zoe's Leadership in Action Project focused on bringing the Trenton Circus Squad to other cities in New Jersey, and she had great success with a pilot project in Camden. 


LNJ 1992 Dennis Bone, Director, Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship at Montclair State University
 Economic Development, Enterprise and Civic Leadership

Dennis is the director of the Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship located in the Feliciano School of Business at Montclair State University. Dennis retired Verizon New Jersey Inc. in 2012, where he served as President and CEO for more than a dozen years. Dennis’ 33 year career at Verizon and its predecessor companies challenged him with numerous assignments and responsibilities across many organizations.  Beginning as an engineer with New Jersey Bell in 1979, he worked in a variety of jobs with increasing responsibilities in operations, regulatory, external affairs and public policy positions. Dennis has been active in strengthening the state’s workforce system as chairman of New Jersey’s State Employment and Training Commission. He served as co-chairman on Gov. Chris Christie’s 2009 Economic Development Transition Team, which led to the formation of Choose New Jersey, with Dennis as founding chairman. In addition, he serves on numerous boards overseeing the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development and the New Jersey Center for Teaching and Learning. Dennis’ leadership across New Jersey’s economic development and education sectors has garnered numerous awards and recognitions. Included among them are being inducted into Rutgers University Hall of Distinguished Alumni, being selected to receive the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the American Conference on Diversity and being inducted into the New Jersey Business Hall of Fame. Read More



LNJ 1998 Upendra Chivukula, Assemblyman, Commissioner on the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities
Public Service, Energy and Environmental Policy 

Upendra Chivukula is a Democratic politician who currently serves as a Commissioner on the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (nominated by Governor Christie) after serving more than 12 years in the New Jersey General Assembly, where he had been the Deputy Speaker. Chivukula served in the New Jersey General Assembly from 2002-2014, where he represented the 17th Legislative District. Upendra is a an electrical engineer by profession who worked in the industry for nearly 35 years, and in different fields, including working at the CBS television network, a company that designed nuclear and fossil power plant simulators. Upend become involved in public service as an Indian American to engage his community in the political process at a grassroots level.
Read More

LNJ 2012 Alfa Demmellash, CEO/Co-Founder, Rising Tide Capital
Economic Development and Enterprise 

Born and raised in Ethiopia, Alfa Demmellash came to the United States at the age of twelve with a keen interest in poverty alleviation and conflict resolution. She graduated cum laude from Harvard University in 2003, where she majored in Government. Alfa co-founded Rising Tide Capital – a nonprofit microbusiness-development organization that supports underserved entrepreneurs in the low-income urban communities of Northern New Jersey. In 2009, Alfa was selected and profiled as a CNN Hero, and recognized by President Barack Obama during a speech at the White House. Alfa and Rising Tide Capital have been featured in a number of major media outlets including the Suze Orman Show, The Larry King Show, O, The Oprah Magazine,,, The Star-Ledger, as well Essence Magazine’s 40th anniversary edition where she was recognized as a “40 under 40 Dream Maker.”
Read More


LNJ 1990 Douglas Forrester, CEO and Chairman, Integrity Health 
Economic Development, Enterprise, Government and Civic Leadership
Douglas Forrester has lived in New Jersey for over 40 years and built several businesses in the state. He is presently CEO and Chairman of Integrity Health. Integrity Health is a is a health care advocate and health benefits management company managing a unique design of health benefit programs for public and private sector employers. Douglas has been involved in public life from the time he arrived from California in the mid 1970s. He was the 2002 Republican nominee for New Jersey U.S. Senator and the 2005 Republican nominee for Governor of New Jersey. Read More


LNJ 1990 Gwendolyn Harris, Executive Director of the Senator Walter, Rand Institute for Public Affairs at Rutgers University— Camden
Healthcare, Education and Civic Leadership
Gwendolyn Harris is Executive Director of the Senator Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs at Rutgers University—Camden where she has worked to expand the Institute’s involvement in Southern New Jersey through applied research, neutral convening and community development. She has had an extensive career in community development, social services, and government, highlighted by founding Newark Emergency Services of Families, Inc. almost 40 years ago, as well as serving as Chief of Staff, Business Administrator and Department Director during the Palmer Administration in Trenton, New Jersey, and as Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Human Services during the McGreevy administration. Gwendolyn is immediate past Chair of the Board of Trustees for Mercer County Community College where she has served as a trustee since 2004.  She is also Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for the Capital City Redevelopment Corporation. Read More

LNJ 2011 Rolando Lavarro, Jersey City Council President
Economic Development and Enterprise 

Rolando Lavarro grew up in the Greenville section of Jersey City where he still resides with his family.  He is the son of doctors who immigrated in the late 1960s to the United States from the Philippines. After attending St. Paul’s Grammar School in Greenville, Rolando graduated from St. Peter’s Preparatory High School in downtown Jersey City.  He went on to earn his Bachelor of Science in Marketing from New York University’s Leonard Stern School of Business. Councilman Lavarro, Jr. was elected for a second term as Councilman-At-Large on June 11, 2013. Originally elected via a special election on November 8, 2011, he was sworn in on November 21, 2011, becoming the first Asian American in the history of Jersey City to serve on the Municipal Council. Read More


LNJ 1993 Preston D. Pinkett III, CEO and President, City National Bank of New Jersey
Economic Development and Enterprise 
Preston D. Pinkett III is president and chief executive officer of City National Bank of New Jersey (CNB), the only African-American owned commercial bank in the state and among the country’s largest minority banks. Prior to joining CNB he served as vice president and head of Prudential Financial's Social Investment Program, which makes socially responsible investments that help create healthy and sustainable communities. Before joining Prudential Mr. Pinkett was the senior vice president of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, where he managed funding and development programs, and prior to that he was senior vice president of PNC Bank, where he managed retail branches serving distressed urban centers and oversaw community development investment and lending in PNC’s six state market. He is an officer of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Montclair State University and University Ventures. He is a member of the board of directors of Global Impact Investment Network, Gate Impact and CityWorks. Read More and Watch Video