Speaker Coughlin’s COVID-19 Recovery Panel Conducts First Meeting


Speaker Coughlin’s COVID-19 Recovery Panel Conducts First Meeting

Economic Advisory Council Announces Mission Statement, Goals, and Sub-Committees 


(TRENTON) – The 34-member coronavirus recovery Economic Advisory Council established by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin held its first meeting Friday. The new working panel’s mission statement is, “To provide input and ideas to the Speaker and members of the State Legislature on how to move forward on recovery from COVID-19.”

The Council also announced the following goals:

  • To provide recommendations on action’s necessary to promote recovery;
  • To identify areas where employment can be safely resumed;
  • To identify downside risks and recommendations on how to avoid them: and
  • To develop an action plan that can be used by legislative leaders

“Today’s meeting was very productive. The goals set are critical and realistic,” said Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “It’s imperative that we balance the needs of public health and the economy as prepare for New Jersey’s safe and responsible reopening. The Economic Advisory Council has been asked to help the Assembly expeditiously devise a recovery and reopening strategy. I know they are up to the task.”

The Speaker and advisory panel chairman, George Zoffinger also announced the following sub-committees:

  • Government
  • Infrastructure/ Manufacturing/ Labor
  • Banking/ Legal/ Accounting
  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Retail/ Tourism
  • Social Services

“Nobody has a monopoly on good ideas. The sub-committees will delve into specific sectors to enable the Council as a whole to present recommendations to the Speaker that will enable New Jersey to recover safely, successfully and swiftly,” said Zoffinger. “Speaker Coughlin has asked for innovative and workable recommendations and we will work collaboratively to deliver those suggestions as quickly as possible to best position the state for a rapid and robust economic recovery.”

The Council’s next scheduled meeting is Friday, May 22, 2020.

George Zoffinger- Chairman of the New Brunswick Economic Development Corporation – Chair

Mr. Zoffinger is the former president and CEO of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority. Throughout his professional career George sat on eight corporate boards in a variety of industries including Virgin Media, INC, the largest British cable company, and New Jersey Resources Corporation. George is also a former member of the Rutgers Board of Governors.



Carl Van Horn, Ph.D. – Director, John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development

Dr. Van Horn is a Distinguished Professor of Public Policy at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. He is an elected Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration. Since 2013, he has been a Visiting, Non-Resident, Scholar with the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. He is also Senior Advisor for Strategy and Planning in the Office of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.


James Hughes,Ph.D.  – University Professor, Rutgers University

As University Professor, Dr. Hughes reports solely to the chief academic officer (Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs) of Rutgers and has the university-wide privilege of conducting research and educational activities across the disciplines and schools of his choice. This prestigious position follows his 22-year tenure (1995-2017) as the dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers.



Bill Mullen – President of the New Jersey State Building & Construction Trades Council

As President of the Building Trades Council, Mr. Mullen is spokesman and directs the activities of the statewide body, comprising 15 international building trades unions and 13 county councils, representing some 150,000 members.


Charles Wowkanech – President NJ AFL-CIO

Mr. Wowkanech is president of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO, which represents the rights of more than 1 million members belonging to labor unions in New Jersey.



Jonathan Holloway, Ph.D.  – (Incoming) President, Rutgers University

President Holloway is the 21st President at Rutgers University. Prior to Rutgers, Dr. Holloway served as the Northwestern University provost since 2017.


Mark J.  Finkelstein – Vice-Chair of the Middlesex County College Board of Trustees

Mr. Finkelstein has served as the Vice-Chair of the Middlesex County College Board of Trustees since 2017. He is the Superintendent of Schools at the Educational Services Commission of New Jersey.


Kyle Anderson -Interim Executive County Superintendent, Middlesex County

The Middlesex County Office of the New Jersey Department of Education functions as a state/county coordinating agency charged with providing educational leadership for all public-school districts in Middlesex County. Mr. Anderson is also a member of the Middlesex County Board of Trustees



John McCormac – Mayor of Woodbridge Township

Mayor McCormac served as the Treasurer of New Jersey between 2002-2006, under Governors McGreevey and Codey. John is currently in his fourth term as the Mayor of Woodbridge.


Theresa Berger, Mayor of Howell

Dr. Berger is an M.D. and president and CEO of Ocean Health Initiative, a nonprofit health organization based in Lakewood.


Law and Public Safety

Tony Coscia – Partner at Windels Marx

Mr. Coscia areas of practice include corporate and real estate as well as asset restructuring. He is the Chairman of Amtrak’s Board of Directors.


Peter Harvey – Partner at Patterson Belknap

Mr. Harvey was the New Jersey Attorney General from 2003-2006, the first African American to hold the position. In 2016, Harvey appointed to serve as the Independent Federal Monitor for the Newark Police Department.



Christopher Paladino -President,  New Brunswick Development Corporation

Under his Mr. Paladino’s leadership, DEVCO has initiated, developed and managed nearly 5.4 million square feet in residential, commercial, academic and institutional activity valued at over $2 billion by focusing on a unique brand of public-private joint venture partnerships.


Valerie Montecalvo- President, Bayshore Recycling

Ms. Montecalvo runs one of the largest recycling facilities in the Northeast.


John E. Harmon, Sr- Founder, President, and CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce

Mr. Harmon also is the Former Chairman of the Board for the National Black Chamber of Commerce; there are 150 Affiliate Chapters of the NBCC and over fifteen international affiliates. He is the Founder and Chairman of the New York State Black Chamber of Commerce.


Peter Visceglia – Federal Business Centers

Mr. Visceglia owns and Operates Federal Business Centers which operates the large Raritan Center properties in Edison, NJ.


Jack Kocsis- CEO of the Associated Construction Contractors of New Jersey

Cheryl Norton- President of NJ American Water

Ms. Norton is the President of NJ American Water. In this capacity, she serves 2.7 million customers statewide, and is also Vice President of American Water’s Eastern Division which comprises New Jersey, New York, Maryland, and Virginia.


Luis De La Hoz- Chairman of the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Luis assists non-for- profit organizations reach the Latino Small Business Owner market by acting as an advisor for Latino Entrepreneurs. Louis is  an active member of the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey (SHCCNJ), Middlesex County Regional Chamber of Commerce (MCRCC), Hispanic Chamber of E Commerce.


Banking and Finance

Steve Guidette – Executive Vice President of Business Banking at Provident Bank

Mr. Guidette’s position has enabled him to develop an expertise in small business lending, and how we can give small businesses across the state a lifeline.


Paul Vecchione – Principal, International Planning Alliance, LLC

Mr. Vecchione represents many small and medium size businesses throughout the state. Also, a former partner at EisenerAmper.


Christiana Foglio – President & CEO of Community Investment Strategies, Inc.

Prior to heading Community Investment strategies, Ms. Foglio was the former head of NJ Mortgage Finance agency and the former President of DEVCO.


Social Services

Carlos M. Rodriguez- President and CEO of the Community Food Bank of NJ

Mr. Rodriguez is an experienced nonprofit leader and the current CEO and President of the Community Food Bank of New Jersey. He previously served as the Executive Director of Fulfill (formerly the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties) and has also held high-level positions at the Food Bank For New York City, as well as the Children’s Defense Fund of New York and the Community Food Resource Center.


Dena Mottola – Jaborska – Associate Director, NJ Citizen Action

Dena is the Associate Director at New Jersey Citizen Action (NJCA). She directs NJCA’s advocacy and political program.  NJCA is a statewide social service and advocacy group that seeks to improve the lives of low and moderate income New Jersey families through the provision of no-cost direct service, policy advocacy, grassroots and coalition mobilization, civic engagement and the election of progressive leaders. NJCA’s signature advocacy efforts include health care; consumer protection and financial justice; social (racial, gender, GLBTQ) equality; budget and tax fairness; and workers’ rights and economic security.  


Rose Cushing- President & CEO YMCA of Metuchen, Edison, Woodbridge, South Amboy

Having worked for our YMCA for 26 years Ms. Cushing has been an integral part of the Y’s expansion from a $900,000 single branch operation in 1988 to its current scope of service to Greater Middlesex County with programs in Metuchen, Edison, Woodbridge, South Amboy, Piscataway and Perth Amboy with a budget of over $14 million.


Rev. Louise Scott-Rountree – Aide for Clergy Affairs for Mayor Ras Baraka

Rev. Scott-Rountree is an Associate Minister, Director of Church Wide Affairs, Assistant Director of The Youth Department, Assistant Director of Vacation Bible School, Assistant Director of Visions of Faith Dance Ministry, and is a Youth Choir Advisor at the Good Neighbor Baptist Church in Newark.  



Ken Esser- Senior Vice president and Chief of Staff for Corporate Services, Governance, and Government Relations at Hackensack Meridian Health.

Mr. Esser joined the administration of Gov. James E. McGreevey in 2004 as a government relations aide at the Department of Community affairs.  He was a senior policy advisor for economic growth at the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission under Gov. Dick Codey, and the chief energy advisor to Gov. Jon Corzine.  Esser spent four years as a business development manager at PSE&G before joining Hackensack Meridian Health.


Amy Mansue – Vice President and Chief Experience Officer- RWJ Barnabas Health

Ms. Mansue served as deputy chief of staff to Gov. James McGreevey and as a staff member on health care policy for Gov. Jim Florio. Mansue is a member of the Rutgers University Board of Trustees, New Brunswick Development Corporation (DEVCO), Middlesex Water Company, New Jersey Policy Perspective, The Fund for New Jersey and The Leapfrog Group’s Hospital Advisory Committee.


Dom Pellegrino- Bridgeway Senior Healthcare Services

Mr. Pellegrino operates a family-owned company with 4 facilities in Somerset County.


Andrew Brooks, Ph.D.  – COO and Director of Technology Development at RUCDR Infinite Biologics

Dr. Brooks is a molecular neuroscientist whose research focuses on deciphering the molecular mechanisms that underlie memory and learning. These studies investigate gene-environment interactions in the context of aging, neurodegenerative disease and neurotoxicant exposure. Dr. Brooks is a well-recognized genomicist and has been involved in the development and implementation of cutting edge molecular based technologies for nucleic acid and protein analyses. Dr. Brooks and RUCDR are behind the creation of the new coronavirus saliva test.



Debbie Hart – President and CEO of BioNJ

Ms. Hart was recently named by Governor Murphy to the New Jersey Commission on Science, Innovation, and Technology. Bicameral New Jersey Biotechnology Task Force was charged with making recommendations to the Legislature for fostering the growth of the biotechnology industry in New Jersey.



Jack Morris – Founder and CEO of Edgewood Properties, Co-owner of the Hard Rock Casino in Atlantic City and board chair of RWJBarnabas Health.

Mr. Morris is CEO of Edgewood Properties, one of the fastest-growing developmental firms with millions of square feet of retail shopping centers and thousands of residential units throughout New Jersey, Massachusetts, California, and Florida in its portfolio.


Marilou Halvorsen- President and CEO NJ Restaurant and Hospitality Association

Selected for this position in October of 2012, Ms. Halvorsen leads an organization that represents the Garden State’s 25,000 hospitality establishments, generating $14 billion in annual sales and employing over 311,000 people. Members of the NJRA include restaurants, lodging facilities, and amusement parks and attractions.



Amy Bellisano -Senior General Manager at Brookefield Properties

Ms. Bellisano operates the Woodbridge Center property in Woodbridge, NJ.

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