Ellen McHenryEllen McHenry
Senior Director of Financial Programs, UCEDC

For the past eighteen years, Ellen McHenry has been the senior director of financial programs at UCEDC, a statewide non-profit economic development organization.  In this role, Ms. McHenry directs the development and administration of various loan and business support programs.

She is responsible for a multi-million dollar loan portfolio and the five loan programs assisting businesses as a statewide lender in New Jersey.   Prior to joining UCEDC, Ms. McHenry worked in retail banking for twelve years.  Ms. McHenry is the board president for Union County’s Community Coordinated Child Care, a resource and referral agency for child care providers.

Lisa CiarroccaLisa Ciarrocca
C.C.L.S., Owner, The Next Step Partners In Psychosocial Care LLC

Lisa Ciarrocca,BA,CCLS is a graduate of Montclair State University where she holds a
degree in Family Child Studies with a minor in Child Psychology. She is also a Level 1 Reiki Practitioner and a Certified Grief Facilitator. Lisa is a member of the professional advisory boards of two local non-profit foundations in New Jersey that serve children and families which focus on pediatric palliative care and grief support.

Lisa has over 25 years experience working with children, adolescents, families and professionals in, and out of, the healthcare system settings. She has been responsible for the development of a system wide Child Life program that served children and families. Lisa has worked with family advisors and staff to coordinate working groups that included families in their child’s plan of care. In her work with the Child Life Council (soon to be The Association of Child Life Professionals) Lisa has served on the board of Directors three times and currently serves on various other committees.

Most recently she has opened her own private practice, The Next Step Partners in
Psychosocial Care LLC in Fanwood, NJ. In her new role, she works with children,
adolescents, adults and families affected by chronic illness, injury, trauma, grief and loss. Lisa resides in Scotch Plains with her husband Steve and her 16 year old daughter Callie and her 14 year old son Ryan.

Pat RoquePat Roque
Author of “Rock Your Business & Your Life: 90-Day Success Planner”

Pat Roque, the Rock Star Transformation Coach, launched Business Boomers as a virtual marketing consultancy in 1988. She now teaches students, executives and entrepreneurs how to rock their business and their life, often using golf as a networking tool.  Pat fell in love with golf amid a mid-life meltdown as golf helped her transform from rock bottom to rock star. When Pat turned 50, her best friend gave her a box of rocks that were painted gold and labeled with 50 things that make Pat special. This touching tribute sparked Pat’s 50 ROCKS: Life Lessons for Success blog, which has blossomed into a booming speaking and coaching schedule. 

Folks across the globe call Pat Roque the “Tony Robbins of the Golf World” thanks to her motivating and memorable presentations  on women’s leadership and more. As a master connector, Pat teaches folks how to appreciate their gifts to the world and attract their ideal clients. She empowers others to rock their business and their life as a global keynote speaker, business coach, consultant and author. She inspires others to pursue their passion and rock their world in 90 days. Her Rock Your Golf! 90-Day Success Planner just debuted on Amazon. Her second planner, Rock Your Business & Your Life, will release in early June. 

Pat’s infectious spirit and marketing skills helped grow the Women’s Golf Association of NJ to over 500 members and is a member of Executive Women’s Golf Assn, USGA and MGA.  Pat frequently contributes as an industry expert writer or commentator for Golf Talk Radio, Women in Golf, Golf Business Monitor, Golf Operator Magazine, Women in the Golf Industry and the global golf Grow the Game Initiative. She consults for  PGA Hope Charleston and Adaptive Golfers.

She led the efforts to have June 7 declared Women’s Golf Day in her home state of NJ, part of the inaugural Women’s Golf Day global celebration.

Pat holds a BA in communications and public relations from Rowan University, where she now serves as judge in the Rohrer Business School’s Entrepreneurship competition. She earned her master’s degree in business management at Thomas Edison University, where she served as a global media ambassador touting the benefits of distance learning and the virtual workforce. Pat is also certified in Web Development, Project Management and Social Media Management. She mentors students for lectures at William Paterson, Montclair State, Long Island University, Rutgers and Rowan Universities and was a Cub Master for the Boy Scouts.

Maureen TinenMaureen Tinen
President, UCEDC (Moderator)

Maureen Tinen is president of UCEDC, a statewide, non-profit economic development corporation, a position she has held for over 29 years.  During her  tenure, she led the company’s transformation from a single county EDC to the statewide resource that it is now, one of the oldest and largest economic  development organizations in the state with $40 million in assets under management.

Serving small business owners through lending, training and government  contracting assistance, UCEDC is a US Treasury-designated  Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), an SBA designated state-wide lender for the microloan, 7(a) Community Advantage, and SBA 504 Commercial  Real Estate   programs, and a US Department of  Defense Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC).

Marcy MetzMarcy Metz
President, BJ&M Auto Inc & ASISCO Automotive Company Inc.

Marcy is President of BJ&M Auto Inc and ASISCO Automotive Company Inc, located in Elizabeth, New Jersey.  She holds a state inspector license and a state diesel emission repair technician license.  ASISCO is an automotive and truck warehouse distributor.  BJ&M is a repair and maintenance shop, licensed private inspection facility and a used car dealership.  ASISCO and BJ&M are SBE and WBE certified in New Jersey.  On a national level, the companies are WBENC certified. Both companies service the tri-state area and have memberships with Women President’s Organization, New Jersey Business Industry Association, New Jersey Motor Truck Association and National Association Fleet Administrators, Equipment Managers Council Association, New Jersey Association Women Business Owners and National Association Women Business Owners.

Marcy is currently the chairwoman for Elizabeth Development Company and the Boys & Girls Club Union County.  In addition, she serves on the following boards:  Greater Elizabeth Chamber of Commerce, , Groundwork Elizabeth,  Union County Economic Development Corporation, Trinitas Health Foundation, Ehrhart Gardens and Crime Stoppers of Union County.  Marcy is a graduate of Rutgers University’s Executive MBA Program.

LaTia McNeely-SandifordLaTia McNeely-Sandiford, MSW
Founder & Executive Producer, Lions Vision Productions

LaTia McNeely-Sandiford, MSW, is widely known as The Adversity Expert. As 2015’s Best of the Best in Business Awardee (BITES), 2015 Woman of Prominence Awardee and 2014 Union County New Jersey’s Woman of Excellence for Entrepreneurship, LaTia continues to dream big and succeed. LaTia was born and raised in Jersey City, New Jersey, amidst the perils of addiction and poverty. Through her journey, LaTia became a master at overcoming adversity and moving beyond adverse situations, life events and people. She was the only child of heroin addicted parents, subsequently losing her mother at 9 years old. While LaTia’s journey to success was long fought, still she refused to lose.

In 1991, LaTia first beat the odds by graduating Lincoln High school in Jersey City as a single parent and domestic violence survivor. Then, in 1995, while battered, abused and broken, LaTia pressed forward to earn her Associates Degree in Criminal Justice from Hudson County Community College, graduating Summa Cum Laude. LaTia denounced what her environment dictated and what statistics reported by becoming the first in her family to graduate from college. In 1997, LaTia earned her Bachelor’s Degree, Cum Laude, in Criminal Justice from Jersey City State College, now New Jersey City University. Despite LaTia being submerged in adversity, her desire to be ‘successful’ never wavered. In 2001, LaTia proved that success comes to those who want it when she earned her Master’s Degree in Social Work from Rutgers’s University, New Brunswick.

LaTia has since enjoyed a 20 year career in Social Work advocating for the highest risk populations. Over the course of her career, LaTia has held 2 Executive Directorships, 2 Directorships and a Clinicianship in various NJ non-profits before starting her own business in May 2010. Today, LaTia is an author (Burdens in My Backpack), inspirational/ motivational speaker, success coach, trainer, consultant and entrepreneur. She’s the Founder & Executive Producer of Lions Vision Productions; a New Jersey based multimedia production company that specializes in event production /décor, women’s empowerment & entrepreneurial initiatives and non-fiction media.

As a child of God, LaTia continues to serve. Her personal philanthropic endeavors include, The Bunchie Foundation (in honor of her mother) will provide financial assistance to youth of addicted parents who want to attend college or make major life transitions, LVP Leading Ladies (teen mentoring program) and The Worthy Women’s Reflection Award (monetary award for women who successfully complete transitional / self-sufficiency programs).

LaTia’s mission is to educate, inspire, motivate and empower. Through her Worthy Women’s Entrepreneurial Sisterhood, which includes, the Worthy Women’s Entrepreneurial Seminar Series (The Woman & Her Business) and Worthy Women’s Empowerment Academy (online seminars), LaTia continues to lead personally, professionally and spiritually.

Stacey WelchStacey Welch
Owner, LiVay Sweet Shop

Stacey is a graduate of Plainfield High School, she attended Middlesex County College she is a License Cosmetologist, Baker and Cake decorator. Stacey is a true Entrepreneur she believes in starting, running and growing her own business.  She has founded her own corporation without any loans or grants only the support of her parents.  She will tell you that it is not easy but with great determination and lots of sleepless nights it can be done.

Stacey’s first business, LiVay Nail Spa was opened in 1997 in Scotch Plains.  She originated the business as a sole proprietor and later formed a Corporation.  In addition to managing her own Nail Spa she also was a professional trainer and trade show regional educator in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

In 2006 Stacey started a at home candy business LiVay Goodies and soon learned that in the State of New Jersey it is illegal to make and sell food from a home.  In order to continue and grow what she loved a retail location was her only choice. In 2009 Stacey transferred that same energy to downtown Plainfield dba  “LiVay Sweet Shop” and today it is a thriving Bakery/ Sweet Shop baking  13-14 different cupcakes with cakes, chocolates, brownies  and pies.  Many days Stacey works until 1-2 in the morning and up again and out at 6.  She has 3 part time employees.

In 2015 Stacey expanded LiVay Sweet Shop when she opened LiVay Sweet Shop  – Watchung  on Route 22 in Watchung. Stacey is known for her bake goods taste first and design second.  She is not just a baker Stacey is a “Cake Artist” and loves what she does. With the help of family Stacey manages both shops, her social media and advertising.  She is determined that hard work and long hours will pay off. 

Shawn Kathryn LaurentiShawn Kathryn Laurenti
Founder & President, Laurenti Consultants, LLC

Shawn Laurenti is the founder and President of Laurenti Consultants, LLC in Morristown, New Jersey.  The firm offers strategic advisory services in state and local government affairs, community relations and business consulting, with a unique perspective on transportation systems, development and community outreach campaigns.

Ms. Laurenti earned a strong reputation for effective leadership and accomplishment as the Director of Government and Community Relations for The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the region’s premier bi-state transportation agency.   Ms. Laurenti served at the executive level and managed a staff of 17 and a budget of over $5 million.  She directed the coordination of the agency’s federal agenda and strategic government relations for the port district, and she administered a community fund of $1.5 million.  Ms. Laurenti developed exceptional industry knowledge and a unique insight into the impact of the transportation network on the regional economy and its partners.

With a reputation for creative and dynamic leadership, Ms. Laurenti has served at the highest levels of New Jersey State government.  As Special Assistant to Governor James McGreevey, Ms. Laurenti administered confidential assignments within the office of the Chief of Staff.  Selected as Director of Appointments by Governor McGreevey and Governor Richard J. Codey, she supervised a staff of 14 and effectively processed gubernatorial appointments to over 500 boards and commissions and appointments to New Jersey’s public colleges and universities.  Before joining the Governor’s Office, Ms. Laurenti was named Deputy Chief of Staff to the Commissioner of Transportation, James P. Fox, where she served as the liaison to external stakeholders on behalf of the Commissioner.  Her role within the Commissioner’s office served to advance the department’s successful agenda during Mr. Fox’s tenure.

Ms. Laurenti’s past government and political experiences include serving as Executive Assistant to Governor Brendan T. Byrne, as Deputy Director of Housing at the 1976 Democratic National Convention, as a confidential aide and legislative liaison for the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Banking and a year as a congressional staff aide in Washington, DC. Ms. Laurenti worked in the private sector as an association manager/government affairs specialist in New Jersey’s third largest government affairs firm and has represented the Public Sector Managers Association and the New Jersey Orthopedic Society.  She has spent nearly a decade in development and real estate, working in various capacities in a family held business.  Ms. Laurenti serves as the strategic consultant and government affairs specialist for its development interests in real estate and renewable energy.

Ms. Laurenti holds a Masters Degree in Public Administration from Rutgers University and an undergraduate degree in Public Administration from Georgetown University.  She was an adjunct professor at the College of St. Elizabeth and has taught an undergraduate honors course on Politics and Public Administration as well as a senior seminar in Justice Studies.  A member of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce, Ms. Laurenti serves on its Government Affairs Committee.  She remains committed to the success of Josephine’s Place, sponsored by the Sisters of Charity to assist immigrant women in Elizabeth.    Active in the Democratic Party, Ms. Laurenti serves as a Morris County State Committeewoman and is on the advisory board of Emerge NJ. 

Ms. Laurenti is married to Hugh E. DeFazio and has raised 5 children. 

Erich PeterErich Peter
Director of Training and Technical Assistance, UCEDC

Erich Peter is the Director of Training & Technical Assistance for UCEDC, a statewide non-profit economic development corporation committed to providing resources to small businesses throughout New Jersey.  In this role, Mr. Peter is responsible for managing the organizations training workshops, small business mentoring program, and it’s Entrepreneurial Training Initiative, which encompasses two multi-session entrepreneurial training programs.  Mr. Peter is a graduate of Rutgers University with a B.S. in Accounting.

He began his career in the public accounting industry and worked with a wide variety of businesses.  Subsequently, he worked in the energy industry for 7 years in various management and financial roles. Mr. Peter then made a career change and became an entrepreneur owning and operating a printing company for six years before selling the business and joining the UCEDC team in his current role in 2008. 

Kay Elizabeth LiCausiKay Elizabeth LiCausi
President & CEO, Hoboken Strategy Group (Moderator)

Kay Elizabeth LiCausi is an influential consultant with twenty years of experience in government and politics at the local, state, and federal levels. has listed Kay among its “Top Ten Hired Guns.”   In 2007, NJ Biz named her one of the state’s 40 most dynamic leaders under 40 years old.

Kay is the Founder and President of Hoboken Strategy Group, a boutique government and public relations firm. Known for her results-oriented approach and tireless work ethic, she is a highly successful advocate for her clients.  Kay represents a diverse     client-base such as Fortune 100 companies, brownfields developers, a financial services company, a private university, national associations and government entities.  She formed her first firm, KL Strategies in 2002. HSG works with organizations in New Jersey to increase their business presence, solve a regulatory crisis or    champion their legislative issue.  In addition, HSG Public Affairs produces press events and runs grassroots and social media campaigns. HSG is a certified Women Business     Enterprise (WBE).

Kay is a determined advocate for women and children.  She is co-chair of PAM’s List, a New Jersey fundraising network for women legislators, a board member of Latinas United for Political Empowerment Political Kay serves on the New Jersey Committee of the Regional Plan Association and the Government Affairs Committee of the Hudson County Chamber of Commerce. Kay earned her bachelors of arts in Political Science and American Studies from Rutgers University in 1993. Kay grew up in Montgomery Township, New Jersey. Kay is a proud single mother by choice. She and her daughter, Lily, reside in Hoboken.

Arlene Quinones PerezArlene Quiñones Perez
Perez, Partner, DeCotiis, FitzPatrick & Cole, LLP

Arlene Quiñones Perez is a Partner with DeCotiis, FitzPatrick & Cole, LLP. Arlene is a member of its Labor and Employment and Municipal practices.  Arlene was recently appointed as the Law Director for the City of Perth Amboy. Prior to joining the DeCotiis law firm, she served as General Counsel to the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters (“NRCC”).  The NRCC is a skilled trade organization representing carpenters in New Jersey and New York State.  Prior to joining the NRCC, Arlene was an Associate with Kroll Heineman Carton, LLC, where she focused on labor law, securities fraud, and election law.  From 2011-2012, Arlene served as a Judicial Term Law Clerk for the Honorable Michael A. Shipp, a United States District Judge.  Prior to joining the Federal District Court, Arlene was an attorney with Murphy Orlando, LLC and a registered lobbyist with Impact NJ, LLC.

Arlene’s extensive government and political experience includes her service as a Councilwoman in the Town of Clinton, New Jersey (where she was the youngest member of the municipality’s governing body and the only Hispanic woman to serve as an elected official in Hunterdon County), and working as an aide to the Governor and Attorney General of New Jersey.

Arlene is the Vice President of the Northern Region for the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey.  She previously served as a member of the Supreme Court Committee on Women in the Judiciary and the Board of Directors for the Girls Scouts Heart of New Jersey.  She was recently featured in the Hispanic Executive Magazine, listed by PoliticsNJ on the 40 Under 40 Power List, as one of New Jersey’s top 50 rising stars, and featured in the Star-Ledger as a Person of Interest.  In 2009, Arlene received the National Association of Women Lawyers Award.  While in law school, she completed a judicial externship with the Honorable Jose L. Linares, a United States District Judge.  After graduating, she served as a Law Clerk in the Appellate Division of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and a Judicial Term Law Clerk to the Honorable Lisa P. Thornton in the Superior Court of New Jersey.

Grace Strom PowerGrace Strom Power
Attorney, Eckert Seamans – Attorneys At Law

Grace Strom Power is an attorney in the Princeton office of Eckert Seamans with over fifteen years of experience in government and regulatory affairs, with an emphasis on energy issues. Previously she served as the Legislative Liaison for the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.

Ms. Power has been selected as a New Jersey “Super Lawyer” Rising Star by her peers in the Energy & Natural Resources practice area and has twice been named to Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg’s Women’s Power List. Ms. Power is active in state and local politics and serves as Co-Chair of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee Women’s Caucus, President of the West Windsor Democratic Club, a Vice President of the Women’s Political Caucus of New Jersey, Treasurer of the newly formed RU PAC, and a Member of the New Jersey Committee of the Regional Plan Association. The Hillary Clinton campaign has selected Ms. Power to run as a delegate for the 2016 Democratic National Convention. She is a member of the New Jersey State Bar Association and has previously served on panels concerning lobbying and ethics.

Ms. Power is a three-time graduate of Rutgers University and earned her Law Degree from Rutgers-Newark School of Law, a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs and Politics from the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Rutgers College. She was an Eagleton Institute of Politics Graduate Fellow and Undergraduate Associate.

Charlotte M. Diakite

Charlotte M. Diakite
Co-owner , A3 Contracting, LLC

Charlotte M. Diakite is Co-owner of A3 Contracting, LLC, a general contracting service company (Linden, NJ) specializing in construction, renovation and installation projects. 

In 2011, Charlotte assumed a more direct role in company operations.   Charlotte’s 25+ years work experience in the corporate arena and higher education have come in handy in managing the multi-faceted roles and responsibilities of business ownership.   Charlotte develops and navigates the company’s strategic planning, marketing, administrative, fiscal processes, project contracts and new business.    Since then, the company has achieved significant growth.    There exists a long-term commercial client-partnership with Lowes along with sustained relationships with a network of customers and subcontractors.    The company is a registered rehabilitation contractor with multiple New Jersey municipalities and has been awarded several governmental projects.

She is a graduate of the Tishman Construction’s MWSBE Pilot Program; Essex County Bonding Program (Educational Phase); NJ School Development Authority Certification Program; UCEDC’s Entrepreneurship 101 Training Initiative.     Charlotte holds OSHA 30-hour certification in addition to a B.S. (Management) and a M.A. (Human Behavior/Organizational Psychology).

Charlotte is married to Abdoulaye, A3’s General Contractor/Co-owner and is Mom to their daughter, 19 and son, 12.   She actively serves in both the women’s and children ministries at Oasis Christian Centre (Rahway) as well as a Parent Ambassador for St. Joseph the Carpenter School (Roselle). 

While Charlotte credits A3’s general contractor with being bedrock of the company, she affirms the immeasurable power of being a woman beating the odds and who means business.