Inspiring a New Generation of Leaders, Junior Achievement of New Jersey Inducts Harmon, Montecalvo, and Rusckowski into Business Hall of Fame™
December 16, 2021 - Edison, NJ - Junior Achievement of New Jersey (JANJ) virtually held its 19th annual New Jersey Business Hall of Fame™ on Thursday, December 9, 2021. The 2021 Laureates included John E. Harmon, Sr., IOM, Founder, President & CEO, African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey (AACCNJ); Valerie Montecalvo, CEO & President, Bayshore Recycling; and Steve Rusckowski, Chairman, CEO & President, Quest Diagnostics. Nominated by their peers, these New Jersey business leaders join a prestigious group of Laureate Legacies known for demonstrating business excellence and consistent community involvement throughout their professional lives.
For the past 17 years JANJ has celebrated remarkable role models from the business community. The New Jersey Business Hall of Fame honors individuals for their innovative leadership, high standards as role models for New Jersey youth, and their impact in positively shaping their business and communities. The annual premier event raises funds to underwrite unsponsored High School Heroes learning experiences statewide to empower today’s leaders as tomorrow’s Laureates. Through the Heroes initiative, high school students are equipped with valuable employability skills, like leadership, public speaking, and critical thinking, all necessary to succeed in a global economy. The leadership initiative also introduces elementary school children to role models closer to their age and delivers meaningful community engagement and cross-cultural learning for high schoolers. The New Jersey Business Hall of Fame through the tremendous support of its sponsors, enables JANJ to continue building our state’s future leaders.
These very same leaders had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to lead this highly publicized New Jersey Business Hall of Fame event. The power of JA was apparent in their own words of impact, as the students steered the evening seamlessly through their confident storytelling. Throughout the hour-long virtual event, powerful themes of encouragement, resiliency, perseverance, and grit emanated to inspire the hundreds of guests in attendance, from students, sponsors, families, and volunteers alike. As the keynote, Eric LeGrand candidly spoke about his motto of motivation, ‘bELieve’, about overcoming adversity throughout the course of his career, and the importance tenacity can play in building character.
JA Student Ambassadors then had the privilege of introducing and inducting the 2021 Class of Laureates, each of whom were motivational and shared valuable advice.
As an admired leader in New Jersey, John E. Harmon, Sr., IOM, has contributed extensively to the furtherance of the state workforce pipeline – specifically the strategic partnerships in the public and private sectors to promote economic diversity and increase opportunities for African American businesses throughout New Jersey. In reflecting on his career journey, John advised younger viewers watching to embrace new things by suggesting “If you have the opportunity to contribute to something great, give it your all.”
As an alum of JA, Valerie Montecalvo credited JA for helping to channel her confidence at a young age and expressed “It is a proven fact that women learn best when they are supported and encouraged by their peers and society. Junior Achievement gives them what they need to succeed”.
A leader locally and globally, Steve Rusckowski exemplifies extraordinary leadership through his commitment to the betterment of his community, as well as his innovative approach to expanding Quest Diagnostics capabilities. In offering guidance to students, Steve advised “Let your experience at Junior Achievement provide a foundation for you to build upon in your professional career.’
Paving the way for future Laureates, the 2021 Class shared humbling stories of strength, resilience, and hope. There is no doubt their words of encouragement will continue to inspire young people in the state to reach their highest potentials and embrace challenges along their educational journeys. As the New Jersey business community looks to JA as the leader in developing its pipeline of employees, students rely on JA’s curriculum to gain knowledge and skills around financial literacy and the economics of life.
The entire recording of the 2021 Virtual New Jersey Business Hall of Fame can be watched here.
Nominations for 2022 Laureates can be submitted here.
About Junior Achievement of New Jersey (JANJ):
JANJ is an award-winning, best-in-class JA operation. With its headquarters and Capstone programs located in the JA Education Center, in Raritan Center, Edison, NJ, JANJ is a free educational resource dedicated to giving all young people the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success and plan for their futures. JA’s learning experiences primarily focus on career readiness, financial empowerment, entrepreneurship, and life skills, and are held at the JA Education Center, in schools, on college/university campuses, in corporate facilities, and online through digital learning experiences. For more information, visit janj.org and follow JANJ on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.
About the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey (AACCNJ):
The AACCNJ performs an essential role in the economic viability of New Jersey. While providing a platform for New Jersey’s African American business leaders, to speak with a collective voice, the AACCNJ advocates and promotes economic diversity fostering a climate of business growth through major initiatives centering on education and public policy. The Chamber serves as a proactive advocacy group with a 501(c) 3 tax exemption, which is shared by the National Black Chamber of Commerce. www.AACCNJ.com
About Bayshore Recycling:
Established in 1995, Bayshore is a NJDEP Licensed facility and NJ State certified Woman Owned Business. A premier destination for the recycling of concrete, asphalt, brick, block, bulky waste, construction debris, non-hazardous petroleum impacted soil, all curbside commodities, and other diverse materials. Headquartered in the Kearbey section of Woodbridge Township, NJ. The site boasts Raritan River frontage and convenient access via road, barge, and class-1 railroad. Sustainable “green business” operations driven by renewable energy are at the center of the company’s Business Plan. Bayshore is also an ISNetworld network certified toward connecting corporations with safe, reliable contractors/suppliers from capital-intensive industries. www.bayshorerecycling.com
About Quest Diagnostics:
Quest Diagnostics empowers people to take action to improve health outcomes. Derived from the world's largest database of clinical lab results, our diagnostic insights reveal new avenues to identify and treat disease, inspire healthy behaviors and improve health care management. Quest annually serves one in three adult Americans and half the physicians and hospitals in the United States, and our nearly 50,000 employees understand that, in the right hands and with the right context, our diagnostic insights can inspire actions that transform lives. www.QuestDiagnostics.com
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