BY ANTHONY BIRRITTERI, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF ON JUL 21, 2021
Junior Achievement of New Jersey (JANJ) has announced its three Laureates who will be inducted into the New Jersey Business Hall of Fame on December 9.
They are: John Harmon Sr., founder, president and CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey; Valeria Montecalvo, CEO and president of Bayshore Recycling; and Steve Rusckowski, chairman and president of Quest Diagnostics.
According to Catherine Milone, JANJ president, “These three laureates are extraordinary individuals who, over the course of their careers, have exemplified notable leadership attributes as our past laureate legacies (63 individuals who have been inducted in the Business Hall of Fame since 2003). These attributes are: grit, resilience, determination, high ethical standards, and a commitment to working on their own ethical causes and in their communities.
“It is these very same characteristics that JANJ hopes to instill in New Jersey students as our future leaders,” Milone says.
The New Jersey Business Hall of Fame program is JANJ’s signature fundraising event that supports the organization’s work, specifically its High School Heroes program, a service-learning initiative where JANJ collaborates with high schools around the state to recruit and train students to serve as volunteer role models in community schools.
“These volunteer role models are presenting JANJ’s learning experiences – with themes such as money management, entrepreneurship and other business-oriented curriculums – to young people, building their life skills, employability skills and soft skills,” according to Milone.
“At the same time, these High School Heroes are also honing their presentation, time management, communications, and above all else, their leadership skills,” Milone continues.
Commenting on this year’s inductees, Milone says that John Harmon is well known throughout the state and nation for his many contributions and accomplishments. “His life work has been to improve the competitiveness of black businesses in New Jersey,” she added.
Meanwhile, Valerie Montecalvo, a successful businesswoman in the male dominated field of recycling, according to Milone, is living proof of how the JA experience creates future leaders, since Montecalvo went through the JANJ program in her youth. “Her participation in JA as a student influenced her career trajectory,” Milone says. “Valerie is a champion of women and a huge advocate for environmental protection and sustainability.”
Milone says that Steve Rusckowski has always exemplified leadership skills, but more so during the COVID-19 pandemic. Under his leadership, Quest has performed more than 48 million COVID-19 molecular and serology tests to date, and was one of the leading labs nationally to create and secure Emergency Use Authorization from the US Food & Drug Administration for a PCR test to detect COVID.
The December 9 New Jersey Business Hall of Fame ceremony will be a virtual event, similar to last year’s. Milone says that if COVID-related conditions improve by the fall, the event could become a hybrid affair, with an in-person component at JANJ’s Education Center in Edison.
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