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2024 Women to Watch
Keep an eye on these 18 women as they work to improve the industry landscape while bringing up those around them.

by Madeleine Maccar, Carly Murray and Chelsea Valcourt

From advocates to attorneys, doctors to directors and business owners to business advisors, this year’s roster of local leading ladies stand as proud proof of a quote one honoree provided:
“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.”
And as women continue to claim their spaces and use their voices to secure a well-deserved—and long-overdue—seat at the table, they’re not only advancing their own careers but also making sure there’s room for the next generation of female go-getters and rising stars. These 18 women comprising 2024’s Women to Watch offer up their advice, stories and lessons learned throughout a variety of careers, and while their experiences may be varied, they often share the same view that working together, supporting one another and going for that scary leap are all crucial steps taking women farther than ever before.

Virna Alexander, Executive Vice President and Chief Claims Officer for Global Risks Solution, Liberty Mutual
Alexander leads and oversees an operation of 3,000+ claims professionals handling property, casualty and specialty services for businesses. She has held several leadership positions throughout her career as senior vice president of the GRS NA Workers Compensation Claims organization, assistant vice president, casualty claims – Northeast in USRM (Personal Markets), and in the GRS NA Claims Shared Services team, among others. Alexander serves on the boards of Inspira Health (NJ) and on the Alliance of Women in Workers Comp DEI Steering Committee. Previously, Alexander was the co-chair for the WE@Liberty Commerce & Partnerships Committee.

What would you tell yourself early in your career?
I would tell my younger self not to worry about having an entire career thought out in the
beginning. Allow yourself to be open to new and different assignments, companies, roles, etc.
There are many twists and turns that can happen over a career cycle if you avail yourself to them. Don’t box yourself in.


Cathy Murphy, Executive Director, South Jersey Mechanical Contractors Association

SJMCA champions the role of plumbing/HVAC businesses in a thriving NJ, emphasizing that
union labor equals highly educated, skilled employees. Murphy assumed her association role
January 2020, after 18 years as a financial analyst and right before the pandemic—and hosting events are key to SJMCA’s success. Murphy sustained SJMCA’s membership both through and after the pandemic, reflecting on COVID as an obstacle bested, and still wears multiple hats daily. She focuses on advocacy, compliance, collective-bargaining agreement negotiations, member/event management and financial oversight, steering SJMCA while fostering networking, innovation and organizational growth.

What advice do you have for women developing their leadership styles?
Key word: network. Networking equals new opportunities. Always remember to be confident, believe in yourself, go out on a limb, share your ideas, and always be willing to listen and learn from others. It is important to be an advocate for building a strong network in your industry: Attend events, join professional associations, continue to expand your skills and stay updated on changes in the industry. Have a mentor—and be a mentor.


Kristi Howell, President and CEO, Burlington County Regional Chamber of Commerce
Howell joined the Burlington County Regional Chamber of Commerce as its president and CEO in December 2002. Her government background and communication skills are constantly on display, as many local journalists consider her their “go-to” source for quotes when local
legislators are crafting a bill, typically soliciting Howell’s opinion for insight regarding the
business community’s perspective. She is known for creating strong partnerships to help
businesses grow, her mentorship and making meaningful connections for her members.

What would you tell yourself early in your career?
I would tell my younger self that this is just the beginning. Learn all you can from every
experience and appreciate every opportunity that comes to you. Don't let obstacles get you down, you are destined to make a difference and you will persevere through difficult times and experiences to be stronger. And P.S.: Your career won't be what you thought it would be, but you will land exactly where you need to be when you need to be there.

Kyana T. Evans, Operations Manager, Gateway Community Action Partnership
Evans is a Certified Community Action Professional, an elected member of the Paulsboro Board of Education, board chair of the CGS Family Partnership, chair of Women United-United Way of Gloucester County and treasurer of the Paulsboro Midget Football Organization. She is also a volunteer youth cheerleading coach and founder of the DREAMS Initiative, a community-based organization whose goal is to help individuals through advocacy, service and volunteerism. However, Evans' biggest accomplishment is being a mother to her son, Kayden.

What are the benefits of women mentoring women?
Women encouraging, uplifting and supporting each other is essential to being successful in today’s workforce. I take pride in being able to lend a helping hand to my fellow woman. Being able to genuinely serve as a mentor and resource to other women allows for growth and encouragement. I’m proud to be a part of various organizations committed to serving and empowering women. My motto has always been “My success is your success. Together, we all WIN!”

Betty Boros, Chief Member Strategy Officer, New Jersey Business & Industry Association

Boros is an executive leader who supports strategic initiatives, provides high-level support
through project management, formulation of policies and plans, strategy development and more while leading the membership, events, programs and partnership teams. She spent nearly 28 years with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, working to improve the waters of the state, championing rule development, developing permits for dischargers, auditing environmental laboratories, and developing guidance for water and wastewater infrastructure management.

What needs to be discussed more in-depth in DEI efforts focusing on women?
In my opinion, there is so much of it that still falls on work-life integration: Balancing work and
personal responsibilities throughout my career has been difficult, and frankly was the largest
factor that affected my career path. Much has changed in recent years, but efforts to promote
work-life integration, such as flexible work arrangements, parental leave policies, and supportive workplace cultures that accommodate diverse life circumstances are essential to both bringing women to the C-suite and keeping them there.


Natalie Madanick, Business Development, National Integrity Title Agency (NITA)
A seasoned business development professional, Madanick brings years of entrepreneurial
experience to her role as an account executive at NITA, where she sets goals for business and revenue growth, then pursues leads and develops strong client relationships to achieve them. Her primary focus is the commercial marketplace but she also sources residential clients, working hand in hand with NITA’s entire team to provide high-level, dedicated service. Madanick’s previous work includes founding Natalie Madanick Health, which offered coaching support to help implement lifestyle changes. Beyond work, the South Jersey native is active with the Katz JCC, Kol Ami, Jewish Federation and more.

What advice do you have for women developing their leadership styles?
Be yourself. Authentic leadership begins with self-awareness and understanding your strengths, weaknesses, values and passions. Embrace your uniqueness. Instead of emulating others, develop a personal leadership style that leverages your experiences and focuses on the impact you want to make both professionally and personally.


Stacey R. Gorin, Associate, Capehart Scatchard
A graduate of Rutgers Law School who currently serves on the Alumni Association Board of
Trustees, Gorin practices commercial litigation and education and employment law. She is a
member of the New Jersey State Bar Association Young Lawyers Division Executive Committee and is the current secretary of the Burlington County Bar Association. Beyond her involvement in the legal community, Gorin also enjoys rooting for the Phillies and Eagles, as well as spending quality time with her fiancé Shane and their dog Alonza.

What are the benefits of women mentoring women?
Ruth Bader Ginsberg said “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.”
Working in a male-dominated industry, it is important for women to work together. Today,
women run law firms and serve as judges and lawmakers, proving to younger women that their dreams are possible. Young women cannot be afraid to speak up and ask questions. The right mentor will want to support your professional growth. I am so grateful to my mentors because they have shaped me into the person I am today.


Patricia Miller, Owner, Blue Diamond Construction
Miller has more than 30 years of experience in commercial metal framing, working with general contractors, architects, engineers and developers to design and build office buildings, apartments, supermarkets, restaurants, retail stores, and medical and educational facilities. At the same time, she has been blazing a path for women in construction. Recently, the Women Builders Council named her an Outstanding Woman Builder. She also added author to her accomplishments with the publication of her memoir, “Kicking Karma’s Ass: Unbelievable Stories of Strength, Resilience and Perseverance, All Told with a Twist of Humor.”

What advice do you have for women developing their leadership styles?
My men call me “Lady Boss.” It’s a compliment I appreciate. But there are critical differences
between being a boss and being a leader. A boss demands. A leader coaches. A boss relies on authority, a leader on goodwill. Bosses issue ultimatums, leaders generate goodwill. A boss says “l.” A leader says “We.” One takes credit, the other gives credit. Same with blame: One places it, the other accepts it.

Ericka Naklicki, Professional Wetland Scientist (PWS), Group Manager, T&M Associates
As a certified PWS with 22 years of environmental consulting experience, Naklicki’s areas of
expertise include wetland and stream delineations and environmental impact statements. She
works with state and federal regulatory agencies to receive approvals for public and private
development, and the data she collects in the field minimizes impacts on natural resources and design projects to comply with land-use regulations. Naklicki is a mentor in T&M’s mentorship program supporting female scientists’ advancement, sits on the NextGen Executive Board chairing the D&I committee, and volunteers for Operation Outreach, Project Lead the Way and T&M Cares.

What are the benefits of women mentoring women?
It is mutually beneficial and provides a sense of belonging and the ability to learn through great examples of women successfully juggling work/life balance. Being a mother to a disabled child has given me clarity to how I treat others. I work with organizations that advocate for children with Down syndrome, as well as with younger generations learning to be more inclusive and mentor new moms who received unexpected birth diagnoses.


Robin A. Walton, Chief Philanthropy Officer and Senior Vice President of External
Affairs, Inspira Health

Born and raised in South Jersey, Walton has demonstrated exceptional leadership skills
throughout her career spanning over two decades in government and community relations,
specifically in higher education and health care. Her forward-thinking and strategic approach has consistently yielded positive results. Walton spearheads Inspira’s donor relations and fundraising initiatives while managing the health system’s external affairs portfolio. A proud alumna of Rutgers University, she holds prominent positions such as the vice chair of the Chamber of Commerce of Southern New Jersey’s board of directors and chair of the chamber’s State Affairs Council.

What advice do you have for women developing their leadership styles?
Advice like find a mentor, foster relationships and be visible are all important. Still, some of the
most excellent advice I can give is to hold on to the attributes that should be at the core of who
you are no matter what: a woman with integrity who is self-aware, courageous, empathetic and resilient. It helps lead you to where you need to be.


Megan Kurtz Maher, Surety Family of Companies, Vice President of Business Development
Kurtz Maher has been in the title insurance industry for 28+ years and with Surety Title for two
decades. Known for her dynamic personality and collaborative skills, she excels in business
development by working with attorneys, realtors, builders and lenders, and brings far more to the table: Having experience in title processing and closings, Kurtz Maher has a thorough
understanding of real estate transactions—a unique perspective giving her an edge. Active in
both professional and community organizations, she is a member of the Nexus Association of
REALTORS – Ocean County and holds a passion for volunteering. In her free time, she can be found with her husband Jim and pup Nellie.

What are the benefits of women mentoring women?
The value of sharing experiences that often only women understand cannot be understated. I’ve been fortunate to be a mentor and mentee—being guided in a manner more conducive to
developing trusted professional relationships and having the honor to provide a sense of
accomplishment to others. Shared accountability, motivation and encouragement foster the drive to do more and perform better.


Renee Liberoni Zallie, Ph.D., MPH, Founder & President, Zallie Community Foundation
Zallie founded the nonprofit charity focusing on food insecurity, nutrition insecurity and
nutrition education after beginning her career educating community members on a healthy diet’s overall impact on one’s health. In 2022, she incorporated nutrition services to expand the nonprofit’s reach and breadth of nutrition education and food insecurity. Being in the unique position of owning ShopRite stores with her husband, Zallie has hired registered dietitians to provide free nutrition services to customers—starting the process of good health right at the grocery store.

What advice do you have for women developing their leadership styles?
Strive to be a leader who is both courageous and compassionate. Being courageous gives you a voice, it allows you to be a learner and to know that if something fails, it is just another stepping stone to your success. When you choose courage, despite uncertainty, you lean in. Having compassion provides you with an empathetic ear: Be sure to step back and actively listen to your employees. Being a courageous and compassionate leader will help you foster connections and inspire your team!

Sarah Rivera, Chief Talent Promoter, First Impression Resumes
A professional resume writer, career counselor and enthusiastic wordsmith, Rivera is driven by
helping others find their passion and place in the world so they can make a living doing what
they love. With a philosophy that she succeeds when her clients do, Rivera is thankful to be a
trusted part of their career journey.

“Confidence in leadership must be taught and cultivated. Learn from watching and listening; emulate senior leaders who are authentic, consistent, impactful and respected. Take on leadership roles with small projects. Your leadership style will become obvious with experience and practice.”


Ni Gao, Ph.D., Director, Integrated Employment Institute, Department of Psychiatric Rehabilitation and Counseling Professions, Rutgers University
Gao’s teaching and research focus on developing and implementing evidence-based practices for individuals with serious mental illnesses, especially in the areas of returning to education and employment while managing their conditions. She is also president of the Asian American Alliance in South Jersey, promoting cultural exchange and understanding among community groups.

“It’s encouraging to see more women taking on leadership roles… but the gender gap still exists. Women mentors can serve as role models, help build confidence, skills and networks, break down barriers, and share tears and laughter.”

Chiara Latimer, MFT, Co-Director of the Center for Neurodiversity and Coordinator of
the Autism PATH Career Program, Rowan University

Latimer supports neurodiverse students through both the Center for Autism and Rowan’s Center for Neurodiversity. The center focuses on situating neurodiversity within DEI initiatives, while PATH supports neurodiverse students’ transition from higher education to meaningful employment. She is currently completing her doctorate degree.

“It is imperative to highlight the need for increased awareness related to the experiences of intersectional identities of women. DEI efforts need to promote the celebration of neurodivergent women ... Women hold so many identities, and we need to capture these varied experiences through DEI initiatives.”


Theresa Rohlfing, Executive Director, Center for Independent Living of South Jersey, Inc.

While teaching, Rohlfing realized that helping people with disabilities was her true calling. An
opportunity to work as a transition specialist at CILSJ and help students with special needs
prepare for life beyond high school facilitated her transition from education to her current role.

“In assuming this role, I learned that confidence, strategic thinking and authenticity play a large part in achieving success in any leadership role. Women in leadership positions can inspire and empower other women to find the confidence to speak their minds, pursue their dreams and achieve their goals.”


Tiffany Winters-Walker, Community Leader and Business Owner
A passionate leader, owner of Number 9 Tattoo Shop, consultant, facilitator and educator,
Winters-Walker’s varied background shaped her approach to helping others. She is actively
involved in the Gloucester County NAACP, CGS Family Partnership, Chamber of Commerce
South Jersey, Gloucester County African American Leadership Committee, Rowan University
Women in Business and serving as an election outreach officer.

“Women succeed when other women support them. Women who decide to embrace mentorship have an opportunity to both give and learn. … Knowing we have the support of other women helps create a safe space for us to learn, grow and thrive.”


Candice M. Alfonso, Esq., Chief Diversity Officer/Director of the Office of Diversity and
Inclusion, N.J. Dept. of the Treasury

Alfonso monitors the public contracting process for participation by businesses with minority, women, veteran, disabled veteran, and LGBTQIA+ owners, focusing on strategies for their greater utilization and conducting outreach. She managed the final phase of the statewide disparity study, reviewing the final report and collaborating with stakeholders on a plan to increase contracting opportunities.

“Oftentimes, we dare to dream all that we can be or achieve because it’s hard to visualize ourselves in spaces we haven’t seen ourselves before. But as the saying goes, if you see it, you can be it."


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Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Biz, Volume 14, Issue 2 (February 2024).

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