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Meeting Technology: Virtually Anything Goes
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High Techs Share $40 M in State Funds
It's hard to be organized in the midst of a busy week at work, but, paradoxically, it is far more difficult to stay organized in the unstructured ocean of time that is unemployment. There is so much to do, but it is so amorphous. Where to start? How to keep on track?
Grazina Crisman, former corporate executive and the owner of the Productivity Shoppe, provides some guidance when she speaks on "Improve Your Productivity as a Job Seekers" at a meeting of JobSeekers on Tuesday, December 2, at 7:30 p.m. The education, networking, and support group for unemployed executives and professionals meets at Trinity Church in Princeton. For more information call 609-924-2277.
A Queens native and graduate of Hofstra (Class of 1974), Crisman earned an MBA from St. Johns University. She spent the early years of her career as a computer programmer, but disliked "sitting behind a desk," no matter how well organized. So she jumped to the vendor side of technology, working for a number of companies, including Wang Laboratories, Oracle, and Logic Works.
She spent some 25 years in a corporate environment, where her organization skills led co-workers to say "Give it to Grazina, she'll never lose it." Why did she leave big business to start her own business? "I came from high tech," she answers. "We all know what happened to high tech. In 10 years I was with three companies. Each one got bought out. I was always on the end that got bought out. They gave me jobs, but not the great ones."
Moving into an entrepreneurial life, making a living by helping businesses and businesspeople to get organized, Crisman says she never missed a beat. "The skills are transferable," she quickly found. She and her consulting firm, the Productivity Shoppe (609-987-9601), share an office address, 212 Carnegie Center, with her husband, Doug, who is the principal of Old Horses, a consulting firm that works with small businesses.
"I'm doing it for the lifestyle," she says of the freedom of owning a business. "High tech is well paid, but I'm nothing but grateful to be out. I didn't want to deal with that rat race."
During her corporate career, Crisman did a great deal of hiring. "I could always tell who was prepared, who had his act together," she says.
In every setting, in every industry, in every office, there are people with advanced calendaring systems, 500 contacts programmed into their cell phones, projects neatly filed and cross-filed, desks free of clutter, and a reputation for never, ever being one second late for any meeting or conference call. And, of course, there are their polar opposites.
When downsizings occur, both species are affected. But while the wildly disorganized often manage to stay afloat on the job, they are in big trouble in the current job hunting climate. "It's more competitive than ever," says Crisman. "It is more necessary to be prepared."
When Crisman was sitting on the side of the hiring desk that looked outward, she tried hard to look past first impressions. "The longer that you, as an interviewer, can stay open," she says, "the better chance there is that a candidate will grow on you." However, she cautions that not every interviewer will give the poorly-organized candidate time to redeem himself. Especially now. Especially when there are so many well qualified people on the street.
Don't take the chance. No matter what organization genes nature dealt you, if a good new job is your goal, waste no time in getting organized. Here's how:
Develop a clear message. Organization starts with focused, logical thinking. Most unemployed people can go in a number of directions. There are start-ups and big corporations, non-profits and for-profits, international opportunities, full-time staff positions and outsourced work. Think carefully about what you want. It's tempting to jump on every lead. But if you know there is scant chance that you would accept a salary under $100,000, don't waste time interviewing for jobs below that level. If you know that there is no way your family would relocate to Asia, do not be pulled toward jobs with that requirement. Likewise pursuing jobs at dot-coms, despite a deep-down certainty that seat-of-the-pants management would drive you crazy, only takes you away from going after opportunities that would be a better fit.
In addition to clarifying what you want, spend time identifying what you have to offer. "Make lists," says Crisman. "Include obvious skills, but also include secondary skills."
Create a job hunt launch area. If you don't have a home office, this is the time to create one, even if it's only a corner of a room. The key requirement, says Crisman, is quiet. "Most interviews are by phone now," she says. "When you have 150 candidates, that's the only way to conduct first interviews." The person doing the hiring most definitely does not want to hear a dog barking or a child crying during the interview. Among other things, says Crisman, these distractions make decision makers wonder how well you could function if you had to work at home.
Having a central place from which to take on the job hunt project means that note paper, research documents, resumes, pens, phone, and computer are all in one place. It says "business" and is a reminder that looking for a new position is indeed a real job.
Figure out how to stay in front of people. "It takes great organization to keep track of people," says Crisman. Tackle this project by researching all the places where useful contacts gather. Scan newspapers, trade magazines, and websites for lists of professional and networking meetings. Look through your community calendars and church bulletins for mention of groups you have had an interest in, but no time to join. Contact your alumni office. Work at remembering the names of people with whom you once worked.
Make a schedule, write down dates and times of meetings, and call friends and former colleagues for lunch dates. As unemployment drags on, there is a strong tendency to shut the blinds and stay inside. Resist. Get out there. Let the list of upcoming meetings and events propel you forward.
Like the Boy Scouts, be prepared. Weeks may go by, and nothing may happen. Then a friend may call up to say his boss is flying in tomorrow, and is interested in meeting someone with your qualifications. Make sure that you are ready. Keep pristine copies of all the variations on your resume close at hand. Keep your interview outfit -- and a back-up -- pressed. Have a reliable babysitter, or two, on call.
"Track the logistics," says Crisman. "Who do you talk to? How do you get there? Do you need documents for security clearance?"
Follow up. Do this on two levels. "Make sure to follow up with the person who gave you the referral," urges Crisman. Few people take the time to do this, but that person is wondering how his matchmaking worked out. "If you don't get back to him," she says, "he'll think you didn't appreciate it, and he may think `Why should I bother again?'"
Also follow up with all the people with whom you met during your interview. Crisman likes the idea of sending them actual paper notes. Doing so, she says, shows a lot more effort than does dashing off an E-mail. Besides, she points out, "everyone gets so many E-mails today. To send a paper note is to stand out."
But, she suggests that the follow up not stop with the note. If you sense interest, do not let your new contacts forget you. "Years ago," she says, "you had to contact a person five or six times before he remembered your name. Now it's 15 to 17 times." There is just so much information, including names, that making it into a mental filing cabinet is quite a trick. This being the case, send an E-mail and call from time to time -- perhaps once a month, Crisman suggests -- to check on the company's decision.
Make these communications as creative as possible. "Try to say something different each time," she says.
Many people fear becoming known as pests. While that can happen, Crisman says that during her days as a hiring manager, she looked at the follow-up as a positive. "It shows that the candidate is proactive," she says. It demonstrates that he is keeping track of the opportunity and promoting himself. "These are important job skills," she says.
Take organization to the next level. Tracking contacts, appointments, meetings, and research projects with a pen and paper can work. However, Crisman strongly advises job seekers to get technology on their side. Using software like Outlook or ACT, both of which have advanced sorting capabilities, makes the hunt more efficient. Using these tools also lends an air of professionalism that is just the sort of thing that Crisman sensed in the best-prepared job candidates she interviewed.
Yes, she made allowances for those who fumbled their way through the first few minutes of an interview, whose proferred resumes were a bit dog-eared, and who confused her company with a competitor. Not all interviewers are as forgiving, not by a long shot. Don't take the chance. Organize your job hunt like the important project that it is.
There was a time when companies blithely assumed that bad news was what befell others. Now, after Enron, Tyco, Merrill Lynch, and most recently, Chi Chi's restaurants and Charles Schwab, communications consultant Karen Friedman is fielding calls from all sorts of organizations interested in learning pre-emptive crisis control. "If any company, if any agency, is not prepared in advance, does not have plans in place, it's a recipe for disaster," she says.
Crisis control is just one type of communication. Friedman's Blue Bell, Pennsylvania shop, Karen Friedman Enterprises www.karenfriedman.com), deals with the gamut, everything from preparation for media interviews to in-houses presentations. She speaks on "How to Manage Your Message and Make Sure People Hear What You Say" on Tuesday, December 2, at 11:30 a.m. at a meeting of the National Association of Women Business Owners at the Cranbury Inn. Cost: $35. Call 732-295-3846 for more information.
Friedman, who grew up in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, credits her career to her parents' television watching habits. Her mother, administrator of the Philadelphia Society of Clinical Psychologists, and her father, owner of a real estate business, were "avid TV news watchers," she says. Sitting with them, watching newscasters, she thought, "I could do that."
After earning an undergraduate degree in journalism from Penn State and a certificate in mass media from the University of Manchester in England, she reported, mostly on-camera, for major networks in Huntsville, Alabama, where she covered NASA, and in Milwaukee, and in Philadelphia, where she worked on the ABC Action News team for 12 years.
In 1996 she started her own company. Active for some time on the seminar circuit, she saw the number of people who were eager for in-depth training in getting across messages, both to the press and to their own employees and clients. At the same time, she was getting tired of "the phone ringing at 3 a.m." The mother of two young boys, she sought more flexibility and more balance.
She left Action News on good terms. There is no story, there, she insists, "no scandal." It was just time to move on. In observing her clients, as well as talking heads on television, she sees common mistakes that muddy communications, whether in a crisis or in the normal course of business:
Giving too much information. Know your audience, urges Friedman. Put yourself in their shoes. What do they want to know? More important, what do they need to know? Keep that in mind, and then provide it succinctly. "If you give too much information," she says, "the listener has a difficult time deciphering the main point." Chances are that a talk containing too much information misses the heart of the matter, making it entirely possible that the audience will take away the wrong message.
Spewing facts and figures without putting them in context. Facts that do not tie directly into a subject the audience knows well will be forgotten right away. Audiences leaving a fact-heavy talk may remember only one-third of what they have heard. "Three days later, it's significantly less," says Friedman, who suggests that stories and metaphors have a far better shelf life.
Whether the audience is one client, a room full of conventioneers, or millions of television viewers, it will hold onto aspects of your talk that relates to its concerns. All but the most dramatic, relevant facts and figures are destined to fall through the cracks.
"Look for stories," advises Friedman. That, she points out, is what reporters do. They know that is what appeals to their audience. Still, she finds that many people shun the more homey way of communicating in favor of a drier approach. Without an arsenal of facts and figures, she says, "people are afraid they won't look authoritative enough."
Relying on PowerPoint. On the fact and figure front, Friedman suggests throwing away the PowerPoint crutch. "People come to see you, not a slide show," she says. She admits that the tool has become essential in many pharmaceutical and technology settings, and says "if it can drive home the information, great." But, she adds, "get rid of it if that is where the attention is."
When the professionals she coaches say that they need to include a PowerPoint show, she insists that they practice their presentations without the slides.
Being too helpful. Nothing is more off-putting than the "no comment" spokesperson, especially when the CEO is being hauled off to jail or the restaurant's customers are in intensive care. Still, anyone giving a presentation, whether in-house or to the press, needs to remember that an audience exists and is most likely ready to pounce on untoward disclosures.
"Sometimes people try to be too helpful and too natural," says Friedman. "They don't think how the message is heard."
Looking at the floor -- or the ceiling. "Your eyes are the most intimate form of contact," says Friedman. If you make -- and maintain -- eye contact, your audience feels that you are speaking directly to them. She cites Bill Clinton in this regard. Forget your politics, she says, love him or hate him, there is no denying that he is a great communicator.
Reagan was too. "Maybe it was the actor in him," says Friedman. No matter, both men were geniuses at maintaining eye contact, looking at each person in every part of the audience.
"Don't just look in one corner, and forget the other three," says Friedman. Making eye contact with everyone in the room does not come naturally to most people, but it is a skill that can be learned. In a small room, make sure that you never, under any circumstances, let your eyes rove around the room when speaking to one person. Look over his shoulder in search of a more important prospect, and there is a good chance he will never forget the slight, but will quickly forget everything you were trying to convey.
Letting the words fall where they may. You can have great delivery. You can be personable. You can have stellar research backing your talk. But if your material is not organized, you will lose your audience.
Failing to build bridges. Never has there been a greater need for clear, sincere communication. Investors don't trust companies; employees don't trust management; customers suspect salespeople. Before a high-profile gaffe strikes too close to home, build up a solid rapport with stakeholders in all categories -- and with the press.
Getting nasty. When the sky falls in it is natural to become defensive. It is possible to become churlish. Don't. "What you say, how you say it, the way you look, the tone of your voice will instantly form the public's perception of you and your agency," says Friedman. "But there is something even more important than a laundry list of first impressions. It's called attitude, and it's sabotaged many an interview opportunity."
With luck, the next botulism outbreak or mutual fund skimming scam will not land at your door. With luck it will not be your employees on the picket line. But, should the worst happen, good communication practices, day in and day out, with staffers and with outsiders, will see you and your organization through.
The Somerset County Business Partnership is holding a "Geographical Information Systems for Business" forum on Wednesday, December 3, at 12:30 p.m. The half-day event takes place at the Raritan Valley Communnity College. Cost: $30. Call 908-218-4300.
The session shows how the newest GIS technology for business will lead to increased profits and improved operational efficiency and how government agencies will benefit from the latest applications of economic development GIS tools.
The seminar is divided into three integrated sessions. The first is a presentation of real world examples of how government agencies and businesses are partnering to introduce the GIS technology. The second is a presentation by Justin Fogerty, commercial account representative for Environmental Systems Research Institute, who speaks on business applications of GIS technology. The last session addresses driving directions, demographic reporting, delivery optimization, site selection applications for economic development, and facility management.
We have taken communication luxuries and turned them into necessities. The virtual meeting, once reserved as the privilege of the most senior managers, has become the standard outreach tool for everything from uniting design architects to training assembly line personnel. But at what point do the demands of training outstrip current technology? And what hurdles does the facilitator of virtual meetings face?
The technical, logistical, and human problems of online classes are unraveled in the workshop "Where Do I Begin? Implementing Your New Synchronous Learning Tool" on Thursday, December 4, at 5:30 p.m. the Courtyard by Marriott on Route 1. Cost: $40. Call 609-279-4818 or visit www.midnjASTD.org. Sponsored by the mid-New Jersey chapter of the American Society for Training and Development, this dinner meeting features Victoria MacDonald, training manager for BMW, North America. Her talk explores specific online systems and shows technical, human resource, and managerial people how to conduct virtual meetings and training sessions.
During her 15 years as a corporate trainer, MacDonald has witnessed and employed each new advance in virtual meeting technology -- a tool she sees as still in its adolescence. A true New Yorker, MacDonald grew up in Astoria Queens and took her B.A. from Columbia University, majoring in music and German. Moving to the Garden State, she earned an M.A. in adult education from Montclair State University.
In the following years, MacDonald honed her training and technical expertise at several companies, including CIBER, CALC/Canterbury, and ADP, where she headed up the content development department. For the past five years, as training manager for BMW North America, she has overseen skill improvement and meeting facilitation for over 1,300 employees.
"This is very complex and potentially confusing stuff," admits MacDonald, referring to the various synchronous learning packages. "The Centra system, which we use at BMW, Web Ex, HorizonLive, and Microsoft's Live Meeting all permit you to partner groups internally, externally, and blend a meeting with a presentation." Dazzled by the packages' amazing array of capabilities, it is easy for the facilitator to stumble over the operational and human challenges involved.
Real time, real reactions. "Compared with the older technology, synchronous learning offers a more robust meeting," says MacDonald. "You get feedback -- hear people clap, laugh, and express so much more than is shown by a typed response on a screen." All of this communication exists in real time, collapsing geographical boundaries, while using only about only one gigabyte of download memory. "You can participate in your company's meeting with only a 56K modem dial-up," she says.
Flexing your own time. In the olden days, if you got stuck in traffic, you missed the meeting. Now, with a synchronous system, your colleagues may miss your input, but at least you can see how they muddled along without you, because the meeting is recorded. You can view it from your laptop as you sit in the traffic jam. Further, such recording and additional narration capabilities allow trainers to turn meetings into teaching tools. For example, the meeting of the ethics committee or the disaster preparedness committee can be shown on convenient schedules throughout the entire shop.
Hiding behind the screen. "In many situations," says MacDonald, "there is a great benefit to the anonymity of this meeting style." She has found that people are more willing to talk and express risky ideas in a virtual meeting than they are when a circle of colleagues are staring at them across a conference table. The virtual atmosphere helps bring out the more tentative speakers and seems, for reasons as yet to be explained, to rein in the group's more garrulous individuals.
This same anonymity, however, can give the facilitator or trainer a definite handicap. There is no body language to read, and thus no way to tell if the participants are absorbing the lesson or just gently dozing off. Faced with this environment, MacDonald instructs her teachers to spend extra time re-stating, paraphrasing, and reinterpreting each item of information.
The invasive webcam. Sticking a little inexpensive webcam eye atop each participant's computer may seem a simple solution to the faceless meeting dilemma. But in truth most people do not always consider the anonymity a problem. Our brains can be in full gear while we sit unshaven in undershirt and bunny slippers, so let's just keep the illusion, shall we?
Beyond their inhibiting presence, webcams transfer a jerky image and, at this stage of their development, in MacDonald's view, distract from, rather than add to, a meeting's focus. Far better to place thumbnail pictures of each participant on the screen. The facilitator can add names and locations to these photos and can highlight them as each individual speaks.
Facilitator woes. Rather than aiming to emulate the conference room, he might better examine the program for what it is, work with its weaknesses, and play to its strengths. "Delivery to this absent audience demands more excitement," insists MacDonald. "You cannot just show a series of 25 PowerPoints and not expect a chorus of snores in response."
The technical hurdles are also high. As technology becomes more complex, there are more things that can go wrong. There has to be substantial rehearsal and frequent tech checks. Along with this comes the human element. At least one participant in each group is bound to be a technophobe, or a technoboob. To make sure he is not shut out, make the interface as painless and bug-free as possible.
Peering into the her crystal screen, MacDonald foresees an explosion of applications for synchronous learning in every business aspect from corporate compliance, to sales confabs, to skills updating. Doubtless, she predicts, there will come a time when visual capabilities will join all communications -- an invasion that will require an entire new system of business etiquette. Yet whatever comes, now is the time to hop on board. Geography need no longer limit the flow of information.
-- Bart Jackson
A five-year-old business specializing in pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry recruitment is expanding and diversifying by acquiring a life sciences-related Internet website with financing assistance from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) and Sun National Bank.
The EDA and Sun National Bank partnered in the $1 million financing through the Authority's Statewide Loan Pool for Business program, with the EDA providing a 25 percent participation of $250,000 at an initial interest rate of 3 percent and a 25 percent guarantee of the bank's portion of the loan.
The funds are being used by Career Innovations and CI Ventures in a $3 million transaction to acquire the Internet services division of Biospace.com, a company founded in 1995 to serve the life sciences industry with a news and information website, at www.biospace.com
"This is an exciting business acquisition," said EDA Chief Executive Officer Caren S. Franzini in a prepared statement. "It combines an already successful personnel recruiting firm with an Internet-based business and underscores the kinds of business opportunities that can be nurtured in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries with EDA assistance. In this case, our Statewide Loan Pool for Business was a perfect fit with the financial needs of the applicant."
The Biospace.com website gets more than 900,000 visits per month, the largest life sciences audience on the Internet. The Biospace.com Career Center offers job postings and career information to more than 200,000 scientific users per month, making it the second most visited employment website for bio-professionals, according to the company. This feature of the website fits well with the core services of Career Innovations, a company founded in 1998 by Christopher Amato, the president and chief executive officer, and his father, Thomas, who now serves in an advisory role.
Career Innovations provides comprehensive recruiting strategies for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. It has helped clients hire some 2,500 professionals with an estimated recruitment savings of $35,000 per placement. The company and its related subsidiary currently employ 15 workers and expect to add 10 jobs as a result of the acquisition.
Christopher Amato said he learned about the EDA through Sun National Bank. Doing business with the EDA "put our bank in a better position," he said. "Our relationship with the bank is very strong and it wanted the EDA to be part of the transaction," said Amato, noting the EDA offered a favorable rate of interest as well.
"The EDA's participation was instrumental in making the acquisition happen," said Amato. "The acquisition has more than doubled the size of the company and expanded our operations from the East Coast to the West Coast as well. Before we were strictly pharmaceutical in nature, but this has expanded us more into the biotech and similar industries."
Amato explained that Career Innovations is a facilitator. It conducts recruiting events throughout the nation for client companies, bringing them together with suitable, experienced potential employees. The company also provides an employment website at www.hirehealth.com that provides a constant flow of potential pharmaceutical job seekers to client companies. With the acquisition of www.biospace.com the company expects to solidify its position as the leading recruiting and information resource for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries because it will conduct similar recruiting events for clients and also feature awareness campaigns and information for biotech job seekers.
Under the Statewide Loan Pool for Business program, loans from $50,000 to $5 million are available through a combination of EDA and bank financing. The EDA directly can lend up to 25 percent to a maximum $500,000 and can guarantee up to 30 percent of the bank portion of financing. Since it began in 1992 the program has provided over $125 million in EDA financing for 590 projects that resulted in total new investments of $490 million and generated almost 8,400 new jobs.
The EDA was established in 1974 to promote economic growth and create jobs. It has arranged more than $16 billion in financing since its inception. For more information about the EDA's Statewide Loan Pool for Business or other EDA financing programs, call 609-292-1800 or visit the EDA's website at www.njeda.com
Reinforcing New Jersey's position as a leader in research and development, a record 189 New Jersey high tech companies have been approved to participate in the state's popular technology tax credit incentive program that helps them finance their growth and operations.
The Technology Business Tax Certificate Transfer Program makes $40 million available each year to assist high-tech and emerging technology businesses. Administered by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA), the program lets qualified high-tech companies sell unused Net Operating Loss (NOL) carry forwards and unused research and development tax credits to other profitable New Jersey corporations for at least 75 percent of their value.
"Notwithstanding the difficult budget situation that faced New Jersey again this year, Governor James E. McGreevey showed great commitment in supporting continuation of this program, which provides a critical cash lifeline to companies developing the products and technologies of tomorrow," EDA Chairman Al Koeppe said in a prepared statement. "The governor sponsored the legislation that established the program while serving as a state senator in 1997 and recognizes that maintaining program funding is essential to New Jersey's efforts to attract and sustain high-tech businesses and industries."
EDA Chief Executive Officer Caren S. Franzini noted that this was the fifth straight year of record approvals since the program began in 1999.
"This year represents a 14 percent increase over the 166 participating companies approved in 2002," she said. "In the five years that the program has been in existence, high-tech companies have raised $210 million in cash to support their growth and development. This program has benefited businesses representing a wide range of high tech industries from life sciences to electronics and software."
Franzini said the 2003 applicants include 131 companies that took part in the program in 2002 and 58 new applicants. A business can apply more than once for assistance subject to a total lifetime cap of $10 million.
Businesses that have NOLs or research and development tax credits to sell can use the proceeds to finance business expenses, including equipment purchases, facility expansions, product marketing or to pay salaries. Companies that purchase NOLs or tax credits must do at least a major portion of their business in New Jersey.
Paul B. Freedman, chief financial officer of Akers Laboratories of Thoroughfare, says the technology tax credit program has played a significant role in the company's ability to be successful and turn a profit this year. Akers, which develops point-of-care diagnostic products used in the early detection and immediate treatment of various illnesses, has participated in the program for three years.
"Early on, this additional facility actually made a difference between our surviving and not surviving," he says. "The program has been a very important part of our story."
NovaDel Pharma of Flemington is a specialty pharmaceutical company engaged in the development of novel drug-delivery systems for prescription and over-the-counter drugs that has taken part in the technology tax credit program for four years.
"It certainly has enabled us to do things that we wouldn't have done, or couldn't have done, if it wasn't available," says CFO Don Deitman. "It has given us a nice boost and allowed us to grow."
To be eligible for the program, a company must be a new or expanding technology or biotechnology business with a maximum of 225 employees and should have at least 75 percent of its workforce in New Jersey. A company is deemed ineligible if it had a profit within the two most recent years, if ongoing revenue exceeded 110 percent of expenses, or if it has a profitable parent business.
High-tech companies have until June 30 each year to apply. Applications are reviewed by the Division of Taxation to establish the value of the tax loss or tax credit benefit. The Commission on Science and Technology reviews the applications for technology qualifications. The EDA makes the final determination on eligibility and awards are announced each fall. When an application is approved, a certificate is issued that identifies the value of the tax benefit being exchanged and transfers it from the selling to the buying company.
The EDA was established in 1974 to promote economic growth and create jobs. It has arranged more than $16 billion in financing since its inception. For more information about the Technology Business Tax Certificate Transfer Program or other EDA financing programs, call 609-292-1800 or visit the EDA's website at www.njeda.com
Digital Brand Expressions, an e-marketing shop located in Kingston, has named Bonnie Schlangen as the agency's newest marketing coordinator for client services, a newly created position.
Most recently, Schlangen was a marketing coordinator with Smith Hanley Associates, an executive search firm in New York City. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, where she majored in educational psychology with a concentration in communications, she will implement marketing programs designed to increase site traffic for several of the firm's clients.
Digital Brand Expressions www.digitalbrandexpessions. com) specializes in advanced search engine marketing and visitor optimization.
On Thursday, November 6, the SERV and CIFA Foundation held its 29th annual Thanks for Giving event at the Grounds for Sculpture. The event celebrated the significant strides clients had made during the previous year and the exceptional work and dedication of the staff.
Fox Rothschild was title sponsor of the event. The raffle of a 2004 Boxster Porsche was made possible by Princeton Porsche.
SERV Behavioral Health System supplies care to individuals recovering from mental illness and from addictions.
Merrill Lynch hosted Thanksgiving Holiday Calls on Saturday, November 22. The firm opened its Roszel Road Global Private Office to approximately 100 disadvantaged elderly persons who used its phones to call friends and family around the world.
Merrill Lynch employees and their families were on hand to give any assistance required.
Bristol-Myers Squibb has awarded $10,000 to the Trenton After School Program to support a new science education initiative. The science program is designed to foster intellectual curiosity about many areas in the sciences and health. The curriculum will consist of science and health instruction, including the use of educational kits, videos, and scientific software, and field trips.
A variety of topics will be available for each group, and children may select topics that interest them. Each program will contain lesson plans, outlines, and measurement tool kits. The programs are designed to encourage discussion and include interdisciplinary extensions for reading, language arts, math, and social studies.
Trenton After School Program is an outreach ministry of the Nassau Presbyterian Church and Trinity Episcopal Church of Princeton. Some 20 individuals from the community, local schools, universities, and sponsoring churches volunteer an average of one afternoon a week.
Tyco's Princeton office recently participated in National Denim Day, a fundraiser supporting the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
Employees' donations totaled some $1,300. The money will go toward cancer education, research, and screening, and aid for cancer sufferers.
Dr. Cynthia Matossian is one of 239 EyeCare America Seniors EyeCare Program volunteer ophthalmologists in New Jersey.
The group, which can be reached at 800-222-3937, provides free eye care to seniors, age 65 or older, who have not seen an ophthalmologist in three years or more. Eligible patients are matched with a nearby volunteer, who provides a comprehensive medical eye examination and up to one year of treatment for any disease diagnosed during the initial visit.
The volunteers have agreed to waive Medicare or other insurance co-payments and unmet deductibles, resulting in no out-of-pocket cost to the patient. Seniors without insurance receive care at no charge.
In New Jersey, 13,893 people have taken advantage of the program. Nationwide, the program has received more than 654,000 calls, has provided service to 352,795, and has treated more than 180,000 cases of eye disease.
On Friday, November 21, New Jersey NAIOP took part in the governor's Adopt a Neighborhood Program by hosting a Community Service Day. As its project, the group gathered some 75 volunteers to construct a playground at the West Side Recreation Area on Bang Avenue in Asbury Park.
A special donation to the project was made by Bruce Springsteen.
As a tribute to Jerry Lancaster, founder of the Princeton Keller Williams Real Estate Agency , the franchise, at 100 Canal Pointe Boulevard www.princeton-area-homes.com), gave over $6,000 to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition. Lancaster succumbed to the disease in 2002.
Yvonne Miner, team leader, says "This contribution represents the beginning of a campaign our office will conduct each September. It includes both personal and agent gifts. In the future, we will allocate 5 percent of our September profit to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition."
The agency plans to establish a walk as well, according to Max Lancaster, who participated in a Philadelphia fundraising walk in honor of his late wife.
"The real estate industry is comprised of a large percentage of women," he said in a prepared statement. "An estimated 14,300 women will die from ovarian cancer this year. The disease is very treatable if it is detected early, but too many cases are not diagnosed in time. So not only want to raise funds, but awareness."
The New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants has created a web-based Identity Theft Resource Center as a public service. The center provides suggestions for ways to avoid becoming a victim, measures to take "just in case," and action steps for people whose personal information has been compromised.
The NJSCPA points out that, according to the Federal Trade Commission, identity theft is the fastest-growing form of crime in the United States. Estimates of the total number of victims vary, but the total is suspected to be 600,000 victims a year.
Identity theft takes many forms. Stolen credit cards and credit card numbers that are used to make purchases are at the low end of the spectrum. Such theft, however, is a time-consuming nuisance. On the other hand, more sophisticated identity theft can involve hefty monetary loses, personal liability for debts, and a credit history that is a tangled nightmare.
The NJSCPA Identity Theft Resource Center features an online Identity Theft Quiz to help people assess their awareness and vulnerability to identity theft crimes.
Go to www.njscpa.org/identitytheft for more information about identity theft and instructions on how to check your credit report.
The Eden Family of Services, a not-for-profit dedicated to providing lifespan services to children and adults with autism, is looking for donations of furniture and supplies. It expresses gratitude to the individuals and businesses who have recently donated office furniture, computers, refrigerators, and cleaning supplies, and who have given their time to tasks such as painting one of Eden's group homes.
Among recent donors are Bohren's United Van Lines, which donated a significant amount of furniture.
Some of the items on Eden's Wish List are office furniture and supplies, home furnishings, computer equipment, large and small appliances, vehicles, and exercise equipment.
To donate to Eden, or to learn more about its needs, call 609-987-0099 or visit www.edenservices.org.
Working women are invited to apply for scholarships from the Hightstown/East Windsor Business & Professional Women's group. The Career Development awards are given to women 25 years or older who are in school, or who are returning to school, at a two or four-year college or in a vocational training program.
The group promotes full participation, equity, and economic self-sufficiency for working women, and extends opportunities for all women to continue their personal development through networking, educational leadership, and organizational activities.
The application deadline for the scholarships is February 28. Call 609-448-6954 for more information.
The U.S. Small Business Administration is searching for outstanding New Jersey small business owners and small business advocates who will be honored during Small Business Week next May.
Awards will be presented to the Small Business Person of the Year, and to small business advocates in the areas of minority, women, veteran, financial services, home-based business, and small business journalist.
Special awards will be presented to the Small Business Exporter of the Year, Young Entrepreneur of the Year, and Family-Owned Business of the Year.
Nominations should be submitted to the SBA Newark District Office at Two Gateway Center, 15th Floor, Newark, 07102. The deadline for all nominations is Wednesday, December 10. For information on eligibility criteria and guidelines and to receive a copy of the nomination forms, contact Henry Menta at 973-645-6064 or e-mail email@example.com.