New Jersey Votes

She’s Cooking Up Franchises

Managing Menopause at Work

Trenton’s Business Week

Searching for a Peanut Replacement

Women Helping Women

Corrections or additions?

These articles were prepared for the September 29, 2004 issue of

U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Survival Guide

Top Of Page
New Jersey Votes

What issues are the most important to you in this election? Is it the

economy? Is it national security? Would you like to know more about

the candidates and issues before you decide? The candidates have

defined their issues, but are they the issues most important to voters

in New Jersey?

"Election 2004: How Will New Jersey Vote and Why?" provides some

answers. The forum offers the public an opportunity to hear different

perspectives on the many issues of the campaign, along with

assessments on how successful the candidates have been in reaching New

Jersey voters. It takes place on Friday, October 1, at 8:30 a.m. at

the Conference Center at Mercer County Community College. Cost: $20.

Call 609-586-4800, ext. 3856. The day begins with a straw poll of the

participants followed by presentations and a question and answer

period.

"In most recent presidential elections the general assumption is that

people are interested in two broad issues: the economy and world

relations," says Ingrid Reed, who moderates the forum. "This year,

surveys are showing that international relations are much more of a

focus for many people than in the past."

"But how will the issues of economy versus international relations

play out in New Jersey?" Reed asks. "We hope our forum will give the

people who attend more of the information that they need to know for

this election."

Reed is the director of the Eagleton New Jersey Project, a part of the

Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University. The New Jersey

Project, she says, is designed to study governance and politics

specifically of New Jersey. The New Jersey Project has initiated

programs on better campaign activity, welfare reform, government and

information technology, and state planning and governance.

Other members of the panel are Miguel Centeno, director of the

Princeton Institute for International and Regional Affairs, who

discusses "The War on Terrorism and U.S. Relations with Other

Nations;" Joseph Seneca, professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School

of Planning & Public Policy at Rutgers University and chairman of the

New Jersey Council of Economic Advisors, who speaks on "The Domestic

Economy;" Roger Bodman, senior partner, Public Strategies Impact and a

Republican political analyst, who presents "The Republican

Perspective;" and Julie Roginsky, political and public relations

consultant with Comprehensive Communications Group and a Democratic

political analyst, who presents "The Democratic Perspective."

"We want to know just which issues are affecting people in New

Jersey," says Reed. "Our forum is interactive. After the discussions

and polling take place the participants will have a chance to talk

with, and ask questions of the panel," she says.

Participants in the forum will take part in a straw poll to gauge

which key issues New Jerseyans find most important this year. At the

end of the forum the results of the poll will be announced and there

will be an opportunity to discuss "how the New Jersey perspective is

the same or different from the rest of the country," says Reed.

One way in which New Jersey obviously differs from the rest of the

country this year is in job growth, says Bodman, who offers the

Republican perspective at the forum. "New Jersey has seen greater job

growth than the rest of the country in the last few years," he says.

"In fact, it has been something of a star in economic growth. That

means that the economy may not be as important an issue in New

Jersey."

Bodman served in two cabinet positions in the administration of former

Governor Tom Kean and has worked on several national and state

election campaigns. He is currently a visiting professor at Rutgers

University’s Eagleton Institute of Politics and is a frequent

political commentator and analyst and election night commentator for

NJN News. He is senior partner in a lobbying and communications firm

based in Trenton.

"Historical trends show the state has voted mostly Democratic

recently," says Bodman. "In the last election vice president Al Gore

won the state by about 5 million votes. In 1996 President Clinton won

handily, and in 1992, he won the state by a narrow margin." This year,

however, "both parties realize the state is in play," says Bodman.

"You can see that by Mrs. Bush’s trip to Hamilton recently." The

possible shift doesn’t surprise him. Prior to the last three

elections, New Jerseyans voted Republican for president for six

elections in a row.

In part, that shift from Republican to Democrat can be accounted for

by shifting and growing populations, says Bodman, but it is also an

indicator of New Jersey’s independent nature. "Registered Democrats

may outnumber Republicans in the state, but the largest group of

voters in New Jersey register as independent," he says. In fact,

several times in recent decades New Jersey has voted for Democrats for

the Senate and for governor while voting Republican for president. On

Election Day, says Bodman, the people of New Jersey, like the rest of

the American people, will base their decision on "their perception of

who is better able to handle the situation," whether it is national

security, the war in Iraq, or the economy.

The October forum aims to help New Jerseyans make that decision for

themselves. Says Bodman, "The more the public is educated on all of

the issues the better."

– Karen Miller

Top Of Page
She’s Cooking Up Franchises

Many people like to cook – some do it for pay, others open

restaurants. But Gina Martinez has created a business around her love

for teaching cooking. With her business, "Viva the Chef," she teaches

children and teens how to cook, and she offers team-building sessions

for corporations.

Martinez started small, but her ideas spread at a spectacular pace.

From her headquarters in Morristown, New Jersey, she has 27 new stores

in development. This fall she is opening franchises in Rosemont,

Pennsylvania; Birmingham, Alabama; and Weston, Florida. Coming in 2005

are franchises in California, New York, Ohio, and Puerto Rico.

With a speech entitled "Dare to Dream," Martinez keynotes the half-day

workshop, "How to Raise Capital for Women-Owned Businesses," at

Fairleigh Dickinson in Madison, on Saturday, October 2, at 8:30 a.m.

Other speakers will represent Lindabury, McCormick & Estabrook;

Commerce Bank; and Weeks, Holderbaum, Huber & DeGraw. Attendees will

meet the panel of lending, legal, and business-planning experts and

have individual coaching sessions. Cost: $50. Call 973-443-8880.

Nationally women own nearly 50 percent of all businesses, but in New

Jersey the 175,000 women-owned businesses represent only 26 percent of

all businesses in the state. New Jersey’s growth rate is disappointing

as well. The state ranks only 34th in the growth of the number of

women-owned businesses between 1997 and 2002.

One possible obstacle for women, the experts say, is that they start

out without access to the supportive networks available to men. So

Fairleigh Dickinson’s Female Entrepreneurs Alliance – the sponsor of

this workshop – provides a chance for women to network and to give

each other business support and mentoring.

On October 2 Martinez will encourage women to find business

opportunities by following their talents and their interests, and she

will tell how to use persistence and enthusiasm to take these ideas to

the next level. "To me food and kids are my passion," says Martinez.

Martinez grew up in Miami, where her parents met after leaving Cuba in

1960 after the revolution, and she liked spending time in the kitchen

of her grandfather’s Cuban restaurant. At home, she helped her mother,

a naturally gifted cook. She worked as an airline stewardess and,

after earning a teaching degree, she founded a preschool, Toddler

University. Then she created the culinary programs for children, Viva

the Chef and Viva the Chef on Wheels. Now she has the task of building

a solid infrastructure.

At the flagship store, four full-time teachers have culinary arts

degrees and eight part-time employees are "prep chefs," often former

students, who prepare the ingredients and help individuals. Pat Fiore

of Morristown-based Fiore Associates is handling the marketing for

Viva La Chef. Illinois-based Francorp helped to organize the

franchising and Christiane Cabot left Francorp to work for Martinez.

The core business is a store front with three elements – the cooking

studios, a store, and a cafe/reception area that serves snacks, soups

and sandwiches. As many as 25 students can be in one class, and each

has a set of tools and ingredients. Class fees range from $39 to $70,

depending on the number of sessions and the type of lesson. Martinez

has leveraged parental time problems. Instead of a time-consuming

drop-off and pick-up for each lesson, parents view the class through a

one-way mirror. Or they can wait in the cafe, buy snacks prepared by

the teacher/chef, and put more money in the franchisee’s pocket.

The actual presentations are very theatrical, and the presenters –

culinary experts – must follow the script written by Martinez. The

scripts teach the preparation techniques, nutritional values, food

safety, and the culture of the food they are preparing, whether it is

pizza or sushi. Along the way students read recipes and food labels,

measure ingredients, learn to plan menus, and practice setting a

table.

Franchising started in April. It takes a minimum of $250,000 to open a

Viva the Chef store, including the $35,000 franchising fee and a

three-month cushion of working capital. In addition to curriculum and

materials, franchisees get four weeks of training. They pay six

percent royalty on gross sales, plus two percent for national

advertising (including the website, the 800 number, magazine ads, and

even a TV cartoon), and they are expected to spend one percent on

local advertising (print ads, book covers, and theater programs).

Peter Casey, a franchising expert for Capital Franchise Group on

Forsgate Drive, notes that costs are similar to other child-oriented

businesses. For instance, the franchise for BabyPower, a parent-child

play facility on Vreeland Drive, costs $32,500 including training and

about $8,000 worth of tumbling equipment. "The market for this type of

business is strong, and they are filling a niche in this industry that

will probably be well received," says Casey.

Many franchisees remortgage their home to get the capital for a

franchise, but because much of the money for Viva the Chef goes to pay

for appliances, banks are often willing to make loans.

Buying a Viva the Chef on Wheels van is optional. Martinez had used

her stewardess experience to design a big cart that contains all the

materials and can roll out of the van into a home, a classroom, a

hospital, or a senior center. These demonstrations cost about $10 per

person.

"When children get a positive experience, it builds their self

esteem," says Fiore, the marketing consultant. "They can make the

cupcakes, and they can make the pizza – they help their mom out and

their siblings thank them for it." And when the pizza is made as part

of a corporate team building session "you get creative thinking you

would not necessarily find in a board room."

"It’s not just about cooking but about nutritional sensibilities and

about learning self esteem and confidence," says Fiore. "It will have

tremendous influence on the rest of their lives – that is the exciting

part of this concept."

– Barbara Fox

Top Of Page
Managing Menopause at Work

Well past the insecurities of youth, poised and in control of their

careers, many women are sideswiped by perimenopause, an up-to-10-year

pre-menopausal stage. The life-stage change can cause even the

flintiest executives to sweat, flush, and lose precious sleep.

Having survived all the rigors of children and family, it is

unsettling for some working women to have to go through yet another

challenging time of life. But there are ways of making the

perimenopausal years easier. Maybe all of the symptoms cannot be

eliminated, but they can often be ameliorated, says Dr. Kathryn J.

Robison.

Robison, an internist on the staff of the University Medical Center at

Princeton, speaks on menopause during the Women’s Health Conference of

the Princeton Healthcare System Foundation on Saturday, October 2, at

8 a.m. at the Hyatt. Also speaking are actress Debra Winger and a

number of health care professionals. Topics include nutrition and

exercise. The admission price, $45, includes not only breakfast and

lunch, but also child care. Call 609-497-4164 to register.

Robison, who has practiced at Princeton Medical Center for eight

years, is a graduate of UMDNJ and a Skillman resident.

The average age of menopause is 51, she says, but it can be a number

of years later – or earlier. Perimenopausal symptoms are not uncommon

at in the early 40s. Often, says Robison, they are relatively mild,

and sometimes are absent altogether. The most troublesome side effect

of the run up to menopause, she says, is interrupted sleep. Getting

through a packed day is difficult enough on a full eight hours of

uninterrupted shut eye, but restless nights can wreak havoc with any

satisfying work/life balancing act.

In Robison’s opinion, however, many of the sleep-robbing and

meeting-interrupting symptoms of menopause can be substantially

alleviated by lifestyle changes. "A lot gets back to healthy living,"

she says. Avoid caffeine, get plenty of exercise, and eat a balanced

diet, is her advice. If symptoms persist and interfere with daily

routine, she is not adverse to suggesting hormone therapy. While there

has been substantial controversy on the subject following research

results showing an elevated risk of heart disease and cancer, she

thinks that the risks are so small that short-term use of hormones

should not be a problem for most women.

Meanwhile, back at the office, perimenopausal women should consider

dressing in layers and keeping their thermostats set way down, Robison

suggests. If male co-workers are chilly, let them put on sweaters.

Career women have already made it over so many hurdles and have

juggled so much to meet demands of work and family that they should

not flinch when ordering up a just slightly Arctic work environment.

Top Of Page
Trenton’s Business Week

More than 2,700 attended Trenton’s Small Business Week last year, and

this year, the 11th annual event for entrepreneurs and small business

owners expects to be even bigger. For efficiency the schedule is

compressed from five days to four, Monday to Thursday, October 4 to 7.

The Entrepreneur of the Year awards will be given out at the kickoff

breakfast on Monday, and the Mercer Chamber’s lunch will be at the

Lafayette Yard Marriott on Tuesday. The Chamber’s business expo on

Tuesday will be spread out between the Marriott and the adjacent War

Memorial Theater. To get to some of the other venues – such as the

Trenton Business and Technology Center or MCCC’s James Kerney Campus –

will require reparking or brisk walk.

Most events are free. Register at www.smallbizweek.com or by calling

609-989-5232.

Monday, October 4:

At the Marriott, Lafayette Yard, The kickoff networking breakfast

features Michael Trebing, senior economic analyst, Federal Reserve

Bank of Philadelphia, along with Mayor Douglas H. Palmer and Brian

Hughes, County Executive. 8 a.m.

Marriott, Lafayette Yard. "How to Ensure that You Get Paid," Michael

Pucciarelli of Bartolomei Pucciarelli LLC. 10:30 a.m.

Trenton Business & Technology Center, 36 South Broad, "Top Human

Resource Do’s You Need to Know," Jennifer Zbinden, Center or Human

Resource Services Inc. 1 p.m.

Thomas Edison State College, Room 102, 101 West State, "Target

Marketing – Winning Techniques to Reach Your Market," Blaine

Greenfield, Blaine Greenfield Associates. 3 p.m.

Trenton Business & Technology Center, 36 South Broad, "Financial

Planning for Business Owners," Nunzio Cernero, MCCC. 6 p.m.

Tuesday, October 5:

MCCC James Kerney Campus, North Broad & Academy Streets, "Doing

Business with the Government," TCNJ SBDC. 8 a.m.

Thomas Edison State College, Room 102, 101 West State, "Mastering the

Sales Call – Overcoming Objections," Rocky Romeo of Rocky Romeo LLC.

10 a.m.

Marriott, Lafayette Yard, Michael Fink of Leewood Real Estate Group,

Greater Mercer County Chamber. $40. Call 609-393-4143. 11:30 a.m.

NJEDA Board Room, 36 West State Street, "Introduction to Business

Valuation, Sales, and Transitions," Amper Politziner, and Mattia. 2:30

p.m.

Trenton Business & Technology Center, 36 South Broad, "How to Submit a

Successful Bid/Proposal: the Consent of Surety, Stock Disclosure, and

Affirmative Action Requirements," Karen Marut, City of Trenton. 6 p.m.

Wednesday, October 6:

Marriott, Lafayette Yard, "Resources for Small Business," with TCNJ

SBDC, NJ EDA Entrepreneurial Training Program, Trenton Business &

Technology Center, Regional Business Assistance Corp., Mercer County

Office of Economic Opportunity, and the New Jersey State Library. 9

a.m. and 1 p.m.

"Small Business Health Benefits," Lisa Snyder of Kistler Tiffany

Benefits, moderator, with Nottingham Insurance & Financial Services,

HealthSense Inc., and NJ Department of Banking and Small Health

Benefits Program Insurance. 11 a.m.

Mercer Chamber Business Expo with "Meet the Purchasing Agents" at the

hotel, and tasting cuisine at the War Memorial. Call 609-393-4143. 11

a.m. to 4 p.m.

"Winning Media Advertising: Do’s and Don’ts for Print, Radio, & TV,"

moderated by Art Cianfano, Trenton Business & Technology Center, with

panelists from the Times, U.S. 1, Comcast, and Nassau Broadcasting. 3

p.m.

Roman Hall Bar & Restaurant, 100 Whittaker Avenue, Networking and

reception sponsored by the Metropolitan Trenton African American

Chamber of Commerce. 5 p.m.

Trenton Business & Technology Center, 36 South Broad, "Financial

Statements and Loan Applications: What the Lenders Look For," Scot

Pannepacker, Lear & Pannepacker LLP CPA. 6 p.m.

Thursday, October: 7

Thomas Edison State College, Room 102, 101 West State, "Build a Better

Business Plan," Bob Small, Ressler & Small CPA. 8 a.m.

"Creating a Web Site That Gets You Noticed," David Krumholz, Strand

Management & Vision Line Media. 10 a.m.

MCCC James Kerney Campus, North Broad & Academy Streets, "Meet the

Lenders," more than 10 top SBA lenders. Bring business plans or

executive summaries. 1 p.m.

NJEDA Board Room, 36 West State Street, "Legal Basics of Business

Formation and Contracting," Lynn Blessing McDougall. 3 p.m.

Malaga Restaurant, 511 Lalor Street, "Guidelines on Obtaining

Permits/Licenses for Business in the City," sponsored by Latino

Chamber of Commerce. 6 p.m.

Trenton Business & Technology Center, 36 South Broad, "Quick Books –

How to Quicken Your Recordkeeping," Rosemary Fisher, Real

Possibilities. 6 p.m.

Top Of Page
Searching for a Peanut Replacement

Everyday you receive them, maybe even send them: crates and boxes of

supplies or merchandise for work, and smaller packages for home. But

how do those packages get from the warehouse to you? Anyone involved

in the profession of engineering is well aware of all the details of

filling, packing, and shipping orders. For the rest of us, even if we

are in businesses that ship products daily, the process is probably a

mystery.

Clay Hardy would like to help business learn more about the

intricacies of packing and shipping. Hardy is vice president of sales

for Hughes Enterprises, which hosts its second annual Shipping and

Packaging Expo from Tuesday through Thursday, October 5 through 7, at

its facilities at 2 Industrial Drive in Trenton. This year’s expo

focuses on individualized demonstrations of the latest innovations in

ultra-secure shipping and packaging. Hughes Enterprises represents

"all the main lines" of packaging equipment, says Hardy, and the expo

features products from a number of suppliers, including 3M, Sealed

Air, Audion, Better Packages, Clarke Scrubbers, and Combi.

The expo is open to executives, plant managers, and anyone with

responsibility for shipping and packaging equipment and systems

purchases in any size organization. In addition, those who

pre-register can schedule private demonstrations aimed at their

specific needs. Call 888-238-0162 for reservations

Now is a particularly good time for business owners to look into

purchasing new packaging equipment, says Hardy. Federal tax breaks

that allow companies to write off capital expenditures within a short

period of time are ending this year, he explains. This may make it

advantageous for a company to consider purchasing new equipment.

While packing and shipping may seem dull to many people, Hardy, who

received his undergraduate degree in package engineering from the

Rochester Institute of Technology, is enthusiastic about all areas of

his business. Before joining Hughes, Hardy worked for a number of

other packaging companies, including Pakoil Company and Sealed Air

Corporation.

Security in packaging and shipping has become "paramount," says Hardy,

as companies try to minimize their losses from theft and breakage.

While a company can never totally eradicate these two problems, there

are steps that can cut the damage.

A big problem with pilfering and theft, says Hardy, is finding that

boxes have been opened and part or all of the contents removed. The

box is then re-taped and shipped to its destination, where the missing

contents may not detected for weeks – or ever. The solution to this

sneaky theft can be as easy as changing the tape on the package. One

of the newest solutions to the problem is security tape. One type of

high adhesive tape tears away the box as it is peeled, so it is easy

to tell if it has been tampered with. Another type of tape leaves a

printed message on the box if it is peeled away.

During the expo, says Hardy, the warehouse at Hughes Enterprises will

be opened and set up to simulate the stages of a completely automated

packaging facility.

Stage One includes management software to help track the packaging

process. These systems are designed to speed up packaging and reduce a

variety of problems. Some corporations, Wal-Mart among them, says

Hardy, are leading a push for completely automated tracking in

warehouses.

Stage Two consists of a variety of products and systems for "filling

the voids" in boxes and cartons, from sealed air pillows to foam

cushions to the ubiquitous Styrofoam peanuts. "Everyone hates peanuts,

from the packer in the warehouse to the person who gets the package at

home," says Hardy. "They are an environmental hazard. They are hard to

recycle. They are bulky and it is easy to lose an order in them. They

get everywhere and are hard to clean up, and they are just a mess!"

A lot of thought has been put into peanut replacement, he says, but it

is difficult to compete with the ease of filling a box with peanuts –

the least expensive and lightest of filling materials. However, Hardy

offers many alternatives from foam cushioning to void filling air bags

and "pillows" to paper "dunnage" and bubble wrap. These solutions,

while more expensive, offer better protection from breakage than

peanuts. "Peanuts are like the cereal in a cereal box; they compress

and settle while the items that you have packaged become the surprise

at the bottom of the box," says Hardy.

Stage Three includes case erectors and case sealers, which take flat,

corrugated boxes and automatically open them, fold them, and seal

them. When the boxes are packed and filled with "void filling dunnage"

a machine seals the boxes and labels them.

Stage Four includes "palletizers," equipment that aids in placing

several cartons or cases onto pallets for movement around and out of

the warehouse. "As boxes are filled and sealed the palletizer picks up

several boxes at once, puts them on a pallet, and comes back for more.

Instead of one box at a time, the palletizer will pick up 20 – or

more. This helping "hand" can greatly reduce back problems and

repetitive motion injuries among employees.

"It virtually eliminates the repetitive job of bending over and

picking up box after box by hand," says Hardy. "Instead, that employee

is now overseeing an entire packaging line.."

It’s not glamorous, but packaging plays a part in nearly every

business transaction. Can you imagine a world without cardboard boxes?

– Karen Miller

Top Of Page
Women Helping Women

Today – to steal from the old song – woman are bringing home the bacon

(organic, naturally), frying it up in a pan, all while juggling kids,

yoga class, aging parents, and maybe a man. Yep, they’re women…and

we’re not talking your Carol Brady type either.

Today’s women are juggling more than ever before. Downsizing means

more to do at work; anxiety over increased competition for spots in

top colleges means more pressure at home; a realization of the

lifelong importance of strong relationships translates into more

attention to friends and family. Whether they’re managing companies or

families, taking care of their health or the health of their

communities, doing grass-roots political work or simply cutting the

grass in their backyards, women are managing to-do lists at home,

school, work, and all around the state.

This year, to support those women, the New Jersey Department of

Community Affairs (NJDCA) is holding the Governor’s Conference on

Women on Wednesday, October 6, at the Hyatt Regency in New Brunswick.

Designed to provide an opportunity to network with women in

government, healthcare, education, advocacy and business, the day-long

event features more than 25 different sessions to inform and inspire.

Cost:$85, but less for students and seniors. Call 609-292-7739.

"I believe that government, business, social services – all arenas of

our lives are stronger when we have diverse voices around the table,"

says Susan Bass Levin, commissioner of the NJDCA, who chairs the

event." Whether it’s in the corporate world or non-profit we all have

a part to play. We want to challenge women to take the next step," she

says on a phone call from her offices in Trenton. What the next step

might be is "different for everyone. For some it’s a role in

government, for some it’s about making their family stronger. It’s

about choices. Each of us individually can make a difference in New

Jersey’s future."

Raised in Bergen County, Levin went to college in Rochester, New York,

and, she says, "like all good political science majors, after I

graduated, I went to law school." After graduating from Georgetown,

Levin clerked for a federal judge, and then went to work in a

corporate law firm. After marrying and having two girls, Levin wanted

to be closer to her family and "live in a community and town, send my

kids to public school and camp," so they moved back to New Jersey in

1979.

Levin then decided to go out on her own, and she opened her own law

firm. "I went from being a lawyer to owning my own business," a

transition that was made easier by her affiliation with New Jersey

Association of Women Business Owners (NJAWBO). "It was a great way to

network and get support," she says.

A stint as the president of the statewide NJAWBO organization in 1984

was followed by a run for Township Council in Cherry Hill. After that,

she ran for mayor of Cherry Hill, a position she held from 1988 until

2002, when Governor McGreevey appointed her to the cabinet as the

commissioner of NJDCA.

As commissioner, Levin oversees a variety of activities, including

promoting the advancement of women by providing the tools and

resources New Jersey’s women need. The Conference on Women is the

first of its kind during this administration. "I thought it was

important for women to share ideas and demonstrate the power of our

voices," she says. "We have five different tracks to support women in

a variety of ways."

Each track offers workshops: "The Power of the Marketplace" offers

workshops on financing and running your own business. "The Power to

Celebrate Ourselves" focuses on health care and mental health issues

for women. "The Power of a Political Voice" is about how to get

women’s voices heard, whether in lobbying and advocacy or in running

for office -it’s about changing the status quo. "The Power to go

Beyond" gives the Renaissance woman approach – art, media,

communication – because, as Levin says, "life is more than just a

career."

The fifth track, "The Power to Lead," calls women to the challenge of

taking charge in all areas of their lives. Some of the workshops

designed to inform and inspire include: "Understanding the Media:

Making the Press Work for You;" "From the Sticky Floor To the Glass

Ceiling: Making it in a Man’s World;" and "Educational Policy and

Advocacy."

In addition to the workshops there are four keynote speakers,

including Carolyn Kepcher, chief operating officer of Trump National

Golf Club in Bedminster, and a boardroom judge on "The Apprentice"

television show, and the Pulitzer Prize winning historian, Doris

Kearns Goodwin. Also speaking at the event are Nobel Prize winning

author and Princeton University professor Toni Morrison and Bobbi

Brown, CEO of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics. Morrison and Brown are both New

Jersey residents, and will be receiving awards from NJDCA: Morrison,

the Renaissance Woman award, and Brown, Woman of Vision award.

Levin isn’t sure what the speakers will talk about, "We told them the

theme of the conference – powerful women, powerful visions, powerful

voices and they’re going to take it from there."

Levin also speaks at the conference, but she won’t be talking about

government, law, or lobbying. "I’ve spoken about many of these topics

before, and I’ve been to many workshops like the ones we’re having,

but this is the first time that I’m talking about health," she says.

"I’m talking about what every woman should know about cancer."

Last summer Levin went in for what she thought was routine surgery and

two days later was told she had ovarian cancer. Her life turned upside

down. But, she says, "a year later I’m a survivor."

"Last fall as I was going through chemo, I told my doctor that I

wanted to speak to woman about this, about the importance of getting

an annual check up," she says. She wanted the ordeal to have "some

meaning, not just to be about me being sick."

In sharing her personal experience, Levin is setting an example. The

whole idea of the conference is women learning from other woman,

supporting one another, and making a difference in their homes, work,

and in the world. "It’s going to be a great conference," says Levin.

"We already have several hundred registrants – diverse women from all

over New Jersey, young, old and everyone in between. We’ve got

corporate leaders, community activists, educators, doctors – it’s a

great pot-pourri. There’s something for everyone."

– Deb Cooperman

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