State of the State

​​​State-Of-The-State of Manufacturing Profiles: MODERATORS & SPEAKERS​​

​​Today We Feature the Moderators and Speakers for 2023’s State-of-the-State of Manufacturing Summit​ 


​​As an advocacy event, the State-of-the-State of Manufacturing Summit needs strong, well-informed voices to be the soundboard for evoking change in an industry as deeply rooted and consequential as manufacturing. ​​ 

Eric Scott is an award-winning broadcaster and content creator, with over 30 years of experience in the political sphere. He currently serves as the Executive Director, Head of News and Digital Content and Vice President of News and Digital Operations for New Jersey 101.5 and Townsquare Media, where his morning news broadcasts for NJ101.5 and the Townsquare New Jersey News Network reach over a million listeners each week. (SEE MORE

Briana Vannozzi is a graduate of Ramapo College of New Jersey and is an award-winning journalist with over 15 years of journalism experience. Vannozzi began her television journalism career on New Jersey State House politics for New Jersey Network News and later worked as a news radio correspondent at FM News 101.9 in New York City. She currently serves as the anchor for NJ Spotlight News. (SEE MORE


​​NJMEP is the premier training and consulting provider in New Jersey, tasked with improving the profitability and competitiveness of New Jersey’s manufacturers. Backed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), NJMEP enables organizations to enhance their productivity and efficiencies, reduce costs, and improve employee performance. Over the past 20 years, NJMEP has helped New Jersey Manufacturers to realize nearly $8 billion in value.​ 

Peter Connolly is a Rowan University graduate and Senior Executive with 30 years of extensive experience in Operations, Business development, and General Management in the Aerospace and Defense Industry. Pete has served for over 13 years as an NJMEP Board Member before coming onboard as Chief Operating Officer in 2022. Connolly is expected to succeed John W. Kennedy as CEO in June 2023. (SEE MORE

John W. Kennedy, PhD is a graduate from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and LaSalle University and has served as Chief Executive Officer of NJMEP since 2012. Prior to his 11-year tenure at NJMEP, John worked in the Aerospace and DoD sector as an Engineer and NJ Business Owner. As a philanthropist, John has facilitated the creation of several charitable organizations like the Team Eagle and Park Avenue Club Foundation, while also serving as a Board Member for the Boy Scouts of America and NJ Special Olympics for nearly 40 years. (SEE MORE)  

Torsten Schimanski, a non-native New Jersian that hails from Germany, and currently splits his time between New Jersey and his home in Switzerland. He is a graduate of The European Business Academy and has worked in the Workforce Development sector, both in the private and nonprofit sector in Germany and the United States for over 20 years. Previously charged with the role of Director of Workforce Development, and subsequently Senior Workforce Development & Strategic Growth at NJMEP, Torsten now serves as Chief Strategy Officer. (SEE MORE


​​These industry partners have a vested interest in the success of domestic manufacturing in New Jersey. Their organizations are looking to better the position of New Jersey Manufacturers, their employees, and the population of New Jersey along with it. The following participants represent over half a century’s worth of legislative, legal, business, and advocacy experience—the manufacturing sector is lucky to have them in their corner.​ 

Dr. Harmon holds degrees from Mercer and Burlington County Colleges, Rowan College, Fairleigh Dickinson and Villanova University, and has served as the Founder, President, and CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey (AACCNJ) since 2007, and prior to that served in the same capacity at the Metropolitan Trenton African American Chamber of Commerce (MTAACC)—his goal is to forge strategic partnerships in the public and private sectors to benefit African American businesses throughout New Jersey. (SEE MORE

Tim Sullivan is a graduate of Georgetown University and became Chief Executive Officer of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) in 2018, and their goal is to foster fairer and stronger economic growth in New Jersey. Under Tim, the NJEDA has led the development and implementation of more than 15 programs created under the Economic Recovery Act of 2020, provided more than $700 million in COVID-19 relief to small businesses, facilitated the construction of the NJ Wind Port and growth of the offshore wind industry, and helped municipalities revitalize brownfields and other underused spaces into valuable community assets. (SEE MORE

Michele Siekerka is a graduate of Rutgers University and the James E. Beasley School of Law at Temple University, and the current President and Chief Executive Officer for the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA), which is a pioneer in legislative and financial advocacy, providing member companies with practical information along with several money-saving programs in order to make New Jersey businesses and manufacturers more competitive and profitable. Michele leverages over 20 years of experience in policy, law, leadership, strategy, team building, and change management. (SEE MORE


​​Without the powerful support of the New Jersey Legislative Manufacturing Caucus and its dedicated Legislative allies, pro-manufacturing policy will not be possible. The Legislative Partners below are actively working to learn how to better serve the New Jersey manufacturing industry.​ 

Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill is a United States Naval Academy graduate and spent nearly 10 years on active duty in the United States Navy, flying missions throughout Europe and the Middle East as a helicopter pilot. After leaving the service in 2003, Congresswoman Sherrill attended law school at Georgetown University and then worked as a lawyer before eventually joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey. She currently works as a representative of New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District and sits on the House Armed Services Committee and the new House Select Committee on Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party. (SEE MORE

Congressman Andy Kim graduated from the University of Chicago and from Magdalen College (a constituent college of Oxford University) and has worked for USAID, the Pentagon, the State Department, the White House National Security Council, and in Afghanistan as an advisor to Generals Petraeus and Allen. Congressman Kim is working on an agenda to bring New Jersey, and the entire nation together and strengthen its national and economic security (SEE MORE

Senator Greenstein was educated at Vassar College, Johns Hopkins University, and the Georgetown University Law Center and is a specialist in disability law. She’s served for six terms in the New Jersey General Assembly, is the chair of the manufacturing caucus, and is currently representing the New Jersey 14th District. She has been honored with the New Jersey Jewish War Veterans Legislator of the Year Award and with the New Jersey State AFL-CIO’s Legislator of the Year Award. In the past she’s been named Legislator of the Year for numerous organizations including the AARP and the New Jersey Police Benevolent Association. (SEE MORE

Senator Testa is a graduate of Temple and Villanova University and has been a practicing attorney and Partner with Testa, Heck, Scrocca & Testa, P.A. since 2001. Currently, Senator Testa serves on the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, Senate Judiciary Committee, Joint Committee on the Public Schools, and is the co-chair of the New Jersey Legislative Manufacturing Caucus—he represents the New Jersey 1st Legislative District. (SEE MORE)  


​​Be sure to subscribe and check back for the next event profile, where we’ll take a look at the various manufacturers who will be acting as panelists at State-of-the-State’s Town Hall, just under two weeks away! State-of-the-State is taking place on ​May 4th​. NJMEP’s State-of-the-State of Manufacturing Summit brings together manufacturers, STEM Firm executives, and NJ elected officials to highlight and discuss industry-critical challenges within the manufacturing sector. Be there and be heard, ​May 4th​!​ 

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