The Caren Franzini Capital City Award Celebration 2021




Caren Franzini, former CEO of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and one of the founders of Greater Trenton


Join us on December 6th at 5 p.m. as we come together for an evening of cocktails and conversations to reflect on Trenton’s past, reimagine its future, and make connections with some of the most influential leaders impacting the Capital City. Pandemic restrictions may apply.

The celebration will honor the legacy of Caren Franzini, former NJEDA CEO and one of the founders of Greater Trenton, by presenting the Caren Franzini Capital City Award to Dr. George Pruitt and Dr. Pamela Pruitt. 

Mayor Reed Gusciora will provide welcoming remarks.

Event Co-Chairs include Letícia Ferri, Bristol Myers Squibb’s Executive Director, Medical Cardiovascular Business Development Strategy Early Assets and Cross-TA and Mike Van Wagner, Vice President of Public Affairs for NJM Insurance Group. 

For information on how you can join the effort to memorialize Caren’s extraordinary leadership while helping Greater Trenton reboot, refresh, and reinvigorate our Capital City, please reach out to Bryan Evans at or call 609-473-2837 x102. 

Date: December 6, 2021 @ 5 p.m.
Location: Cooper’s Riverview | 50 Riverview Plaza, Trenton, NJ 08611


Drs. George and Pamela Pruitt | View Past Honorees

Drs. George and Pamela Pruitt are experienced, passionate, and highly motivated educational leaders who proudly call the Trenton area their home, often noting its exciting proximity to both Philadelphia and New York City. Between the two, they have 50+ years of experience in higher education. They are noted for their leadership work at Thomas Edison State University and Rider University, respectively, where they have taken great strides to achieve climates of diversity, equity, and inclusion. George and Pamela are each well known for pioneering and leading successful new projects in and out of the education sector to achieve ambitious goals. 

Dr. George A. Pruitt, president emeritus of Thomas Edison State University, was instrumental in the conception and formation of Greater Trenton and served with great distinction as President of the founding entity known as Capital City Partnership and as a founding member of the subsequent Greater Trenton Board of Directors. His exemplary leadership and guidance helped to shape and advance Greater Trenton’s mission to facilitate the development and revitalization of New Jersey’s Capital City. He has given selflessly of himself, serving as a committed champion of the community to provide alternative access to collegiate education and to promote economic growth by renovating historically significant properties and developing high-quality new buildings.

Grammy award winner, Dr. Pamela Pruitt, is President and Facilitator of THE NEXT LEVEL CONSULTING, LLC. She has an extensive and diverse background in media and marketing, having held significant positions at Motown Records/Jobete (Jo-bet) Music Company, CBS Television, Warner Bros. Records, Delta Air Lines, ABC Radio Networks, New Jersey State Council on the Arts, CBS/Westwood One, the Wall Street Journal Radio Network, and WIMG/Morris Broadcasting of NJ, Inc. Currently serving as Executive Director of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion at Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ, Dr. Pamela Pruitt is responsible for promoting unity, diversity, equity, and inclusion among the campus community through best practices, programs, training, celebrations, and community outreach. She is also an adjunct professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Department of Communication and Journalism, at Rider, and a part-time lecturer at the School of Communication & Information (SC&I) at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. 

View Past Honorees


Letícia Ferri, Event Committee Co-Chair

As the Executive Director, Medical Cardiovascular Business Development Strategy Early Assets and Cross-TA at Bristol Myers Squibb, Letícia brings a unique experience that spans from working as a physician in the pharmaceutical industry across different global markets such as Brazil, Canada, and the United States; as a physician scientist at the University of São Paulo and University of Toronto; and as a clinician specializing in Endocrinology and Internal Medicine.

Letícia’s research and academic training includes an MD, Master of Science from Maringá State University in Brazil; Master of Clinical Epidemiology from the University of Toronto in Canada; and a PhD from the University of São Paulo in Brazil. She most recently graduated in 2019 with her MBA from Cornell University.

Her career at Bristol Myers Squibb started in 2010 in Brazil. Later she was working in BMS Canada and since 2013 she has been in New Jersey working across various functions on medical affairs teams at BMS.  She currently lives in Skillman, NJ with her husband, Mauricio, and daughter, Valentina. Leticia has been appointed as the full time lead for OLA at BMS in June 2019. 


Mike Van WagnerEvent Committee Co-Chair

Mike Van Wagner is the Vice President of Public Affairs for NJM Insurance Group, one of New Jersey’s leading property/casualty insurers, and a company recognized throughout the region for its outstanding service to policyholders. As a company that operates in a mutual fashion, NJM has paid dividends to policyholders – not stockholders – for more than 100 years, for a total of over $6 billion. NJM employs approximately 2,500 people with offices in West Trenton, Parsippany and Hammonton. A 38-year veteran of NJM, Mr. Van Wagner has served in a number of roles including leadership positions in Underwriting, Marketing, Communications, Government Affairs, Corporate Giving and Reinsurance. From May 2012 to October 2013, he served as Executive Director of New Jersey’s Business Action Center (BAC), requiring an 18-month leave of absence from NJM. While at the BAC, Mr. Van Wagner oversaw a veteran team of economic development professionals helping companies stay, grow, or locate in New Jersey. In 2014, he was recognized by NJBiz as one of the “Top 100 Business Leaders in New Jersey.” Mr. Van Wagner shares his experience and expertise with a number of nonprofit and leadership organizations. These include Lead New Jersey, where he served as Chair and now serves as Board Member; HomeFront as Board Member; the Morris County Chamber of Commerce as a member of its Business Cabinet; the Boys & Girls Club of Mercer County as a Trustee; Greater Trenton as a Board Member; and New Jersey Audubon as Board Member. He is also a member of the Glendale Civic Association, and the Ewing Township Recreation Commission, as well as a member of the Mooch Myernick Soccer Foundation’s Board of Directors.

Event Committee Members

Letícia Ferri, Bristol Myers Squibb, Event Co-Chair
Mike Van Wagner, NJM Insurance Group, Event Co-Chair
John Goedecke, US Bank
Bryan Evans, Greater Trenton
Nancy Faherty, Cashel Faherty Public Relations
Bernie Flynn, Mercer Street Friends
Reggie Hallett, 1911 SmokeHouse
Duncan Harrison, Princeton University
Pat Hartpence, NJM Insurance Group
Karen Klim, Rider University
Jeannine Frisby LaRue, Kaufman Zita Group
Shirley Michael, Greater Trenton
Aquatia Owens, PNC Wealth Advisors
Brenda Ross-Dulan, The Ross Dulan Group
George Sowa, Greater Trenton
Andy Zalescik, Columbia Bank

Greater Trenton is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit that uses private funding and a network of collaborative relationships to advance economic revitalization efforts in the state’s capital city.

Led by Chairman Kevin Cummings and CEO George Sowa, Greater Trenton’s Board of Directors is comprised of leaders from Bristol Myers Squibb, Capital Health, Investors Bank, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, NJM Insurance Group, Princeton Area Community Foundation, Princeton University, PSEG, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, St. Francis Medical Center, TD Bank, Thomas Edison State University, and Wells Fargo Bank. The organization’s Board of Directors has made a multi-year commitment to fund this important initiative.

Formed in the fall of 2015, Greater Trenton’s key objectives include coordinating downtown economic development projects; providing one-stop support and information for investors interested in taking on new projects; reaching out to potential residential, commercial and/or retail investors and tenants; supporting and promoting existing downtown initiatives; engaging downtown stakeholders in a strategic economic development plan; and developing investment marketing strategies.