There is a certain understanding in this country that as you grow older, society expects more from you. Like a personification of the wise old owl who grows wiser with each passing year, maturity is synonymous with being able to not only handle what life throws at you, but to manage it with a grace and self assurance that can only come with time.
But what about those who buck this trend? What about the younger men and women who go out of their way to make sure they not only excel at their jobs, but all around, as philanthropists, volunteers and members of the communities in which they reside? Surely they must be celebrated for defying the expected norms and achieving greatness despite their relatively few years spent on this earth.
That is the exact purpose for A.C. Weekly’s The Top 40 Under 40. These annual awards are given to men and women who have not yet reached middle age, yet somehow have managed to make their presence known in a variety of positive ways. From clergymen to salesmen to teachers and chefs, these folks stand out in ways that set them above the rest.
The recipients of the Top 40 Under 40, thoughtfully selected by the staff of A.C. Weekly and the Atlantic City Junior Chamber of Commerce, will be honored twice — at a casual, get-to-know-each-other party at Veracruz at Harrah’s Resort on March 14, then in grand style at an awards ceremony 8 p.m. Friday, March 30, at Premier at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa.
And now, introducing this year’s Top 40 Under 40.
1 of 40
Yolanda Melville, 32
Attorney, Cooper Levenson
Yolanda Melville is an attorney with Cooper Levenson’s Land Use, Zoning and Planning, and Education/School Law practice groups and serves as General Counsel for Bright’s Villa and Atlantic City Housing Authority. Melville represents clients during every stage of the litigation process in state and federal courts, and she is also a tireless volunteer and advocate in our community, serving as an Atlantic County Coalition for a Safe Community board member and Atlanti Care YP member. She was honored by In My C.A.R.E. Mentoring, Inc. as a 2017 honoree during its Black Girls Rock (Jersey Style) ceremony, which recognizes local unsung heroes who serve as role models for young women, and the City Council of Atlantic City subsequently presented her with a Resolution of Recognition. Additionally, she served as a panelist during the 108th NAACP Annual Convention’s Continuing Legal Education Program and currently serves as the Legal Redress Chair of its Atlantic City Branch.
Laura Engelmann, MHA, 38
Community Health and Wellness Manager, AtlantiCare
As the community health and wellness manager at AtlantiCare, Laura Englemann leads AtlantiCare’s “Healthy Schools, Healthy Children” program and its Growing Green initiative. She spearheaded the opening of AtlantiCare’s “Pantry at the Plex” in the William L. Gormley AtlantiCare HealthPlex in late 2016, which has provided more than 73,424 pounds of healthy food to the community. Engelmann, of Mullica Township, began her career as a certified social worker with AtlantiCare Behavioral Health in 2001. She worked in a variety of settings outside AtlantiCare as she grew her family and earned her Master’s in health administration. She has raised more than $10,000 for the National Brain Tumor Society in memory of her mother through her Love for Lisa team, and is a member of the Coalition for a Safe Community, CARE AC, and the Mullica Township Recreation Association. Additionally she volunteers for the Mullica Township Schools’ Wellness Committee.
Lauren Hurley Lauriello, 32
Dementia Care Nursing Director at Brookdale Senior Living in Cape May
It was during a hospital stay at age 9 that Lauren Hurley Lauriello knew that she would become a Registered Nurse. Lauriello earned her a Bachelors of Science in Nursing and Public Health from Stockton University in May 2011. Prior to Brookdale Senior Living, she served as a Registered Nurse in Telemetry at Shore Medical Center. Lauriello demonstrated her nursing leadership skills early on by serving as a charge nurse whenever called upon. She has also been a preceptor to over 50 nurses in her career. Lauriello also has a track record for community service. For the past 11 years, she has served as a “Hurley in the Morning” charity chairperson. Her direct efforts have helped raise more than $750,000 over the past decade, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants written to more than 100 southern New Jersey not-for-profit organizations.
Bob Andrzejczak, 31
Assemblyman, New Jersey General Assembly
Sgt. Robert “Bob” Andrzejczak is a trusted champion of working families who shows a tireless work ethic while facing the same struggles many of us face. A Middle Township resident, Andrzejczak was elected to the New Jersey General Assembly in 2013. He joined the Army in 2005 as infantry and went through basic training in Georgia. He was then briefly stationed in Hawaii before being deployed for the first time to Iraq in 2006. While in Iraq, Andrzejczak was stationed in Ryad and Hawija. Initially scheduled for one year, at Christmas that year he discovered it was to be extended, ultimately keeping him there for 15 months. He was deployed again in 2008 to Bayji, Iraq, where, two months later, his convoy was attacked, and he was severely wounded, and ultimately lost his left leg. He was awarded the Bronze Star for service during his first tour of duty, and the Purple Heart while in recovery. Andrzejczak retired as an Army Sergeant, receiving two Army Achievement medals, an Army Good Conduct medal, a National Service of Defense medal, a Global War on Terror medal, an Iraq Campaign medal with a Campaign Star, an Army Service Ribbon, and a Combat Infantry Badge. Andrzejczak and his wife have a young son and newborn daughter.
Lambros Psounos, 37
Co-owner of LAN Restaurant Group
Born and raised in Atlantic City and a 1999 graduate of Atlantic City High School, Lambros Psounos is the co-owner of LAN Restaurant Group, which consists of five locations in Atlantic County. His venues — Greens and Grains, Banzo and The District Bar — are South Jersey’s only 100 percent plant-based eateries. He and his wife opened their first brick and mortar in May 2015 and four more locations by July 2017. He is currently expanding the Greens and Grains brand to Monmouth County and soon to the Philadelphia area. Psounos studied computer engineering at Drexel University and jazz piano at Rowan University before venturing into his restaurant business. Future goals include creating jobs and providing customers with plant-based food.
Dr. Haley Baum, 35
Associate Director of Residential Life, Stockton University
Dr. Haley Baum has been a member of the Stockton University community since 2011, currently serving as Associate Director of Residential Life, charged with providing leadership to the Atlantic City housing operation. Additionally, Baum serves as an adjunct faculty member in the school of education; the staff advisor to Tri-Sigma sorority; and a coordinator of Relay for Life, which benefits the American Cancer Society. Baum is passionate about working with students and truly believes in the transformative power of education. Her dedication to higher education can been seen through her research, which focuses on students’ moral development and communication about campus crime and safety. Baum works tirelessly to educate and inform about sexual assault on campus and believes that it is everyone’s responsibility to make our communities safe. Helping another person find their voice or their passion in life, is what drives her work and motivates her every day.
Tomaso Rotondi, 39
Health Care Consultant, Marsh & McLennan Agency
Tom Rotondi is changing the world by focusing on family, business, charity and politics. His greatest title is and will always be husband to Stephanie and father to son Tommaso and newborn baby girl Celeste. A consultant with Marsh & McLennan Agency, which helps midsize and large businesses by applying consultative science to employee benefits and risk management, he is also a founding board member of the nonprofit Hand to Hand Mission to Haiti that provides boots on the ground aid to children in Haiti. Additionally, Rotondi mentors kids through a few programs, including Life over Lunch at Lower Cape May Regional High School. He is the Cape May County Republican State Committeeman, Young Republican leader and was a selected to be a Trump Delegate to 2016 RNC. Tom’s work was selected for publication in the inspirational journal “The Roots of Leadership”. He is also a public speaker in the areas of politics and personal growth. Tom’s early public service includes serving in the United State Army, and local law enforcement.
Guy A. Zompa Jr., 38
Director of Operations, Little Water Distillery
Guy Zompa is a man in motion. By day, he is a technology facilitator for Egg Harbor Township schools, and by night he is the director of operations for Little Water Distillery in Atlantic City. Born and raised in Atlantic City, Zompa completed his undergraduate work at Richard Stockton University, and his Masters at Rowan University. Throughout his career, Zompa has worked for and represented companies such as ESPN, Sam Adams, Corona and Yuengling. Returning to Atlantic City for work was important for Zompa, as his family has lived in A.C. for four generations. He is a firm believer in the revitalization of Atlantic City and puts his efforts into helping support the community through non-profit fundraising at Little Water Distillery, all while bringing new visitors to their uptown location. He currently resides in Egg Harbor Twp with his daughter Zoey, 9.
Guy A. Zompa Jr., 38
Director of Operations, Little Water Distillery Guy Zompa is a man in motion. By day, he is a technology facilitator for Egg Harbor Township schools, and by night he is the director of operations for Little Water Distillery in Atlantic City. Born and raised in Atlantic City, Zompa completed his undergraduate work at Richard Stockton University, and his Masters at Rowan University. Throughout his career, Zompa has worked for and represented companies such as ESPN, Sam Adams, Corona and Yuengling. Returning to Atlantic City for work was important for Zompa, as his family has lived in A.C. for four generations. He is a firm believer in the revitalization of Atlantic City and puts his efforts into helping support the community through non-profit fundraising at Little Water Distillery, all while bringing new visitors to their uptown location. He currently resides in Egg Harbor Twp with his daughter Zoey, 9.
Ron Passarella, 30
Regional Director of Marketing Services for Caesars, Bally’s and Harrah’s Resort
Ron Passarella started his career with Caesars Entertainment as an intern at the Harrah’s and Horseshoe properties in Council Bluffs, Iowa, in 2010. By 2014, he was a President’s Associate for the Atlantic City properties. Other casino/resort experience includes Revel, where he worked in marketing for several years. Passarella earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Rutgers University in 2009 and his Master of Management in Hospitality degree from Cornell University in 2011. Born and raised in South Jersey, Atlantic City has always been one of Passarella’s favorite places, and he remains very optimistic about Atlantic City’s future. In his spare time, he enjoys volunteering at Absecon Manor Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation.
Van McPherson, 31
Corporate Counsel, SJG for South Jersey Industries
Van McPherson, corporate counsel with SJG for South Jersey Industries, is a 2008 graduate of the University of Connecticut and 2011 graduate of St. John’s University School of Law, who returned to the area to clerk for the Hon. James L. Jackson, P.J.F.P. (ret.). Previously, he practiced law at Parker McCay, P.A., focusing on governmental affairs and construction law. McPherson serves as a trustee at Faith Baptist Church in Pleasantville, and also as a trustee for the Atlantic County Bar Association. Over the last four years, McPherson has served as the mock trial coach for Egg Harbor Township High School. In addition to his work with EHT students, McPherson mentors area youth on the importance of higher education. He recently received the Real Fathers, Real Men award from Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. for his mentoring efforts, which include mentoring young lawyers on navigating the practice of law.
Megan Doran, 28
Owner and Director of Physical Therapy at Brigantine Physical Therapy and Fitness
As a stand-out tennis player at Holy Spirit High School, Megan Doran went on to attend the University of Delaware on a tennis scholarship. After graduating in 2011, Doran pursued her Doctorate in Physical Therapy at Thomas Jefferson University, graduating in 2014. She returned to Brigantine in 2016 with her husband, and opened their own physical therapy clinic last May. Doran also works two days a week in the Pleasantville School System working with children with physical therapy needs. She hopes to continue to progress her professional career by becoming a McKenzie Certified therapist within the next year. The support and encouragement of her family and friends has allowed her to continue to pursue her professional goals and she looks forward to continuing to work within the school system as well as grow her outpatient clinic in the future.
Stephanie Moro, 36
Project Finance Coordinator at SOSH Architects
Since joining SOSH Architects in 2015, Stephanie Moro has financially monitored and contributed to all of the firm’s projects. Moro received her associate’s from Katherine Gibbs in New York and a B.A. in Finance from New York University. She began her career at Ernst & Young, LLP where she was quickly promoted to the Global Banking and Capital Markets department in Manhattan. Outside of work, Moro loves to spend time with her family and two fur babies, Bella and Milly-Vida. She donates her time assisting breast cancer patients with transportation to and from treatments, grocery shopping or raising funds for cancer research. A breast cancer survivor herself, Moro exemplifies what a positive attitude can do for your health and future and stands by the statement that life is too short not to enjoy every moment.
Rebecca Albertson, 35
Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Johnson’s Popcorn
A lifelong resident of Ocean City, Becky Albertson is the vice president and chief operating officer of Johnson’s Popcorn, where she has worked since 1996. She became the general manager when she was only 21 and at the age of 26 was named vice president. Albertson is on the board of directors for Habitat for Humanity Atlantic County and is a weekly volunteer at The Branches Outreach Center of Rio Grande. She is also a new volunteer for Jewish Family Services as a substitute Kosher Meal delivery driver, along with being an avid supporter of the VFW POST #6650, Ocean City. All of her success is because of the wonderful staff she gets to work with every day and her very supportive family. She hopes the future holds many more opportunities for her to help grow Johnson’s Popcorn and to volunteer even more throughout the community.
Johnna Berg, 32
Manager, Hair Dynasy
Johnna Berg resides with her husband Joe and two sons John (4) and Zack (2) in Upper Township. A native of Somers Point and an Egg Harbor Township High School graduate, Berg’s South Jersey roots run deep. She manages Hair Dynasty in Somers Point, a popular full-service hair salon featuring color, cutting and hair extensions, working alongside her mother who owns and operates the salon. Having faced some adversities as a teen, Berg understands the need for community-based support and togetherness, so she dedicates her personal time to supporting local charities and non-profit organizations. Over the past two years, she (with help from many friends) has hosted several fundraiser events and supported local efforts like the “Stop the Heroin” campaign and also co-hosted a fundraiser for now-retired Atlantic City Police Officer Josh Vadell.
Sheila Nelson, 37
Director of Services, Marriott Vacation Club
An Atlantic City native, Sheila Nelson is an activist who shares her gifts and talents to teach and inspire those in her community. She believes giving back is not just a cause, but a call to duty. A vital member of the Marriott Vacation Club team, Nelson is the true embodiment of how hard work, drive and dedication pay off. Beginning her career as a housekeeper, she quickly moved up the ranks serving in the following capacities: lead housekeeper, supervisor, assistant housekeeping manager, housekeeping manager and now holds the position of director of services. Nelson is dedicated to the Marriott staff and its guests, and always goes the extra mile to make sure their needs are met. Nelson is also an avid runner who completed several half-marathons last year with the hope of running her first full marathon this year.
Rebecca Reed, 31
Director of Clinical Services, Arc of Atlantic County
Rebecca Reed is the director of clinical services for the Arc of Atlantic County, a nonprofit that supports individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Reed received her Bachelor’s from Stockton College in psychology and her Masters in clinical and counseling at William Paterson University. She began her career as a behavior specialist and now oversees a clinical team of behavior support and nursing personnel, as well as case management and support coordination programs. Additionally, Reed coordinates the Arc’s Holiday Partners program, which pairs local donors to provide gifts, food and donations to assist individuals with (IDD) during the holidays. She is a mother of three and a newly certified volunteer for Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), to advocate for children in the foster care system. Reed’s long term career goal is to continue to grow new services within the Arc to provide greater supports and opportunities to individuals with IDD in Atlantic County.
Maggie Randazzo, 33
Pharmacy Clinical Coordinator at Shore Medical Center
As the pharmacy clinical coordinator at Shore Medical Center in Somers Point, Maggie Randazzo spearheads the antibiotic stewardship team and drives medication safety initiatives throughout the hospital and community. Her passion for the safe use of medications led Randazzo to begin teaching pharmacology for the Philadelphia University Physician Assistant program in Atlantic City in 2016. Recently, Randazzo is training to volunteer with Journey Hospice of Egg Harbor Township. In addition to her dedication to her local community, Randazzo knows the value of serving her global community. In 2016, she traveled to Haiti for a medical mission and helped almost 1,000 patients with her team. A Haddonfield native, she relocated to Linwood to pursue residency training at Shore Medical Center after graduating from Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. She attributes her success to the support of family, friends and coworkers.
James A. Pressley Sr., 33
Founder, Elder J. P. Ministries
A native of Pleasantville, James Pressley Sr. is the proud father of four beautiful and innovative children; Nyasia, James Jr., Razear and Dream. He has overcome many of life’s challenges and obstacles and utilizes his testimony to make a positive impact on others, often saying, “I am a beneficiary of God’s grace and mercy.” Caring for others has led him into a life of servanthood in his church, the community at large and his professional career. In 2013, Pressley was ordained an Elder by the Church of God in Christ, Inc. and in 2016, he was conferred a Bachelor of Science in social work from Stockton University. Pressley also holds certification as a behavioral specialist working with adolescents, in addition to other certifications and professional recognitions. Pressley currently serves as the associate pastor of Second Baptist Church in Atlantic City, and works with at risk youth and individuals with various disabilities. The founder of Elder J. P. Ministries, Pressley has partnered with other community leaders to provide mentoring services for at risk youth, address the needs of the homeless population and decrease community violence. He lives by the motto: “If I can help somebody as I pass along, then my living shall not be in vain.”
Nick Pittman, 25
Weatherman, SNJ News
Nick Pittman, aka "Nor'Easter Nick," is South Jersey’s Weatherman, who developed his deep passion for meteorology at age 5. He got his first taste of TV weather forecasting at 6 and knew then that he wanted to pursue a career in broadcast. Weeks before high school graduation, Pittman was hired to do weekends for WMGM-TV NBC40. From 2010 to 2014, he could be seen on Channel 40. When NBC40 shut down in late 2014, Pittman was hired by SNJ Today News to lead the weather program where he can be seen every weeknight. When he isn't doing the weather, he enjoys mentoring kids of all ages and getting involved in the community. In 2017 he revived the Atlantic City Christmas Parade and looks forward to doing it again this year.
Father Jon Thomas, 35
Pastor of the Parish of Saint Monica
Father Jon Thomas is the pastor of the Parish of St. Monica, which includes all three Catholic churches in Atlantic City. Since becoming pastor in 2015, Father Jon has prioritized the parish’s outreach to the larger community. He is active in the Fellowship of Churches of Atlantic City and vicinity and contributes to interfaith efforts with local Jewish and Muslim leadership. He has led masses for the labor and business communities and repurposed the former St. Michael’s School for nonprofit offices. Within the parish, Father Jon led a renovation of Our Lady Star of the Sea Church last fall. He credits his progress with the neighborly spirit of the Atlantic City area. Future goals include the restoration of the historic St. Nicholas of Tolentine Church and the growth of Our Lady Star of the Sea School, the only Catholic school remaining on Absecon Island.
Father Jon Thomas, 35
Pastor of the Parish of Saint Monica Father Jon Thomas is the pastor of the Parish of St. Monica, which includes all three Catholic churches in Atlantic City. Since becoming pastor in 2015, Father Jon has prioritized the parish’s outreach to the larger community. He is active in the Fellowship of Churches of Atlantic City and vicinity and contributes to interfaith efforts with local Jewish and Muslim leadership. He has led masses for the labor and business communities and repurposed the former St. Michael’s School for nonprofit offices. Within the parish, Father Jon led a renovation of Our Lady Star of the Sea Church last fall. He credits his progress with the neighborly spirit of the Atlantic City area. Future goals include the restoration of the historic St. Nicholas of Tolentine Church and the growth of Our Lady Star of the Sea School, the only Catholic school remaining on Absecon Island.
David Wong, 34
Executive Sous Chef, Resorts Casino Hotel
David Wong graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 2003, after which he came to Atlantic City. He started his career at Harrah’s, growing under the leadership of Executive Chef Edward Batten. Wong then spent six years at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa where he climbed the ladder in the food and beverage department. In 2011, Wong was part of the opening team of BrGuest, which brought four restaurants to Caesars. After a brief hiatus with OTG Exp in Philadelphia, Wong returned to Atlantic City, rejoining Batten to lead Resorts as executive sous chef with Chef Robert Levenson, where he strives to inspire and excite not just to his team and guests, but local culinary students. For the past 15 years, he has contributed to numerous charities and events for the FoodBank of South Jersey, Boys & Girls Club of A.C., holiday church dinners, the Salvation Army and scholarship fundraising for Atlantic Cape.
Jennifer Bernardini, 36
Fifth grade teacher, Belhaven Middle School
Jennifer Bernardini is a fifth grade Language Arts teacher at Belhaven Middle School in Linwood. A long time supporter of Jostens Renaissance, she believes in empowering students to make a difference in their community. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Bernardini recognized the immediate needs of schools impacted by the storm, therefore she rallied her students, staff and community to donate much-needed items. “Miss B” then delivered a truck full of school supplies, books and clothing to Mitchell Elementary School in Houston. As a student council advisor, she leads her kids in numerous charity opportunities in Atlantic County. And as a part of a female-owned small business Amazinators, LLC, Bernardini enriches the after-school lives of students through STEAM education programs and encourages students to find their passion through STEAM-related activities while having fun and utilizing cutting-edge technology to create 21st century learners.
Cristen Cipa, 37
Director of Marketing at Bernie Robbins Jewelers
Director of Marketing at Bernie Robbins Jewelers in Somers Point since 2016, Cristen Cipa has driven the jeweler’s four locations to success both financially and through community partnerships such as American Heart Association, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Red Paw Emergency Relief Team. A member of the Somers Point Business Association, Greater A.C. Chamber, and the A.C. Arts Foundation’s 48 Blocks public relations committee, Cipa puts great emphasis on giving back to her community. With 13 years working in the marketing department at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, she remained on the Board of Trustees for Borgata’s Heart & Soul Foundation until it dissolved earlier this year. A Division 1 athlete with a Bachelor’s Degree from Fairfield University, Cipa possesses a drive, work ethic and passion that she attributes to her successes both inside and outside of the workplace. An avid runner, Cipa is training for SHAPE Women’s Half Marathon and the Broad Street Run.
Kyle Richardson, 40
Director of operations for Haven Nightclub
Kyle Richardson is the director of operations for Haven Nightclub at Golden Nugget Atlantic City. A Philadelphia native, he started in hospitality management in 2002 at Caesars after attending Fairleigh Dickinson University hospitality program. Richardson opened one of A.C.’s first beach bars before becoming operations manager for TSOP Restaurant (The Sound Of Philadelphia) from 2004-2006. Richardson gives back by participating in charity programs such as Sister Jean’s Kitchen, Alex’s Lemonade, and other events that raise money for cancer research. In 2013, he opened Haven with a vision to create the ultimate nightlife destination. Richardson’s goal is to help build and advance Atlantic City by promoting non-gaming offerings and training local residents in hospitality and service. His motivation to start a mentoring program for local high school kids looking to enter the hospitality/nightlife field stems from being a father to two beautiful girls.
Valerie Feo, 30
Nightlife Manager at Tropicana Atlantic City
A 2016 Stockton University graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts, Valerie Feo brings her artistic view to everything she does. She is involved in the revival of Atlantic City through the arts, as well as in her professional career with Tropicana. Feo is a volunteer artist with 48 Blocks Atlantic City, devoting her time and talent to the beautification of Atlantic City. Additionally, she has an art space in the collective at the Noyes Arts Garage of Stockton University.
Michael Coskey’s, 31
Associate in the Atlantic City office of Parker McCay, P.A.
Michael Coskey’s practice involves the representation of various government entities throughout South Jersey. He also has significant experience in land use and real estate transactions. Beyond Parker McCay, P.A., Coskey is very active in his hometown of Avalon, where he serves on various community boards. He received his J.D. from Widener University School of Law and his B.A. from Villanova University.
Jamie Reichelt, 32
Care Coordinator for The Village by The Shore program at Jewish Family Service
Jamie Reichelt supports older adults every day. She discovered her passion for helping the elderly when she interned at Holy Redeemer Hospice. A 2012 Psychology graduate of Stockton University, Reichelt completed her Masters in Social Work at Stockton in 2014, and is now a licensed social worker. An active volunteer in the community, in 2016 Reichelt took it upon herself to start her own grassroots fundraiser, The Sock Social, which provides socks to individuals in need, all while bring awareness to the homeless population. Reichelt is also involved in several committees such as The Atlantic County Hoarding Task Force and The Wellness and Recovery Committee at Jewish Family Service. She is also a board member of Closet of Hope A.C. and a member of the National Association of Social Workers. Reichelt feels that her MSW degree, mentors, family (especially her husband) and close friends have been crucial to her success and she looks forward to continuing to support her community and growing professionally and personally in the future.
Nicholas Kafkalas, 25
Co-founder, Lazy Eye Distillery
Upon graduating from Stockton, Nick Kafkalas helped found Lazy Eye Distillery, the first craft distillery of Atlantic and Cape May counties. In the three years since the company’s inception, Kafkalas has overseen the production of Lazy Eye Distillery’s spirits which have won 11 medals in international spirits competitions, including the Gold medal at the New York International Spirits Competition, as well as the Best in Class award at the Seattle International Spirits Awards. He also serves as a the company’s marketing and sales manager, leading to Lazy Eye’s expansion in several surrounding states. Kafkalas is active in his church community, where he taught Sunday school for four years and, at 19 years old, was the youngest church member to ever be elected to the Parish Council. As a parish council member, he spends hours dealing with the business of the church, as well as the many ministries that the church is involved in throughout Atlantic County and beyond. Kafkalas volunteered as an assistant coach for Northfield Community School’s soccer team and also thoroughly enjoys volunteering as a basketball coach for his church’s youth group, where his duties as a coach are not only basketball related, but to mentor and encourage the children to surpass through the challenges of today.
Christina Naughton, 35
Owner and operator of the Law Offices of Christina M. Naughton
Christina Naughton focuses on criminal defense work in Atlantic and Cape May counties. As a defense attorney she is dedicated to the protection of her client’s constitutional rights. After graduating from Thomas Edison University, Naughton attended Barry University School of Law, graduating with honors in 2009. During law school she served as president of the Student Bar, as Lieutenant Governor for the Florida Bar Association and is recognized as a founding member of the Florida Bar Association’s Law Student Division. Naughton serves on the board of Stop the Heroin, a local non-profit organization dedicated to combating the opioid epidemic. She is currently planning the Annual Recovery Celebration Walk/5K/10K on the Atlantic City Boardwalk on June 16. Naughton resides in Egg Harbor Township with her husband Mark and children Lily, Eli and Avrey. She attributes her success to hard work and perseverance.
Michelle Carrera, 40
Chief Executive Officer, Boys & Girls Clubs of Atlantic City
Michelle Carrera is the chief executive officer for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Atlantic City. A native of Puerto Rico, Carrera relocated to Atlantic City in 2015 to lead the organization. She obtained a doctorate degree in Leadership and Management from Interamerican University of Puerto Rico in 2015. In Atlantic City, she has been a passionate advocate for youth and for programs that provide them with opportunities to access a better future. In the past three years, Carrera has led the growth of the organization to serve over 1,900 youth annually. She recently advocated for and secured an additional building to develop a Teen Center focusing on workforce development and college readiness. Carrera attributes her success to her commitment to the mission of providing opportunities to youth.
Ryan Mayer, 35
Sales manager at Bayview Bearing and Supply, LLC
Ryan Mayer is a dedicated promoter of positive community and growth in the town of Hammonton. Having grown up in Galloway Township, Mayer combines his technical skills with a fresh perspective to offer creative solutions and ideas. Since joining Bayview in 2008, he has helped the commercial and industrial equipment supply company see significant and steady growth despite a challenging local economic climate. Mayer has served on several committees in Hammonton and was instrumental in helping launch annual events such as the first-ever New Jersey Fringe Festival and MainStreet Hammonton Food Truck Festival. As the elected vice president of Hammonton First, Mayer focuses on bringing people together and connecting all members of the community. Most recently, Mayer was a driving force in the establishment of the Eagle Theatre’s Innovations Factory, a group of artists dedicated to experimental storytelling through medium advancing technology. Mayer has also proudly served his country as a former member of the New Jersey Air National Guard and regularly gives back to the veterans’ community. His personal and professional successes have been inspired by the support of his wife, Jennifer, their 8-month-old daughte Violet, as well as his family, friends and colleagues.
Anthony S. Maneri, Jr., 32
President-TriCare Medical Transportation, LLC
Anthony S. Maneri was born and raised in Saddle Brook, and relocated to South Jersey in 2010. He currently resides in Linwood with his wife Jaclyn. At the age of 16, Maneri started his career as an EMT in his hometown, and at the age of 24, moved to Atlantic County and founded TriCare Medical Transportation with five vehicles and six employees. Eight years later, TriCare Medical Transportation has expanded to three locations, over 150 vehicles, and over 400 employees in South Jersey. The company provides 911 ambulance services for the cities of Pleasantville, Northfield, Linwood and Somers Point and serves countless local medical facilities and hospitals including Shore Medical Center. During his spare time, Maneri enjoys traveling, spending time with his family and friends and giving back to the community through community events and fundraisers including the Boys and Girls Club of Atlantic City, Toys for Tots, local National Night Out events and Operation Warm of Pleasantville.
Jason Smart-El Jr., 26
Owner, Uniquely Rare Clothing
Jason Smart-El made the most of his time in college, serving as the football team captain for two years, the president of athletics and as Mister Virginia Union University, which is one of the highest leadership positions on campus. During his time at VUU, Smart-El helped with the water crisis in Flint, Mich., sponsored families at Christmas and many other community service acts. After graduating, Smart-El taught abroad in China for a year through the AYC program. After returning to the United States, Smart-El has been heavily involved in the community with food and clothing drives through his clothing company Uniquely Rare Clothing. His long-term goal is to open a youth center for kids. He thanks God for giving him the ability to do the things he has done and those that he will do in the future.
Garry Rogers, 32
Realtor, Keller Williams
Garry Rogers is a realtor with Keller Williams Atlantic Shore. He is an alumnus of Berkeley College in Paterson. Over the
years, Rogers has worn many hats with Atlantic City Public and Charter Schools such as: substitute teacher, paraprofessional, school administrator, basketball and soccer coach for boys and girls. Rogers has been motivating youth in Atlantic City for over seven years. In 2016, he and four others started B.F.A.M. and hosted the respect “Respect My Grades Back to School Event,” giving away over 300 bookbags at the Horace Bryant Grant Playground in Atlantic City. Rogers is a member of Asbury United Methodist Church and serves on the PPR Committee and Youth Ministries.
Zenith Shah, 34
Zenith Shah is focused on being a catalyst for positive change in Atlantic City. A 2007 graduate of Drexel University, Shah began his professional career at Blackrock, the world’s largest asset management firm. After more than a decade in leadership positions growing the Portfolio Compliance Group across the country and the globe, he decided the time was right to return home and build a business and community in Atlantic City. In 2016, Shah co-founded Authentic City Partners to create development projects in Atlantic City committed to bettering the lives of those in the community. ACP’s first project, the Tennessee Avenue Renaissance, will bring small businesses back to the beach block of Tennessee Avenue. Last year, Shah and two of his oldest friends co-founded Hayday, a community-centered coffee shop that will become the cornerstone of the Tennessee Avenue project.
Daniel J. Solt, 38
Assistant County Counsel for Atlantic County
Dan Solt is the assistant county counsel for Atlantic County and chair of the Young Lawyers Division of the Atlantic County Bar Association. After graduating from Stockton University he attended Widener University School of Law in Delaware. Solt is the president of the TVRC-Tilton Pool in Northfield, a non-profit seasonal swim club that is run by a board of volunteers. He also serves on the board of Community Mediation Services, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting people resolve disputes through the use of mediation. Through his role in the Young Lawyers Division over the last seven years, Solt has helped organize numerous outreach events in the community each year. He also volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters and has been matched with a teen from Atlantic City for almost four years, with whom he hangs out every other weekend.
Lori Tarud, 36
Vice President, Store Manager, TD Bank
A 2003 graduate of Towson University, Lori Tarud serves as vice president and store manager of TD Bank in Brigantine. Tarud takes an active lead outside of her normal duties to ensure she helps grow and develop the people she works with and build a better community. Tarud currently serves on the board of directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Atlantic and Cape May counties, is a board member for the Brigantine Chamber of Commerce, as well as a member of the Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce, the MBCA and AtlantiCare’s Young Professionals group. Her charitable support has helped the Marine Mammal Stranding Center of Brigantine, as well as the Humane Society of Atlantic County, where she found her rescue pup Lilo. Tarud lives in Absecon with her husband Mike.
Daniel J. McCann, 31
President, The Law Office of Daniel J. McCann, L.L.C.
Vice President, Boardwalk Settlement Services, LLC
Dan McCann is a world-traveling, marathon-running philanthropist, who has completed marathons in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Most recently, he completed a marathon in Tanzania, then hiked to the highest peak of Africa, Mt. Kilimanjaro, to raise funds to send former street children of Uganda to school. McCann is an entrepreneur, title producer and licensed attorney in New Jersey. He is the vice president of Boardwalk Settlement Services, LLC, a full-service title company, and president of The Law Office of Daniel J. McCann, L.L.C. McCann is an active member of the Knights of Columbus and a volunteer track and field coach for the Cape May County Special Olympics. He is a third generation local of Sea Isle City, and resides there with his girlfriend and running-partner, Kate. McCann is so grateful to God for all of his blessings.
Steve Ebner, 38
Director of Slot Operations, Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa
Steve Ebner joined the Borgata team in 2003, opening the doors to the most successful casino in Atlantic City. He started as a slot operations supervisor and was promoted twice before assuming his current role as the director of slot operations. In addition to a demanding daily work schedule, he volunteers at his children’s elementary and middle schools. As a single parent, he is always trying to lead his children by the examples of hard work and giving back. He also volunteers at the South Jersey Field of Dreams in Absecon, helping physically and mentally disabled children and adults play baseball, and recently began working with Habitat for Humanity.
Erin Bilton, 35
Director of Marketing, Boardwalk Hall and Atlantic City Convention Center
Erin Bilton is the director of marketing at the Atlantic City Convention Center and Boardwalk Hall and also serves as the Northeast Regional Marketing Director for Spectra by Comcast Spectacor. Among her achievements, she has helped raise $42,000 over the past three years through the venue’s annual “Deck the Hall — Festival of Trees” event which benefits CASA for Children of Cape May and Atlantic counties. Bilton has also coordinated a marketing and hospitality task force with numerous entertainment venues, attractions, hotels and restaurants in the city to collaboratively promote Atlantic City in a positive light. Originally from Burlington County, Bilton received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from West Virginia University in 2005. She began her career with Comcast Spectacor in Philadelphia in 2006 and has since served as the marketing director in venues in Illinois and Connecticut before moving back to the Jersey Shore in 2015.