Dr. Donald H. Sebastian
Dr. Donald H. Sebastian is the President & CEO of the New Jersey Innovation Institute, an NJIT Corporation. The Institute is a new model for business innovation that applies the intellectual and technological resources of the state’s science and technology university to challenges identified by industry partners. NJII follows industry-led agendas solving sector-wide and company-specific technology development issues, creates supply chain relationships across large, medium and emerging businesses and serves as a catalyst for regional economic growth. Dr. Sebastian assumes this new role after fifteen years leading research at NJIT during which time The R&D enterprise grew to over a $110M, placing NJIT fifth among all polytechnic universities in the country, and fourth among all universities in patent productivity. Professor Sebastian received his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Stevens and is a 2006 inductee in the NJ High-Tech Hall of Fame.
Georgeen Theodore is an architect, urban designer, and Associate Professor at New Jersey Institute of Technology’s College of Architecture and Design, where she is the Director of the Changing Cities program. She received a Bachelor of Architecture from Rice University and a Master of Architecture in Urban Design from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, where she graduated with distinction. Theodore is founding partner and principal of Interboro, a New York City-based architecture and planning research office. Recent work includes completing “Holding Pattern,” a project commissioned by MoMA PS1 that strengthens the museum’s relationship to its surroundings, curating “Community,” the American contribution of the 2009 Rotterdam Architecture Biennale, and creating the first neighborhood redevelopment plan of the Booker administration in Newark, New Jersey.
Marylou & Jerome Bongiorno are Emmy-nominated, award winning, husband-and-wife filmmakers who focus their lens on social justice documentary, fiction, and museum installation art films that are widely distributed. The Bongiornos film extensively in Newark, New Jersey, their home city.
Their acclaimed 3Rs documentary trilogy on urban America featuring Newark began with Revolution ’67 (PBS POV/STARZ) about the Newark riots/rebellion of 1967; current The Rule (in release theatrically and on national PBS) tackling urban school reform using the model of Newark Abbey and St. Benedict’s Prep; and upcoming Rust, focusing on solutions to poverty in Newark and other Rust Belt cities.
The Bongiornos are the recipients of major prizes, grants, and fellowships and, in 2013 and 2014, were commended by the State of New Jersey and the City of Newark for their outstanding contributions to cinema and public knowledge.
Mary Lou Bongiorno
Filmmakers Marylou & Jerome Bongiorno’s idea to revitalize inner cities like Newark is to reduce poverty. One way to do so is urban school reform as seen in their documentary film The Rule, which presents the successful model of St. Benedict’s Prep - nearly 100% college acceptance for inner city young men.
Taneshia Nash Laird
Taneshia Nash Laird regional Director of the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Owner, Legacy Business Advisors
Recently dubbed a “Single Mom Mogul” by a business associate, consummate entrepreneur Taneshia Nash Laird’s expertise in strategic communications, business development and community economic development is enhanced by her network of contacts, amassed in a 20-year career with jobs in entertainment, government, nonprofit leadership, and real estate development. Today, Taneshia is the owner of Legacy Business Advisors, a strategic communications and development consultancy, and co-owner of several businesses including My Image Studios and Legendary Eats Sandwich House. Widowed in 2013, Taneshia is raising her two young daughters in Princeton, NJ. Her primary business offices are in Trenton, NJ, where she served as the city director of economic development and later the executive director of the Trenton Downtown Association.
Tomas Gregorio EMBA‘09, a veteran health care executive experienced in building IT networks for regional hospitals, is Senior Executive Director of Healthcare Systems Innovation at the New Jersey Innovation Institute (NJII), an NJIT corporation. Gregorio has been instrumental to NJII’s efforts to spur innovation and growth by leveraging the resources of industry, government, and higher education in the healthcare sector. He works with the university’s research and development arm to establish and build organizations such as the New Jersey Health Information Technology Extension Center (NJ-HITEC), a non-profit, self-sustaining division within NJII that is working with more than 8,000 Garden State providers to collect, digest, use, and share their electronically stored patient data. NJ-HITEC was originally funded by the federal government.