Donald H. Sebastian  

 President & CEO, NJ Innovation Institute

 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.  He led the effort to form a statewide NJ Health Information Technology Extension Center that leads the nation in physicians  certified as meaningful users of electronic healthcare record systems, and is a member of the Boards of Greater Newark Health Care Coalition, R&D Council of  NJ, Henry H Kessler Foundation, Polymer Processing Institute, Inc., and NJ Manufacturing Extension Program.  Professor Sebastian received his Ph.D. in  Chemical Engineering from Stevens and is a 2006 inductee in the NJ High-Tech Hall of Fame.












Tomas Gregorio

Senior Executive Director of Healthcare Systems Innovation at the NJ Innovation Institute

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.

Gregorio previously served as senior vice president and chief operating officer for HealthEC, LLC, a New Jersey-based company that provides technology to accountable care organizations (ACOs) and systems-integration services to healthcare information exchanges. He has also held positions as the president and chief executive officer of Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center, and before that, as a vice president and chief information officer for Newark Beth Israel Medical Center.











Georgeen Theodore

Urban Designer, and Associate Professor at New Jersey Institute of Technology’s College of Architecture and Design

 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. Since its founding in 2002, Interboro has worked  with a variety of public, private, and not-for-profit clients, and has accumulated many awards for its innovative projects, including the Museum of  Modern Art PS1’s Young Architects Program (2011), the Architectural League’s Emerging Voices Award (2011) and Young Architects Award (2005),  and the AIA New York Chapter’s 2006 New Practices Award. 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.



Taneshia Laird 







Taneshia 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 (also known as MIST Harlem), the $21 Million, 20,000 square foot entertainment center and home of Madiba Harlem, in New York City; and Legendary Eats Sandwich House, the arena concessions concept which launched in Staples Center in Los Angeles in April 2014. In November 2014 Taneshia was appointed a Regional Director of the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce.

The published co-author of the critically acclaimed book “Still I Rise: A Graphic History of African- Americans,” Taneshia is a committed community leader with a passion for art, history and the environment. She is a member of Felician College’s Business Advisory Council; the trustee boards for the Art Pride of New Jersey Foundation and the Advocates for New Jersey History; a Senior Fellow in the Eastern Regional Network of the Environmental Leadership Program; and an appointee to the board of the New Jersey Urban Enterprise Zone Authority. 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.


Michael Dixon

Michael J Dixon, PhD

General Manager, Smarter Cities, IBM

Michael Dixon leads IBM’s strategy and its implementation for Smarter Cities around the world. With focus on transport, emergency management, water, buildings, public safety and other areas, IBM delivers increasing levels of service and better value for money. Prior to a brief period as the Managing Partner for IBM’s consulting and systems integration business (GBS) in Central/Eastern Europe in 2011, Michael was the Vice President of Public Sector for GBS in the Growth Markets, leading teams focused on supporting client initiatives in Government, Healthcare Payers and Providers and Education across Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Africa, Central / Eastern Europe and Latin America. Client success in numerous

projects resulted with IBM providing strategic advice, business change and process transformation to improve services and deliver cost efficiencies. During an IBM career spanning 27 years, Michael has held a series of sales, management and executive positions. His depth of industry experience has seen him working with policy makers and senior executives in public sector organizations through to presenting to Government leaders at APEC summits. He has also been an advisory to Public Sector CEO’s on strategy development and project implementation through to partnering with private companies to deliver associated services. Michael spent several years based in Tokyo and was a Brookings Congressional Fellow, based in Washington, DC. Before joining IBM Michael completed a BBSc at La Trobe University, an MSc at the University of Melbourne and a PhD at the University of Alberta. Michael is an Australian and spends his time in Melbourne, New York and all parts of the world.


Marylou & Jerome Bongiorno

Marylou & Jerome Bongiorno

Newark filmmakers

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.  In development are the fiction films based on this Trilogy. In production is End Dependence, a documentary that follows the construction of a zero energy home prototype for sustainable living, designed by NJIT architecture students. Soon to be released Love & Arguments fiction anthology of Newark-centric films features NJIT professor/poet Jon Curley.

New Work: Newark in 3D, commissioned by The Newark Museum for its centennial, was installed in a gallery in Newark Liberty International Airport in 2013-14 as the airport’s first art film.

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.



Highlander Dance Team

Highlander dance team












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