On Monday, December 4th, leaders and stakeholders from throughout the region gathered in the Capital City for an unforgettable evening of cocktails and conversations. Now in its sixth year, this highly anticipated celebration connects leaders from myriad industries to reflect on the legacy of Caren Franzini and ruminate on all that lies ahead for the future of the Capital City. This year’s Caren Franzini Capital City Award was bestowed upon John Hatch of Clarke Caton Hintz and David Henderson of Hx2 Development. Greater Trenton also awarded the inaugural Business Impact Award to Reggie Hallett of Trenton’s 1911 Smokehouse BBQ.
The emcee for the evening’s celebrations was none other than the Honorable Jeannine Frisby LaRue of The Zita Group. Ringing in the occasion, Ms. LaRue remarked, “I am so thrilled to be a part of this great organization, serving on Greater Trenton’s Advisory Committee as well as its Franzini Event Committee, as we honor John Hatch, David Henderson, and Reggie Hallett. I’ve seen the great work of this organization over the years – and I’ll tell you one thing: this has truly become Trenton’s premier economic development event.”
Distinguished guests for the evening included a number of elected officials throughout the region, including Mayor of Trenton, W. Reed Gusciora. Greeting visitors from near and far, Mayor Gusciora stated “Welcome to the City of Trenton. I am proud to serve as your Mayor. Each of us in this room holds extraordinary power when we work together and mobilize ideas with our collective energy. I am inspired to see so many talented people propelling projects forward. With each positive step, our City takes greater control of its destiny and help shape its bright future.”
Highlights from the evening included a special performance by Bjutiful Seay, a junior at Foundation Academy, who offered a moving spoken word performance written by Greater Trenton’s own Bryan Evans. In her performance, Ms. Seay shared an inspiring vision for Trenton’s future – a future manifested by none other than Caren Franzini. This stirring vision of Trenton, where progress is driven by the efforts of our talented and diverse community, speaks to the motto of the late Franzini: “when we pull together, we move things forward.”
As the close of the evening drew nearer, anticipation continue to grow as the crowd prepared to welcome the honorees for the 2023 Caren Franzini Capital City Award. This award honors the legacy of Caren Franzini, former New Jersey Economic Development Authority CEO and a founding member of Greater Trenton. The award is presented to exceptional leaders in the Trenton area whose work has contributed to the development and revitalization of the Capital City. Esteemed honorees in past years include John Harmon, Drs. George and Pamela Pruitt, Anthony “Skip” Cimino, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, and Anthony R. Coscia, Esq.
Reflecting on their mother’s legacy, Sam and Anna Franzini noted “For our family, you can only imagine how difficult it is to find the words. We feel joyful to be here tonight with all of you. It is an honor to have The Caren Franzini Capital City Award named in memory of our Mother, Caren Franzini.” After a brief video sharing more about the life and legacy of Caren Franzini, as well as a bit more on this year’s award recipients, it was finally time to welcome this year’s guests of honor.
John Hatch and David Henderson, the honorees for this year’s Caren Franzini Capital City Award, have played an instrumental role in the cultural and economic renaissance in Trenton. From supporting local artists to breathing new life into Trenton’s historic properties, the impact this year’s honorees have had on the city can be felt in every corner of our community. While accepting this year’s award, Henderson noted “We are particularly honored to be thought of in the same breathe as Caren Franzini, who was such an extraordinary and wonderful person and made an enormous difference here in Trenton and across the State of New Jersey.” And in the spirit of Caren Franzini, this year’s honorees continue to inspire us to what can be achieved when we work together for the good of the Capital City.
This year’s distinguished event committee includes Elijah Dixon, Equity By Design; Letícia Ferri, Bristol Myers Squibb; John Goedecke, Citizens; Bryan Evans, Greater Trenton; Reggie Hallett, 1911 SmokeHouse BBQ; Duncan Harrison, Princeton University; Pat Hartpence, NJM Insurance Group; Jeannine LaRue, The Zita Group; Shirley Michael, Greater Trenton; Aquatia Owens, PNC Wealth Advisors; John Rogers, NJM Insurance Group; George Sowa, Greater Trenton; Mike Van Wagner, Retired NJM Insurance Group executive; and Andy Zalescik, Columbia Bank.
A portion of proceeds from this event will be designated to support scholarships, internships, and opportunities that will benefit Trenton’s youth. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 609-473-2837 x102 for additional information.