Greater Trenton’s Caren Franzini Capital City Award Celebration: An Experience that Connects and Inspires


Three months from today, hundreds of diverse community leaders in business, government, education and beyond, will gather to reflect on Trenton’s progress, reimagine its future, and make connections with some of the most influential leaders impacting New Jersey’s Capital City. It’s all part of an annual experience that connects and inspires. The event is Greater Trenton’s 5th Annual Caren Franzini Capital City Award Celebration and it happens this year on December 5, 2022 at 5 p.m. at Cooper’s Riverview (50 Riverview Plaza, Trenton, NJ).

Accepting this year’s Caren Franzini Capital City Award is John E. Harmon, Sr. IOM, a native Trentonian, who has served as the Founder, President and CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey (AACCNJ) since 2007. Harmon advocates on behalf of the 1.1 million African American residents and the over 70,000 black owned businesses statewide to ensure that policy at the municipal, county, and federal level provides fairness, equity and access to a level playing field in the market place.

“There is no greater recognition than being honored at home by your colleagues and friends,” said Harmon. “This acknowledgement underscores the sacrifices, focus and unwavering commitment to build bridges amongst diverse constituencies with a goal of realizing a more competitive New Jersey.”

Front row from left to right includes Bryan Evans, Greater Trenton; George Sowa, Greater Trenton; Jeannine Frisby LaRue, Kaufman Zita Group; Mike Van Wagner (Event Co-Chair), recently retired from NJM Insurance Group; and Letícia Ferri (Event Co-Chair) from Bristol Myers Squibb. Back row from left to right includes Andy Zalescik, Columbia Bank; Reggie Hallett, 1911 SmokeHouse; Duncan Harrison, Princeton University; John Rogers, NJM Insurance Group; John Goedecke, Citizens; and Nancy Faherty, Cashel Faherty Public Relations.

An esteemed event committee led by event Co-Chairs Letícia Ferri from Bristol Myers Squibb as well as Mike Van Wagner, who recently retired from NJM Insurance Group, includes a diverse spectrum of leaders including Elijah Dixon, Equity By Design; John Goedecke, Citizens; Bryan Evans (myself), Greater Trenton; Nancy Faherty, Cashel Faherty Public Relations; 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; John Rogers, NJM Insurance Group; George Sowa, Greater Trenton; and Andy Zalescik, Columbia Bank.

Harmon joins the ranks of past honorees of Greater Trenton’s Caren Franizini Capital City Award including Drs. George and Pamela Pruitt, experienced, passionate, and highly motivated educational leaders who proudly call the Trenton area their home; Anthony “Skip” Cimino, an instrumental leader in the conception and formation of Greater Trenton and serves as Senior Managing Director at Stevens & Lee Public Affairs; Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, a long-time public servant and advocate for New Jersey families who was elected in 2018 to her third term in the U.S. House of Representatives; and Anthony R. Coscia, Esq., a close friend and mentor of the late Caren Franzini and partner at Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf, LLP.

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 Trenton, New Jersey. As a core foundation of its efforts to catalyze economic development opportunities in the city, Greater Trenton works to create equitable opportunities for local residents by addressing career pathways, affordable housing, and job creation. The organization also engages in efforts to bring investment into Trenton, to ultimately create jobs and economic opportunities while increasing Trenton’s capability to offer basic services to residents.

A number of generous Caren Franzini Capital City Award Celebration sponsors to date include Presenting sponsors Bristol Myers Squibb and NJM Insurance Group; Building sponsors Capital Health, Comcast, Davis EIS Enterprise, Ferreira, Princeton University, and Janssen; Sustaining sponsors Rider University, George & Lisa Sowa, and Stark & Stark Attorneys at Law; and Supporting sponsors Nisivoccia, The Ross Dulan Group, and Princeton Mercer Regional Chamber.

A portion of the proceeds from this event will be allocated to scholarships and internships for Trenton’s youth. For registration and sponsorship information, please visit