Dome at The New Jersey State Museum in Trenton, NJ Photo by Steven Karp

It’s true that strength comes in numbers, but certain individuals who stay at the forefront of a common cause with courage, boldness and relentless fortitude, use heart and passion to push beyond the ordinary; inspiring and engaging others to take positive action. Embodying that sentiment was the late Caren Franzini, former NJEDA CEO and one of the founders of Greater Trenton. She was a woman known as a friend, advocate and unselfish leader in the Capital City and throughout the State of New Jersey. “When we pull together, we move things forward,” was her motto.

“From championing urban revitalization across the State of New Jersey to advocating for vibrancy and resurgence in New Jersey’s State Capital, Caren was a true leader and a fighter in many respects,” said Anthony “Skip” Cimino, Board Chair of Greater Trenton. “While Caren lost a long fight to cancer just shy of two years ago, her memory will never be lost with us as we bring together hundreds of leaders on December 6th, and every year thereafter, to remember Caren’s legacy and build on the momentum and tremendous future with respect to our capital city.”

Serving as the first co-chair of Greater Trenton along with Bernie Flynn, former president and CEO of NJM Insurance Group, Ms. Franzini was dedicated to bringing jobs, businesses and places to live to the downtown. Reflecting on her tremendous impact and emboldened by the momentum she brought to the Capital City, Mr. Flynn came up with an idea. He suggested the creation of The Caren Franzini Capital City Award which morphed into the idea of an annual celebration that would revisit Caren’s vision and revolutionary work in support of Greater Trenton’s mission.

“Without Caren there would be no Greater Trenton, said Bernie Flynn, Chair of Greater Trenton’s Advisory Committee. “Having worked together as former co-chairs of Greater Trenton’s Board of Directors, I can tell you that Caren was a compassionate leader who loved this city with all of her heart. Who we are today and what we’ve accomplished as an organization is due to the inspirational vision and leadership that Caren provided during the inception of Greater Trenton.”

For the first time, Greater Trenton will host The Caren Franzini Capital City Award Celebration, presented by NJM Insurance Group on Thursday, December 6th, at 5 p.m. at the New Jersey State Museum. All are welcome to purchase a ticket to attend and can do so at The event is expected to sell out.

“It’s rare that you come across such an exceptional leader like the late Caren Franzini, who meant so much to so many people across the City of Trenton, the State of New Jersey and beyond,” said George Sowa, Chief Executive Officer of Greater Trenton. “As we continue to carry out Caren’s vision to revitalize New Jersey’s Capital City through the work of Greater Trenton, we’re thrilled and encouraged by the tremendous support and interest in our First Annual Caren Franzini Capital City Award Celebration.”

The celebration will bring together more than 200 attendees including prominent community, government, and business leaders at this inaugural event led by Greater Trenton’s Chair Anthony “Skip” Cimino and CEO George Sowa. The selection of Anthony R. Coscia, Esq., Partner at Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf, LLP as the inaugural recipient of the award, further inspired the initiative as Mr. Coscia was recognized as Caren’s mentor. ­Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora will provide welcoming remarks.

Featuring an elegant evening of cocktails, conversations and collaborations, the celebration will inspire participants to reflect on Trenton’s past, reimagine its future, and mingle with some of the most influential leaders impacting the Capital City. In addition, there will be a pre-celebration experience for Impact Pass holders with New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. It is intended to be thought-provoking and inspiring and to attract more support to Greater Trenton’s mission and initiatives.

A portion of the proceeds from this event will be allocated to scholarships and internships for Trenton’s youth. “Part of Greater Trenton’s purpose is to help create a positive and forward-thinking narrative for the Capital City,” added Sowa. “Thanks to the creation of, this is happening. As we invest in the development of writing and communications skills for Trenton’s youth, this will become even more of a grass-roots initiative.”

The celebration has been made possible by a committee of community leaders, chaired by Brenda Ross-Dulan, Principal at the Ross Dulan Group, LLC and a long list of sponsors. NJM Insurance Group, stepped up as the presenting sponsor early on followed by a host of supporters including Envisioning Sponsors Jack Huston, Greater Trenton Adviser, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf, LLP; Developing Sponsors Investors Bank and Novo Nordisk; Building Sponsors Thomas Edison State University, Wells Fargo, M&T Bank, Capital Health, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, PSEG, Bernard M. Flynn, Greater Trenton Advisory Committee Chair, TD Bank, and Janssen; and Collaborating Sponsor DeCotiis, FitzPatrick & Cole, LLP.

“Involving ourselves with the work of Greater Trenton is vital to our Capital City. The late Caren Franzini knew that,” said Ross-Dulan. “She worked tirelessly to demonstrate the difference extraordinary leadership can make – and for me, it’s about that kind of leadership, as well as understanding the opportunities in front of us and ensuring diversity and inclusion. Our message on December 6th will be clear: everyone’s support is welcomed and needed…and the time is now!”

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 visit and reach out to Shana Siplin at or 609-777-1770.

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