Debbie Hart, MS, APR
President and CEO
Debbie worked alongside New Jersey’s biopharmaceutical industry leaders to establish BioNJ in 1994. Dedicated to BioNJ’s mission to help our Members help Patients, Ms. Hart is recognized as a respected thought leader and influential advocate. Under Debbie’s leadership, BioNJ has become the trusted voice of the life sciences industry in New Jersey – working directly with legislative leaders in both Trenton and Washington D.C. to advance the life sciences industry, foster medical innovation and patient access while ensuring health equity and healthcare affordability. Most recently, she was named by Governor Murphy as the new Chair of the New Jersey Commission on Science, Innovation and Technology.
With the onset of COVID-19, Debbie was named by Governor Murphy to New Jersey’s Restart and Recovery Advisory Council and by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin to the Economic Advisory Council to Restart the Economy, created to advise State leadership on economic matters impacted by COVID-19.
Additionally, Debbie is the Co-Chair of the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education Strategic Plan Working Group on Research, Innovation and the Talent and the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education and Business Partnership. She also served as Chair of the bipartisan, bicameral New Jersey Biotechnology Task Force which was charged with making recommendations to the Legislature for fostering the growth of the biotechnology industry in New Jersey most of which have been enacted.
Debbie is Co-Chair of We Work for Health New Jersey, serves on the boards of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce and Choose New Jersey, the New Jersey Equity in Commercialization Collective Advisory Board and the New Jersey Innovation Institute. She chaired the EDA’s Commercialization Center for Innovative Technologies (CCIT) Board and served as a member of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s (EDA) Technology Advisory Board.
A strong advocate for advancing education, Debbie sits on the Board of the Blanche and Irwin Lerner Center for the Study of Pharmaceutical Management at Rutgers University Business School. She served on the Advisory Boards for Students 2 Science, the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s (NJIT) Biomedical Engineering Program, and the founding Advisory Board that guided the establishment of the nationally recognized Monmouth County Biotechnology High School.
A respected opinion leader, Debbie has testified before State and federal legislative committees, authored numerous op-eds and is a frequent speaker on issues impacting medical innovation and Patient access.
Debbie was named one of the world’s 100 Most Influential People in Biotechnology by Scientific American Worldview; a PharmaVOICE 2021 Red Jacket Honoree and to PharmaVOICE‘s 100 Most Inspiring People list with repeat appearances on ROI-NJ’s Influencers Power List; ROI-NJ’s Healthcare Influencers: ROI-NJ’s Women in Business List; to the NJBIZ Health Care Power 50, to the NJBIZ Manufacturing 50, one of New Jersey’s top CEOs by COMMERCE Magazine and for the tenth time in 2022 to the NJBIZ Power 100, a listing of the 100 most influential people in New Jersey business.
Debbie holds an M.S. from the S. I. Newhouse School at Syracuse University where she graduated cum laude and a B.A. from Trenton State College, now The College of New Jersey, where she graduated magna cum laude.
Donna joined the organization in 1995 bringing nearly a decade of diverse operations experience with her from purchasing, to human resources to systems support. She has been vital in the nurturing and growth of the organization and now oversees BioNJ’s human resources, accounting and operations functions. Donna was instrumental in creating internal controls and systems, recruiting and developing personnel, and continues to support the organization on a daily basis.
Sr. Vice President, Communications and Marketing
Randi is a strategic, analytical and creative thinker with more than 20 years of experience as a marketing and business communications professional in medical/scientific publishing and association management. Her extensive experience includes managing media and public relations, brand building, speech writing, authoring articles, fostering online communities, program development and conducting market research. Most recently, Randi was the Executive Director of Marketing for the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI), the leading trade association for the advertising specialty industry. As a performance-driven leader with a keen eye for identifying and developing new business opportunities, Randi played an integral role in launching and building ASI’s five national, four boutique and 50 traveling events and shows, which included certified educational workshops, keynote presentations, networking/business-building offerings and exhibits.
Randi began her career in medical and scientific publishing, where she spent more than 10 years leading the marketing and communications programs for some of the most prestigious medical publications, such as Neurology (American Academy of Neurology) and The Laryngoscope (Triological Society).
A champion for Patients and dedicated to BioNJ’s mission of helping our Members help Patients, Randi’s role as Sr. Vice President, Communications and Marketing is to create and effectively execute forward-thinking strategies and campaigns which foster medical innovation, ensure Patient access and position New Jersey’s robust multi-sector life sciences ecosystem as a leading biopharma hub. She spearheads BioNJ’s work and related messaging on the importance of bringing all stakeholders together to develop Patient-centered, value-based models that will provide Patients with access to the right medicines at the right time at affordable out-of-pocket costs. Randi serves on the New Jersey Presidents Council’s branding and marketing task force for New Jersey institutions.
Vice President, Member Engagement and Strategic Partnerships
Cheri brings nearly 20 years of experience in working with Member-based organizations. Most recently, Cheri was the Executive Director for NYC SHRM where she was instrumental in growing membership, expanding sponsorship efforts and overseeing implementation of continuing education programs and conferences. Prior to joining NYC SHRM, Cheri was the Vice President, Marketing & Strategic Partnerships for the United Way of Greater Mercer County. She also spent seven years as Vice President at the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce.
As Vice President, Member Engagement and Strategic Partnerships for BioNJ, Cheri will use her vast experience, creative mind and unique approach to sponsorship and programming to create new opportunities for our Members to position themselves as thought leaders and build their relationships within the ecosystem.
Pavita Howe, MBA
Vice President, Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Pavita is an entrepreneurial leader with experience in business development, marketing, strategy, program management, new products, launches, business planning, and building ecosystems at start-ups, academic institutions and large organizations. Most recently, Pavita served as Director of Entrepreneurship Partnerships at Rutgers University, where she worked with internal and external partners to grow Rutgers’ entrepreneurial ecosystem, bring visibility to Rutgers affiliated start-ups, and connect them to valuable resources at the university and across the broader New Jersey entrepreneurial network. In addition, Pavita worked with start-ups in the Rutgers community who were bringing innovations to market in a variety of industries, including life sciences, healthcare, technology, digital health, food and agriculture and climate/sustainability technologies.
Prior to Rutgers, Pavita spent her career working in marketing and leadership roles at start-ups in California and New Jersey. Her first entrepreneurial experience was with Forte, a San Diego-based technology start-up which was acquired by Genesys in San Francisco, where Pavita led the Marketing Launch team until the company’s acquisition by Alcatel. Pavita has served as a mentor and advisor at TechLaunch NJ and the NJ Technology Council (now TechUnited) and a co-organizer at Morris Tech Meetup in New Jersey. She has appeared multiple times on the ROI-NJ Influencers in Technology list and was also named on ROI-NJ’s Influencers in Higher Educationlist in 2022.
As BioNJ’s Vice President, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Pavita will engage and support the life sciences entrepreneurial community and innovation ecosystem expanding BioNJ’s outreach and collaboration with investor, academic, industry and government partners with the intention to increase successful entrepreneurship. Additionally, Pavita will lead the BioNJ BioPartnering Conference forging new opportunities and pathways for collaboration while building on its 10-year history of success.
Ian McLaughlin, Ph.D.
Vice President, Government Affairs
A life scientist by training, Ian most recently served as a Policy Analyst in the New Jersey Assembly Majority Office, working as a Committee Aide to the Assembly Health and Aging & Senior Services Committee. During his tenure with the New Jersey Assembly Majority Office, Ian was responsible for analyzing legislation, department budgets and regulations; preparing briefing documents for legislative leadership; and working closely with advocates, lobbyists and stakeholders in preparing and delivering testimony before Assembly committees. Prior to joining the Assembly Majority Office, Ian was a Science and Politics Fellow at the Eagleton Institute of Politics.
Ian’s scientific research focused on understanding the neurobiology of addiction and psychiatric conditions with the goal of identifying novel druggable CNS targets. While in graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania, Ian served as a Vice President of the Penn Biotech Group, which enables teams of MBA, M.D. and Ph.D. candidates to consult for companies in biotech, pharma, health care analytics and venture capital.
As Vice President of Government Affairs, Ian will use his scientific acumen, analytical mind and experience in working with the New Jersey Legislature to lead BioNJ’s advocacy and public policy efforts to help our Members help Patients.
A graduate of Rutgers University, Maria joined the BioNJ Team as Meeting Coordinator in January 2023. Working closely with the Executive Director of Conferences and Committees, Maria will support the planning and delivery of more than 30 annual BioNJ conferences and meetings. In her role, Maria will liaison with BioNJ’s Members, Team, Volunteer Committees and vendors to ensure the execution of high-caliber programming. With a keen eye for detail and strong organizational skills, Maria will assist in the management of event logistics and Committee communication.
Executive Director, Member Operations
Before joining AAI in August 2013, Denise spent 20 years at a New Jersey based pharmaceutical company holding several positions including Executive Administrative Assistant, Marketing and Sales, Administrator, Visiting Faculty in the Medical Education Division. She also spent several years working for a marketing communications company as the Director of Meeting Planning. Outside of AAI, she has volunteered in various board positions for her local Parent Teacher Association.
Executive Director, Conferences, Committee and Workforce
Debbie brings 10 years of event and conference planning experience from her previous roles at Merrill Lynch. She has strategically planned and coordinated events ranging from high-profile corporate events, industry conferences and annual meetings to nonprofit fundraisers, employee celebrations, networking briefings, forums and summits. By working closely with the BioNJ Team and Member Committees, Debbie executes exceptional events that meet business objectives and exceed expectations. Her work process reflects an authentic desire to ensure that all attendees, speakers and sponsors feel comfortable, appreciated and welcomed. Recently, Debbie took on the additional role of overseeing BioNJ’s Talent Services initiatives, including our HR Conference and Forum.
Director, Marketing and Design
Dawn joined the BioNJ Team in April 2021, bringing with her 25 years of experience in marketing, digital media, design and trade show management. As Director, Marketing and Design, she works across the organization to help create and execute all communications and marketing programs. Prior to joining BioNJ, Dawn spent more than 20 years at the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI), the leading trade association for the advertising specialty industry, where she was responsible for content marketing, social media and graphic and web design to create brand awareness, foster brand loyalty and increase engagement; in addition to developing interactive platforms for ASI’s numerous live events and educational programs.
Cheri has worked as an administrative assistant for more than 20 years. She began her career working in the dental field, first as an Assistant, then as an Office Manager. She then moved on to become the Director of a children’s daycare center, where she worked for seven years and oversaw the daily functions of the facility including compliance, safety and ensured the well-being of 150 children and 11 team members. Immediately prior to joining BioNJ, Cheri served as an administrative assistant in a Trenton, NJ-based medical office. She has been with BioNJ for six years and assists our Members with the utmost in professionalism and care on a daily basis.
Sr. Executive Assistant to the CEO
Dana joined BioNJ in 1996 after serving for five years as Executive Assistant to the Vice President of Regulatory Affairs at Covance. Dana manages the President and CEO’s office coordinating meetings and conference logistics and serving as a liaison to Member companies. Dana is a consummate professional with a strong desire to make a positive impact.
In addition to her role here, Dana is actively involved in the community and serves on the Board of the Steinert High School After Prom Committee and SHS Baseball Booster Club as Vice President/Fundraising.
Talent Services and Public Policy Assistant
Peggy joined BioNJ in June 2010 as Executive Assistant to the President and CEO and Public Policy Coordinator and brings 50 years of administrative experience with her. She is a graduate of Fordham University, College of Business Administration with a BS degree in Marketing and Management. Peggy has a wide variety of experience supporting senior executives in the finance, pharmaceutical, trade association and government industries. Prior to joining BioNJ, she was a Strategic Communications Associate at Schering-Plough Corporation supporting the Head of Corporate Strategic Affairs.
Executive Director, Accounting Operations
Prior to joining BioNJ in 2009, Ann was the Director of Admissions and Marketing at King James Care Center and owned her own consulting business where she worked as a liaison with area hospitals, RWJUH at Hamilton, Capitol Health and the now defunct Mercer Medical Center. At BioNJ, Ann manages the accounts receivable function and supports the financial management processes. Ann interfaces with our Members and accountants on a daily basis, ensuring proper accounting practices are being followed.
Ann received her bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts with a Minor in Psychology and graduated Cum Laude from York College of Pennsylvania. She is actively involved in the community as a volunteer on the Board of the Bordentown School PTO, and as a volunteer for various civic organizations.