2017 Outstanding Women in Somerset County Awards
Somerset County Freeholder Patricia Walsh, liaison to the county Commission on the Status of Women, joins the commission in announcing the 2017 Outstanding Women in Somerset County award winners. To see photos of the winners, visit www.facebook.com/SomersetCountyNJ
“We have many women in Somerset County doing amazing things every day,” she said. “It is most appropriate that during Women's History Month, we take the time to publicly recognize them and say thank you.”
Honorees are women who live in Somerset County. This year’s award recipients by category are:
Arts – Caren Frost Olmsted of Bernards is the owner and principal of CFO Design, an art and mural company she established in 2003. Her projects include large- and small-scale murals in corporate and educational settings, project management, and art direction. Her murals appear in supermarkets, schools, churches and hospitals across the country, as well as homes and businesses. Her signature program is an artist-in-residency for schools called “We Are All Artists,” where she works with the entire school population to create murals that transform major portions of the school into works of art. She has worked with over 22,000 students and 2,200-plus adults, completing over 40 murals totaling 40,000 square feet in the past seven years alone. She has been nationally televised on The Learning Channel’s hit decorating show, “Moving Up” and received the prestigious “2015 Arts Educator of the Year” award from Morris Arts. She is the founding co-chair of “ARTsee,” an artist collective that provides an annual tour of local artists’ studios in Bernardsville and Basking Ridge.
Arts – Carolyn Kelly of Bernards is a former Township Committee member who served as the township’s mayor in 2005 and 2009. She currently is first vice president of the Friends of the Kennedy Martin Stelle Farmstead, which is listed on the New Jersey and National Register of Historic Places. Her focus is on fundraising and development. When she joined the board in 2010, she initiated the Friends Annual Appeal Program. She also is a founding member of Farmstead Arts. She co-founded and served as a trustee on the township’s September 11th Remembrance Foundation. She also has served as a member of the Bernards Township Zoning Board of Adjustment, the Bernards Township Environmental Commission and the Bernardsville Junior Women’s Club. She holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial labor relations from Pace University and was director of human resources at Centenary College in Hackettstown.
Business – Ahu Yildirmaz, Ph.D., of Warren leads the ADP Research Institute, where she directs economic and human capital management research. She founded the institute to leverage ADP’s massive set of big data and deep expertise across the entire spectrum of HCM to deliver meaningful insights into the labor market and workforce management. In addition to managing the world-renowned ADP National Employment Report®, she has initiated a number of research assets that have come to be relied upon for timely data in the marketplace. Prior to joining ADP in 2011, she held a number of roles at Johnson & Johnson and AT&T in the areas of strategy, corporate finance and economic research. She also lectured and taught several macroeconomics and finance classes within the Economics Department at New York University and the City University of New York. She holds a doctorate in international economics from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Bosphorus University in Istanbul, Turkey.
Business – Margaret E. (Meg) Helms of Montgomery is president of Morgan Wallace Associates, LLC, a global strategic healthcare M&A consulting firm. She advises start-ups and small- to large-cap life science companies on a full range of licensing and merger-and-acquisition matters. Prior to this, during her 30-plus-year career with Johnson & Johnson, she successfully closed dozens of M&A transactions with deal values of up to $500 million. She is particularly skilled in handling global transactions, including in China. She holds a master’s degree in business administration from Washington University in St. Louis, MO, and a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University’s Douglass College. She is a board member of CardioComm Solutions, a publicly traded company in Canada; and a member of BioNJ; the Licensing Executives Society; Healthcare Businesswomen's Association, where she is President of Metro Central NJ; and Women's Business Leaders in Healthcare. She also currently serves on the Carrier Clinic Board of Trustees and as board president of Raritan Valley Habitat for Humanity.
Education – Mary Bridgeman, Pharm.D., BCPS, CGP, FASCP, of Hillsborough has been at the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy at Rutgers University since 2007 and currently is a clinical associate professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Administration. She received her doctor of pharmacy degree from the Ernest Mario School. After graduation she completed a specialized pharmacy residency in nephrology and hypertension at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, where she maintains a practice in internal medicine. She is recognized as a board-certified pharmacotherapy specialist and geriatric pharmacist, and is a fellow of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists. At both the university and hospital organizational levels, she is involved in committees charged with governing student development and patient care, respectively. At the state level, she is a member and co-chairwoman of the New Jersey Interagency Council on Osteoporosis and member of the New Jersey Medicinal Marijuana Review Panel. She is a monthly contributor to a column on over-the-counter medication use that appears in the journal, Pharmacy Times.
Government – Carol Manuele Bianchi of Bernards served as the township’s mayor in 2016 and has been on the Township Committee since 2013. As mayor, she maintained the fiscally conservative policies that have earned Bernards Township a triple-A bond rating, one of the very lowest equalized tax rates in New Jersey, and zero debt. She served as the first female chairperson of the township Planning Board. She got involved in government as an organizer and co-leader of a citizens group, "Citizens for a Clean and Safe Millington Quarry,” which successfully worked with the government to stop the importation of fill to the quarry and to require testing for contamination and state oversight. She is co-chair of the Somerset County Employer Legislative Committee and the Somerset County Business Partnership Legislative Committee and vice president of the Somerset County Governing Officials Association; she earned the association’s 2016 Elected Official of the Year award. She is a graduate of Rutgers University, a magna cum laude graduate of Seton Hall Law School, and a 2010 graduate of Leadership Somerset.
Hometown Hero – Jody C. D’Agostini, CFP®, CDFA™, of Bernards started her working life in the medical and pharmaceutical industries and now provides comprehensive financial planning and wealth management for individuals and closely held businesses using a goal-based, holistic approach to finances. She specializes in retirement and estate planning, having obtained a certificate in retirement planning from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. She received her CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designation in 2002. She is a CDFAä (Certified Divorce Financial Analyst) and belongs to the New Jersey Collaborative Law Group. She also serves on the Somerset County YMCA Board of Directors and the board of SWIM Inc. She is the founder of Community in Crisis, a nonprofit dedicated to taking the stigma out of addiction and to prevention and education aimed at the heroin/opiate epidemic. She is a member of the Morristown Chamber of Commerce and a frequent contributor to the Star-Ledger business section and NJ.com. She received the statewide YMCA Social Responsibility Champion Award and the Freedom House Citizen of the Year Award in 2015 and was recently given the Women of Leadership Award by the Boy Scouts of America.
Medicine – Sally Steele Hoben, RN-BSN, of Bound Brook is a lifelong borough resident and a certified school nurse at Bound Brook High School. She is a graduate of Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center School of Nursing, Union County College and Trenton State College (now the College of New Jersey). She completed advanced-degree studies at Caldwell College, where she received her certification. Early in her career, she helped save many lives through her work in the emergency department and emergency medical services. During the 1970s she was one of the first nurses working in prehospital advanced life support – today’s paramedics. She also was responsible for the education and mentoring of hundreds of paramedic students, many of whom have successful careers today in public health, medicine, law enforcement, and emergency medical and fire services. More recently as a school nurse, she established the Breakfast-after-the-Bell program for at-risk students in the Bound Brook School District, which today serves nearly 2,000 students.
Volunteerism – Sue Ferranti of Branchburg is a volunteer instructor for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and continues to use her teaching skills to provide insight into the many aspects associated with mental illness through their free Family-to-Family course. To date, she has taught this program to over 150 family members. She has been president of the NAMI Somerset chapter for the past five years, runs the monthly support groups, captains the NAMI Somerset Walk Team, sits on the board of Richard Hall Community Mental Health Center, participates in the Healthier Somerset Coalition, speaks about mental illness at local churches and organizations, and receives and directs calls from the public on mental illness concerns. She volunteers in an ongoing effort to help eliminate stigma and bring awareness to the fact that through advocacy, education and support, mental illness is treatable. She recently retired from 25 years as director and head teacher of her own nursery school.
Volunteerism – Kathleen I. (Kippy) Piedici of Bernards is a 21-year township resident whose volunteer activities are both municipal and political in nature. She is strongly committed to keeping Bernards Township one of the best places to live in New Jersey. She currently is vice-chairwoman of the Planning Board and president of Library Board of Trustees. She previously served on the Zoning Board of Adjustment and the Beautification Task Force. On the political front, she is a member of the Republican Municipal Committee and has been a local campaign manager four times. She serves on two executive boards – the New Jersey Library Trustees Association and the New Jersey Planning Officials – and is certified by the Election Law Enforcement Commission as a treasurer for candidate campaigns. She is director of strategic business analysis at Solix Inc., a business-process outsourcing company in Parsippany.
2017-Outstanding Women Award Winners
2016-Outstanding Women Award Winners
2015-Outstanding Women Award Winners
2013-Outstanding Women Award Winners
2012-Outstanding Women Award Winners
2011-Outstanding Women Award Winners
2010-Outstanding Women Award Winners
*Note: No awards presented in 2014.