The Caren Franzini Capital City Award Celebration


The late Caren Franzini, former CEO of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and one of the founders of Greater Trenton

Join us for an elegant evening of cocktails, conversations and collaborations as we reflect on Trenton's past, reimagine its future, and mingle with some of the most influential leaders impacting the Capital City.

The celebration will honor the legacy of Caren Franzini, former NJEDA CEO and one of the founders of Greater Trenton, by presenting the Caren Franzini Capital City Award to Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman.

Mayor Reed Gusciora will provide welcoming remarks.

Event Co-Chairs include Brenda Ross-Dulan, Principal of the Ross Dulan Group, LLC and Mike Van Wagner, Vice President of Public Affairs for NJM Insurance Group. 

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 or call 609-473-2837. The celebration is expected to attract 250 guests.

VIP Pre-Event: 4-5 p.m. December 16, 2019 at Cooper's Riverview | 50 Riverview Plaza | Trenton, NJ 08611
A private reception will take place at 4 p.m. for designated VIP Ticket holders. This reception provides an opportunity to think more about Trenton’s past and future through conversations with influential community, government, and business leaders.

Main Event: 5-8 p.m. December 16, 2019 at Cooper's Riverview | 50 Riverview Plaza | Trenton, NJ 08611
Join Greater Trenton as we celebrate the legacy of Caren Franzini by honoring Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman.

The General Ticket price is $125.

Registration Deadline
After November 15th

  • $25,000

  • 10
    Main event ticket(s)
  • VIP pre-event access
  • Recognition on Website/TrentonDaily/Social media
  • Invitation to emcee the awards program
  • Top branding on event signage
  • Access to guest list as it develops

  • $10,000

  • 8
    Main event ticket(s)
  • VIP pre-event access
  • Recognition on Website/TrentonDaily/Social media
  • Access to guest list as it develops

  • $7,500

  • 6
    Main event ticket(s)
  • VIP pre-event access
  • Recognition on Website/TrentonDaily/Social media

  • $5,000

  • 4
    Main event ticket(s)
  • VIP pre-event access
  • Recognition on Website/TrentonDaily/Social media

  • $2,500

  • 2
    Main event ticket(s)
  • VIP pre-event access
  • Recognition on Website/TrentonDaily/Social media

  • $500

  • 1
    Main event ticket(s)
  • VIP pre-event access

Bonnie Watson Coleman, a long-time and influential advocate for the people of New Jersey, is currently serving her sophomore term in the United States Congress. Prior to her election as Representative for New Jersey’s 12th Congressional District, Watson Coleman served eight consecutive terms in the New Jersey General Assembly.

The daughter of legendary state legislator John S. Watson, Watson Coleman has continued a family legacy of public service fighting for women, economically and socially disadvantaged populations, and other vulnerable groups in our society. Watson Coleman shattered racial and gender barriers to become the first African American woman to serve as Majority Leader of the New Jersey General Assembly, and as the Chair of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee. Her election to the House of Representatives makes her the first African American woman to represent New Jersey in Congress.

Watson Coleman has led the call for reforms to prisoner re-entry programs, fighting tirelessly to shut the revolving door of recidivism for individuals who have returned from incarceration. During her time as Majority Leader, Watson Coleman convened a year-long series of public hearings on the topic while shepherding legislation through the New Jersey Assembly that The New York Times called “a model for the rest of the nation,” on prisoner rehabilitation and release.

For her second term, as a member of the 115th Congress, Watson Coleman was recently selected by her colleagues as the Vice Ranking Member of the House Homeland Security Committee, where she is also Ranking Member on both the Subcommittee on Transportation and Protective Security, and the Task Force on Denying Terrorist Entry into the United States. She also serves on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

In 2016, Watson Coleman was a founder of the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls, the first House caucus to study policy issues related to the continued success and accomplishments of that population. Watson Coleman is an active member of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues, and the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. Watson Coleman has championed legislation to protect vulnerable Americans and communities related to gun safety, environmental protection, and long-term unemployment.

Watson Coleman is also the author of the Healthy MOM Act, which would allow women to enroll in, or change their health coverage if they become pregnant, and the End For-Profit Prisons Act, which would prohibit the federal government from contracting with for-profit prison corporations.

Watson Coleman graduated from Thomas Edison State College (now University). She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and an honorary member of the Girl Scouts of America. She is also a Deaconess at Shiloh Baptist Church in Trenton, N.J.

Brenda Ross-Dulan, Event Committee Co-Chair

Brenda Ross-Dulan is an award-winning business executive, thought leader and board director. During her twenty-five-year career in the ever-changing financial services industry, she has successfully led through mergers, acquisitions, turnaround and start-up situations by building collaborative cultures that position teams for strong, immediate and sustained results. With experience in corporate banking, commercial real estate and most recently in leading a $12 billion retail banking group for a Fortune 100 company, she has amassed expertise in P&L management, strategic decision making, leader development, community investment and non-profit board governance.

She was ranked as one of the nation’s most powerful women in corporate America by Black Enterprise Magazine for three consecutive years and has received a half dozen accolades as a leading female in the past five years alone. Ross-Dulan was recruited to serve on the board of directors at NJTV, New Jersey’s public television network; Cooper’s Ferry, an economic development association serving the city of Camden; the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce; the Chamber of Commerce of Southern New Jersey; Greater Trenton; and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. Ross-Dulan is a transformational business executive, priding herself on leading with authenticity and introducing unique solutions to common and complex challenges. As principal of The Ross Dulan Group, she is frequently consulted on a variety of business and leadership matters.


Mike Van WagnerEvent Committee Co-Chair

Mike Van Wagner is the Vice President of Public Affairs for NJM Insurance Group, one of New Jersey’s leading property/casualty insurers, and a company recognized throughout the region for its outstanding service to policyholders. As a company that operates in a mutual fashion, NJM has paid dividends to policyholders – not stockholders – for more than 100 years, for a total of over $6 billion. NJM employs approximately 2,500 people with offices in West Trenton, Parsippany and Hammonton. A 36-year veteran of NJM, Mr. Van Wagner has served in a number of roles including leadership positions in Underwriting, Marketing, Communications, Government Affairs, Corporate Giving and Reinsurance. From May 2012 to October 2013, he served as Executive Director of New Jersey’s Business Action Center (BAC), requiring an 18-month leave of absence from NJM. The BAC is one of four entities that make up New Jersey’s Partnership for Action. While at the BAC, Mr. Van Wagner oversaw a veteran team of economic development professionals helping companies stay, grow, or locate in New Jersey. In 2014, he was recognized by NJBiz as one of the “Top 100 Business Leaders in New Jersey.” Mr. Van Wagner shares his experience and expertise with a number of nonprofit and leadership organizations. These include Lead New Jersey, where he serves as Board Chair; the Rutgers Institute for Ethical Leadership, where he serves on its Board of Advisors; the Morris County Chamber of Commerce as a member of its Business Cabinet; the Boys & Girls Club of Mercer County as a Trustee and Greater Trenton as a Board Member. He is also a member of the Glendale Civic Association, and the Ewing Township Recreation Commission, as well as a member of the Mooch Myernick Soccer Foundation’s Board of Directors.

Event Committee Members

Brenda Ross-Dulan, Co-chair, The Ross Dulan Group

Mike Van Wagner, Co-chair,  NJM Insurance Group

Bryan Evans, Greater Trenton

Nancy Faherty, Cashel Faherty Public Relations

Bernie Flynn, Chair of Greater Trenton's Advisory Committee

John Goedecke, The Bryn Mawr Trust Company

Reggie Hallett, 1911 Smokehouse

Patricia Hartpence, NJM Insurance Group

Karen Jezierny, Princeton University

Brian Kelly, Novo Nordisk

Jeannine Frisby LaRue, Kaufman Zita Group

George Sowa, Greater Trenton

John Thurber, Thomas Edison State University

Andy Zalescik, Northfield Bank



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 the state’s capital city.

Led by Chairman Anthony "Skip" Cimino and CEO George Sowa, Greater Trenton's Board of Directors is comprised of leaders from Bristol Myers Squibb, Capital Health, Investors Bank, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, NJM Insurance Group, Princeton Area Community Foundation, Princeton University, PSEG, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, St. Francis Medical Center, TD Bank, Thomas Edison State University, and Wells Fargo Bank. The organization’s Board of Directors has made a multi-year commitment to fund this important initiative.

Formed in the fall of 2015, Greater Trenton’s key objectives include coordinating downtown economic development projects; providing one-stop support and information for investors interested in taking on new projects; reaching out to potential residential, commercial and/or retail investors and tenants; supporting and promoting existing downtown initiatives; engaging downtown stakeholders in a strategic economic development plan; and developing investment marketing strategies.