Conference Program

We offered a hybrid conference in December 2022. Day 1 was live and in-person at the Stress Factory in downtown New Brunswick. Day 2 was live, but virtual and accessed through our online portal. All sessions, both in-person and virtual, were recorded for attendees to watch after the event.

Watch Sessions Recordings

Thursday, December 1, 2022

The first day of the conference was live, in-person at the Stress Factory in downtown New Brunswick where we had an opportunity to network with exhibitors and colleagues. Attendees also participated in discussions with local officials about collaborative best practices, as well as industry experts about hospitality and nightlife and navigating the changing office market.

Registration, Breakfast, & Networking (8:30AM - 9:30AM)

Enjoy continental breakfast and networking with colleagues and exhibitors al fresco under the big tent.

Welcome & Plenary (9:30AM - 10:45AM)

Session Sponsor

Robert Zuckerman, President of Downtown New Jersey, will open the conference with a year in review for the organization and downtown revitalization.

Plenary Discussion:  

We will will be joined by a panel of local officials to discuss best practices in collaboration between town and downtown.


  • Helmin J. Caba, Mayor, City of Perth Amboy
  • Sheena Collum, President, Township of South Orange Village
  • Betsy Driver, Mayor, Borough of Flemington
  • Moderator: Jef Buehler, Leader, NJ Neighborhood Preservation Program (and DNJ Board member)

Speaker bios>

Downtown Hospitality (11:00AM - 12:15PM)

Session Sponsor

It’s not news that hospitality and entertainment are major drivers of economic development, but is your downtown doing all it can to capitalize on demand? And, is your downtown handling the potential downsides of these uses? Panelists will discuss ways municipalities and downtowns can attract hospitality and entertainment businesses, while also ensuring that entertainment activities do not become nuisances to other businesses and residents.


  • Michele Alonso, AICP, PP, Director of Planning and Redevelopment, City of Asbury Park
  • Paul Muir, President, Guild of Clinton
  • Shoshanna M. Page, Senior Policy Advisor and Communications Strategist, Mayor Ras J. Baraka’s Office, City of Newark
  • Douglas Schneider, Restaurateur and Chair, New Brunswick City Center
  • Moderator: Emily Manz, SVP of Business Development, Invest Newark (and DNJ Board Member)

Speaker bios>

Lunch & Networking (12:15PM - 1:30PM)

Enjoy lunch and networking with colleagues and exhibitors al fresco under the big tent.

The Office Conundrum (1:30PM - 2:45PM)

The increase of work from home has caused a great deal of uncertainty, both in the office real estate market and to the small, local businesses that serve office workers. In this session, we will delve into the real estate repercussions and discuss what’s next for office assets. We will also explore strategic partnerships and other innovative activities to help local businesses weather the storm.


  • Peter Bronsnick, Executive Managing Director, Managing Principal – New Jersey, Cushman & Wakefield
  • Meghan Hunscher, President and CEO, Morris County Chamber of Commerce
  • Citi Medina, Founder, =Space
  • Sejal Sharma, Director of Business Development, RWJUH Somerset
  • Moderator: Vanessa Quijano, Director of Communication, NJ Community Capital (and DNJ Vice President)

Speaker bios>

Happy Hour Reception (2:45PM - 4:15PM)

Join New Brunswick City Center Executive Director, Pam Stefanek, for a stroll down George Street on the way to happy hour. Pam will share her insights into street closures, public art, and hospitality. We’ll then gather for appetizers and refreshments at Old Man Rafferty’s (106 Albany Street).

Friday, December 2, 2022

The second day of the conference featured live, virtual discussions about art, film, and media marketing. The morning also included a virtual opportunity to network with colleagues.

Arts and Culture as a Catalyst for Economic Investment and Vitality (9:00AM - 10:15AM)

Local economic vitality is connected to the activities of the arts and culture sector in many ways. Join us for a discussion about how arts, culture, and creativity can improve a community’s competitive edge, create a foundation for defining a sense of place, attract new residents and visiting populations, contribute to the development of a skilled workforce, and spark investment in our communities.


  • Ann Marie Miller, Director of Advocacy & Public Policy, ArtPride New Jersey
  • Leon Rainbow, Artist, aerosol illusions
  • Daryl Stewart, Founder & CEO, Daryl Stewart Productions
  • Lea Weingarten, Principal, Weingarten Art Group
  • Moderator: Natalie Pineiro, Executive Director, Downtown Somerville (and DNJ Board Member)

Speaker bios>

Setting the Scene for Local Film Production (10:30AM - 11:45AM)

Showbiz has returned to New Jersey. Find out what bringing film production back to the Garden State means for main streets and about the opportunities to grow an ecosystem involving the film, television and digital media industry.


  • Al Kahwaty, Co-Chair, Passaic County Film Commission
  • Joe Marra, Production Coordinator, NJ Motion Picture + TV Commission
  • Elizabeth Parchment, Director of Marketing and Chief Diversity Officer, NJ Motion Picture + TV Commission
  • Kathleen Miller Prunty, Mayor, Township of Cranford
  • Moderator: William Noonan, Business Development Director, Choose New Jersey

Speaker bios>

Virtual Networking (12:00PM - 12:45PM)

Grab your lunch and join us for an informal opportunity to catch up with colleagues. Stay in the main room for random chat, or join a breakout room for small group discussion about a particular topic. DNJ will provide the venue, you bring your ideas.

How to Make Your Downtown Famous (1:00PM - 2:15PM)

Implementing a PR campaign to promote your downtown can do wonders for your brand. This session will cover the essential components of effective and engaging downtown public relations initiatives that promote retail, economic development, tourism, new business, and job growth. From press releases to storytelling, experts will share their knowledge on how to pique the media’s interest in your downtown.


  • Susan Adelizzi-Schmidt, President, Suasion Communications (and DNJ Board Member)
  • Robin Lapidus, Executive Director, The Flemington BID
  • Michael Shapiro, CEO, TAPinto
  • Jennifer Tripucka, Founder, The Local Girl Media Group

Speaker bios>

Approved for 7.5 AICP CM continuing education credits.

Thank you to the conference
Title Sponsor