GARDEN STATE LEADERS IN BUSINESS, CULTURE, AND THE ARTS SHARE HOLIDAY TRADITIONS, THEIR GREATEST BUSINESS STRENGTHS, AND ALL-TIME FAVORITE SEASONAL TREATS

BY JESSICA JONES-GORMAN, ARCHANA AITHAL ROSE, AND AMANDA MCCOY PHOTOS BY TOM ZAPCIC, ALEX BARRETO, AND VIOLET KARYN PHOTOGRAPHY

 

 

Timothy J. Hogan
President, Care Transformation Services at Hackensack Meridian Health / hackensackmeridianhealth.org
“My interest in health care started at a young age primarily because I was fascinated with how hospitals worked and the working relationship between doctors, physicians, and patients,” said Hogan of his entry into the medical field. Since beginning his medical career in 1985, he has held several president and vice president titles in some of the country’s premier hospitals, achieving outstanding results in financial performance as well as the development of technologies and recruitment of competent staff. “There have been a multitude of colleagues and mentors over the years who were kind and generous enough to spend constructive time with me to help improve my skills and become a stronger leader,” he said.

When asked about the future of his business, he replied: “In a very positive way, the healthcare industry has been, and continues to be, in a state of constant change. Technology evolution, service and programming improvements, revolutionary care innovation all of those things continue to push those of us in the industry to rethink how we do things and work to provide our patients with the most progressive and optimal healthcare offerings that we can.”

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST BUSINESS STRENGTH?
I try to be a good listener, and in doing so, move parties together or “toward the middle” so unresolved issues can be successfully vetted and optimal results can be realized by all parties.

VJ SPREAD

WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO HOLIDAY DISH OR DRINK?
Turkey.

ALL-TIME FAVORITE HOLIDAY ACTIVITY OR SONG?
My favorite holiday activity is watching all of the classic holiday movies with my family.

 

 

 

 

 

Yanina Fleysher
President, Yanina & Co. / yanina-co.com
In the 34 years since Yanina Fleysher opened a humble booth in a jewelry exchange at only 19 years old, her business has expanded into a sparkling custom ne jewelry boutique in Cedar Grove, specializing in both bespoke design (the majority of pieces are crafted in-house), jewelry redesign, and repairs. Even though the Yanina brand has solidified name recognition throughout the Garden State and beyond, holding several “best jeweler” awards and even nabbing airtime on popular reality shows like e Real Housewives of New Jersey, the thriving business is still actively growing.

“Over this past year we have had so many amazing moments and hope to continue to have them in the coming years,” she said. “Not only did we have a very successful summer pop-up store in a hotel in Asbury Park, but we recently secured a few showcases in a stunning Miami hotel. I love the recognition our brand has been getting, plus the ability to grow our amazing store and wonderful legacy.”

With more than three successful decades in business under her belt, Fleysher noted her greatest career accomplishment to date is the team she has standing beside her. “My vision and goals are only as good as the team I have behind me, and their expertise and vision has helped me push my dream and my company to the next level.”

For shoppers craving a pinch of sparkle this holiday season, the owner gushed over a recently completed collection of large emerald and sapphire jewelry, composed of stones weighing over 10cts each. “ e collection is truly jaw-dropping and was such a pleasure to create and build,” she added.

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST BUSINESS STRENGTH?
My greatest strength in business is being strong while remaining level-headed.

WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO HOLIDAY DISH OR DRINK?
Potato latkes with sour cream.

ALL-TIME FAVORITE HOLIDAY ACTIVITY OR SONG?
Decorating my store for the holiday season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ralph Zucker
President, Somerset Development / sdnj.com
Ralph Zucker’s real estate development group is responsible for some of the state’s most ambitious projects, including transforming the former research facility Bell Labs in Holmdel into the thriving “metroburb” Bell Works, which stretches over two million square feet of building space plus an additional 472 acres of parking lots and green spaces. He was inspired by Peter Katz’s concept of New Urbanism, characterized by walkable streets and accessible public spaces.

“The building [Bell Labs], once home to scientists on the forefront of innovation, now hosts thousands of employees daily and welcomes visitors from throughout the region as a place where culture and business collide. It’s a place fostering connectivity and the serendipitous interactions that happen only when people can come together.”

Zucker’s interest in revitalization was sparked long before he launched his own development rm. “When I first needed a place to live, I moved into a broken-down shack of a building; I fixed it up with some friends and figured I wasn’t half bad at transforming run-down places into something live able.”

In addition to Bell Works, Zucker’s team is also responsible for notable NJ projects like Wesmont Station in Wood-Ridge and Somerville Station, a mixed-use residential and retail development.

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST BUSINESS STRENGTH?
The ability to see not only what something is, but what it can be.

WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO HOLIDAY DISH OR DRINK?
A glass of bold cabernet sauvignon.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE HOLIDAY ACTIVITY OR SONG?
Spending time with family and friends.

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah Choxi, M.D.
Anesthesiologist and Interventional Pain Management Specialist, Garden State Medical Center gsmedicalcenter.org
This Chicago native credits her family with inspiring her to pursue a career as a physician. Though she didn’t come from a line of doctors, her parents U.S. immigrants from India taught her the power of compassion and purpose at a young age.

“Their compassion toward those in their community who they also helped to achieve their dreams always made me want to help others too,” said the doctor. “The idea of being part of a profession focused on helping others regardless of circumstance, focused on facilitating people leading healthier and therefore happier lives, became my goal.”
After choosing to specialize in pain management Dr. Choxi joined the Garden State Medical Center in summer 2018. The center’s approach to multimodal pain management resonated with the doctor. “Pain is complex and each patient is different, even if they carry the same diagnosis.

Treatment plans shouldn’t be algorithmic. GSMC’s approach to crafting an individualized treatment plan for each patient that incorporates physical therapy, medication management, interventional therapy, psychotherapy, and surgery was how I saw myself practicing and treating patients.”

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST BUSINESS STRENGTH?
I’m reliable and compassionate. My colleagues and patients know they can always count on me to do whatever needs to be done to help our patients. Despite the stress and long hours away from home and family, I truly love my job and could never imagine a different career.

WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO HOLIDAY DISH OR DRINK?
Warm pecan pie topped with ice cream and a mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows.

ALL-TIME FAVORITE HOLIDAY ACTIVITY OR SONG?
If there’s snow, you’ll find me either skiing, sledding, or building a snowman with my twins. But otherwise my favorite activity is turning on the fireplace, listening to holiday tunes (“All I Want for Christmas Is You” is a must on any of my holiday playlists) while setting up our tree.

 

 

 

 

 

Gary Littman
Co-owner, Gary Michaels Fine Jewelry / garymichaelsfinejewelry.com
Gary Littman’s roots in the jewelry business run deep. His grandparents, Rose and Hy Littman, opened their first Littman’s Jewelry store in Brooklyn in 1928, a successful entity that was passed onto his father and uncle, Herb and Len Littman, who went on to create the largest family-owned and operated jewelry company in the United States. So when Gary and his cousin Michael were presented with the opportunity to join the family business in the 1990s, they jumped at the chance.

“I started working in the business when I was in high school and during my summers home from college,” said Littman. “After school I pursued careers in business and law, interning as a defense attorney and then earning a master’s degree in accounting. I was still working part-time at Littman’s when I realized that working in the family business was where I wanted to be.”

The cousins operated the mall-based store for a few years, battling a recession before eventually selling the company in 1998. Soon after the sale, recognizing that they both still possessed an unabated passion for the product, the business, and the customers, they set out to create a new concept in ne jewelry retail.
Situated in a “power shopping center” on Route 9 in Manalapan, anchored by a Bed, Bath & Beyond, Wegmans, and Target, Gary Michaels Fine Jewelry pairs a varied selection of designer brands with the largest assortment of diamonds in the market.

“We have a big, luxurious 6,000-square-foot showroom, and we offer pieces from lines like David Yurman, Cartier, Breitling, Tag Heuer, and Yagos,” said Littman. “We have a great staff and a list of clients who have been shopping with us for years.”

Both Gary and Michael Littman have stayed true to the mission their grandparents established in 1928: to offer unmatched service and to maintain the highest integrity.
“It’s extremely fulfilling to assist so many generations of customers,” added Littman.

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST BUSINESS STRENGTH?
Listening to an idea and embracing it with an open mind and the ability to consistently reinvent.

WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO HOLIDAY DISH OR DRINK?
My go-to is Tito’s on the rocks with three lemons.

ALL-TIME FAVORITE HOLIDAY ACTIVITY OR SONG?
“Joy to the World.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Karyn Terranova
Manager, Steakhouse 85 / steakhouse85.com
Karyn Terranova learned everything she needed to know about managing a restaurant from her father, Matty.

“Seeing firsthand how much people love and respect him has by far been my greatest life lesson,” said Terranova, who manages Steakhouse 85 in New Brunswick. “People come in just to talk to him and catch up or reminisce about his days at the fish market 30 years ago. He is truly a people person and he taught me how to be one too.”
Terranova’s family opened Steakhouse 85 in 2008 after Matty retired and Karyn was still in college.

“He asked me, ‘If I open a restaurant will you run it with me?’” recalled Terranova. “Of course I said yes.”

And she enjoyed it from the start. “Everyday was different and I immediately formed a great bond with all of the staff and customers.”

As one of the first steakhouses in the area, the family establishment quickly gained a loyal following from patrons hungry for upscale fare and creative dishes. “Business has been pretty consistent since the beginning, and our wine dinners and three-course prix fixe menu has kept our guests engaged for more than ten years. Everyone loves our filet mignon. And our 26-ounce tomahawk chop with a cabernet demi-glace sauce and blue cheese breadcrumb crust well that’s just a showstopper.”

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST BUSINESS STRENGTH?
I love to create relationships in the restaurant with our regulars. The greatest compliment I receive regularly is that Steakhouse 85 feels like home.

WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO HOLIDAY DISH OR DRINK?
Meatballs and pasta.

ALL-TIME FAVORITE HOLIDAY ACTIVITY OR SONG?
I love anything leading up to the holidays like trimming the tree or going ice skating in the city. “O Holy Night” is my favorite Christmas song.

 

 

 

 

 

Ed Moldaver
Founding Partner and Managing Director, Rockefeller Capital Management / rockco.com/moldaverlee
As managing director of Rockefeller Capital Management, Ed Moldaver’s primary job is choosing appropriate investments for his clients as well as overseeing multi-generational wealth transfers and creation strategies. “We do everything from booking private jets to security detail and health advisory,” he said.

Boasting more than 30 years of extensive experience advising and managing the finances of high net worth families, entrepreneurs, and middle-market business owners, Moldaver joined Rockefeller Capital Management in May 2020 after servicing the firm’s clients at Barclays.

An immigrant from Kiev, Ukraine, he began his career in finance as a runner in the New York Mercantile commodities pits at the World Trade Center, a job that he held while attending college. He spent the bulk of his career as a senior managing director at Bear Stearns Private Client Services, and was formerly a managing director at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management.

“The action was invigorating,” he said of his time with the commodities exchange. “I love studying all of the economic and technical variables that cause price movement of financial assets. Financial markets in America are true capitalism in action. It’s watching the flow of money allocated by the millions of participants, some of the best and the brightest, go to where it is needed the most. That is likely where the most pro t exists. Everyone wins. I like being one of those participants and bringing all of my clients along.”

When not working, Moldaver enjoys the ocean and everything associated with it fishing, jet skiing, and boating included.

“I also like to golf, although I am terrible at it,” he confessed. ”I like to do strenuous exercises daily. I am very involved with philanthropy as well. I usually do these activities with my now-grown kids, which makes it even more fun.”

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST BUSINESS STRENGTH?
I have a high tolerance for pain, both physical and mental. When I find something that I enjoy, I will usually become better at it than most people.

WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO HOLIDAY DISH OR DRINK?
Chicken parm from Frankie Feds in Freehold and a Grey Goose martini straight-up.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE HOLIDAY ACTIVITY OR SONG?
Overeating with my family and meeting up with many friends from past and present.

 

 

 

 

 

Lillian LoRusso
Broker of Record, LoRusso & Rodriguez Realty lorussoandrodriguezrealty.com
A finance and management graduate of New York University, Lillian LoRusso grew her expertise over 30 years working in sales at top tech companies like HP, IBM, and Compaq before launching a formidable seven-year (and counting) career in real estate. She was inspired by the many successful real estate moguls in her family in Staten Island, adding, “I always felt the sales process in the computer industry and real estate had key similarities that quickly allowed me to thrive in the new role.”

After a rewarding stint with industry leaders in real estate, LoRusso took the opportunity to open LoRusso and Rodriguez Realty Group in March 2021, serving a high-end clientele across Monmouth, Ocean, and Middlesex Counties.

“We have been very successful in our first few months, and we’re excited to continue to grow as a company in New Jersey,” she said. The most gratifying aspect of her young business is, “Helping people find their dream home. Selling a home that you raised your family in for 20-30 years is a very emotional experience for some people. As realtors, we also become confidantes and trusted advisors.”

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST BUSINESS STRENGTH?
I pride myself on the fact that my business relationships become friendships by the time the transaction is complete. My greatest strength is relationships and rapport with clients.

WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO HOLIDAY DISH OR DRINK?
Turkey with chestnut sausage stuffing. My favorite dessert is my husband’s banana cream pie.

ALL-TIME FAVORITE ACTIVITY OR SONG
A favorite Thanksgiving tradition is the “Turkey Bowl,” an annual football game with family and friends at a local park in Colts Neck that takes place every Thanksgiving morning! I also love cooking holiday meals together as a family