The Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey (CIANJ), one of the state’s premier business advocacy groups with headquarters in Paramus and an office in Trenton, announced this week it is expanding and restructuring its organization to better serve its members.
CIANJ President John Galandak said the restructuring is based upon a recommendation from a study conducted by the board of directors to enhance the programs and services offered to its more than 900 member companies. Since it was established in 1927, CIANJ has been a leader in free enterprise advocacy, working to improve the business climate in New Jersey.
“Two new executive vice presidents were named as part of the restructuring, said Tracy Straka, executive vice president of Creamer Environmental, Inc. who serves as chairman of the CIANJ Board of Directors. Straka continued by saying, “Tony Russo was hired as executive vice president of government affairs and communications and Diane Walsh was promoted to executive vice president of operations.”
“Over the past few years we have significantly expanded the scope and quality of our programs. The new restructuring will improve our ability to offer more value to our members and to have more companies enjoy the benefits of them,” Galandak said. He explained in recent years CIANJ created a manufacturing roundtable and developed programs for the next generation of executives. These initiatives are in addition to CIANJ’s existing roundtables and councils on environmental issues, financial decision-making, health care, human resources, technology, legislative issues and real property. “Our burgeoning roundtables and councils underscore the needs to expand our organization,” he said.
Russo will represent members with key stakeholders including legislators, the governor’s office, regulatory agencies and the media, on matters impacting the business community. He will be responsible for developing positions, summaries and providing written and oral testimony on the relevant issues. He will lead CIANJ’s grassroots efforts and be the point of contact on matters involving the media.
Walsh will oversee the day-to-day operations of CIANJ in her new role. She joined CIANJ in 2011 as vice president of government affairs after transitioning from a career in journalism. She had been part of the team of reporters at The Star-Ledger that was awarded the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News. A graduate of New York University, Walsh covered government and politics in Essex and Middlesex counties for two decades.
Russo has more than 20 years of experience in regulatory and legislative arenas. He began his career as a regulator within the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, where he was responsible for issuing water quality permits. He spent the last 17 years representing various industries, including chemical, refining, pharmaceutical, painting and coatings, flavor and fragrances and mineral mining on matters impacting those respective industries. His knowledge of the regulatory and legislative process has positioned Russo to better serve and assist the business community with legislative issues as well as regulatory matters such as permitting, enforcement and compliance related issues. He will be based in the CIANJ’s office in Trenton.
During his career he represented industry on key legislative reforms such as the Site Remediation Reform Act, tax legislation and climate change regulations. For the last year he has worked in Washington, D.C., advocating for the interests of the lime manufacturers of America, where he gained insight on the role the federal government plays in impacting the business community.
Russo’s experience, both as a former regulator and as a business advocate, will significantly strengthen CIANJ and will complement its efforts in protecting and enhancing its members’ interests.
Russo graduated from the New Jersey Institute of Technology with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering and resides in Jackson with his wife, Judy and two daughters, Julia and Jaclyn.
Walsh joined CIANJ after serving two years as chief of staff to Assemblyman Jon Bramnick, the leader of the Republican caucus. In her role at the CIANJ, Walsh has represented the business community in hearings before state legislators and regulators on an array of issues that align with our members’ interests, including minimum wage, water fluoridation, recycling, privatization, healthcare, higher education and energy capacity.
During the past two years, Walsh also served as secretary to the Private Enterprise Political Action Committee (PENPAC), the political action arm of the CIANJ, which supports business-minded candidates running for state office.