Albert Einstein echoed that statement long before any of us were around to hear it, but the meaning behind his words still holds true all these years later. As we set out to create our first-ever Men of the Year feature, we asked our readers to visit SouthJersey.com and nominate those they deemed to be worthy of the recognition. The response was tremendous, and after reading several compelling stories of triumph and success, we quickly found out that narrowing down the choices was going to be a difficult task. Ultimately, we selected the following 25 gentlemen for their ideals, their accomplishments and their visions for the future. Separately they are healing doctors, leaders in the business world, tireless educators and community-minded philanthropists. Together, they are South Jersey Magazine's Men of the Year.
DR. JOHN M. TEDESCHI
For close to half a century, families have turned to Tedeschi for medical care, making him one of the premier pediatricians in not only South Jersey, but across the country. Named a Top Physician by South Jersey Magazine several times, Tedeschi is the founder, chairman and chief executive of Advocare and Continuum Health Alliance. He also sits on the Cooper Health System Board of Trustees, working to establish curriculum for the upcoming medical school partnership with Rowan University. And thanks to his positive impact on the local medical community, Virtua launched The John M. Tedeschi Pediatric Institute in 2009. This month, he’ll receive the Lifetime Achievement recognition from the Philadelphia Business Journal Healthcare Innovation Awards Program.
Inspired by the tragedy of both Sept. 11 and Hurricane Katrina, Girgenti created a charitable social networking website, WishUponAHero.com, that would connect individuals in need with the “heroes” who can help them. To date, the Cherry Hill resident and his group have granted more than 83,000 wishes that vary from a kidney donation to helping one local boy afford to go to his high school prom. Rowan University recently designated Wish Upon a Hero as its philanthropic partner, and at the organization’s annual Hero Awards Gala this month, the group will grant up to $50,000 in new wishes.
Following a 2005 diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder and mild traumatic brain injury, this 25-year Marine from Medford Lakes found comfort in the paws of his black Lab, Sierra. Inspired to help others suffering from PTSD, Ellicott helped launch Semper Fido, a nonprofit that is just one of five such organizations in the country. Through the group, dogs in need of homes are rescued and partnered with service members and veterans who have been injured and diagnosed with PTSD to help aid in their recovery. After six-to-nine months of training, the dogs and their new adoptive owners start their new lives together.
Heicklen co-owns Jersey Pools in Medford, but there’s much more to him than installing backyard oases. That’s because Heicklen is also a FEMA-certified emergency manager, a member of the U.S. Army Reserve search and rescue team, a firefighter and an EMT. All that experience serves him well when lending his services during responses to disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the Haiti earthquake. Heicklen is also featured in the film Rescue, which documents a behind-the-scenes look at the type of work he and others like him do in times of need.
As the man behind Conigent, the Haddonfield technology management consulting firm, Shah helps businesses improve their performance, giving clients the tools needed to adjust to the new world of cloud-based computing systems—leading projects at companies with up to $15 billion in revenue. To help his employees gain a sense of community, Shah established a philanthropy program, where the company donates 1 percent of its profits to charity, and he also encourages employees to volunteer, donating time and talent to local non-profit organizations. Recent projects included cleaning a park in Camden and working with Habitat for Humanity.
This Cherry Hill attorney is active in the South Jersey community. Along with his wife Kelly, the couple started a donor-advised fund with the Jewish Community Foundation to support groups like the Katz JCC and the Ravitz Family Foundation. Shore also donated $50,000 to create the Taylor Lynn Cohen Garden at Kellman Brown Academy, in remembrance of his late niece. The organic vegetable garden serves as a learning tool for students who farm the food that eventually is served in their lunchroom. His charitable works extend beyond the Jewish community, too, as evidenced by his efforts with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Autism Speaks.
FRANK FILIPEK JR.
As the director of Camden County’s One Stop Resource Center, Filipek is a critical part of the economic development team in the county, working to help provide job opportunities to residents while removing pre-employment barriers through training and wrap-around programs. Filipek also just opened Marlene Mangia Bene, a restaurant in downtown Woodbury, in an effort to help revitalize a struggling downtown. Furthermore, he works with local charities such as the Race for Hope and the Brain Tumor Association, and was a former “Person of the Year” as chosen by Camden County Government.
Grassroots activist Aldo Magazzeni (pictured) started a non-profit organization, Traveling Mercies, which has helped 75,000 people in Third World countries to be connected to water systems. Since 1990, Magazzeni, who is also the co-owner of a Lumberton manufacturing firm, has worked with local churches, The Salvation Army and others in communities in Italy, Jamaica, Haiti, Mexico, South America, Nepal, Kenya and Ethiopia, working to help improve hospital conditions and establish some stability in day-to-day life. He was also an active volunteer in Louisiana and Mississippi shortly after Hurricane Katrina. With the help of Burlington County, he was able to provide more than $15,000 in new computers and supplies to assist schools damaged in the storm.
As managing partner for Israeli Krav Maga in Cherry Hill, Melnick teaches the local community the art of this self-defense discipline. But his lessons extend beyond those looking for a new way to exercise. In addition to offering women-only training seminars, Melnick also works with local law enforcement personnel. That includes working with local police officers, state troopers and federal agents. He’s trained the Mount Laurel and Evesham Township SWAT teams, and worked with local schools and the Boy Scouts to instill a sense of confidence and safety.
For nearly 25 years, Devine has been part of the Kennedy Health System, currently serving as senior vice president of administration and external re?lations. In his role, Devine is responsible for helping Kennedy grow and develop new business while maintaining government and community relations. The Washington Township resident was named 2011’s Business Person of the Year by the Gloucester County Chamber of Commerce, of which he is a board member. Devine also serves as a commissioner of the South Jersey Transportation Authority and is a chairman for the South Jersey Heart Walk.
Ask anyone in Gloucester Township who Dave Chew is, and you’re bound to get more than a few different answers. The former owner of Chew’s Florist, now in its third generation as a family-owned business, Chew is a dedicated community volunteer who founded the Blackwood Pumpkin Festival 20 years ago. The festival attracts 10,000 visitors annually and has become a destination event in South Jersey. Affectionately known as “Mr. Blackwood,” Chew is a founding member of the Blackwood Rotary, the Blackwood West Development Corporation, the Gloucester Town?ship Holiday Parade and the Blackwood Farmers Market.
Looking to inspire and mentor young children, Hall came up with a pretty memorable idea when he launched Jubilee Children’s Entertainment in 2008. That’s because when going around to area schools, churches and hospitals to deliver his positive messages, the Burlington Township resident does so dressed in a seven-foot-tall koala bear costume. Along with the help of his wife, Alicia, Hall travels from Trenton to Camden offering advice and the occasional song and dance to help encourage future generations to realize their full potential.
DR. BHUPESH VASISHT
This plastic surgeon has helped many patients in his Voorhees office gain confidence through cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries. But, his real passion are his yearly mission trips overseas that help those in less fortunate situations gain a sense of normalcy. Last year, he ventured to the Philippines to administer his services for free, helping repair a cleft palate on a 6-year-old girl, among more than 40 other patients he treated. And this past April, Vasisht traveled to Northern India to help women who were the victims of domestic violence and needed plastic surgery to restore their anatomy.
DR. REGINALD BLABER
A cardiologist with Lourdes Health System, Blaber is also the president of Lourdes Medical Associates, a network of more than 70 physicians at more than 30 practice sites throughout South Jersey. Since joining Lourdes in 1988, Blaber has held several leadership positions, is highly regarded as a heart failure specialist, and is board certified in both cardiology and internal medicine. Blaber achieved the rank of major in the U.S. Army Medical Corps and also serves as clinical instructor of internal medicine and cardiology at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.
FIRST LT. AVI BEHAR
Cherry Hill’s Behar was recently recognized by his hometown with a day in his honor, following his return from a deployment to Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. During his time overseas, Behar was awarded the Bronze Star, two Achievement Commendation medals and a Combat Action badge. A former volunteer EMT with a degree in criminal justice, Behar is part of a long family history of military service: Both his grandfather and great-grandfather were also soldiers.
Bollar has spent nearly two decades in the world of education and, currently, his 6’7” frame can be found roaming the halls of Hartford School in Mount Laurel, where he serves as principal. When he’s not busy running the school, Bollar slips into his alter ego, Stand Tall Steve, a motivational speaker with a tagline of “When you stand tall, you don’t think small.” Whether addressing keynote speeches or an assembly full of children, Bollar leans on his background as a school administrator to offer a mix of humor, energy and practical solutions. Bollar is a board member of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation South Jersey Chapter as well as the Burlington County Principals and Supervisors Association.
As CEO of Glassboro-based Robins’ Nest, DiFabio is in charge of one of South Jersey’s largest and most well-respected children’s services organizations, dedicated to improving their quality of life. Whether offering a place to call home or helping a family discuss personal issues with a professional, DiFabio’s work with Robins’ Nest involves more than 42 programs servicing upward of 9,000 clients throughout South Jersey. DiFabio serves on the boards of the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies, the New Jersey Alliance for Children and the South Jersey Federal Credit Union, to name a few. The married father of four is also active with the Gloucester County Human Services Advisory Council as well as the Gloucester County Workforce Investment Board.
Virtua’s CEO has helped transform health care in South Jersey, thanks in part to the focus on advancing technology and medicine across Virtua’s four hospitals, including the newly debuted Voorhees campus. By turning community-based hospitals into advanced regional medical centers, Miller has used innovation as his means to success. Miller stays active in the community, too, serving on numerous boards, in?cluding the March of Dimes, the American Heart Association, the New Jersey Hospital Association and the Southern New Jersey Chamber of Commerce. His efforts were also recognized by the New Jersey Business Hall of Fame, which honored Miller with a lifetime achievement award.
Brown built Castle Realty Management from a business started in his bedroom 13 years ago to a statewide operation with more than 150 employees. Today, the company is responsible for his Guardian Settlement Agents title insurance agency and Guardian Property and Casualty general insurance firm, both in Marlton, as well as four local realtors’ offices. Currently a Burlington County freeholder, Brown is running for a seat in the State Assembly in the Eighth District this month. A former deputy mayor of Evesham, Brown is an active youth sports coach and works with charities related to MS and juvenile diabetes.
DR. THOMAS A. CAVALIERI
An academic geriatrician, Cavalieri is currently the dean of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey’s School of Osteopathic Medicine, where he’s made a focal point out of helping the school maintain a level of excellence while keeping an eye toward the future. During his career, he has been responsible for more than $16 million in extramural funding toward aging and primary care. He’s also penned more than 90 works and has been awarded several times over for his senior advocacy, community service and educational initiatives. Cavalieri has served on numerous professional committees, including as chairman of the Committee on Interdisciplinary, Community Based Linkages—an advisory committee to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
As the chef for Classic Cake in Washington Township and Cherry Hill, Bennett knows how to appreciate the sweeter things in life. But, he also knows the importance of giving back. When he’s not busy in the kitchen, Bennett can be found offering his time, effort, and, of course, desserts to a number of South Jersey charities, events and non-profit groups. He’s worked with the likes of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Make-a-Wish Foundation, the American Red Cross and the Alicia Rose Victorious Foundation, to name a few. This local chef is also part of the Barry Callebaut Ambassadors Club, where he is one of only 120 people around the world recognized for their chocolate expertise.
While his son-in-law was deployed in Iraq, Ewen and his wife sent a care package that included an experimental beef jerky recipe. Soon after, Jim’s Jarhead Jerky was born, thanks in large part to an overwhelming response by the troops overseas who couldn’t get enough of this homemade snack. After donating more than 2,500 pounds of meat to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, Ewen decided to take his venture commercial. Now not only are troops getting to enjoy the jerky, but locals can find it in area stores for their own consumption. And those who think Ewen is cashing in on a good deed should know that he is donating a portion of the profits to military support groups, while other dollars will be allocated to help keep the process going.
As president of the State Senate, Sweeney is an active player in Trenton politics, but he is also a staunch defender of South Jersey, giving the area a credible voice in the capital. He’s been a supporter of open space preservation, offshore wind energy and labor workers’ rights. The ironworker by trade was also the Gloucester County freeholder director for more than a decade, before stepping down in 2010. Some of his other accomplishments include crafting property tax relief efforts and sponsoring laws to raise the state’s minimum wage rates and protect children from sex offenders.
DR. MARK ANGELO
As the first director of the Palliative Care Program at Cooper University Hospital, Angelo is responsible for helping seriously ill patients manage their pain and symptoms. Working with a team of other doctors, nurses, social workers, counselors and more, Angelo and his team are able to help their patients ease their suffering by pinpointing individual needs and goals to help create care plans that directly speak to their lifestyle.
In 1975, Moorestown’s Baiada founded the home health care company Bayada Nurses and spent the next three decades building the company into an industry leader. With more than 200 offices across 20 states, Baiada is responsible for 16,000 employees and an annual revenue stream of $700 million. Financial group Ernst & Young named him “Entrepreneur of the Year” for his successful business strategies. In addition to sponsoring the annual Bayada Regatta rowing event in Philadelphia each year, Baiada lent his time to various relief efforts that helped people injured in the Kosovo War, Hurricane Katrina, the 2004 Myanmar tsunami disaster, and the Haiti earthquake.
Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 8 (November, 2011).
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