The 2018 Women’s Roundtable 

Photos By David Michael Howarth  

Presented by Republic Bank

SJ Magazine invited 12 distinguished women to share their thoughts and ideas during dinner at The Capital Grille in Cherry Hill. Our Women’s Roundtable has become a popular annual event, gathering accomplished women who are happy to share insights, anecdotes and wisdom from their personal experiences.


Hilary Platt 
Case Manager, Project S.A.R.A.H., Samost Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Southern New Jersey 

Monica Malpass
Co-anchor, 6ABC’s Action News 

Brenda Bacon
President/CEO, Brandywine Living 

Cherry Hill Councilwoman Sangeeta Doshi  

Ameenah Muhammad-Diggins
Author & Motivational Speaker 

Catherine Allen-Carlozo
Certified Financial Planner, M Financial Planning Services 

Sharon Hammel
SVP/Chief Retail Officer, Republic Bank 

Carol Ann Short
CEO, N.J. Builders Association 

Debra DiLorenzo
President/CEO, Chamber of Commerce of Southern New Jersey 

N.J. Assemblywoman Carol Murphy 

Muqaddas Ejaz
Co-leader,  Sisterhood of the Salaam Shalom, SJ Chapter 

Karin Elkis
SVP, Optimus Partners  



On overcoming tragedy… 

When I was 22 years old, my brother was tragically killed in a car accident. He was just 23. There is not a day that’s gone by that I haven’t thought of him. He was the focal point of our family. From that point, my life went a different way, and everything I’ve done has been with him in mind. Initially, it was giving up everything – I was going to never get up again. When that didn’t work, I decided I was going to live for the both of us. After that, everything in life was easier, because nothing could be as painful as it was to lose him.
– Carol Ann Short 

When I was 6, my dad had his first heart transplant. He ended up having three heart transplants. So growing up, when all my friends were blowing out the candles on their birthday cakes and hoping for a bike or Barbie, I was hoping that my dad would live that year. I used to get mad, even as a 10-year-old, that people would be obsessing over things that didn’t really matter in the big picture.
– Hilary platt 

Last year, I was in a major car accident. It was a head-on collision with a drunk driver at night, and he didn’t even have his lights on. I was in the back, and my brother, sister-in-law and my daughter, who’s now 4 years old, were also in the car. The car flipped and landed in the middle of the road. My sister-in-law was conscious, so she opened the door, and a medic took out my daughter. I thought I was dead because I was inhaling heat and I could see the door handle, but I couldn’t reach it. But I was happy at that moment because I knew my daughter was safe. I was telling myself to start praying, and I felt like, “This is it.” But somehow it was like somebody pushed me out, and it was a miracle. I have lived it, and now I do not take anybody or any moment for granted.
– Muqaddas Ejaz   


On mentors… 

I moved here from college and started the only woman-owned vending business in New Jersey. Maria Greenwald [former Camden County Freeholder, who died in 1995] taught me to be kind and compassionate and not to think that because someone’s in power they have the right to step all over you. 
– Hilary Platt   

I never had a mentor in my 20s or 30s. So now when someone tells me they’re looking for a mentor and they’re in my sphere, I always try to connect them.
– Karin Elkis  

I spent a lot of time in politics and the business world, which are dominated by men. So I struggle with being able to name someone who mentored me, because in many cases I was the only woman in the room.
– Brenda Bacon 

On seizing opportunity… 

When I was 21, I became a branch manager. I was barely able to drink, but I was doing all the things I was required to do. The opportunity was given to me, and I seized it. I grew from it.  You make mistakes, but you continue on. I don’t know if I would be where I am today if I didn’t continue to fall and grow during those times. 
– Sharon Hammel 


On Millennials 

The thing that sometimes worries me about their generation – and I’m a parent, so I’m to blame in some ways – is I don’t think they have failed very much. If they have a failure, very often it stops them in their tracks and they lose all confidence. 
– Monica Malpass 

Many young women have grown up in an environment where they are looking for immediate results – when am I going to get that next title, that next job, that next salary? When you’re so busy doing that, you don’t fall in love with anything. You don’t find your passion. And I believe the money and satisfaction follows the passion. 
– Brenda Bacon       

We grew up in the generation of capitalism. Young people want to save the world, and they’re willing to not make that much money to be able to do that. 
– Sangeeta Doshi 


On the power of education… 

My mom always said to me, “Everyone is going to get older. Everyone is going to lose their looks or popularity or whatever. But you can never lose an education – an education will be with you until the day you die.”
–Carol Ann Short 


On their childhoods… 

Growing up in Pakistan, we were so protected. I actually never left the house without the company of a man until I came to the United States. So the first month we were here, my dad said, “You girls are not going to school.” My mom couldn’t speak English, but one day when my dad was sleeping, my mom grabbed us and took us to the school near our house. She told me to tell the school, “We are here for our admission.” Somehow we got registered, and we started getting good grades. My dad used to come home and grab the remote control, and my mom would put our report cards by the remote so he had to look at them. 
– Muqaddas Ejaz 

I was 17 when my father passed away. He was my best friend. We did everything together, so when he died, it set me on a course of being more independent. I had to work two jobs to put myself through college. Anything I wanted to do, I did it myself. My father was a military man, so he instilled certain things within me that taught me to give back, which has made me the person I am today. When I got on this trail of running last year, I decided I wanted to be a legislator who my father would be proud of.
– Carol Murphy   

My dad knew the financial stuff, and my mom didn’t. So I always told myself I was never going to depend on a man and let someone control me that way.  
–Catherine Allen-Carlozo 

As an African American girl growing up – my father had all daughters – we were always pushed to do anything. We were raised to believe there was no limit to what we could do.
–Ameenah Muhammad-Diggins 

I grew up in the South in the 1960s in a very traditional family. When I applied to colleges, my family looked at me as if I was going to land on Mars. In my family, girls didn’t go to college. 
–Monica Malpass  


On raising their kids… 

I think our daughters have seen our generation be strong and not be intimidated in a man’s world. And so they learn it coming up. It’s not that we stopped and told them to listen. Every day was a life lesson.
– Brenda Bacon 

When my son was 10 years old, out of the blue he said, “Mom, if I ever get married, I’m going to marry a career woman. When I see you and daddy talk at the dinner table about your jobs, it’s so interesting.” 
– Deb Dilorenzo 

I think our children learn by watching what we do. We may not sit down and explain it to them, but when you volunteer in your community giving back, they get it.
– Karin Elkis 


On working for change… 

If you want change, you can’t sit at home and complain. You have to get out there.
– Sangeeta DoshI 

When I walk into a room and I’m the only woman and Muslim, it gives me a sense of power. In order for me to change the narrative, I have to be confident.
– Ameenah Muhammad-Diggins 


On feeling accomplished… 

I feel accomplished when I have all my ducks in order. It’s basic stuff – when my family is happy, my job is good, the house is clean, I’ve gone to every meeting, I have my to-do list down to a page. 
– Karin Elkis 


On advice for their younger selves… 

Don’t let yourself be last on the totem pole. 
– Deb Dilorenzo 

Don’t be satisfied with what people expect from you. Dream bigger. 
– Ameenah Muhammad-Diggins 

Persistence works.
– Carol Murphy 

Have fun. We forget to enjoy life, but when you have fun, those around you will have fun too, and they’ll appreciate being around you.
– Sharon Hammel  


On working with men…  

Years ago, I worked for a company where I was one of the only female financial employees. I was also single and didn’t have children. It was always ok for the men to leave early for their son’s basketball game or their daughter’s soccer game or whatever. One time my boss told me, “You know, you don’t have a husband or children, so you can work more hours.”
– Catherine Allen-Carlozo 

Too often, women have become accustomed to being tapped on the shoulder by a man before pursuing an opportunity they want. When I decided to run for the Assembly, I didn’t wait to be tapped on the shoulder. I stepped up and told them I was running because I had built up the confidence to do so.
– Carol Murphy   

As women leaders, we have a special responsibility in our work environments to be family-friendly not just in terms of moms, but also dads.
– Brenda Bacon   


Watch powerful videos from our 2018 Women’s Roundtable here.


Maine Lobster Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette 


Entrée Choice
Jumbo Sea Scallops with Asparagus and Parsnip Puree 

Filet Mignon with Gorgonzola Encrusted and a Cherry Wine Reduction 

Citrus Glazed Salmon with Marcona Almonds and Brown Butter 


Warm Berries Crostata with Cinnamon Streusel and Vanilla Ice Cream 

May 2018
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