NEXT GEN Board – Executive Committee
Lauren Peck has worked for the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA) since December 2013 and is currently the senior manager of corporate development. In this role, she manages all of the organization’s corporate relations leaders in strategic engagement with HBA’s corporate customers to maximize engagement and spending, working cross-functionally with corporate relations staff. Lauren also oversees HBA’s European office and works closely with European leaders on operations, conference planning and more. Lauren’s role also includes finding new opportunities for organizational growth, the design/implementation of organizational structures for maximum efficiency and effectiveness, and leading various organizational initiatives and projects. She also acts as a point of contact for best practices and assistance in all of the organization’s functional areas and to leaders at all levels.
Prior to her current role, Lauren was manager of chapter development and assisted in the design of the organization’s new operating model before supporting and managing the transition into the new model with multiple regions. When Lauren first joined HBA, it was as manager of meetings and events administration, where she managed and supported the former Metro chapter (now the NY/NJ Region), their board and volunteers.
Before joining HBA, Lauren worked in event coordination and office management for a private entertainment company and graduated from Rutgers University with a focus in art history and Italian. Lauren also volunteers for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mercer County, is a self-proclaimed book worm, loves traveling and spending time with her friends, family, husband and dog.
In August 2018, Sarah was named the Insurance Coordinator at Princeton University for the Risk Management department. She assists and overseas the Fleet Safety program and the Property/Casualty insurance programs. During her time at Princeton, Sarah has been a member of the Finance and Treasury Events Committee, the Princeton Social Professionals Employee Resource Group and the Women’s Employee Resource Group. Prior to coming to Princeton, she worked for Allstate Insurance Company, managing claims and participating in the Young Professionals Network, as well as a variety of events committee.
Sarah grew up in Newtown, PA. She attended Council Rock North High School, where she was a three-sport athlete. Sarah went on to play Division I basketball at American University and graduated with a degree in Elementary Education. From there, she went on to be an assistant coach at Franklin Pierce University, and helped pass along her basketball knowledge to a younger generation of players. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys reading, cooking, playing pickup basketball and lifting. Being new to the area, Sarah is eager to be part of the NextGen Board!
Haley Gorda graduated from Ramapo College in December of 2018 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Literature with a concentration in Creative Writing. She has been the Communications and Marketing Manager of YWCA Princeton since March of 2019. Haley writes the monthly newsletters (text YWCAPRINCETON to 22828 to sign up!), manages the website, social media, markets YWCA Princeton’s programs, and helps promote and run major events. She feels inspired and empowered to advance the YW’s mission to eliminate racism and empower women, and is grateful to join the NEXT Gen Board!
Nickita Rokad currently works as a Regulatory Affairs Manager at Ortho Clinical Diagnostics. In this role, she develops and drives global regulatory strategies to ensure successful market launch of new products and continued market access of the current biologic and IVD product portfolio.
Prior to her current role, Nickita worked as a regulatory lead and project manager on the EU, ASPAC, and LATAM markets where she ensured compliance to new regulations in the EU and led development of regulatory strategy for successful divestment from Johnson & Johnson.
Nickita received her Doctorate in Pharmacy from Rutgers University. She also volunteers with the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA) where she serves on the Membership Committee. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.
Melissa Drift is a freelance journalist with associate’s degrees in communications from Mercer County Community College. While in college, she did an extensive one year long internship for WDVR fm in Sergeantsville NJ. After that, she worked as a volunteer production assistant for six years at WWFM JazzOn2, the classical radio station located on the Mercer Community College campus. She produced interviews and public affairs programing, including a series of interviews with local mayors in Mercer County. She currently contributes to the Princeton Echo and U.S.1 Magazine. Her feature articles have covered astronomy, computer science, and neuroscience. She lives in Belle Mead NJ.
RaElle Jackson is a Research Specialist at Princeton University. She uses imaging mass spectrometry to study metabolic features of normal and disease tissues. She recently received her Master’s in Health Sciences from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, NJ. Her bachelor’s degree was received in Biology from Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, PA. RaElle has 10 years of research experience and has volunteered as a mentor for Big Brother Big Sister, served as an Adult Literacy Tutor, and spent time volunteering at healthcare facilities. RaElle enjoys running, being a part of women’s empowerment events, and is excited to serve on the NextGen board.
Nicole Kato attended Loyola University Maryland where she holds her bachelor’s degree in Speech and Language Pathology. Nicole currently works for New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Group in West Trenton where she is a licensed insurance representative and a process improvement team member. She is proud to be a part of a company that puts a strong emphasis on giving back to the community. As a lifelong resident of the area, Nicole is honored to be on the NEXT GEN board and is looking forward to being involved with the community.
Kelly Marker works for Isles, Inc. in the Community Planning & Development Department as Deputy Director, Real Estate Development. She oversees work on Isles’ Social Profit Center at Mill One and a variety of Trenton neighborhood redevelopment projects. Previously, Kelly was a Project Accountant for Field Paoli Architects, as well as Project Coordinator for California Capital & Investment Group, an Oakland real estate development firm. She has a B.A. in Managerial Economics from Allegheny College and an M.A. in Historical & Sustainable Architecture from NYU London, specializing in the adaptive reuse of historic buildings and urban revitalization. Originally from California, Kelly moved to the area for work and is excited to be more involved in both the Trenton and Princeton communities through NextGen. In her free time, Kelly enjoys traveling, going to markets and exploring old cities.
Sheila Polito works as a Real Estate Sales Associate at Callaway Henderson Sotheby’s International Realty in Montgomery, NJ. Outside of work, she is an active member of the Junior League of Greater Princeton where she volunteers her time to better the community through organizations such as Dress for Success and Homefront. As a longtime local to this area, Sheila is looking forward to the opportunities she will have to connect and better serve her community as a member of the Next Gen Board!
Sneha began her Edward Jones career in 2016, and previously worked in branch offices in Richmond, VA and Sayreville, NJ before deciding to serve the Pennington community for the long-term. Sneha serves the financial needs of investors in the area, specifically focusing on young families and busy professionals to help them identify their specific financial goals and develop strategies to work towards achieving them. In particular, Sneha enjoys helping to educate and empower women in transition to take on their financial aspirations with confidence.
The foundation of Sneha’s career began at the University of Richmond where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with concentrations in Finance and Leadership Studies. Soon after, she was invited to participate in the Financial Advisor Career Development Program at the Edward Jones home office in St. Louis, MO. Sneha currently resides in Plainsboro, close to where she grew up. Outside of the office, you can find her exploring local Princeton and Pennington restaurants or taking advantage of the close proximity to New York City and Philadelphia. Sneha also enjoys serving her community by volunteering her time with the Homefront organization and sponsoring community events. In addition, she is the Program Director for the BW Nice Mercer County Chapter, an organization for female professionals working to fight against domestic violence. Sneha is excited to join the Next Gen Board and advocate for their mission!
Melda Sezen-Edmonds is a chemical engineer by training. She received her Ph.D. degree from Princeton University and B.S. from Koc University. She is currently working as a research engineer at Bristol-Myers Squibb; tackling challenges associated with the scaling up of pharmaceutical molecules. In her free time, Melda likes to walk by the canal, meet with friends & family, and read. Melda is looking forward to organizing events with the other amazing NextGen board members.
Kasey is an Assistant Vice President, Relationship Manager covering the Central & Southern New Jersey market for Business Banking at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. In this role, Kasey manages a portfolio of Business Banking relationships and serves as a trusted advisor in delivering various banking products to meet their needs. As the primary point of contact for the relationship, Kasey coordinates and leads a team of financial specialists to deliver credit, cash management and international banking solutions, to companies generally with $5 million to $50 million in annual revenues. These companies include manufacturers, wholesalers, and distributors for both general industries and agriculture, active in the Central and Southern New Jersey market and its surrounding communities.
With more than 5 years of financial services experience, Kasey has held a number of roles within Bank of America. She joined Bank of America in 2013 as a Wealth Management Client Associate providing white glove service to high net worth clients, deepening relationships, and assisting with daily portfolio management. Seeking to expand her knowledge of institutional clients she transitioned into an Analyst role within Investment Banking focusing on lower middle market businesses considering a sale, merger, acquisition or recapitalization. In her current role Kasey will consult with business principals to gain an understanding of the operation and serve as an advocate for the relationship within the bank by collaborating with product specialists in the delivery of strategic, integrated financial solutions and guidance.
Active in the community, Kasey volunteers for organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Covenant House, Hispanic Federation, Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA), Alzheimer’s Association, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Junior Achievement USA, and City Harvest. She currently serves as the VP of Community Affairs for the ALPFA NJ Chapter and is on YWCA’s Princeton Next Gen Board Orientation. She enjoys planning and participating in community events, gathering with friends & family, traveling domestically & internationally, and staying active in various sporting and outdoor activities.
Kasey is originally from Newark, NJ. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with a minor in Spanish from The College of New Jersey. Kasey speaks fluent Portuguese and intermediate Spanish. She presently resides in Philadelphia, PA and works in Princeton.
DeAna Smith is a Graduate Student at Rutgers University getting her Master’s in Social Work with an additional certification in Violence against Women and Children. In her undergraduate, she received her BA in Psychology with a minor in Women and Gender Studies and graduated from The College of New Jersey. DeAna is passionate about helping others and trying to make a positive future for everyone. After school, DeAna hopes to help those who have faced domestic violence regain their independence and recover from their trauma. DeAna enjoys reading, watching Netflix, and spending time with her family and her beloved pup Ace. She is very excited to be joining NextGEN!