On Monday, October 15, 2018, The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) New Jersey at Brookdale Community College will present its fifth annual “Women Entrepreneurs Rock” event at the legendary Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ from 6:00 pm-9: 30 pm (with networking until 10 pm). This free event is for business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs throughout New Jersey. The goal of the Women Entrepreneurs Rock event (#WeRockSmallBiz and #WER5) is to facilitate a real dialog about topics that are important to women business owners, with this year’s focus on empowering others.

This is, by far, not your standard business function. From the topics to the venue to the speakers, our goal is to meet entrepreneurs where they live and offer current and candid insight, as we did in our previous events. No formalities and no canned responses…just real information from those who have successfully navigated the process of launching and growing a business and leading a team. The panelists will discuss their backgrounds, successes, and challenges along the way and offer advice to fellow business owners. There will also be live Q&A exchange as well as the ability to pre-submit questions for the panel to discuss at the event.

NJSBDC at Brookdale Community College is proud for you to meet our  2018 panel of dynamic entrepreneurs!




MELANIE WILLOUGHBY, Director of the New Jersey Business Action Center

Melanie Willoughby currently serves as the Director of the New Jersey Business Action Center.  The New Jersey Business Action Center (NJBAC), housed within the New Jersey Department of State, is the “one-stop shop” for businesses to access a variety of resources and support. NJBAC offers free and confidential assistance to help businesses grow.  Government navigation and permitting assistance is one of many important services offered.  The team helps companies of all sizes save time and money by getting answers from government agencies, directing businesses to appropriate officials and contacts, and facilitating meetings and follow-ups from regulatory agencies.

Melanie is no stranger to the New Jersey business community and brings unparralled experience from the private sector.  Most recently, Melanie served as the Chief Government Affairs Officer of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA), the nation’s largest state-level business association representing over 19,000 member companies that collectively employ more than 1 million people.  A seasoned government relations strategist, Melanie has worked with state and local levels of government as an advocate for businesses of all sizes.

Prior to joining NJBIA, she served as the president and CEO of the New Jersey Retail Merchants Association, a statewide retail business organization representing over 3,500 stores.  She also served in Governor Brendan Byrne’s administration as director of State and Federal Government Affairs for the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs.

Melanie is actively involved in many community and civic organizations.  She serves on the Board of the Rutgers University John Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, the Board of Isles, a Trenton economic empowerment organization, and the Board of the Rowan University South Jersey Technology Park.  She is a Rutgers University Eagleton Institute Visiting Fellow, serving as a mentor to Eagleton students.

She has a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers College, where she was in the first class of women to graduate from the college.  She was the first woman to be elected president of the Rutgers Student Government Association, and the first woman to be president of the Rutgers College Alumni Association.  She also served on the Rutgers University Board of Trustees, representing Rutgers College.

Melanie has been the proud recipient of many honors, including the Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni Award, the Executive Women of New Jersey Leadership Award, NJ Association of Women Business Owners Leadership Award, the Girl Scout Council Woman of Achievement Award, NJ Women’s Political Caucus Women in Leadership Award and the Loyal Daughter of Rutgers College Meritorious Service Award.




GLORIA BOOKER – Co-Owner of Eternity Funeral Services

Gloria Booker is the co-owner of Eternity Funeral Services, LLC, located in Englewood, New Jersey.  Being in a male dominated profession, Gloria is constantly demonstrating her love, passion and strength to families that are entrusted to her care.  From a young age, Gloria developed a hunger that fueled her desire to excel.  Obstacles were never seen as insurmountable challenges to Gloria but rather inspirations to catapult her to the next level.  Her motto is “by any means necessary”.  To this day, Gloria remains motivated while striving to be an inspiration for young ladies working in non-traditional positions.  Because of the love she received at home, it is only natural for her to desire to help others.

Gloria graduated from Elizabeth High School, where in her senior year she started her first job at a law firm and worked there throughout college.  She attended Fairleigh Dickenson Un