Dennis Bone, founding director of the Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship, was honored Feb. 25 with the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce’s Business Leadership Award. The annual award was given to Bone during the Congressional Dinner, which is the culmination of a day of activities as part of the chamber’s Walk to Washington.
The state chamber’s board of directors unanimously voted to give Bone the leadership award, according to Michael Egenton, executive VP of Government Relations at the chamber.
“He was chairman (of the state chamber) during a time we needed really strong leadership—someone who was well-known and respected—and Dennis fit the bill,” said Egenton. “Dennis was always able to navigate, and had knowledge of, a litany of issues, such as economic development, health care, taxation.”
Business leaders at the annual Verizon breakfast in Newark, held before the chamber train departs to Washington, praised Bone for his leadership both in his 12-year tenure as CEO of Verizon New Jersey and in his roles on the boards of many Garden State organizations.
“Dennis is Mister New Jersey,” said Paul Matacera, vice president at MBI GluckShaw. “He was recognized in and out of the state as a man of his word.”
Other business leaders remarked on how seamlessly Bone made the transition from CEO of Verizon New Jersey to head of Montclair State’s entrepreneurship center.
Howard Cohen, treasurer of the state chamber board, said: “Dennis is a very special person to me personally. Everyone knows him. His power and his leadership are personified by who he is as a person. He’s in a class by himself. He’s shown the world by what he’s done at Montclair State—with no background (in entrepreneurship)—how versatile he is.”
Tony Cicatiello said, “Because New Jersey is so spread out in its corporate leadership—companies are not centralized in cities—you need people who are committed to the state and have knowledge of where the state needs to go. Dennis had that. Now he’s doing the same at Montclair State.”
One of Bone’s board roles was past chairman of the Newark Regional Business Partnership.
“One of the most sincere and dedicated executives I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with,” said NRBP President Chip Hallock. “That he has transformed from corporate executive to be such a big proponent of entrepreneurship underscores his diversity of talent.”
Vito Nardelli, also on the state chamber board, added: “Besides being a fantastic human being, he’s been a fantastic business person with a vision of the future, and he’s taken that vision to the future.”
Bone was also known for working with both sides of the aisle, politically.
“A man of his word, and a man you can trust,” said Assemblyman and Republican Leader Jon Bramnick.
Sen. Ray Lesniak, a Democrat, said, “Dennis Bone is one of the premier business leaders in the state of New Jersey. We’re grateful to have him in New Jersey fighting for job creation and economic development.”
Bone’s former colleagues at Verizon were especially happy to see him selected for the state chamber’s leadership award.
“There is a reason Dennis Bone is an icon in New Jersey. He represents integrity, respect and a real heart for people,” said Doug Schoenberger, VP of Government Affairs at Verizon.
John Szeliga, director of External Affairs at Verizon, said he was hired by Bone: “In a lifetime, there are people who are pivotal and life-altering, and in my life Dennis is one of those people.”
Sam Delgado, VP of External Affairs at Verizon, said he worked for Bone seven of his 12 years at Verizon. “He’s the best boss I ever had,” said Delgado. “He’s an institution in New Jersey.”