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Under 40: Success At an Early Age, Leeanna Roman Fournier Capitol Profile: Rey Torres
Under 40: Success At an Early Age
Nelson, Jennifer; Quinn, William T; Goldstein, Scott; McKnight, Marshall; Et al
March 1, 2004
At a stage in life when many people are still finding a niche, the 40 men and women on these pages have established a record of solid achievement. Whether that means transforming an industry, running a port or opening a highly regarded restaurant, they have seized the opportunity to improve their fields and their communities.
These winners have been selected from a large field of highly qualified individuals. Narrowing the choices down to 40 people has not been easy. New Jersey is blessed with an abundance of youthful talent in business, government and the nonprofit sector.
If these people have one trait in common it is leadership. They have launched companies, run organizations and influenced public policies. They have taken risks and burned the midnight oil. Their success at an early age shows how much talent, grit and initiative can accomplish.
LEEANNA ROMAN FOURNIER
Medical Day Care
The defining moment in Leeanna Roman Fournier's career came when, at age 20, she took a summer internship with a large telecom company. The group of 30 interns gathered in the boardroom with a few executives. "A guy got up and said, 'We're going to toss this Koosh ball around and when you catch it I want you to tell us your name, your school and what you're here for,'" recalls Fournier, 34. The ball made the rounds of all the white men first. Then it went to the African-American men, the white women and, finally, to the minority women. "I thought, 1If this is the pecking order, then I'm out of luck,'" says Fournier, a native of Puerto Rico who moved with her family to Jersey City when she was 5. "I wasn't willing to wait for my 50s to achieve what I believed I could do."
So Fournier decided to become an entrepreneur. Today she owns Providence Pediatric Medical Daycare, a Camdenbased business with locations in Lawnside and Pleasantville, that provides daycare for children with medical needs. Fournier bought the flagging operation in December 1999 when it was $500,000 in the red. Now, she says, it is a $3 million business and growing with her husband Paul at the helm. The couple has a daughter and two sons. "I know when companies are tired," says Fournier, a graduate of Cleveland State University with a degree in accounting and finance. "I believe I have a gift for making companies money, wherever the opportunity."
For Fournier, those opportunities are many. Her current business interests include the Western hemisphere rights to an Italian hair-waxing product. Last September, she launched Hispanics Impacting Public Policy, a nonprofit devoted to increasing the political clout of Hispanic-Americans. "When I die I want to know that I have lived up to the abilities God has given me," says Fournier.
Capitol Profile: Rey Torres
March 15, 2004
REY TORRES Regional director of the state Human Rights Division 47, Albany Personal: Wife, Joanne; daughters Amy, 14, and Sarah, 12 Hobby: Reading historical novels WHAT HE DOES Torres oversees the Albany regional office of the state's Human Rights Division, which investigates complaints of discrimination in employment, housing, education, credit and other areas. He oversees all determinations made by the office. Salary range: $60,000-$65,000
HOW HE GOT THERE Torres is originally from Puerto Rico and grew up in Brooklyn. He graduated from Syracuse University in 1980, and soon after went to work for the state in a human rights training program. He's been with the department for more than two decades, moving up to supervisor, then regional director. What are the most common complaints your office deals with in employment? What other discrimination complaints does your office handle?
"We also cover race, age, creed, disability, marital status, national origin, sex, arrest or conviction record, sexual orientation and military status." Is it difficult for your office to prove discrimination? "When a person comes to us, we review it. If we take a complaint from that person -- and 99 percent of the time we take a complaint - - we then have to investigate that complaint. We do that by holding conferences here, field visits, so that's how we gather our facts. Then the investigation goes to the supervisor, who reviews the file, which comes to me. Is it hard to prove? Each case has its own merits. The onus is always with the complainant. It's hard for me to say, because it all depends. If you come in and ary status. I think a lot of the soldiers were having problems with housing and employment. New York has always been a good state, trying to do the right thing, and they wanted to do something for people who are laying out their lives out there." You're legally blind. Has that been a problem? "No, because we have accommodations, as all employers have to do. It's never been a problem. It's hard to read the computer so, to review a case, I put it on this scanner. It reads it to me, out loud. Basically, I can go through a whole file and hear it, instead of read it with my eyes. It allows me to do my job just like anyone else. I don't think I'm much different from anyone else here, particularly since they have to call me the boss." -- Erin Duggan