Melanie L. Willoughby

Melanie Willoughby currently serves as the Executive Director of the New Jersey Business Action Center (BAC), the State’s “one-stop” shop for business and is responsible for efforts in attracting, retaining and growing businesses in New Jersey.  Willoughby cultivates relationships and partnerships with the business community and uses her expertise to further enhance the mission of the New Jersey Business Action Center in promoting the State’s attractiveness as a prime business investment location both nationally and internationally. Most recently, Willoughby 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.

Willoughby 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 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. Willoughby 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.


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