Michael A. Fields
Michael A. Fields was promoted to first vice president and Community Reinvestment Act officer at Valley National Bank. He will be responsible for guiding Valley National Bank’s activities to finance affordable housing for low- and moderate-income persons and small businesses. He also will advise the bank on investment and service opportunities in the New Jersey and New York communities in which the bank operates. Fields joined Valley National Bank in 2002 as vice president and senior community development officer. Fields serves on the board of directors of St. Paul’s Community Development Corp. in Paterson, N.J., as well as on the boards of other companies.
J. Marshall Shepherd, Ph.D.
J. Marshall Shepherd, Ph. D., joined the faculty at the University of Georgia in Athens, Ga., as an associate professor and physical meteorologist/climatologist. Shepherd is a 2005 recipient of TNJ’s “40 Under-Forty Dynamic Achievers” award. Prior to this appointment, he was deputy mission scientist for the $1 billion Global Precipitation Measurement Mission and research meteorologist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Shepherd is a member of the National Science Foundation Advisory Council and the U.N. World Meteorological Organization steering committee. In 2004 he was honored at the White House with the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.
Cynthia Hardy Young, Esq.
Cynthia Hardy Young, Esq., was named president of Encompass Insurance Inc., a subsidiary of auto insurance giant Allstate Insurance Co. Young joined Allstate in October as assistant vice president of product operations for Allstate Protection’s Northeast region, which includes Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont. Previously, Young was president of the personal lines division at Allmerica Financial Group. Prior to that she was vice president of product management for the personal lines division of The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., product manager and professional liability claims attorney at Progressive Halcyon Insurance Co., and litigation associate at Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue. Young has a B.S. in economics from Xavier University in Louisiana and a law degree from the University of Notre Dame School of Law.
Essie Chambers was named vice president of development for The N, the nighttime television network for teens. Chambers, who was executive director of development for Noggin/The N, will continue to oversee the day-to-day operations of development for The N, but will now also oversee new talent and diversity agendas for the network. Chambers has been with Noggin since the network’s inception in 1998 and has been an integral part of producing original programming. She has a bachelor’s degree in English and broadcast journalism from Syracuse University.
Christiani Franck joined the law firm LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae LLP as manager of diversity initiatives and recruiting. Prior to this appointment, Franck was program manager for the Summer Career Program at Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, a not-for-profit organization that recruits, trains and places outstanding college students of color in internships that could lead to full-time jobs. She has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the State University of New York at New Paltz and a master’s in public administration from SUNY at Albany.
Valerie Graves was named chief creative officer at Vigilante, a leading urban and youth advertising and marketing agency. Under Graves’s leadership, Vigilante recently launched an advertising campaign for the Pontiac Solstice featuring the music of multiplatinum, Grammy Award–winning artist and actor Ludacris. Prior to joining Vigilante, Graves was senior vice president and chief creative officer at UniWorld Group, where she helped UniWorld win several Association of National Advertisers Multicultural Excellence Awards in the African-American category from 2001 to 2003. Graves attended Wayne State University in Detroit and studied screenwriting, directing and film production at New York University.
Ronald A. Williams
Ronald A. Williams was named chief executive officer of Aetna Inc., effective Feb. 14. He replaces Chairman and CEO John W. Rowe, M.D., who will retire by the end of 2006 but will still serve Aetna as executive chairman. Williams, who served as president from May 2002, joined the firm in March 2001 as executive vice president and chief of health operations. He is a member of the board of directors. Prior to joining Aetna, Williams was group president of the Large Group division of WellPoint Health Networks and president of WellPoint’s Blue Cross of California subsidiary. He is a graduate of Roosevelt University and holds an M.S. in management from the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He sits on the board of directors of Lucent Technologies Inc., the board of trustees of The Conference Board and the Dean’s Advisory Council and Corporate Visiting Committee at MIT. He is a member of MIT’s Alfred P. Sloan Management Society.