A Legacy of Love

A passion to help others is the force behind J. Mark Baiada and BAYADA Home Health Care.

Mark Baiada


J. Mark Baiada is the founder and president of BAYADA Home Health Care, which has grown in 40 years to become a leader in the industry of home health care, generating $1 billion in revenue in 2014.

Nick Romanenko

Growing up in southern New Jersey, the eldest of six boys to immigrant parents, J. Mark Baiada knew the two things he wanted as an adult: a vocation that allowed him to help people and ownership of his own business. He aspired to enter the priesthood—that is, until Baiada RC’69, RBS’70 realized that he was attracted to girls. His ambition to own a business was initially hobbled, too. After earning a graduate degree from Rutgers Business School, following an undergraduate education at Rutgers, Baiada (pronounced BAY-ah-duh) felt he knew too little about the practical necessities of running a business. Besides, he was broke.

Moving to New York City, he worked in quick order for the American Thread Company and Avon as a market researcher. In his downtime, he investigated the nation’s top companies, searching for insight into what made them successful. Meanwhile, he saved money with relentless austerity. And then one day in 1974, while perusing the New York Times, he came upon an advertisement for the  sale of a Quality Care franchise in the nascent home health care industry. It met all his criteria for a business, namely, doing good by helping others in an industry that would rapidly grow and required little upfront money. A year later, with an office staff of three and a handful of home health aides in the field, Baiada opened RN Home Care in Philadelphia. Today, 40 years later,  the business has morphed into BAYADA Home Health Care, with more than 20,000 members in its field staff operating out of 290 offices in 21 states, providing nursing, rehabilitative, therapeutic, hospice,  habilitation, and assistive-care services to people of all ages in their own homes.

In the intervening decades, BAYADA has distinguished itself by emphasizing, and delivering, the kind of caring service that is the personification of its soft-spoken, selfless owner. It’s called The BAYADA Way, a set of guiding principles for his employees that emphasize compassion, excellence, and reliability in making sure that clients are given the comfort, independence, and dignity that they deserve to function in their homes. “The BAYADA Way is a spirit that connects us to one another; it’s a spirit bigger than ourselves,” says Baiada. “Show love in everything you do.”

Despite the accolades that he has received, many for his philanthropic endeavors, Baiada’s induction into the Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni is particularly meaningful to him. He likes the story that Rutgers tells because it’s his own story: the son of immigrants who had little money of their own but big dreams of an affordable education for their children and the chance to experience a bigger world—and have an impact on it. “I was raised to be an example,” he says. “This has been my life’s work.”  — David W. Major

Variety Is the Spice of Her Life

Sharon Matlofsky Karmazin has known success in many roles: librarian, philanthropist, and Broadway producer.

Sharon Matlofsky Karmazin


During her trifecta of careers, Sharon Matlofsky Karmazin was the director of the East Brunswick Public Library, founder of the Karma Foundation, and a Broadway producer—all of her pursuits a reflection of her lifelong desire to give back.

Rich Schaub

Sharon Matlofsky Karmazin is not a United States senator. Or a theater critic. Those two ambitions, preserved in her high school yearbook, never came to fruition. But she has made a life for herself in the theater, as a successful producer of Broadway plays that include Steel Magnolias, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Ragtime, Honeymoon in Vegas, Clybourne Park, and Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the last two winning her Tony Awards for Best Play in 2012 and Best Revival of a Musical in 2014.

That would be résumé enough for most of us, but Karmazin DC’67, SCILS’69 says she’s “lived at least three lives,” all of them deriving from her lifelong ambition to give back. She attributes that drive to her parents. Her mother, for example, owned a luncheonette from which, Karmazin says, “no one ever walked away hungry. Anybody who didn’t have money could get a sandwich and a cup of coffee free of charge.

The first in her family to go to college, she attended Douglass as an undergraduate and received her graduate degree from the School of Communication, Information, and Library Studies (now the School of Communication and Information). From her first day at grad school, the young woman who’d relished books and library visits as a child realized she’d found a home. As a librarian at the East Brunswick Public Library, and later as the library’s director, she prided herself on her ability “to anticipate the needs of the people we served on our community.” For 32 years she helped make the library a beacon in the city, earning a New Jersey Library Association Library Service Award and three John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Awards.

In 1996 she started her second life as a philanthropist when she established the Karma Foundation, whose mission is to support the arts, education and literacy, autism, health, and the enrichment of Jewish life. Many of her projects represent a synergy among those interests: she helped launch an annual Jewish film festival at Rutgers’ Allen and Joan Bildner Center for the Study of Jewish Life, provided funding for acting and stage-management students at Rutgers to study at Shakespeare’s Globe theater in London, and started the Promise Fund to allow formerly incarcerated women to pursue degrees at Douglass.

As a passionate arts supporter, she was persuaded to join the board of New Brunswick’s George Street Playhouse, where in 2000 she had the opportunity to see Down the Garden Paths, a play by Anne Meara that starred Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson. When it moved to off Broadway, she became one of its producers and her next life began. What followed was a series of popular plays—and a few not as popular as she might have wished (filed under “That’s show biz.”). It was the perfect third act for a lifetime lover of the arts. “Artists need audiences,” she says, “and I’m the best audience in the world.” — Leslie Garisto Pfaff

Keeping It Simple

Gary M. Rodkin, the former CEO of ConAgra, has made a career of knowing what’s important—and what’s not.

Gary M. Rodkin


As a Rutgers economics major, Gary M. Rodkin learned an enduring principle. “I had to develop the ability to focus in and get done what really needed to be done,” he says, a lesson he’s applied at every top corporate position that he’s held during his career.

Nick Romanenko

In his office at ConAgra, the packaged food giant whose legion of brands includes Marie Callender’s, Hebrew National, Pam, Orville Redenbacher’s, and Hunt’s tomatoes, Gary M. Rodkin had a plaque on the wall that read “Simplify.” Given the complexities of running a company like ConAgra, the message may have seemed incongruous—but only if you don’t know Rodkin RC’74. When he became the company’s CEO in 2005, he vowed to change the corporate culture by helping the workforce hone in on the things that matter and steer clear of those that waste time and drain productivity. “Don’t have a two-hour meeting if you can do it in 15 minutes,” says Rodkin, who stepped down as CEO in May.

It’s a principle he began practicing as a Rutgers economics major. “I had to develop the ability to focus in and get done what really needed to be done so I could manage my time well,” he says—a lesson he applied later at Harvard Business School.  He’s applied it in every position since, from his days in management at General Mills and as its president for three years of the Yoplait yogurt division, through his tenure as president of Tropicana, and, later, as chair and CEO of PepsiCo Beverages and Foods North America.

When PepsiCo acquired Quaker Oats, Rodkin remembers, he walked into the first meeting of managers from both companies and encountered piles of enormous three-ring binders. “Tens of thousands of people hours went into creating them,” he says. The first thing he did was to tell his team not to hand out the binders. The meeting began at 4:30 and ended at 5:00—something that never would have happened had the weighty binders been put to use. Simplicity. “Don’t impress me that you’ve looked under every rock,” Rodkin says. “It’s OK to say, ‘I’ll get back to you.’”

Beyond simplicity, he’s also driven by curiosity (“Make sure you look outward beyond your own little world every day,” he says) and collaboration. Earlier this year, Rodkin received the William H. Albers Award from the Food Marketing Institute, recognizing his exemplary ability to collaborate with retail business partners.

And then there’s accountability. Rodkin believes that the keys to accountability are intense clarity and a commit-and-deliver mindset. Being accountable for whatever transpires under his leadership is part of what makes the job interesting. “I need to stretch myself into doing things that look daunting,” he says. “I want to be up at the bottom of the ninth with two strikes on me.”

Accountability extends beyond his professional life. At ConAgra, he focused the company’s corporate giving on childhood hunger, and he and his wife, Barbara DC’76, established a family foundation whose beneficiaries include Rutgers. A favorite project is the university’s Rutgers Future Scholars program, which invites promising middle-school students from Rutgers’ host cities to qualify for a free Rutgers education if they “live up to their capabilities,” Rodkin says—a principle that he has tried to role model throughout his career. — Leslie Garisto Pfaff

In Defense of the Defenseless

Lois Whitman has dedicated her life to helping children worldwide subjected to all manner of abuse.

Lois Whitman


For two decades, Lois Whitman—the founder and former director of the Children’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch, a human rights organization—traveled the globe investigating child abuse. “I was always drawn to the underdog,” she says.

Nick Romanenko

Faced with heartbreaking injustice, many of us turn away. Some of us turn to our checkbooks and hope we’re making a difference. Lois Whitman stares injustice in the face and dares it to stop her. For two decades, the founder and former director of the Children’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch—a nonprofit human rights organization—traveled the globe investigating abuses against the most powerless of the world’s citizens, its children. It was hard work, sometimes dangerous, and often daunting, but for Whitman NLAW’76, it was a calling. “I was always drawn to the underdog,” she says.

Her path in pursuit of that calling was winding, with more than a few switchbacks along the way: a degree in social work was followed by marriage and a family, and then two decades later by a job with the National Council of Jewish Women, where her efforts on issues like daycare and juvenile justice led to an epiphany at the age of 46. “It occurred to me,” she says, “that I should have gone to law school instead of social work school, that a lawyer would have more clout than a social worker.”

Whitman isn’t a woman stopped by “should have.” She enrolled in Rutgers School of Law–Newark, got her degree, and, after a job with the New York City Commission on Human Rights, joined Human Rights Watch. For seven years, she traveled to Turkey, painstakingly piecing together a report on human rights abuses against children. The report garnered worldwide attention, but the abuses persisted. Then she assembled a similar report on Northern Ireland, where children were being physically abused, often brutally, by the police, the army, the IRA, and loyalist groups. This time, the report had an effect, putting an end to the abuse of children in police detention. Whitman remembers thinking, “Jeez, this can really work.”

She persuaded Human Rights Watch to start up a children’s division, then campaigned tirelessly to raise the money to fund it. The division, she says, “has worked on the worst things that happen to kids around the world”: children forced to become soldiers, to work in deplorable conditions, children tortured in police detention, denied an education, denied a childhood. When people asked her how she could persevere in the face of such suffering, she would explain that “enough things work that we can take pride in what we do.”

Whitman’s investigations have taken her to countries around the world, including Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Bulgaria, Liberia, Jamaica, Cuba, and Sri Lanka. Although she stepped down as director of the children’s  division in 2012, she continues as a senior adviser. Looking back on a career that had an extraordinary effect on the lives of thousands of children, she says simply, “I was lucky to care a lot about something and be able to do something about it.” — Leslie Garisto Pfaff

Putting Teeth into Research

Anthony R. Volpe is a celebrated pioneer in dental medicine, leading breakthrough studies for Colgate-Palmolive in fighting tooth decay and gum disease.

Anthony R. Volpe


Throughout his career, Anthony R. Volpe has been an advocate for the idea that oral health and overall health are linked. In studies for Colgate-Palmolive, he helped develop toothpastes and mouthwashes that prevent tooth decay and gum disease.

Nick Romanenko

If you are fortunate enough to have a bright smile, you probably have Anthony R. Volpe to thank. His pioneering research in the dental field was among the first to show a link between toothbrushing and cavity reduction, and in a series of breakthrough studies for Colgate-Palmolive, he helped develop toothpastes and mouthwashes that effectively prevented both tooth decay and gum disease. Throughout his five-decade career, Volpe RSDM’60, GSNB’66 has been an outspoken advocate for the idea that oral health and overall health are inextricably linked.

As a member of the inaugural class of what is now the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine, Volpe met the man who would be his most influential mentor, John Manhold, the former chair of the school’s Department of Oral Diagnosis and Pathology. “He taught me all about research,” says Volpe, “and we worked together on many projects”—including the Volpe-Manhold Index, a now industrywide method of measuring dental tartar. His experience at the dental school prepared him for the rigors of life as a researcher. “You couldn’t help but be awed by the intensity of that program,” he says. But he also credits his childhood in Newark, New Jersey, with the development of what he refers to as “people smarts.”

Those smarts have helped him to become a mentor for two generations of young dentists and dental students. He helped found the New Jersey Dental School’s New Horizons program, which introduces dental students to opportunities beyond the traditional dental practice, in the fields of public health, politics, insurance, organized dentistry, and the discipline closest to Volpe’s heart, research. His people smarts—along with his research acumen—have also taken him around the world for Colgate-Palmolive. Over the past 40 years, he conducted research worldwide.

In addition to contributing more than 200 research papers to the field, Volpe has served on the advisory board of the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine for a decade and has been an active member of the New Jersey Dental Alumni Association, from which he received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013.

Last year, the American Dental Association Foundation, for which Volpe served as president from 1997 through 2003, honored his lifetime of contributions to the field by naming a new research facility after him. The Dr. Anthony Volpe Research Center, on the campus of the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland, is dedicated to the kind of cutting-edge research that Volpe conducted throughout his career. On the occasion of the center’s opening in May 2014, Ian Cook, chair of Colgate-Palmolive, lauded Volpe’s “steadfast commitment to scientific excellence and his valuable contributions to all areas of dentistry.”

In the face of these varied honors—including his induction into the Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni—Volpe is typically modest. “I wanted to be a reasonable person,” he says. “I never looked for success—it  found me.” • — Leslie Garisto Pfaff