New Leadership Appointment at NJSBDC HQ

Former State Director of Colorado SBDC Named CEO/State Director of NJSBDC

Rutgers Business School recently appointed Kelly Brozyna, who formerly served as the Colorado SBDC’s State Director for many years, as NJSBDC CEO and State Director.

Brozyna also founded the Colorado Business Development Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit, and served as its President from 2015-2020.

In 2016, Brozyna took a leadership role in the Colorado Governor’s Office of Economic Development’s Small Business Division, assisting in implementing Colorado’s blueprint for strategic initiatives and services.

She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a Master’s degree in Communications with a Major in Dispute Resolution from the University of Denver.

“I am so excited about joining New Jersey’s SBDC,” said Brozyna, Chief Executive Officer and State Director.  “Re-tooling and setting a new blue-print is a top priority.”

The NJSBDC network “Senior Leadership Team” consists of the Chief Executive Officer/ State Director and Chief Operating Officer/ Associate State Director.

“We welcome Kelly to our NJSBDC network,” said Deborah Smarth, NJSBDC Chief Operating Officer and Associate State Director.  “I am hopeful that together we can make great strides as an executive team.”



From Challenges to Recovery to Resiliency

From the Desk of Kelly Brozyna

State Director and Chief Executive Officer of America’s SBDC New Jersey


I’m glad to join the NJSBDC network Senior Leadership Team as State Director and Chief Executive Officer and relocate from Colorado, where I directed the Colorado Small Business Development Centers for many years.  I’m looking forward to engaging with NJSBDC’s regional centers and directors, partners, collaborators, host institutions, and of course the NJSDBC staff members who make the engine go every day throughout the year.

So many small businesses and entrepreneurs suffered major setbacks due to the onslaught of the pandemic (COVID-19) over the past several months.  Our offices were flooded with inquiries, questions, and urgent pleas for assistance and our regional offices, business advisors across the state have been working around the clock to facilitate and respond to the high volume of “HELP” calls.  These small business owners included returning SBDC clients and new businesses never seen before.  We helped them all to receive answers, apply for disaster assistance loans, including PPP as well as grants and other financing at the state level.  They received financing and funding as a result of our efforts and have been able to retain employees and navigate through these rough waters.

As we move ahead in these challenging times into small business recovery and future resiliency, the New Jersey Small Business Development Centers – also known as America’s SBDC New Jersey – will play a critical role in guiding and providing comprehensive assistance for small businesses in all 21 counties.  That assistance will not only focus on the typical operational aspects, but, also all the key strategies and tools to cope with the challenges of the pandemic, including health and safety guidelines for business re-opening, re-tooling business operations, and ensuring that the companies are going in the right direction with re-invention and solid decisions based on cash flow and other factors.

The NJSBDC Team cares and we’re here to assist the thousands of small businesses and entrepreneurs who need our help.

Changing of the Guard: An Advocate for Small Business Retires after 29 Years

Brenda B. Hopper, who has led America’s Small Business Development Center’s – New Jersey (NJSBDC) from its headquarters at Rutgers Business School since 1991, will retire effective March 31.

Hopper, who received her undergraduate degree and MBA from Rutgers, oversaw training and lobbying efforts that assisted small business owners throughout the state. She also was a visible and supportive member of the Rutgers Business School community.

Leon Fraser, an assistant professor of professional practice on the management and global business faculty and managing director of Rutgers Business School’s Executive Education Program, will step in as interim chief executive officer and state director of the New Jersey SBDC effective April 1.

The NJSBDC network provides management and technical assistance and advocates for small businesses and entrepreneurs across the state. It is primarily funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration and supported by New Jersey’s Business Action Center.

“I am proud to say that I led a team that has helped thousands of successful business owners, infusing billions of dollars into NJ’s economy,” Hopper said. “I’ve learned and shared a lot along the way.”

“Know that I am ‘Rutgers Red’ to the core and will never be too far away from my Rutgers family,” she said. “Thanks for the camaraderie and insights, smiles, laughter and tears. It’s been quite a ride!”

Fraser will step into the leadership position at a daunting time for the state’s small business community.


Leon Fraser at Rutgers Business School's Business Community Engagement Symposium in November.
Leon Fraser is an assistant professor of professional practice and managing director of Rutgers Business School’s Executive Education Program.

“I wish to thank Brenda for her service for the past 29 years,” he said. “At this time of leadership transition, the COVID-19 crisis presents life-threatening challenges to all New Jersey residents. It also presents many unique challenges to small businesses that have closed down, affecting owners, employees, and their customers.”

“I look forward to working with the NJSBDC regional directors who are on the front lines of providing assistance, the Small Business Administration, and the small business community,” he said.

As she steps away from her long-time role, Hopper is planning to pursue an entrepreneurial path of her own as part of the CannaBoy Treehouse business in Union.

Hopper has deep roots in Newark. She attended classes in the Newark Public School System after her family moved from North Carolina. After graduating from high school, she worked at Prudential Insurance Company before going to Rutgers University-Newark to study economics and business.

She went on to earn her MBA from the Rutgers Graduate School of Management at a time when there were few black students or women. “We had such a tight study group, that we all encouraged and helped each other,” she said in a Rutgers Business School alumni profile written in 2017.

It was during her studies as a graduate student that she first became involved with helping small business owners struggling to comeback and grow after the Newark riots.


-Susan Todd

Rutgers Business School, Newark & New Brunswick