Alex J. Plinio

This article was originally published in Connect- Fall 2013

Growing up in the Ironbound and South Ward sections of Newark, Plinio demonstrated a strong work ethic early in life. The son of modest, blue-collar workers, he began earning an income at age 10 as a paperboy and, more than 60 years later, is not quite ready to make the final toss of his professional career.

“I was a precocious boy,” Plinio acknowledges, who graduated from South Side High School, now known as Malcolm X Shabazz High School, at age 16 and Newark College of Arts and Sciences (NCAS) at 20. He married Rose Marie, his wife of more than 50 years, when he was 21, and welcomed his first child at 23.

“We now have two children who are attorneys, two wonderful daughters-inlaw, and three beautiful grandchildren,” Plinio proudly states.

Armed with a bachelor’s degree in economics and history, Plinio accepted employment in the property and casualty division of Allstate Insurance Company. The broad training and exposure he received in human resources, operations, and public affairs enabled him to make a successful leap to Prudential Financial.

At Prudential Financial, Plinio garnered attention and quickly advanced up the corporate ladder. He was recruited to help grow several startup ventures and spearhead Prudential Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Prudential Financial, and ultimately became president of the foundation.

After 28 years of service to Prudential and its various affiliates, Plinio turned his sights to AFS-USA, the largest nonprofit international and intercultural student exchange program in the United States. As president, he helped to make AFS-USA a viable concern, and during his 10 years at the helm, the organization annually sent 1,600 students abroad and hosted 4,300 students in the United States.

Plinio’s stint at AFS-USA proved to be a nice segue to academia. He left AFS-USA to co-found the Institute for Ethical Leadership (IEL) at Rutgers Business School, which helps students and leaders of business and government entities and nonprofit and philanthropic organizations “make ethical decisions for real-world challenges.” Through peerto-peer consulting, one-on-one coaching, emotional intelligence assessments, conferences, and classroom instruction, IEL provides current and future leaders with the training and critical-thinking tools needed to create ethical cultures.

While he finds it rewarding to help shape today and tomorrow’s leaders, Plinio finds time to have fun. Since he enjoys the outdoors and walking, golf allows him to indulge in both.

“Rose Marie and I share an interest in golf and are members of a couples league,” notes Plinio. They also love to travel with their family and are very active in various other social endeavors.

Not surprisingly, Plinio manages to strike a successful balance between his personal and professional lives.