Just a quick glance at Melanie L. Willoughby’s biography reveals a lot of “firsts.” She was among the first class of women to be admitted to Rutgers College in 1972. She was the first woman president of the college’s Student Government Association. She was the first woman to receive the Rutgers Alumni Association’s highest honor, prompting the association to change the name of the award to Loyal Sons and Daughters. During her 28-year career in the state capitol, Willoughby worked with five governors. Her expertise in health care policy, labor management, energy deregulation, and environmental regulation led to her appointment to many state commissions. For 17 years, Willoughby served as president of the New Jersey Retail Merchants Association. She has also been an advocate for women, helping to craft domestic violence and displaced homemakers legislation. As president of the Retail Merchants Association, Willoughby garnered commitments from employers to hire more than 3,000 women on welfare for jobs with career opportunities. She is now senior vice president of government affairs for the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, the largest statewide business organization in the country.