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2024 Summer Celebration Award Recipients 

Executive Director, NJ Division of Travel & Tourism

Jeff Vasser

The Spirit of the Shore Award

Jeff Vasser was nominated by Governor Phil Murphy to serve as Executive Director of the NJ Division of Travel & Tourism in May 2018. Jeff brings significant experience to his current role. Before joining the Division, he served as CEO of the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association where he was responsible for marketing the hotels, restaurants, and attractions in the region. Before that, Jeff served as president of the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority for 11 years, overseeing the daily operations of the public authority responsible for two major convention and event facilities and marketing the destination that anchors the region’s $8 billion tourism industry. Jeff began his career in hotel operations with Four Seasons Hotels.


Later, he served as a Senior Consultant with the Public Sector/Gaming and Entertainment Group of Deloitte & Touche having done feasibility studies for tourism, arts and culture, and sports-related clients. From there, Jeff was Chief Financial Officer of Cipriani International, a $60 million hotel, retail, and food service firm.


Jeff is a graduate of Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration with a concentration in hospitality management. He also received his Master of Public Administration from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. He resides in Linwood with his wife Angie and two sons, Carson and Zachary.

The Scaduto & Azzolina Families

Owners, Circus Foodtowns

Business & Industry Award

Circus Foodtown’s roots date back to the 1920s with a small grocery store in Highlands, NJ. Today, the company proudly operates four Circus Foodtowns and six Circus Wines, Beer & Spirits along the shores of Monmouth County. Their local family-owned business led by Lou Scaduto, Jr., President & CEO, has evolved into its fourth generation with the same traditional values as their first corner store. Their family continues to provide quality food, exceptional service and steadfast support within our great community.

(Pictured from left to right: Lou Scaduto, III., Nicole Scaduto, Lou Scaduto, Jr., Joseph Azzolina, Jr., Phil Scaduto, Jessica Scaduto) 


Sales & Marketing Director, Steel Pier, Atlantic City

Sharon Franz

The Hon. S. Thomas Gagliano Founders Award

Ms. Franz has been the Sales & Marketing Director for Steel Pier in Atlantic City since 2004.
Built in 1898, Steel Pier is known as a historical landmark and an icon of the Jersey Shore and is home to rides and attractions that lure visitors of all ages to Atlantic City. Ms. Franz is responsible for advertising, sales and promotion, special events, public relations, and community relations. Ms. Franz chose to make the tourism industry her career since starting on the boardwalk in Seaside Park at the age of 14. She owned and operated her own amusement games of chance and began to take interest in marketing when she challenged herself to promote her own business in a unique way.

Today, Ms. Franz works toward the common good of the tourism industry by forging relationships throughout NJ and beyond. She has served as the Past President of the NJ Tourism Industry and current Board of Director, Past Chairperson of the NJ Tourism Conference, current Board of Director NJ Amusement Association, and Board of Director of the Greater Atlantic City Chamber. Ms. Franz was the 2021 recipient of the Jim Whalen NJ Tourism Excellence Award. She works closely with Visit AC and was instrumental with the creation of North Beach Atlantic City. Ms. Franz resides in Seaside Park and enjoys spending time with family and friends, the beach and playing golf.

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