President and CEO,
Coopers Ferry Partnership
Honoree Year: 2021
Rutgers-The State University of New Jersey-Camden
Rutgers School of Business
Area of Impact:
Community or Social Impact
After graduating from Rutgers School of Business-Camden (RSBC), in New Jersey, Kris Kolluri earned an MS in international business and a law degree while working in Washington, D.C. He returned to New Jersey and launched a distinguished career in transportation, education, and economic development, which has ensured continuing infrastructure improvement and the development of new schools in the Camden region and the state.
After serving as commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Transportation and CEO of the NJ Schools Development Authority, Kolluri returned to Camden to lead Coopers Ferry Partnership (CFP), a private, nonprofit corporation that brings together stakeholders who work collectively to revitalize Camden’s infrastructure, neighborhoods, parks, and education.
Kolluri and the CFP have spear headed the development and oversight of Camden Works, an employment training and placement program, which also includes wrap-around social services. Focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion, the program launched in late 2019 and has already placed hundreds of residents in meaningful jobs—no small task in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kolluri has demonstrated that early learning grounded in compassion, creative thinking, and knowledge can produce tangible change. In his numerous leadership roles, Kolluri has run multibillion-dollar public agencies with tens of thousands of employees as well as small organizations with a handful of members. The lessons he learned in his organizational behavior and marketing courses at RSBC played a foundational and influential role throughout his career—allowing him to adapt, precisely dissect problems, and implement solutions with staying power.
Evidence-based decision-making is Kolluri’s operating philosophy. He believes that evidence clarifies the breadth and scope of a problem and tests the merits of an innovative solution. This approach was demonstrated when he oversaw the delivery of bilevel rail cars at NJ TRANSIT to solve a passenger capacity crisis, and also when he increased the output of school construction projects at the NJ Schools Development Authority.
Kolluri arrived at Rutgers-Camden a few years after immigrating to the United States. He understood that education would level the playing field for future opportunities. His singular determination to work with similarly motivated individuals to ensure that Camden rises and reaches its potential reflects the best of his business school’s ideals. RSBC believes that academic learning is foundational and that learning from experienced professionals about real-world applications is necessary. Kolluri is more than eager to speak to RSBC’s students, many of whom are from Camden. He understands that every one of these students has the potential to change the trajectory of their families’ futures. He has not only enthusiastically mentored students, but he has consistently guest-lectured for RSBC and participated in panels to ensure that students have an opportunity to obtain an a typical perspective.