Governor Phil Murphy

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Governor’s Restart and Recovery Commission

Photo: Shirley Tilghman Portrait

Dr. Shirley M. Tilghman (Co-Chair)

Professor of Molecular Biology & Public Policy and President Emerita of Princeton University

Shirley M. Tilghman was elected Princeton University’s 19th president on May 5, 2001 after serving on the Princeton faculty for 15 years. Upon the completion of her term in June of 2013, she returned to the faculty. During her scientific career as a mammalian developmental geneticist, she studied the way in which genes are organized in the genome and regulated during early development, and was one of the founding members of the National Advisory Council of the Human Genome Project for the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Tilghman is an Officer of the Order of Canada, the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society for Developmental Biology, the Genetics Society of America Medal, and the L’Oreal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science. She is a member of the American Philosophical Society, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine and The Royal Society of London. She serves as a trustee of Amherst College, the Institute for Advanced Study, and the Simons Foundation. She serves on the Science Advisory Board of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, is a director of The Broad Institute of MIT, and a Fellow of the Corporation of Harvard College.

photo: Ken Frazier Portrait

Kenneth Frazier (Co-Chair)

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Merck & Co., Inc.

Kenneth C. Frazier has served as the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Merck & Co., Inc. since 2011.

Under Ken’s leadership, Merck is delivering innovative lifesaving medicines and vaccines as well as long-term and sustainable value to its multiple stakeholders. Ken has substantially increased Merck’s investment in research, including early research, while refocusing the organization on the launch and growth of key products that provide benefit to society. He has also led the formation of philanthropic and other initiatives that build on Merck’s 125-year plus legacy.

Ken joined the company in 1992 and has held positions of increasing responsibility including General Counsel and President. Prior to joining Merck, Ken was a partner with the Philadelphia law firm of Drinker Biddle & Reath. Ken’s contributions, especially in the legal, business and humanitarian fields, have been widely recognized. He sits on the boards of PhRMA, Weill Cornell Medicine, Exxon Mobil Corporation, and Cornerstone Christian Academy in Philadelphia, PA. He also is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, The Business Council, the Council of the American Law Institute, and the American Bar Association.

Ken received his bachelor’s degree from The Pennsylvania State University and holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School.


phot: Ben Bernanke Portrait

Dr. Ben Bernanke

Distinguished Fellow in Residence at the Brookings Institution and former Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

“Dr. Ben S. Bernanke is a Distinguished Fellow in residence with the Economic Studies Program at the Brookings Institution. From February 2006 through January 2014, he was Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, appointed by both Presidents Bush and Obama. He also served as Chairman of the Federal Open Market Committee.

Before his appointment, Dr. Bernanke was chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers and a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. He had been a professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University since 1985, following appointments at Stanford, New York University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In his New York Times best-selling book, The Courage to Act: A Memoir of a Crisis and its Aftermath (October, 2015), Dr. Bernanke reveals the Federal Reserve’s efforts to stabilize the financial system and prevent economic collapse in 2007-2009, and describes the formulation of the Fed’s policies to help the U.S. economy recover from the Great Recession.

Dr. Bernanke received a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from Harvard University ( summa cum laude ) and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in economics from MIT.”

photo:Rich Besser Portrait

Dr. Richard Besser

President and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and former Acting Director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Richard Besser, MD, is president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), a position he assumed in April 2017. Besser is the former acting director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and ABC News’  former chief health and medical editor.

At RWJF, Besser leads the largest private foundation in the country devoted solely to improving the nation’s health. RWJF’s work is focused on building a comprehensive Culture of Health that provides everyone in America with a fair and just opportunity to live the healthiest life possible. Access to healthy food, clean air and water, safe housing, secure employment at a living wage, transportation, education, and the elimination of barriers from discrimination are all important contributors to health and well-being.

In Besser’s role at ABC News, he provided medical analysis and reports for all ABC Newsprograms and platforms. His weekly health chats on social media reached millions.

While at ABC News, Besser traveled all over the United States and around the globe to cover major medical news stories. He walked the Ebola wards in Liberia in 2014, reporting from the center of the deadly epidemic, and continued to provide extensive coverage for months. In 2011, he led ABC's global health coverage, "Be the Change: Save a Life," reporting on critical global health issues from seven different nations.

Before joining ABC News in 2009, Besser worked as director of the Coordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response at the CDC. In that role he was responsible for all the CDC's public health emergency preparedness and emergency response activities. He also served as acting director of the CDC from January to June 2009, during which time he led the CDC's response to the H1N1 influenza pandemic.

Besser’s tenure at the CDC began in 1991 working on the epidemiology of food-borne illness. He then served for five years on the faculty of the University of California, San Diego as the pediatric residency director, while also conducting research and working for the county health department on the control of pediatric tuberculosis. He returned to the CDC in 1998 as an infectious disease epidemiologist working on pneumonia, antibiotic resistance, and the control of antibiotic overuse.

The author or co-author of hundreds of presentations, abstracts, chapters, editorials and publications, Besser has earned many awards for his work in public health and for his volunteer service. He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine. He received the Surgeon General's Medallion for his leadership during the H1N1 response, and in 2011 he accepted the Dean's Medal for his contributions to public health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. His investigative reporting into umbilical cord blood banking was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2011. In 2012, he received an Overseas Press Club award as part of ABC's coverage of global maternal health issues, and two Peabody Awards as part of ABC News’ coverage of Hurricane Sandy and Robin Roberts’ health journey. In 2017 and 2018, he received an Emmy award for “Outstanding Morning Program” as part of the Good Morning America team. His book, “Tell Me the Truth, Doctor: Easy-to-Understand Answers to Your Most Confusing and Critical Health Questions,” was published by Hyperion in 2013.

Besser received his Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from Williams College and medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He completed a residency and chief residency in pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore.

He continues to practice as a volunteer pediatrician at the Henry J. Austin Health Center in Trenton, N.J. He and his wife Jeanne, a food writer, have two sons, Alex and Jack.

photo: Evie Colbert

Evie Colbert

Founding Board Member and President of the Board of Montclair Film and Vice President of Spartina Productions

Evelyn McGee Colbert is a graduate of the University of Virginia and the Circle in the Square Theater School. She is a founding board member and President of the Board of Montclair Film. She also serves on the Board of the International African American Museum in Charleston SC and Montclair Kimberley Academy in Montclair NJ. She is an independent film producer and the Vice President of Spartina Productions.

photo: Tony Coscia

Tony Coscia

Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak), Partner and Executive Committee member of Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf, LLP law firm and Chairman of Suez North America Inc.

Anthony Coscia is a partner and Executive Committee member of Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf, LLP, one of the region’s oldest law firms and has for over 30 years represented clients in the finance, real estate, healthcare and infrastructure sectors.  Mr. Coscia also serves as Chairman of the Board of the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak), Chairman of Suez North America Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of Suez Environnement SAS, a Director of OceanFirst Financial Corp and OceanFirst Bank and Senior Advisor to Oaktree Transportation Infrastructure Fund, L.P.  Mr. Coscia was Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey from 2003 through June 2011 where he played a leadership role in the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan after 9/11.  From February 1992 to March 2003, Mr. Coscia served as Chairman of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.  In addition, Mr. Coscia serves as a Trustee of Georgetown University, the New Jersey Community Development Corporation and the Regional Plan Association, and is a member of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center Council of Trustees, The Partnership for New York City and The Economic Club of New York.

Mr. Coscia is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Georgetown University School of Foreign Service with a degree in international economics and received his J.D. degree from Rutgers University School of Law.

photo: Jessica Gonzalez

Jessica Gonzalez

Founder & Chief Executive Officer of InCharged, VendX, and Lux-UVC

Jessica Gonzalez is a lifelong New Jersey entrepreneur and self-starter.

As a Latina woman and mother, the path to building a business hasn't been easy, but Gonzalez lives and works by a "nothing is impossible" attitude. Over the last decade, she's grown her event technology company, InCharged into an event technology fixture - partnering with brands like Google, Coca-Cola, and T-Mobile to execute cutting-edge experiential marketing campaigns and events. More recently, she developed the VendX , which delivers a completely customized, interactive, touch-screen vending machine experience for consumers, while delivering valuable consumer insight and data to a partner brand.

As the coronavirus pandemic developed, Gonzalez pivoted to help every day New Jersey residents safely access medical-grade sanitizing and disinfecting equipment, by developing a new line of hospital-grade sanitizing products, the LuxUVC and the LuxElctroClean . These new tools, powered by state-of-the-art UV-C and electrostatic sanitization technology, are now providing services for businesses and families in our community.

Gonzalez was recently funded by Newark Venture Partners and is making plans to grow her business from the City of Newark. Gonzalez brings a fresh, outside-the-box approach to every problem she tackles - and she is ready to leverage her experience and perspective to help keep her New Jersey community moving forward and safe.

photo: Jonathan Holloway

Dr. Jonathan Holloway

Incoming President of Rutgers University and former Provost of Northwestern University

Jonathan Holloway will become the 21st president of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, on July 1, 2020.

He was provost of Northwestern University from August 1, 2017 through March 31, 2020.

As Northwestern University’s chief academic officer, he supervised the university’s educational policies and academic priorities; oversaw preparation of the university’s annual budget; acted on faculty appointments and promotions; and directed allocation of resources and space to academic units.

Holloway specializes in post-emancipation United States history. He is the author of Confronting the Veil: Abram Harris Jr., E. Franklin Frazier, and Ralph Bunche, 1919-1941 (2002) and Jim Crow Wisdom: Memory and Identity in Black America Since 1940 (2013), both published by the University of North Carolina Press. He edited Ralph Bunche’s A Brief and Tentative Analysis of Negro Leadership (NYU Press, 2005) and coedited Black Scholars on the Line: Race, Social Science, and American Thought in the 20th Century (Notre Dame University Press, 2007). He wrote the introduction for the 2015 edition of W.E.B. Du Bois’s Souls of Black Folk (Yale University Press).

Before moving to Northwestern, Holloway was the dean of Yale College and Edmund S. Morgan Professor of African American Studies, History, and American Studies at Yale University. He joined the faculty at Yale in 1999.

Holloway began his academic career at the University of California, San Diego.

He received a bachelor’s degree with honors in American studies from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in history from Yale University.

He serves on board of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Holloway is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Society of American Historians.

He is married to Aisling Colón. They have a daughter, Emerson, and son, Ellison.

photo: Lisa Jackson

Lisa P. Jackson

Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives at Apple Inc., former Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and former Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

Lisa P. Jackson is Apple’s Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, and served as Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from 2009 to 2013.

At Apple, Lisa leads the company’s environmental initiatives, global community education programs, product accessibility efforts, corporate giving, and worldwide government affairs.

Since Lisa’s arrival in 2013, Apple has transformed its environmental footprint. Under her leadership, the company reached the goal of powering its operations around the world with 100 percent renewable energy and is now implementing its industry-leading supplier clean energy program — responsible for adding over 5 gigawatts of new clean energy around the world — to drive the transition to renewable energy with Apple’s manufacturing partners. In addition, Lisa spearheads Apple’s circular economy programs, grounded in the company’s ambition to one day make its products using only recycled or renewable materials.

President Barack Obama appointed Lisa as Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2009 — the first African-American to hold the position. As Administrator, she focused on reducing greenhouse gases, protecting air and water quality, preventing exposure to toxic contamination, and achieving environmental justice by expanding environmental outreach to underserved communities and communities of color.

Lisa also served as chief of staff to New Jersey Governor Jon S. Corzine and as Commissioner of the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, following nearly 20 years in the career ranks of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Lisa has been recognized as a leader in business and sustainability in a number of leading publications including Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business, Vogue’s Game Changers, InStyle’s Badass Women, Newsweek’s Most Important People, TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World (2010 & 2011) and Ebony’s Power 100 lists. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including Princeton’s James Madison Medal, Tulane University’s Distinguished Alumni Award, the Environmental Law Institute’s Environmental Achievement Award, the Corporate EcoForum’s C.K. Prahalad Award for Global Sustainability Business Leadership and The Captain Planet Foundation’s Protector of the Earth Award.

Lisa holds a master’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University and a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Tulane University. She holds honorary degrees from Montclair State University, Florida A&M University, Tulane University, Dickinson College, Spelman College and Oberlin College, and an honorary law degree from Pace Law School. She serves on the boards of Tulane University, Emily’s List, Conservation International and the San Francisco Film Society, and is an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority.

photo: Jeh Johnson

Jeh Johnson

Former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security and Partner at the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP

A partner in the Litigation Department, Jeh Johnson has had a distinguished career combining private law practice at Paul, Weiss and senior-level public service, including three Senate-confirmed presidential appointments. In public life, he served as Secretary of Homeland Security (2013-2017), General Counsel of the Department of Defense (2009-2012), General Counsel of the Department of the Air Force (1998-2001) and as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York (1989-1991). In private practice, Secretary Johnson is an experienced litigator and trial lawyer, and a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers. Since returning to Paul, Weiss in 2017, Secretary Johnson also advises clients, including high-tech companies and government contractors, on the legal aspects of cybersecurity, national security, data privacy, government contracting, crisis management, high-stakes litigation and regulatory matters.

photo: Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Prudential Financial, Inc.

Charles Lowrey

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Prudential Financial, Inc.

Charles F. Lowrey is Chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, Inc. Prior to assuming his current roles, Lowrey served as executive vice president and chief operating officer of Prudential’s International businesses. Previously, he was executive vice president and chief operating officer of Prudential’s U.S. businesses. Lowrey also served as president and CEO of PGIM, Prudential’s global investment management business, and earlier as CEO of its real estate investment business, PGIM Real Estate.

Before joining Prudential in 2001, Lowrey was a managing director and head of the Americas for J.P. Morgan’s Real Estate and Lodging Investment Banking group, where he began his investment banking career in 1988. Earlier, Lowrey spent four years as a managing partner of an architecture firm he founded in New York City. During this time, he became a registered New York architect.

Lowrey received an MBA from Harvard University, a master’s degree in architecture from Yale University and a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Princeton University.

photo:Denise Morrison

Denise Morrison

Founder of Denise Morrison & Associates, LLC and a Senior Advisor for PSP Partners. Former President and Chief Executive Officer of The Campbell Soup Company.

Denise M. Morrison is the Founder of Denise Morrison & Associates, LLC., a Consulting Firm.  She currently is a Senior Advisor for PSP Partners.  She served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The Campbell Soup Company from 2011-2018.  She joined Campbell in 2003, where she held positions of increasing responsibility.  Prior to joining Campbell, Ms. Morrison held executive management positions at Kraft Foods, Inc. from 2001-2003.  She started her career with Procter & Gamble and held various positions with PepsiCo and Nestle before joining Kraft/Nabisco. 

Ms. Morrison is currently a Director on the Boards of Visa, Inc., MetLife Inc., and Quest Diagnostics.  She served as a Director of Campbell Soup Company from 2010-2018 and a Director of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. from 2005-2010.  She is a member of the Board of Trustees for Boston College, the Advisory Council for Just Capital and the Advisory Board for Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and is a member of The Business Council. 

Ms. Morrison served on President Trump’s Manufacturing Jobs Initiative as well as President Obama’s Export Council.  She has been a leader in the Food Industry with a focus on making Real Food affordable and accessible to all families for better health and wellbeing.  She has also been an advocate of Healthy Communities starting with Campbell’s headquarter city of Camden, N.J.  She was named to Fortune’s Most Powerful Women’s List from 2012-2018.

She has extensive executive experience, including general management, strategic planning, operations, sales and marketing with large multinational corporations operating in consumer-focused and regulated industries.   She graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Boston College in 1975 and received an Honorary Doctorate from St. Peter’s University, New Jersey in 2018. 

photo: Bill Rodgers

Dr. William Rodgers

Professor of Public Policy and Chief Economist at the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University. Former Chief Economist at the US Department of Labor

William M. Rodgers III is professor of public policy and chief economist at the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Social Insurance, and serves as the Academy’s Board Chair. Rodgers also serves as Treasurer for the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. He is a Non-Resident Fellow at The Century Foundation and has served in many public capacities, including on President Obama’s Department of Labor transition team, and as chief economist at the US Department of Labor from 2000 to 2001. He serves on the US Board of United Way Worldwide and currently works on the Board of Trustees of McDaniel College.

Rodgers' expertise on compensation, pay equity, diversity and inclusion, labor market and general economic trends is frequently called upon by journalists for articles in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune Magazine, The Washington Post, The Financial Times, and many other publications. He is a frequent guest on numerous television and radio talk shows: MSNBC, Yahoo Finance and CNBC.

At the state level, Rodgers serves on the Governor’s Public State Bank Board and served on Acting Governor Cody’s Benefits Review Task Force. Locally, he sits on Hopewell Borough’s Planning Board and Economic Development Committee.

photo: Neera Tanden

Neera Tanden

President and CEO of the Center for American Progress and the CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund

President and CEO, Center for American Progress

Neera Tanden is the president and CEO of the Center for American Progress and the CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, where she focuses on how both organizations can fulfill their missions to expand opportunity for all Americans. Tanden has also served in both the Obama and Clinton administrations, as well as on presidential campaigns.

Before leading American Progress, Tanden was the organization’s chief operating officer. She previously served as senior adviser for health reform at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In that role, she developed policies around reform and worked with Congress and stakeholders on particular provisions of President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement—the Affordable Care Act.

Prior to that, Tanden was the director of domestic policy for the Obama-Biden presidential campaign, where she managed all domestic policy proposals. Tanden also served as policy director for Hillary Clinton’s first presidential campaign, where she directed all policy work and oversaw the debate preparation process for then-Sen. Clinton (D-NY).

Before the 2008 presidential campaign, Tanden served as legislative director in Sen. Clinton’s office and deputy campaign manager and issues director for Clinton’s 2000 Senate campaign. She began her career as an associate director for domestic policy in former President Bill Clinton’s White House and senior policy adviser to the first lady.

Over the last several years, Tanden has served on the Board of Justice in Aging, an advocacy group for low-income seniors. She was also a Co-Chair of the Clinton-Kaine Presidential Transition in 2016.

Tanden has appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” ABC’s “This Week,” CBS’ “Face the Nation,” PBS’ “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer,” HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” MSNBC, CNN, and Fox. Most recently, she was named to Elle magazine’s “Women in Washington Power List” and Politico Magazine’s “Politico 50,” an annual list of the top thinkers, doers, and visionaries in American politics. She has also been included in National Journal’s “Washington’s Most Influential Women,” Washingtonian magazine’s “Most Powerful Women in Washington,” and Fortune magazine’s “Most Powerful Women in Politics.”

Tanden received her Bachelor of Science from the University of California, Los Angeles and her law degree from Yale Law School. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and their two children.

photo: Regena Thomas

Reverend Dr. Regena Thomas

Director of the Human Rights and Community Relations Department of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and former New Jersey Secretary of State

Reverend Dr. Regena Thomas is the Director of the Human Rights and Community Relations Department of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). In addition she serves as the Executive Minister at Grant Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Trenton, N.J. Prior to  position with AFT she was the Director of Community Engagement and Constituency at the Democratic National Committee. Thomas served as Secretary of State for the State of New Jersey from 2002 through 2006, appointed by Gov. James McGreevey. Prior to her appointment as Secretary of State, Rev. Thomas was considered a leading political consultant for the Democratic National Committee, Democratic Governors’ Association and the Democratic Senatorial Committee specializing in African American turnout. She has worked for District of Columbia Mayors Marion Barry and Sharon Pratt Kelly both in government and their political campaigns.

Rev. Thomas began her political career in Kentucky working for the Legislative Research Commission (LRC) where she met the Hon. Georgia Davis Powers, the first and only African American and the only female serving in the Kentucky State Senate.  In 1984 Sen. Powers would be called upon by her friend Rev. Jesse Jackson to spearhead his presidential bid in Kentucky. Sen. Powers facing a legislative session entrusted the grassroots organizing to Rev. Thomas. This assignment led Rev. Thomas to Chicago & Washington, D.C. She worked on the 1984 and 1988 presidential campaigns for the Rev. Jackson. Having been bitten by the political bug, Rev. Thomas would move to Washington, D.C. to become a staff member for the National Rainbow Coalition.

However, while the Secretary of State; Ms. Thomas was called to a different field of organizing: Organizing souls for Christ. She accepted her call to ministry and was ordained in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.  She earned her Master of Divinity from New Brunswick Theological Seminary and received her Doctorate of Ministry with a specialty in Urban Ministry from Wesley Theological Seminary. 

photo: Richard Trumka

Richard Trumka

President of the AFL-CIO

AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka Richard L.

Trumka has served the 12.5 million members of the AFL-CIO as president since 2009. An outspoken advocate for social and economic justice, Trumka is a leading voice on the critical need to strengthen the middle class by restoring workers’ freedom to join and form unions.

Raised in Southwestern Pennsylvania, he followed his father and grandfather into the coal mines. He worked his way through college and law school before joining the legal staff of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA).

He rose quickly through UMWA’s ranks, and in 1982, at age 33, he was elected as its youngest president. He was elected secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO in 1995, serving in that role for 14 years until his election as president.

President Trumka is a tireless advocate for good jobs and for strengthening the middle class by restoring workers’ freedom to join and form unions. He works passionately to end unfair trade practices and support U.S. manufacturing, and he challenges excessive corporate power and abuses of workers’ rights here and abroad.

photo: Sheila Oliver

Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver

Lt. Governor, State of New Jersey

Lieutenant Governor Oliver is a self-described “Jersey Girl,” born and raised in an ethnically diverse Newark neighborhood.

Lieutenant Governor Oliver was inspired as a young girl to be a fighter for the voiceless when her eyes were opened to societal injustices and inequities around her, often citing “A Tale of Two Cities” as her youth awakening. She has since pioneered a successful career in public service advocating for social justice, women’s equality, and education, ultimately becoming the first woman of color to serve in a statewide elected office in New Jersey history.

In addition to her role as Lieutenant Governor, she serves as Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs, where she has led efforts to strengthen and expand initiatives for fair and affordable housing, community revitalization, homelessness prevention, and local government services that support New Jersey’s 565 municipalities.

Under her leadership, the Department has also expanded and leveraged a wide range of initiatives aimed at assisting distressed municipalities, including the federal Opportunity Zones tax incentive, the newly revived Main Street New Jersey program, Urban Enterprise Zones, the Neighborhood Preservation Program, and the Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit program, which received increased funding. 

In her role as Acting Governor, she has signed multiple bills into law, including those that established a Caregiver Task Force to identify ways to support people taking care of loved ones who are elderly or disabled, require all public school students in grades 6-8 to receive financial literacy education, strengthen equal pay for equal work by preventing employers from asking employees’ previous salary history, and protect employees from wage theft.

Across her career, Lieutenant Governor Oliver has worked in the public, non-profit, and private sectors, and has taught numerous college courses. She has served as a member of both the East Orange Board of Education and the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders.

In 2003, she was elected to serve the 34th Legislative District in the New Jersey General Assembly.

A trailblazer in every sense of the word, in 2010 she became the first African-American woman in state history to serve as Assembly Speaker, and just the second in the nation’s history to lead a state legislative house.

A proud alumna of the Newark public school system, Lieutenant Governor Oliver graduated cum laude from Lincoln University, and received her Master of Science Degree in Community Organization, Planning and Administration from Columbia University.

She is a proud 40-plus-year resident of East Orange where she treasures her time with her 91-year-old mother, who has always encouraged her to be a critical thinker while fostering her passion for helping people through effective public policy.

phorto: George Helmy

George Helmy

Chief of Staff, Office of Governor Phil Murphy

George Helmy serves as Chief of Staff to the Governor.

A native of Jersey City, Helmy served as State Director to U.S. Senator Cory Booker for three years, serving on the Senator's senior staff and overseeing the day-to-day operations of his New Jersey offices. Prior to serving as State Director, he worked as Senator Booker’s state office Deputy Chief of Staff for two years. Prior to serving in Senator Booker’s office, he worked in the private sector with two Fortune 100 companies and served as an aide to the late U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg, handling issues such as gun safety and financial affairs.

Helmy currently lives in Morris County with his wife and two children. He received his Bachelors of Arts from Rutgers University and a Master’s degree from Harvard University.

photo: Judith Persichilli

Judith Persichilli

New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner

Commissioner Judith M. Persichilli, R.N., B.S.N., M.A., began serving as Acting Commissioner of Health on August 5, 2019. She was confirmed by the State Senate on January 9, 2020.

Prior to leading the department, Ms. Persichilli served as the Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of University Hospital in Newark.

Ms. Persichilli was president emerita of CHE Trinity Health, the health ministry formed in May 2013 by the consolidation of Catholic Health East and Trinity Health of Livonia, MI. She previously served as the interim president and chief executive officer (CEO) of CHE Trinity Health. Prior to this appointment, Ms. Persichilli was President and CEO of Catholic Health East.

Ms. Persichilli joined CHE in 2003 as the Executive Vice President of the Mid-Atlantic Division. She was promoted to Executive Vice President of acute care for the system in 2008 and then to Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer in December 2009 before assuming the role of CEO. Prior to joining CHE’s System Office, she served for eight years as CEO at St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton.

Ms. Persichilli received her nursing diploma from the St. Francis Hospital School of Nursing, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing summa cum laude from Rutgers University, and a Master of Arts in Administration summa cum laude from Rider University. She also received an honorary Doctor of Health degree from Georgian Court University in 2009. In May 2011, Ms. Persichilli received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT.

In 2006, Ms. Persichilli was inducted into the New Jersey State Nurses Association Hall of Honor. She also received the Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton’s highest honor when she was awarded the 2008 Richard J. Hughes Humanitarian Award. In 2011, Ms. Persichilli was named one of the 50 most powerful people in New Jersey health care by NJ Biz and was selected by KYW Newsradio as a recipient of its annual Women’s Achievement Award. She also received the 2011 Edward J. Ill Excellence in Medicine Award for Outstanding Medical Executive. In September 2011, Ms. Persichilli was awarded the Benemerenti Medal, a papal honor bestowed on her by Pope Benedict XVI. In October 2011, the Philadelphia Business Journal’s inaugural Healthcare Innovation Awards program named Persichilli as the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. Persichilli was named to Becker’s Hospital Review’s “300 Hospital and Health System Leaders to Know” list in 2012, which recognizes individuals leading prominent American health care organizations.

Persichilli co-founded the Catholic Foundation of Greater Philadelphia, which provides fundraising support to organizations throughout the Greater Philadelphia region. In April 2013,
Modern Healthcare named Persichilli to its 2013 list of Top 25 Women in Healthcare.

Ms. Persichilli resides in Pennington.

photo: Matt Platkin

Matt Platkin

Chief Counsel, Office of Governor Phil Murphy

Matt Platkin serves as Governor Murphy's Chief Counsel.

Previously, He served as Policy Director for Murphy for Governor. In that capacity, Matt managed the campaign’s internal research and policy team and coordinated substantive positions taken by then-candidate Phil Murphy. He joined Murphy for Governor at the campaign’s launch in May 2016, after having served in a similar role for New Way for New Jersey since 2015.

Prior to joining New Way for New Jersey, Matt was an attorney at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP in New York, where his practice focused on criminal and regulatory investigations. He also maintained an active pro bono practice, representing indigent clients facing criminal and removal proceedings in federal and immigration court. He is admitted to practice in New Jersey and New York, as well as in the U.S. District Courts for the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York.

Matt has been active in New Jersey and national Democratic politics, having worked for Senator Cory Booker’s 2013 Senate campaign as well as having advised various state and federal campaigns across the country. Matt began his career working on economic policy at The Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., where he advised members of Congress on policies to promote economic recovery and job growth in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

Matt has also served as a board member of America Needs You – New Jersey, an organization that provides mentoring and professional development to first-generation, low-income college students in New Jersey.

Matt is a product of New Jersey’s public schools and is a graduate of Madison High School. He holds a B.A. with distinction and Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University, and a J.D. from Stanford Law School, where he earned pro bono distinction and served as President of the American Constitution Society and as an Editor of the Stanford Law Review. Matt and his wife, Sophia, reside in Montclair.

photo: Zakiya Smith-Ellis

Zakiya Smith-Ellis

Chief Policy Advisor, Office of Governor Phil Murphy

Zakiya Smith Ellis serves as Chief Policy Advisor to Governor Phil Murphy where she is responsible for developing and directing the Governor’s policy initiatives in coordination with the Cabinet.
Previously Dr. Ellis served as New Jersey’s Secretary of Higher Education, where she was responsible for policy development and coordination of higher education activities for the state. In this role, she led the development of a student-focused state plan for higher education featuring a vision for a student bill of rights, the reform of the state’s funding methodology for public institutions of higher education, and the design of the state’s efforts to expand college affordability through tuition-free promises to low-income students.  
Prior to her work in New Jersey state government, she led the DC office of Lumina Foundation, the nation’s largest foundation focused solely on higher education. At Lumina she led work to advance federal policy to increase attainment and funded projects to develop new postsecondary finance models, focusing on issues of affordability.
Dr. Ellis has also worked in the Obama administration as a Senior Advisor for Education at the White House Domestic Policy Council and as a senior adviser at the U. S. Department of Education. Earlier in her career she authored reports on the ability of low- and moderate- income students to access, afford, and complete college while on staff at the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance.
Dr. Ellis holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and secondary education from Vanderbilt University, a master’s degree in education policy and management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a doctorate in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania, where she graduated with distinction for both written dissertation and oral defense.