TRENTON – Governor Phil Murphy today announced his intention to nominate Sarah Adelman as the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Human Services. Adelman has served as Acting Commissioner since January 2021. The New Jersey Department of Human Services serves one in three New Jersey children and one in five adults, with a budget of approximately $20 billion in state and federal funds and a staff of more than 7,400.
“Sarah stepped into the role of Acting Commissioner amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and her leadership has successfully guided the New Jersey Department of Human Services throughout this challenging year,” said Governor Murphy. “Sarah’s unwavering dedication, coupled with her extensive knowledge of the Department and its programs, is absolutely essential as we help New Jersey families deal with the challenges presented by the pandemic. I look forward to her confirmation by the Senate and continuing to serve New Jersey’s most vulnerable communities together.”
“I thank Governor Murphy for this honor, and am deeply grateful for the trust he has shown in me to lead New Jersey’s largest state department,” Acting Commissioner Sarah Adelman said. “New Jersey is stronger, resilient and moving forward under Governor Murphy, and Human Services is a central part of his work to make New Jersey the opportunity state. Together, we’ve made significant investments in child care and food assistance, enhanced services for older adults and individuals with disabilities, protected health coverage for more than 2 million residents, and expanded access for those needing mental health and addiction services. I look forward to continuing this vital work as part of Governor Murphy’s team and alongside the dedicated staff at Human Services. We have more great work to do. I look forward to getting it done.”
Under Adelman’s leadership as Acting Commissioner, the Department of Human Services has helped residents through the COVID-19 pandemic by focusing on assisting New Jersey’s most vulnerable residents including those needing child care, income and food assistance; older adults; individuals with disabilities; advancing health equity; and those needing mental health and addiction services and health coverage through New Jersey’s Medicaid program, NJ FamilyCare.
Adelman joined the Department in 2018, initially serving as a Deputy Commissioner, overseeing the Division of Developmental Disabilities, Division of Aging Services, and the Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services, which operates the Medicaid/NJ FamilyCare program. She also served on the Board of the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency.
Before joining Governor Murphy's Administration, Adelman served as Vice President at the New Jersey Association of Health Plans and Chief of Staff at the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute. She also served on the Board of Trustees for Samaritan Healthcare and Hospice, and the Board of Directors for a statewide child abuse and neglect prevention program.
Adelman received her Bachelor of Arts summa cum laude from Rowan University and a certificate in Advanced Healthcare Leadership from Seton Hall University as a fellow in the inaugural class of the New Jersey Healthcare Executives Leadership Academy.
“I’ve known for Sarah for many years, and know her to be a smart, common sense leader who cares deeply for others and always puts the focus where it needs to be - helping people in need,” Senator Troy Singleton said. “Her commitment to public service is inspirational and exemplary, and her leadership at Human Services has helped countless residents through challenging times. I’m confident Sarah will continue to do great things at Human Services and for the residents of our state, and look forward to seeing all she will accomplish.”
“Governor Murphy has made an outstanding nomination,” Senator Joe Vitale said. “I’ve had the great experience of working with Sarah on critically important issues such as expanding access to health care coverage for New Jersey’s children and families. Her commitment to our most at-risk residents is unquestioned, and her leadership invaluable. Sarah has used her talents to lead Human Services for the last year with steadiness and wisdom, and it will be exciting to see her continue her good work.”
"During her tenure at DHS, Sarah has demonstrated the skills needed to run the department and has been a fierce advocate for the most vulnerable in our community.” said Assemblyman Herb Conaway. “Sarah is the right person to lead the department to future successes."
“Sarah Adelman has done remarkable work as acting commissioner of the Department of Human Services and Governor Murphy’s choice to nominate Sarah as permanent commissioner makes perfect sense,” said Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez. “Sarah’s impressive background and clear commitment to the people of New Jersey will undoubtedly make her an invaluable asset to the Murphy administration and the residents of our great state.”
“Sarah Adelman is a staunch advocate for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and their families and I believe she will continue to exhibit tremendous leadership and commitment as Commissioner of the Department of Human Services,” said Thomas Baffuto, executive director of The Arc of New Jersey. “Throughout the public health crisis, Sarah has prioritized the health and well-being of people with IDD. Despite the many challenges of the past two years, she has navigated the system through uncharted territory, doing everything in her power to keep people safe while also balancing the needs of families and the difficulties facing our community provider organizations. She is accessible, knowledgeable, and open to stakeholder input whenever the Department moves forward with new initiatives or policy changes. Under Sarah’s leadership the State’s commitment to people with IDD has only grown. The Arc of NJ supports her nomination as Commissioner and we look forward to working with Sarah as she takes on this role and partnering with the Department for the betterment of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.”
“I applaud Governor Murphy’s nomination,” said Cecilia Zalkind, President & CEO Advocates for Children of New Jersey. “Sarah has provided strong leadership at Human Services during a difficult time, notably when it comes to investing in child care during the pandemic to support families and providers and ensuring families facing hunger have access to increased food assistance. We face challenges ahead as the pandemic continues, but I’m confident in Sarah’s leadership and abilities as we move forward on shared goals.”
“On behalf of AARP and its more than 1 million Garden State residents, I congratulate Sarah Adelman on her nomination as Commissioner for the Department of Human Services,” said Stephanie Hunsinger, AARP New Jersey State Director. “In her acting role, Ms. Adelman has made significant contributions to making New Jersey more livable for people of all ages and abilities. We are looking forward to continuing our work together to advance age-friendly practices and improve support and services for family caregivers across the state.”