Since Election Day this past November, Gov. Phil Murphy has been busy assembling his new Cabinet, which, at press-time, he is putting his finishing touches on. It is a diverse cabinet, the majority of whom are women, but it also includes African Americans, Hispanics, the first Muslim to head a state department (Health), and an Attorney General who is the first South-Asian AG in the state and the first Sikh to hold the position in any state.
Gov. Murphy tells New Jersey Business, “When I began my campaign for governor, one of my first promises was to assemble a Cabinet that reflects our state. I am proud to say that we fulfilled that commitment with the most diverse Cabinet in New Jersey history – one that was assembled by recruiting some of the most talented leaders from around the state, and across the country. Their diverse backgrounds will allow us to better address the needs and concerns of the people and businesses that we serve. They will be the leaders helping to implement my agenda for a stronger and fairer New Jersey. For residents and businesses, they will find a state government that is responsive, responsible and professional.”
Below, we spotlight the various Department Commissioners Murphy has appointed, the majority of whom, at press-time, still have to be confirmed by the Senate.
Department of Community Affairs
Lt. Governor Sheila Y. Oliver Commissioner, Department of Community Affairs
Sheila Oliver was Gov. Murphy’s running mate in last year’s gubernatorial election, seeking the office of Lt. Governor. She is the first woman of color to serve in statewide elected office in state history. First elected to the General Assembly in 2003, she became Speaker in 2010 – the first African-American women in state history to serve as such, holding the post until 2014. Prior to being a statewide legislator, Oliver was an Essex County Freeholder from 1996 to 1999. In 2000, she became the Assistant County Administrator in Essex County. She attended Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, earning a Bachelor’s Degree, cum laude in Sociology, then obtained a Master of Science Degree from Columbia University in Community Organization, Planning and Administration. The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) provides administrative guidance, financial support and technical assistance to local governments, community development organizations, businesses and individuals to improve the quality of life in New Jersey. DCA offers programs and services, through various agencies and divisions that respond to issues of public concern.
Attorney General’s Office Department of Law & Public Safety
Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal
Gurbir S. Grewal was nominated by Gov. Murphy to be the 61st Attorney General (AG) of the state on December 12. He was confirmed by the Senate and assumed office this past January 16. He is the first South-Asian AG in the state and the first Sikh to hold this position in any state. Before becoming New Jersey AG, Grewal served as Bergen County Prosecutor, where he supervised a staff of 265 personnel and had supervisory authority of approximately 2,700 law enforcement officers across 74 law enforcement agencies. From 2010 to 2016, Grewal worked as an Assistant United States Attorney (“AUSA”) in the Criminal Division of the US Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, where he served as Chief of the Economic Crimes Unit from 2014 to 2016. Before becoming a federal prosecutor in New Jersey, Grewal also served as an AUSA in the Criminal Division of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York from 2004 to 2007, where he was ultimately assigned to the Business and Securities Fraud Unit. Grewal has also worked in private practice, including at Howrey LLP (from 1999 to 2004 in Washington, DC, and from 2008 to 2010 in New York).
Department of Agriculture
Secretary of Agriculture Douglas Fisher
Secretary Fisher became head of the Department of Agriculture in 2009, having been initially named to the post by Gov. Jon S. Corzine. He served in this capacity throughout the Christie administration and was asked by Gov. Murphy to continue in this role. His focus as Secretary of Agriculture is to support New Jersey’s working farms and help ensure the Garden State’s continued status as an agricultural powerhouse by promoting the state’s diverse agricultural sectors while uniting them under a common message that underscores their importance to the state’s economy, their crucial role in the maintenance of a safe and healthy food supply and their contribution to an enhanced quality of life for all residents.
Department of Corrections
Commissioner Gary M. Lanigan
Gary M. Lanigan was confirmed by Gov. Chris Christie as the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections in March 2010. At press-time, he is waiting to be reconfirmed to the post. As head of Corrections, Lanigan is responsible for a budget of roughly $1 billion, approximately 8,000 employees, 13 correctional institutions and nearly 23,000 state-sentenced offenders housed in prisons, county jails and community halfway houses. Lanigan’s most prominent accomplishments include implementing a performance-based management system called C.H.A.N.G.E. (Challenge Historical Assumptions Nobly Generating Efficiencies) to measure and manage performance in the areas of security, administration, programs, healthcare and mental health. Results have included reducing the department’s overtime expenditures by almost 40 percent, and obtaining a 93 percent reduction in county jail expenditures by substantially reducing the number of state-sentenced inmates in the county jails.
Department of Banking & Insurance
Acting Commissioner Marlene Caride
Marlene Caride is the first Hispanic person named to head the Department of Banking & Insurance (DOBI). The Democratic Assemblywoman, who represented the 36th Legislative District, was nominated to the DOBI post last December, taking office as acting commissioner on January 16. During her three terms in the Assembly, Caride served on the Financial Institution and Insurance Committee, the Appropriations Committee and the New Jersey Legislative Select Committee on Investigation. She also chaired the Assembly Education Committee and was vice chair of the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authority Committee. DOBI’s mission is to regulate the banking, insurance and real estate industries in a professional and timely manner that protects and educates consumers and promotes the growth, financial stability and efficiency of the industries mentioned.
Department of Education
Acting Commissioner Dr. Lamont Repollet
Dr. Lamont Repollet, who was superintendent of the Asbury Park School District since 2014, began serving as Acting Commissioner of the state’s Department of Education on January 29. While at Asbury Park, Repollet was noted for implementing new instructional and organizational approaches, such as creating the “Power of 10” drop-out prevention program, which resulted in significant increases in the graduation rate. Overall, he has more than 20 years of experience as an educator, ranging from classroom teacher, to principal and superintendent. The state’s Commissioner of Education supervises all public schools, recommends legislative initiatives and changes, suggests rules and regulations for state board consideration, produces educational research, conducts initiatives to meet the state’s educational needs, and serves as liaison between the local school districts and the federal government.
Department of Health
Acting Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal
Dr. Shereef Elnahal worked as a physician executive in the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), serving as the Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Quality, Safety and Value in the Veterans Health Administration. He was appointed to VA by President Barack Obama as a White House Fellow in 2015. In this capacity, he founded the Diffusion of Excellence Initiative, the major initiative meeting the organization’s priority of establishing consistency in clinical and administrative operations across the nation. He was also an adjunct assistant professor at the Georgetown University Department of Health Policy and Management. The New Jersey Department of Health’s priority is improving population health by strengthening New Jersey’s health system. The Department’s five branches – Public Health Services, Health Systems, Integrated Health, Office of Population Health and the Office of Policy and Strategic Planning – work collaboratively toward that goal.
Department of Human Services
Acting Commissioner Carole Johnson
Prior to being nominated to be Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Carole Johnson served in the Obama White House as senior health policy advisor and member of the Domestic Policy Council health team. There, she worked to increase health insurance coverage for millions of Americans. Johnson also worked for the US Senate Special Committee on Aging and for members of the US Senate Finance Committee and US House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee. In addition, she managed healthcare workforce policy issues for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration. The New Jersey Department of Human Services (DHS) is the largest state agency in New Jersey, serving approximately 1.5 million residents who have a broad range of healthcare needs.
Department of Transportation
Acting Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti
Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti was appointed acting commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Transportation on December 19. A native New Jerseyan, Gutierrez-Scaccetti is a transportation professional with more than 28 years in the industry, and 34 years in government service. Most recently, she served as the executive director and CEO at Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise, a part of the Florida Department of Transportation. Prior to this role, Gutierrez-Scaccetti spent 21 years at the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, working her way up from a contract administrator to the post of executive director, a position she held from 2008 to 2010. During her tenure, she managed the day-to-day administrative operations and was chief negotiator for the agency’s several collective bargaining units. She holds a B.S. from the University of Connecticut and an M.S. from Rutgers University.
Department of Treasury
Acting State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio
Elizabeth Maher Muoio is an assemblywoman from Mercer County, representing district 15. She was appointed to the post in 2015 when Bonnie Watson Coleman was elected to Congress. Muoio has been a member of the Assembly’s Budget, Economic Development and Judiciary committees. Prior to the appointment, Muoio served as a councilwoman in Pennington and a Mercer County Freeholder. She was also former chair of the county’s Democratic Committee. Muoio was tasked with preparing the state’s 2019, $37.4-billion fiscal year budget, which Gov. Murphy introduced on March 13. As treasurer, she will also be overseeing the operation of the $76 billion public employee pension system. Muoio earned a B.A. in history from Wesleyan University and her J.D. from Georgetown University.
New Jersey Economic Development Authority
CEO Tim Sullivan
Though the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) is a state agency rather than a state department, it plays a major role in funding economic development initiatives in the state. Therefore, we choose to profile its new CEO, Tim Sullivan. Sullivan most recently served as Deputy Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD). He joined the DECD in January 2014 as Director of Brownfield, Waterfront, and Transit-Oriented Development, and became Deputy Commissioner in 2015. Previously, he served as Chief of Staff to the New York City Deputy Mayor for Economic Development. Prior to joining city government in 2010, Sullivan worked at Barclays Capital as chief of staff to the head of global investment banking. He began his career in investment banking at Lehman Brothers in 2003 as a healthcare banker, focusing on mergers and acquisitions and capital markets transactions for leading companies in the managed care, biotechnology and healthcare services sectors. Born and raised in Bergen County, he is a graduate of Georgetown University.
Department of Children and Families
Acting Commissioner Christine Norbut Beyer
Christine Norbut Beyer traces her career roots back to the New Jersey Department of Children and Families when it was known as the Division of Youth and Family Services. She first served there as a college intern and then returned to the agency in 2003 as an assistant child welfare commissioner. In 2012, she joined Casey Family Programs, a national organization focused on foster care, where she had been senior director. The New Jersey Department of Children and Families is the state’s first comprehensive agency dedicated to ensuring the safety, well-being and success of children, youth, families and communities. Created in July 2006, it is the first Cabinet-level department devoted exclusively to serving and safeguarding the most vulnerable children and families of the state. Currently, DCF is staffed by approximately 6,600 employees. Its 2018 fiscal year budget is $1.1 billion.
Department of Environmental Protection
Acting Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe
Catherine R. McCabe assumed her duties as acting commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on January 22. Most recently, she served as US Environmental Protection Agency Deputy Region 2 Administrator in New York City, where she assisted in overseeing operations and regional implementation of all EPA programs in New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. She was a long-time member of the EPA’s Executive Management Council. Prior to the EPA, McCabe served at the US Department of Justice for 22 years in various positions. Before that, she was an Assistant Attorney General for New York State. Today, DEP has a staff of approximately 2,900 and is a leader in the country for its pollution prevention efforts.
Department of Labor & Workforce Development
Acting Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo
Robert Asaro-Angelo is a former US Labor Department official, where, from 2010-2017, he served as Eastern Regional Representative, coordinating federal policy efforts in 17 states, including New Jersey. He also served on intergovernmental work groups such as the White House Hurricane Sandy Task Force, White House Task Force on Puerto Rico, and FEMA’s Recovery Support Function Leadership Group. Prior to this, Asaro-Angelo was the executive director of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee. He also worked for the Laborers International Union of North America (LiUNA), AFSCME and 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. If confirmed as LWD commissioner, he will oversee the state’s workforce and training programs, enforce wage and hour laws, administer the state’s unemployment insurance program and deal with workers’ compensation, temporary disability and family leave programs.
Department of Military and Veterans Affairs
Acting Adjutant General Colonel Jemal J. Beale
Colonel Jemal J. Beale served as combat veteran of Afghanistan. His previous assignments included Director, Plans, Operations, Training & Safety, Director, Logistics, Commander, Recruiting & Retention Battalion, and Commander, Border Police Mentor Team (OEF). He began his military career in 1987 as an enlisted soldier and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 1990 after completing the Early Commissioning Program at Seton Hall University. He has served throughout the continental United States, Afghanistan, Albania, Germany and Italy. As Acting Adjutant General, Colonel Beale commands more than 8,400 soldiers and airmen of the New Jersey National Guard. He directs, controls and manages the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs in the execution of federal and state missions. In addition, he manages all state veterans’ programs, commissions and facilities in New Jersey.
Department of State
Acting Secretary of State Tahesha Way
Last December, former Passaic County Freeholder Tahesha Way was nominated by Gov. Murphy to be the next Secretary of State. Way graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1996. As a UVA student, she served as law clerk for the Virginia Legal Aid Society, the United Steel Workers of America and for Polygram Records. After graduation, she worked for Court TV as a production assistant where she provided legal research, edited segments as well as wrote scripts and trial stories for the “Prime Time Justice Show.” Way was admitted to the New Jersey Bar in 1998. From 2001 through 2005, she was an English professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University. She also became an associate at the law firm of Steven A. Varano in Totowa. Way was appointed a Passaic County Freeholder in 2006, was later elected to a full term and served as the board’s director in 2009. As Secretary of State, she will oversee election issues, travel and tourism, historical and cultural commissions and business and economic development initiatives.