New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Sheila Y. Oliver, the first woman of color to serve in statewide elected office in the state’s history, will deliver the School of Social Work’s convocation address on May 20, 2019. Lt. Governor Oliver took the oath of office as New Jersey’s 2nd Lieutenant Governor on January 16, 2018 and was appointed Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs by Governor Phil Murphy.
A 40-year resident of East Orange, and a native of Newark, Lt. Governor Oliver was first elected to the General Assembly in 2003 and became Speaker in 2010. She was the first African-American woman in state history to serve as such, and just the second in the nation’s history to lead a state legislative house.
She has chaired the Assembly Human Services Committee, and served on the Labor, Higher Education, Women and Children, Commerce and Economic Development, and Transportation and Independent Authorities committees. She also sat on the Joint Committee on the Public Schools and the Joint Committee on Economic Justice and Equal Employment Opportunity.
Prior to her election to the General Assembly, she served as an Essex County Freeholder, from 1996 to 1999, and was a member of the East Orange Board of Education. She also served as an Assistant County Administrator for Essex County from 2000 until 2018.
An alumna of Newark’s Weequahic High School, she went on to graduate cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. Lt. Governor Oliver holds a Master of Science Degree in Community Organization, Planning and Administration from Columbia University and has received honorary doctorates of humane letters from both Lincoln and Montclair Universities, in addition to Berkeley and Essex County College.
Lt. Governor Oliver began her career in public service as the Director of the Office of Youth Services and Special Projects for the City of Newark, where she focused on preparing young people ages 14 to 21 for post-secondary education and entry into the workforce. She later became the Development Director for The Newark Literacy Campaign while working at Caldwell College as the Coordinator of Career Guidance within the Educational Opportunity Fund Program.
She has taught college courses in Achievement Motivation, Non-Profit Management, and Pre-College Preparation, served as a consultant to a variety of non-profit organizations, and spent several years as the Director of the Essex County Division of Community Action, an anti-poverty initiative.
Lt. Governor Oliver has served on the boards of numerous non-profit organizations, including the East Orange General Hospital Board of Trustees, the United Way, the Newark Coalition for Neighborhoods, the Newark Collaboration Group, the Rutgers-Newark Educational Opportunity Fund Advisory Council, the Global Women’s Leadership Collaborative of NJ, the Essex County and East Orange Committees on the Status of Women, Programs for Parents, and a number of other community-based entities. She has held memberships in the Women’s Political Caucus of NJ, the NAACP, and the Urban League.
Lt. Governor Oliver has received numerous accolades and awards from organizations across the country honoring her life-long public service and advocacy for women’s equality, education and social justice.
More information about the School of Social Work’s Convocation can be found here.