Jacquelyn Suárez Appointed as Acting Commissioner of NJ Department of Community Affairs

Governor Phil Murphy has revealed his plans to nominate Jacquelyn A. Suárez as the new Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA). This announcement comes after the tragic passing of Lieutenant Governor Sheila Y. Oliver in August, who had been serving as the DCA Commissioner since the beginning of the Murphy Administration.

Suárez, who currently serves as the Director of the DCA’s Division of Local Government Services (DLGS), will assume the role of Acting Commissioner of the department starting from Monday, September 18. Once confirmed by the Senate, she will become the first Hispanic Commissioner to lead the DCA. Suárez’s appointment signifies a momentous milestone in the department’s ongoing mission to provide financial support, administrative guidance, and technical assistance to residents, local governments, businesses, and community development organizations, all with the goal of improving the quality of life for families in New Jersey.

Governor Murphy commended Suárez’s expertise and dedication, stating, “Jacquelyn has skillfully served our state for many years – lending her expertise to important legal and policy matters affecting municipalities throughout New Jersey.” He also expressed his gratitude to Kim Holmes, who had been leading the department in the aftermath of Oliver’s passing, highlighting her remarkable leadership during such a challenging time.

In response to her nomination, Suárez expressed her honor and commitment to continuing Oliver’s legacy, saying, “It is a true honor to be nominated as the Department of Community Affairs’ next Commissioner. Having worked under the remarkable leadership of Lieutenant Governor Oliver, it is my pleasure to continue moving her legacy forward in serving the communities of our great state.”

Suárez has a proven track record of advocating for local government interests and providing technical and financial assistance. Since assuming the role of DLGS Director in January 2021, she has been instrumental in areas such as joint services, purchasing, and management issues. She has also overseen the review and approval of budgets for municipalities, counties, and fire districts, ensuring the financial integrity of local government units and guiding the conduct of local government officials.

Before her role as DLGS Director, Suárez served as an associate counsel in the Governor’s Office, where she provided legal advice on various matters impacting the Administration. Her expertise and aptitude were particularly valuable in advancing the Governor’s public policy agenda, including spearheading the State’s COVID response policies such as the eviction moratorium.

Suárez’s extensive experience also includes serving as a legislative liaison for the DCA, where she was responsible for all communication with the State Legislature and played a key role in drafting bill language and implementing newly signed legislation.

A native of New Jersey, Suárez holds a Juris Doctor from Rutgers School of Law in Camden and a bachelor’s degree in communications, legal institutions, economics, and government from American University in Washington D.C. She is a member of both the New Jersey and New York bar associations, as well as the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey.

Several prominent figures have expressed their support for Suárez’s nomination, recognizing her exceptional qualifications and her commitment to the department’s mission. Senator Nellie Pou, Senate Majority Caucus Chair, commended Suárez’s dedication and vision for housing and community development in New Jersey. Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez, Chair of the Assembly Housing Committee, praised Suárez’s knowledge and experience and expressed confidence in her ability to ensure housing opportunity for all.

As Suárez assumes the role of Acting Commissioner, she will undoubtedly face the challenge of filling the shoes of the late Lieutenant Governor Oliver. However, her exceptional career and proven leadership make her an ideal candidate to continue Oliver’s legacy and serve the communities of New Jersey with the utmost dedication and respect.

Governor Murphy’s nomination of Suárez has been met with widespread approval, with many praising her professionalism and public service. From representatives of Atlantic City to local mayors and the League of Municipalities, there is a shared enthusiasm for Suárez’s appointment and a collective belief that she will continue to advance the interests of local governments and taxpayers.

As Suárez steps into her new role, her experience and commitment will undoubtedly shape the future of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, ensuring that it remains a vital resource in enhancing the quality of life for residents, municipalities, and businesses across the state.

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