Meet Sheila Oliver

Sheila Oliver will work shoulder to shoulder with Phil Murphy to create an economy that is stronger and fairer for all New Jerseyans. Unlike Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, who helped Governor Chris Christie make New Jersey worse over the last eight years, Sheila will be a lieutenant governor who works to get results and get our state back on track. Together, Phil and Sheila have our backs.

As New Jersey’s first African-American woman Assembly Speaker, Sheila has blazed new paths and fought for justice and fairness for every New Jersey family — and she will continue to do so as New Jersey’s lieutenant governor. Just as with Phil, Sheila knows that if we get our economy right, we get New Jersey right.

Sheila is a leader in the battle for increases in the minimum wage, equal pay and making millionaires and corporations pay their fair share. And time after time, Sheila has voted to override Governor Christie’s mean spirited vetoes of Planned Parenthood funding in the Assembly.

As an Assemblywoman, Sheila has been a strong leader in standing up for people against powerful interests. When she was Assembly Speaker, Sheila fought against wasting millions of our tax dollars on corporate welfare for giant corporations and she fought to cutting health care for women and children. She opposed the Christie-Guadagno administration when they cruelly cut property tax relief for New Jersey’s senior citizens. An untiring advocate for social justice, Sheila was an early and clear voice for marriage equality and LGBTQ rights. She has consistently stood up to the NRA for common sense gun safety measures to protect our neighborhoods.

A Newark native, Sheila attended the Newark Public School System, graduating from Weequahic High School. She went on to Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, earning a Bachelor’s Degree, cum laude in Sociology, then obtained a Master of Science Degree from Columbia University in New York in Community Organization, Planning and Administration. Sheila has a deep personal understanding of how education can empower people and create opportunity.

Throughout her career, Sheila has worked to help people gain the skills they need to work their way up. She started in municipal government, serving as the Director of the Office of Youth Services and Special Projects for the City of Newark, within the Mayor’s Office of Employment and Training. Sheila went on to become 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.

For several years, Sheila worked on several college campuses, teaching classes in Achievement Motivation, Non-Profit Management, and Pre-College Preparation.

During this time, Sheila served as a consultant to a variety of non-profit organizations to provide training in board and program development; grantsmanship and financial management, and spent several years as the Director of the Essex County Division of Community Action, an anti-poverty initiative established by the federal government.

In 1996, Sheila became an Essex County Freeholder, and served on the Board of Chosen Freeholders until 1999. In 2000, she became the Assistant County Administrator in Essex County, a position Sheila continues to hold today.

Sheila has spent a significant number of years serving on the boards of voluntary non-profit organizations. She has held membership in the Women’s Political Caucus of NJ, the NAACP and the Urban League.

In 2003, Sheila was elected to the NJ General Assembly. She became second woman in New Jersey’s 300 year history to serve as Speaker in 2010. This made her the second African-American woman in the United States to lead a legislative house, following Congresswoman Karen Bass, who served as Speaker in California. Sheila served as Speaker until 2014.

During Sheila’s tenure as Speaker, she was active in the National Speaker’s Association as well as the State Legislative Leaders Conference and the National Conference of State Legislatures as well as Women In Government.

Sheila has resided in the City of East Orange for over 40 years.