By Erica Jedynak
New Jersey needs a dose of freedom and these women are up to the task. While some of these accomplished professionals are out-in-front in the media, many are behind-the-scenes and unrecognized for their contributions within the political sphere. All are talented, inspiring, and breaking barriers.
Please join Save Jersey in celebrating these women for their success, grit, and rising tides in 2019:
- Alex (née Smith) Wilkes, Executive Director at American Rising PAC: This former National College Republicans Chair and attorney is at the helm of a PAC focused on opposition research, and you can find her all over Fox News and national outlets for her astute political analysis.
- Ali (née Almour) Stienstra, Founder of Tusk Productions and Campaign Fundraiser: Stienstra is the go-to fundraiser for incumbent and competitive Congressional campaigns, getting her start working for State Senator Bucco in the 25th legislative district.
- Alida Kass, President and Chief Counsel at the New Jersey Civil Justice Institute: In 2018, Kass took over as President for the New Jersey Civil Justice Institute. Often known as one of the smartest lobbyists in Trenton, you can find her reasoning with politicos over burdensome laws, all with a sharp sense of dry humor and whit.
- Amanda (née Gasperino) DePalma, formerly of the Hugin Campaign and now Director of Public Affairs and Government Relations at Saker ShopRites: Bringing a wealth of institutional knowledge of the political landscape, DePalma aided Bob Hugin in launching his U.S. Senate campaign, later pivoting into corporate government affairs.
- Amy Gatto, Atlantic County Freeholder: Amy is on the radar as the next Atlantic County Freeholder Director and perhaps the youngest woman in this leadership role in the county’s history. She is someone to watch for higher office in her promising career.
- Amy Overman, Chief of Staff to Senate Republican Budget Officer Tony Bucco: The best-run constituent service shop is run by one woman: Overman. Her resume in public service in the Legislature is lengthy, and the Senator’s district office is known for detail, compassion, and problem-solving.
- Brielle Cook, Chair of the Montville GOP: Cook made her mark this year in fundraising for local candidates and running the top municipal party operation in Morris County – all while working as a full-time intensive care nurse and volunteer firefighter.
- Brittany O’Neill, Communications Specialist for the New Jersey Senate Republicans: O’Neill ran Senator Chris Brown’s last competitive campaign and is on the radar for an exciting professional announcement coming soon.
Brooke Fallon, Assistant Director of Activism for the Institute for Justice: A Sussex County native, Fallon now leads activism efforts for Arlington-headquartered IJ, specializing in occupational licensing reform and fighting for small business owners. Fallon is known as a happy warrior in the freedom movement with energy to take on entrenched special interests.
- Christine Giordano Hanlon, Monmouth County Clerk: Following Governor Murphy’s new vote-by-mail law, Hanlon made a splash in speaking out about election delays and educating other county clerks, candidates, and voters.
- Dara Servis, Co-Founder and Executive Director at New Jersey Cannabis Industry Association: Servis knows cannabis policy and the surrounding political landscape inside-and-out; and is at the helm of a key advocacy group working to legalize adult-use cannabis, overhaul medical use, and unleash a new industry within the State.
- Emily Everson, Deputy Director of Communications at New Jersey Senate Republicans: Everson took on a leadership role in 2018 prepping reporters on the record and on background to help kill a cronyist re-districting proposal.
Jackie Vigilante, Gloucester County GOP Chair: Vigilante, founder of her own law firm in Mullica Hill, took over the Chair role in 2018.
- Jeanette Hoffman Henne, President at Marathon Public Affairs: When Hoffmann Henne isn’t debating on Chasing News, she is leading issue campaigns under the dome, including representing small business owners against a $15 minimum wage hike.
- Katie Martinez, Finance Director at NJGOP: As the NJGOP enters a new cycle, Martinez has reinvigorated its small donor recruitment and digital fundraising.
- Laura Hahn, State Government Affairs for the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce: Hahn is the eyes and ears at the State House for the state chamber.
- Lauren Zisa, President at All County Media: As an operative and confidant of the new Bergen County Republican Chairman, Zisa is emerging as a steady hand in a long-fractured Bergen GOP.
- Linda DuBois, Salem County GOP Chair: In her first year as Chair, DuBois took back control of the county.
- Liz Parlett Butcher, Regional Director at Association of American Educators: A special education advocate at heart, Parlett Butcher launched AAE-New Jersey – a state affiliate of the largest national, non-union educators’ association – offering an option to New Jersey teachers for professional resources, support, and liability insurance.
- Megan Piwowar, Communications Director for Hugin for Senate: Piwowar might be the only adopted Jersey girl on this list as a Michigan native, but she fit right in, bringing spirit and communications expertise to the Hugin campaign.
Regina Egea, President at Garden State Initiative: 2018 was the first full calendar year of GSI, where Egea is building a free-market, research operation to counter false narratives in Trenton about failed tax policies.
- Renee Trabert, Chief of Staff to Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean: Senator Kean is known as one the most accessible legislators on the right side of the aisle, no doubt due to Trabert’s leadership and influence.
- Rosemary Becchi, President at Jersey First: Becchi, an accomplished tax attorney, launched the new grassroots advocacy organization, in 2018, to fight Jersey’s high taxes and propose policy solutions to the state’s complex financial problems.
- Roxy Coburger, Regional Political Director for the Hugin Campaign: Coburger managed the ground team at the Jersey Shore for Bob Hugin and is on the radar for the next big challenge in the Garden State.
- Samantha DeAlmeida, New Jersey Government Relations Director for the American Cancer Society and Adjunct Professor at Brookdale Community College: When DeAlmeida isn’t in academia, she remains a fixture at the State House, lobbying for healthcare reform and equine-assisted therapy.
- Sarah Neibart, President of New Jersey Citizens for Accountable Taxation and Mendham Committeewoman: In addition to being the youngest elected Republican woman in the state, Neibart founded a non-profit in 2018 with a mission to educate New Jerseyans about the broader impact of high, burdensome property taxes.
- Stacey Shuster, former Campaign Manager for Hugin for Senate: Shuster led the $36 million Senate Campaign for Bob Hugin, making a splash on the statewide campaign scene.
- Theresa Winegar, Executive Director at NJGOP: Winegar took on a challenging operation and turned it around, from fieldwork to fundraising to data. Showing enormous grit in the face of adversity, Winegar is playing the long game of re-shaping the state party.
- Victoria Groetsch-Lods: As a former Chief of Staff to State Senator Nick Asselta and as a candidate for Cumberland County Freeholder, Groetsch-Lods is on the radar as a future legislative candidate.
- Vanessa LaFranco, Treasurer at the National Federation of Republican Women: LaFranco joined the board of the national organization, leveraging her skills and experience in the financial sector.
Vicki Chadwick, Ocean County Activist: Chadwick is a go-to volunteer and tireless activist, taking on any task needed to get campaigns across the finish line.
- Tia Steinhardt, Warren County Young Republicans Vice-Chair: Steinhardt might be away at college, but she made a mark in 2018 attending countless Republican events across the state and co-leading the Warren County Young Republicans.
- Tori Symonds, Deputy Director at Executive Office of the President, The White House Office of Public Liaison: She might be in DC now, but we hope Tori will drain the Swamp and come back to New Jersey to do the same.
34-36. NJ Assembly Republican Leadership Staff: The impressive trio of Thea Sheridan (Research Director), Natalie Ghaul (Research Deputy Director), and Debbie DePiano (Budget Director) advise legislators behind-the-scenes on key policy and research, and garner respect from both sides of the aisle.
37.-39. LD-40 is led by three female Chiefs of Staff: the trifecta of Amy Johnston, Daniella Tsakos, and Brittany Wheeler.
- All the Republican Women of the New Jersey State Legislature: Paving the way for future women to run for office, these legislators serve their constituents and share ideas for a more affordable state. Closing out this power list, Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso was elected in 2018 both as a new state legislator and as the new President of the National Foundation for Women Legislators.
(Since it was difficult enough narrowing down this list to just 40, it is sorted alphabetically. There are hundreds of impressive women among the ranks of NJ politics, so please do not be offended if you were not listed. This was a collaboration of nominations from several trusted sources around the state.)