By Erica L. Jedynak
It is no secret that New Jersey has its public policy and electoral challenges. There are countless accomplished women on the right, often unrecognized, who are diligently working to transform our state for the better and protect the home that we love.
This list celebrates non-elected women dedicating their time and talents in the face of adversity, and especially those who are making waves. They are your community pillars and future candidates:
- Megan Attanasio: Attanasio was the unsung hero Campaign Manager for Matthew Moench for Bridgewater Mayor. What was once considered an uphill primary, Attanasio’s leadership and volunteer management brought the Moench campaign across the finish line, through the general election. Bridgewater was a bright spot in a hard year for Somerset County.
- Stephanie Black: Somerset-based Black is an energetic grassroots activist, winning 2019 “Activist for the Year” for Americans for Prosperity – New Jersey. She also serves as the Central Jersey Representative for the New Jersey Libertarian Party.
- Katie Castellano: Castellano is NJGOP’s Finance Consultant, who re-started and re-engaged the party’s small donor pipeline, bringing new life to the state party.
- Katie Cericola: Host of the Millennial Minute, and former Bergen County Freeholder Candidate, Cericola is positioning herself to be a future candidate and news commentator.
- Samantha Cole: Cole is a Film Maker & Associate Producer for Choice Media in Hoboken, the nation’s top school choice news service. She is also an actress and writer.
- Melanie Collette: Collette, host of Money Talk with Melanie, is the Vice Chair for the New Jersey Women’s Republican Federation and a leader in Cape May County political circles.
- Erin Darreff: Darreff is the Burlington County State Committeewoman and Communications Specialist for the New Jersey Senate Republicans, where she garners press for the caucus.
Alyssa Dawson: Bergen County-based Dawson shot up this past year as rising star Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi’s trusted Chief of Staff and as a freeholder candidate.
- Samantha DeAlmeida: At the start of the year, DeAlmeida took on the Ocean GOP old boys club and threw her hat into the ring for LD-10. Thank her for putting a few more cracks in the glass ceiling. She also serves as the New Jersey Government Relations Director for the American Cancer Society and works as an Adjunct Professor for Brookdale Community College.
- Amanda DePalma: Longtime Governor Christie aide, DePalma, is now the Director of Public Affairs and Government Relations for Saker ShopRites, Inc.
- Linda DuBois: Former Mayor of Pittsgrove, DuBois is the Salem County GOP Chair, and a key leader in taking back South Jersey.
- Regina Egea: As the President of the state’s free market think tank, Egea is a strong voice against Governor Murphy’s failed economic policies.
- Maggie Giandomenico: Giandomenico ran in the primary for Elmwood Park Mayor. She stood out for her campaign against corruption, bicycling door-to-door, and inclusivity of working mothers.
- Elyssa Giordano: Bergen-based Giordano plans and designs national public policy events for the free-market State Policy Network.
- Kamei Harris: Passionate about women’s leadership and empowerment, Harris launched the Hudson County Federation for Republican Women this past June.
- Jeannette Hoffman-Henne: Hoffman-Henne is a regular contributor to Chasing News and My9’s “Jersey Now”. As President of Marathon Public Affairs, Hoffman-Henne represents a number of clients at the State House.
- Brittany O’Neill: O’Neill was the Campaign Manager for Testa for State Senate, flipping the 1st from blue to red. Her record includes taking out two Democrat Senators in three years.
Laura Overdeck: Overdeck helped launch Women for a Stronger New Jersey this past year, along with Candice Straight and Kathy Hugin, to empower Republican women to run for office and get elected.
- Dara Servis: Servis is the Co-Founder and Executive Director for the New Jersey Cannabis Industry Association. She is a leading voice for cannabis policy, from biotechnology to finance and manufacturing.
- Christine Shipley: New Jersey Senate Republican Office Executive Director Shipley is in the trenches of Trenton, fighting for the caucus and needed policy reforms.
- Stacy Shuster: Shuster is the new Executive Director for Women for a Stronger New Jersey, a PAC started to help independent and moderate Republican women get elected around the state.
- Theresa Velardi: Velardi won New Jersey’s 2019 Young Professional ATHENA Award for women’s leadership, ran for council in Aberdeen Township, and recently served as the Executive Director for the Monmouth County GOP.
- Jacci Vigilante: Gloucester County GOP Chair Vigilante has implemented monthly happy hours and breakfasts for increased networking.
- Alex Wilkes: Wilkes is a frequent commentator on major news networks and previously served as a Senior Vice President at American Rising, dedicated to video tracking, research, and strategic communications. She now how has her own business working for GOP candidates and organizations in New Jersey and across the country
- Theresa Winegar: Mercer County-based Winegar led the charge to refresh the State Republican Party’s image in recent years, including hosting annual conventions, traversing the state, and taking back a State Senate seat in LD-1. Moving into 2020, Winegar is the new campaign manager for Tom Kean for Congress in the 7th.
2020 Races to Watch
Republican women are underrepresented in elected office in New Jersey. However, these strong candidates have broken out for Congress and the State Legislature:
- Rosemary Becchi, a tax attorney by trade and founder of Jersey First, is running in the 7th Congressional District for the Republican Primary to face socialist Malinowski in the fall.
- Kate Gibbs announced her run for the 3rd Congressional District and brings a wealth of experience and connections as former Burlington County Freeholder Director and Deputy Director for ELEC 825.
- Aura Dunn, won the recent convention to fill the vacant 25th district assembly seat and faces another convention in January. Dunn is a former District Director to House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen and lobbyist for Sesame Street.
- Former New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno
- All the women of the New Jersey State Legislature
- Jersey native and Trump advisor KellyAnne Conaway
- Atlantic County Freeholder Chair Amy Gatto
- President of Citizens for Accountable Taxation Sarah Neibart (also Deputy Mayor of Mendham)
ERICA JEDYNAK is a New Jersey activist, passionate about women’s leadership and empowerment. As a social change entrepreneur, she leads national and state-level policy reform initiatives.