Six Blacks Named to NJ’s Restart & Recovery Commission


By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media

TRENTON – Six African-American, including Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, are among the 21 people named to Gov. Phil Murphy’s Restart and Recovery Commission announced Tuesday as New Jersey prepares to emerge from COVID-19 restrictions.

Kenneth Frazier, chairman and chief executive officer of Merck & Co., Inc., was named co-chair of the commission, with Dr. Shirley M. Tilghman, president emerita of Princeton University.

Blacks joining Frazier and Oliver on the commission include Dr. Jonathan Holloway, incoming president of Rutgers University; Jeh Johnson, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security and partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP; Dr. William Rodgers, chief economist at the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University; and Rev. Dr. Regena Thomas, director of the human rights and community relations department of the American Federation of Teachers and former New Jersey Secretary of State.

Latina Jessica Gonzalez, founder and CEO of InCharged, VendX, and Lux-UVC, was selected by Murphy as well.

“In this challenging and unprecedented time, it is clear that COVID-19 poses serious threats to the health and well-being of people and businesses including those in New Jersey,” Frazier said in a statement released by Murphy’s office. “As a company proudly headquartered in New Jersey, Merck recognizes our responsibility to help the state respond to this pandemic.

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“I am confident that with input from thoughtful people, including scientific and healthcare experts, we will be able to recommend a responsible path forward to reopen the economy while continuing to keep New Jersey citizens safe. Together, we will win this fight against the viral outbreak,” Frazier continued.

Other members of the commission include: Dr. Ben Bernanke, former Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; Dr. Richard Besser – president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; Evelyn McGee Colbert, vice president of Spartina Productions; Tony Coscia, chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Railroad Passenger Corporation; Lisa P. Jackson, vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives at Apple Inc.; Charles Lowrey, chairman and chief executive officer of Prudential Financial, Inc.; Denise Morrison, founder of Denise Morrison & Associates, LLC and former president and chief executive officer of The Campbell Soup Company; Neera Tanden, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress; Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO; George Helmy, chief of staff, Office of Governor Phil Murphy; Judith Persichilli, New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner; Matt Platkin, chief counsel, Office of Governor Phil Murphy and Kathleen Frangione, chief policy advisor in Office of Governor Phil Murphy.

Morrison, while president of Campbell Soup, was instrumental in funding Women of the Dream, a nonprofit created by friend Leslie Morris, which helps uplift minority students in Camden.

Among the major issues to be addressed by the Commission will be immediate questions surrounding the safe restart of society. The Commission will also address both short-term and long-term economic issues as well as areas such as public health, workforce issues, and transportation. 

The Commission will develop strategies for how the State and Federal government can support the economic recovery of the private sector and identify critical needs for federal support and intervention. Members will advise the administration on potential investments that will speed the recovery and position New Jersey’s economy for long-term success. 

Where possible, the Commission will identify opportunities for various sectors to be rebuilt to be well-positioned for both the economy of today and the economy of the future, while promoting equity for disadvantaged communities.

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