Rose Farias, Photo courtesy of Rose Farias.

By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media

ATLANTIC CITYRose Farias’s one-year anniversary quietly passed last month as deputy executive director with the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, making her the highest ranking Latino in CRDA’s leadership and one of the highest-ranking Latinos in Mid-Atlantic gaming industry.

A Wildwood native and the daughter to immigrant parents — her mother is from Colombia and father from Argentina — Farias said she is proud to be the first Latina to hold a leadership position in CRDA after years honing her skills in New Jersey and local government. Farias said she embraces her South Jersey roots that helps her connect with the people she works with.

“I loved growing up in South Jersey and especially wildwood,” said the 1994 graduate of Wildwood High School. “It was a true Jersey shore experience that guided my love for the beach.”

At the CRDA, Farias is responsible for helping CRDA fulfill its mission and participate on the Atlantic City Executive Council, a group of leaders who meet regularly to tackle problems highlighted by Special Counsel Jim Johnson’s Atlantic City transition report.

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“What led me to working in Atlantic City was the desire to help in the recovery efforts of Atlantic City,” Farias told Front Runner New Jersey/La Prensa. “Especially after all of the challenges it had faced since facing potential bankruptcy, my background was in edifying communities though policy work especially in urban distressed areas.”  

Honing Her Skills

Before coming to CRDA, Farias served as deputy executive director and policy director for the Atlantic City Initiatives Project Office, a subsidiary of the Department of Community Affairs. She also worked as director of Urban Policy for the New Jersey Senate office where Farias worked with state Senators to develop policy and legislation in the areas of community and urban affairs and higher education.

“We are excited to welcome Rosa to CRDA” CRDA Executive Director Matt Doherty said when she was hired last year. “She brings well over 15 years of work experience in local and state government, and will be proactive in promoting economic and community development initiatives in Atlantic City and throughout the region.”

At Highest Level of NJ Government

Farias, a former member of Phil Murphy’s transition team when he became governor, would go on to earn her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Rutgers University and her master’s degree with a focus on social capital building and community development from the university’s School of Public Affairs and Administration.

Rose Farias in her office. Photo courtesy of Rose Farias.

“I was honored to be part of Governor Murphy’s transition team as a deputy director for policy — Education Access and Opportunity,” Farias said.  “I helped draft the policy recommendations for higher education in New Jersey. I worked closely with field experts to develop policy recommendations for the governor and new secretary of higher education. Many of these reforms came to fruition. Free community college was one of the measures and I’m proud that the governor made that happen in New Jersey.”

Connecting With Latin American Community

Farias said her work in the Latin American community has taken on “several different facets” over the years and enjoys working with community member to make an impact.

“After graduate school, I went to work for the City of Newark for about nine years and I worked closely with the mayor and senior leadership to address issues in the community,” Farias said. “In the Senate, I spread my wings more in the work I did advocating for Latino issues. It was an honor to work with the three Latina Senators — [Teresa] Ruiz, [Nellie] Pou and [Nilsa] Cruz-Perez as well as Assemblywoman [Annette] Quijano to move ground breaking legislation that helped the Latino community such as financial aid for DACA students and driver’s licensing for undocumented immigrants. 

“In Atlantic City, it was my honor and continues to be, to work with Bert Lopez and the members of the Hispanic Association of Atlantic County to bring positive change to the Latino community.  Through our partnership, we were able to bring back the Latino Festival after a 12 year hiatus; created for the first time a Latino Town Hall where the Lt. Governor [Sheila Oliver] and other officials participated in a first of its kind real time translated event; and we also had two food distributions to help Atlantic City residents.  Today we continue to collaborate on various other events to help the community.”

Special Honor

Farias has won numerous awards for her work in the Latin American community and in government. While she said she doesn’t have a favorite award, Farias did acknowledge the honor she received from Latinas United for Political Empowerment, or LUPE in 2019. The organization gave Farias its Trailblazer Award for her work in the legislature.

“They all are wonderful acknowledgements,” Farias said. “[The LUPE award] was a wonderful acknowledgment because it came from a group of Latinas who are peers that I respect and hold in the highest esteem.”

In turn, Farias said she understands the value of role models and how they can have a great impact on the lives of young people. She talked about her involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters as one facet of doing her part.

“I’m a big supporter of role models,” Farias said. “I believe it is incumbent upon all of us who are blessed to have opportunity to create opportunity for your community. I understand that in order for children to dream bigger, they need to see the model first. That is why I have been a Big Sister in the Big Brother Big Sisters organization for over nine years.

Rose Farias with Steph. Photo courtesy of Rose Farias.

“My Little Sister, who is Puerto Rican, has been with me since she was 9-years-old and today she is 17 and lives in Newark. I take that role seriously and even though I’m not near her locally, we still connect regularly. I think we never cease from needing role models. I actually call my role models ‘yodas.’ I’m an 80s baby and I love Star Wars.”

Farias’s abilities remain a wanted commodity around the state. In February, she was appointed to join New Jersey Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg’s committee investigating toxic workplace environments in New Jersey politics and government.

“Rosa is a dedicated public servant who brought incredible energy, optimism, and tenacity to the Department of Community Affairs’ Atlantic City Initiatives Project Office,” Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver said last year. “Her work has positively impacted so many aspects of Atlantic City, including cultural activities, youth development, civic engagement, and city government.”

The Rest of the Story

Farias covered several other subjects from Front Runner New Jersey/La Prensa.

FRNJ: How rewarding was your work with the Atlantic City Initiative Project and statehouse?

Rose Farias: I loved working in the legislature. My time there was so rewarding and I loved working with all of the Senators to create policy and legislation to address the challenges seen in our communities.  It was heartwarming to experience a policy idea develop into actual law.  My first bill signing was for Superstorm Sandy.  I will never forget the feeling knowing that I played a part in helping New Jersey families.  Other legislative bills that I assisted in was in the legislation that gave DACA students access to financial aid for the first time in New Jersey; NJCLASS student loan reform; Driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants (NJ was 15th in the nation); and significant foreclosure reform measures where Atlantic County (Atlantic City) rated number one in the State. 

FRNJ: Who has and continues to inspire you?

Rose Farias: I get inspiration from so many places. Age isn’t a factor for inspiration. However, I split my inspiration categories by “Friends In My Head” and “Real Life” role models. The “Friends In My Head” category are women such as Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayer, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Elizabeth Warren. These women are just true examples of grit, tremendous intelligence and perseverance. The “Real Life” category would go to my mother. My mother came to this county in her 20’s from Colombia. She left her county where she was a nurse but when she came to this county due to the language barrier, she cleaned homes to provide for me and my two brothers. She often took me with her when I was a girl and I learned quickly the value of a great work ethic. She instilled in me that no matter the title or position, there is honor in every job.

FRNJ: Where do you see yourself in five years?

Rose Farias: In five years I hope and pray simply that I will be in the position to bring positive change to the lives of people. That is my calling and my purpose in life.

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