Gov. Murphy Names Jacquelyn Suarez as DCA’s Permanent Commissioner


AC JosepH Media

TRENTONThe New Jersey Department of Community Affairs last week formally announced Jacquelyn A. Suárez as commissioner of the Department.

Following her confirmation by the New Jersey State Senate, Suárez became the 19th person to lead DCA since its inception in 1967 and the department’s first Hispanic commissioner.

Hispanic Leadership and Community

Suárez, who earned her law degree from Rutgers University-Camden, had been serving as acting commissioner since September 18, 2023. Murphy formally nominated her to the position in January and the State Senate confirmed her nomination on May 20. Suárez succeeds former Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who also served as DCA commissioner until the time of her passing in August 2023.

Acting Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Jacquelyn Suarez speaks at the Ethnic and Community Media Expo in April.

“I am humbled and honored that Governor Murphy has entrusted me to lead DCA,” Suarez said in a statement. “I also appreciate the late Lt. Governor Oliver’s mentorship and the potential she saw in me, which resulted in me being able to carry the DCA torch.

Suarez talked about her vision for the department after she was sworn in.

“It is my privilege to lead a department that is helping to create housing people can afford, revitalize neighborhoods, make communities safer through building and fire codes, support local governments’ efforts to run more efficiently, and fortify communities against future disasters,” she said.

Gov. Phil Murphy and Jacquelyn Suarez during her formal induction in nearly June 2024. Photo courtesy of Governor Murphy’s Office.

“I will continue to work to ensure that access to DCA resources is fair and equitable, and meet our communities where they are so New Jerseyans can thrive.”

Murphy said Suarez’s skillset and growth under Oliver’s leadership made her the perfect fit for the department.

“Jacquelyn’s expertise and leadership as the director of the Division of Local Government Services has benefited our Administration for years, helping us through challenging times caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Murphy said. “While Sheila Oliver can never truly be replaced, Jacquelyn will undoubtedly continue to build on her legacy on behalf of all New Jersey communities.”

DCA is one of the state’s largest departments with an over $1 billion budget and more than 1,000 employees across seven divisions. The department also oversees five affiliated state agencies.

Suárez will continue to serve as director of DCA’s Division of Local Government Services, a position she has held since January 2021, where she provides local governments with technical and financial assistance.

As the director of DLGS, she also oversees the review and approval of all municipal, county, and fire district budgets, works to uphold the financial integrity of local government units, and guides the conduct of local government officials.

Prior to serving as the director of DLGS, Suárez provided legal advice to Murphy on matters affecting his administration as an associate counsel in the Governor’s Office.

During her time in the office, she advised on pending legislation, statutory responsibilities, litigation, the development of administrative regulations, and various proposals impacting the governor’s public policy agenda.

Before joining the Governor’s Office, Suárez was a legislative liaison at DCA where she acted as the point person for all communication with the State Legislature, drafted bill language, spearheaded the implementation of newly signed legislation, and helped review and advise on various decisions, orders, settlements, and other matters impacting the department. Suárez is a New Jersey native who earned her Juris Doctor from Rutgers School of Law in Camden and her bachelor’s degree in communications, legal institutions, economics, and government from American University in Washington D.C. She is a member of both the New Jersey and New York bar associations. She is also a member of the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey.

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