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Eagleton Institute of Politics
Eagleton Institute of Politics

Faculty/Staff


Eagleton Faculty, Staff and Visiting Associates


JENNIFER VELEZ

Jennifer Velez’s area of focus is on the health of our communities, understanding the societal and economic issues of primarily urban Medicaid populations in Newark, Lakewood, and other communities served by RWJBarnabas Health, and correlating needs with improving overall health of the populations we serve. In addition, she has executive oversight RWJBarnabas Health Behavioral Health, which includes a stand-alone 100-bed inpatient facility, as well as the Geriatrics strategy for our system. Velez joined Barnabas Health in March 2015, as senior vice president of strategy and planning, after serving for eight years as commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Human Services under both Governors Chris Christie and Jon Corzine.

Velez has the distinction of being the State’s longest-serving Human Services Commissioner where she managed the largest State agency with budget, personnel and operational responsibility for nearly $11 billion, approximately 16,000 employees, eight operational divisions, including Medicaid, five developmental centers and four psychiatric hospitals. Velez received her bachelor’s degree in economics from Drew University and holds a juris doctorate degree from Rutgers School of Law, Newark.

Velez was named Number 1 on the 2014 NJ BIZ Power 50 Healthcare list, where she had been listed for six consecutive years. She serves on the board of Drew University, where she is a member of the Executive Committee and chairs the Committee on Trustees. Additionally, Velez serves on the board of Special Olympics NJ. Among a number of special awards, she recently received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Rutgers Law School in 2017, was the recipient of the 2015 Codey Award from Carrier Clinic, and received the 2015 Spirit of the Arc award from Arc of New Jersey. In 2013, the Women Lawyers Association of New Jersey presented Velez with the Women’s Initiative and Leaders in Law Award.