Murphy to nominate Adelman for permanent role as head of Human Services

Sarah Adelman, who has served as the acting commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Human Services for the past 12 months, will be nominated to be the permanent head of the department, Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday.

The department is the biggest in state government:

  • It serves one in three children and one in five adults;
  • It has a budget of approximately $20 billion (in state and federal funds);
  • It has a staff of 7,400.

Its role in the state obviously has increased greatly during the pandemic.

“Sarah stepped into the role of acting commissioner amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and her leadership has successfully guided the New Jersey Department of Human Services throughout this challenging year,” Murphy said. “Sarah’s unwavering dedication, coupled with her extensive knowledge of the department and its programs, is absolutely essential as we help New Jersey families deal with the challenges presented by the pandemic.”

Adelman said she was honored by the nomination.

“I thank Gov. Murphy for this honor and am deeply grateful for the trust he has shown in me to lead New Jersey’s largest state department,” Adelman said. “New Jersey is stronger, resilient and moving forward under Gov. Murphy, and Human Services is a central part of his work to make New Jersey the opportunity state.

“Together, we’ve made significant investments in child care and food assistance, enhanced services for older adults and individuals with disabilities, protected health coverage for more than 2 million residents, and expanded access for those needing mental health and addiction services. I look forward to continuing this vital work as part of Gov. Murphy’s team and alongside the dedicated staff at Human Services. We have more great work to do. I look forward to getting it done.”

The Department of Human Services is credited with helping residents through the COVID-19 pandemic by focusing on assisting New Jersey’s most vulnerable residents including those needing child care, income and food assistance; older adults; individuals with disabilities; advancing health equity; and those needing mental health and addiction services and health coverage through New Jersey’s Medicaid program, NJ FamilyCare.

Adelman joined the department in 2018, initially serving as a deputy commissioner, overseeing the Division of Developmental Disabilities, Division of Aging Services and the Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services, which operates the Medicaid/NJ FamilyCare program. She also served on the board of the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency.

Before joining Murphy’s administration, Adelman served as vice president at the New Jersey Association of Health Plans and chief of staff at the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute. She also served on the board of trustees for Samaritan Healthcare and Hospice and the board of directors for a statewide child abuse and neglect prevention program.

Adelman received her Bachelor of Arts summa cum laude from Rowan University and a certificate in advanced health care leadership from Seton Hall University as a fellow in the inaugural class of the New Jersey Healthcare Executives Leadership Academy.

State Sen. Troy Singleton (D-Moorestown) applauded the announcement.

“I’ve known for Sarah for many years, and know her to be a smart, common-sense leader who cares deeply for others and always puts the focus where it needs to be — helping people in need,” he said. “Her commitment to public service is inspirational and exemplary, and her leadership at Human Services has helped countless residents through challenging times. I’m confident Sarah will continue to do great things at Human Services and for the residents of our state and look forward to seeing all she will accomplish.”