Jacquelyn Suárez nominated as commissioner of Department of Community Affairs

Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday said he will nominate Jacquelyn Suárez as commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs.

If confirmed, Suárez would be the first Hispanic commissioner to lead DCA.

Suárez’s nomination follows the unexpected passing of Lt. Gov. Sheila Y. Oliver in August. Oliver who had served as DCA commissioner since the start of the Murphy administration.

Suárez, who currently serves as director of DCA’s Division of Local Government Services, will serve as acting commissioner of the department effective Monday, pending her confirmation by the Senate.

“Jacquelyn has skillfully served our state for many years — lending her expertise to important legal and policy matters affecting municipalities throughout New Jersey,” Murphy said. “When local governments were faced with tremendous challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, she stepped up as head of the Division of Local Government Services and provided local leaders with the support they needed during a difficult time. While Sheila Oliver can never truly be replaced, Jacquelyn will undoubtedly carry on Sheila’s legacy of passionate, dedicated leadership of this department on behalf of New Jersey’s communities.”

“It is a true honor to be nominated as the Department of Community Affairs’ next commissioner. Having worked under the remarkable leadership of Lt. Gov. Oliver, it is my pleasure to continue moving her legacy forward in serving the communities of our great state,” Suárez said. “DCA plays a pivotal role in enhancing the quality of life for New Jersey residents, municipalities and businesses — and I will remain steadfast in my commitment to honor each and every one of our communities with the utmost respect and dedication.”

Since she began leading the DLGS in January 2021, Suárez has served as an advocate for local government interests and provided them with technical and financial assistance in a number of areas — including joint services, purchasing and management issues. She has also overseen the review and approval of all municipal, county and fire district budgets, worked to uphold the financial integrity of local government units and guided the conduct of local government officials.

As director of DLGS, Suárez also served as chair of the state’s Local Finance Board since January 2021.

Before joining the Governor’s Office, Suárez was a legislative liaison, making her DCA’s point person for all communication with the state Legislature, drafted bill language, spearheaded the implementation of newly signed legislation at DCA 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.