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Zakiya Smith Ellis, Secretary of Higher Education, State of New Jersey
Zakiya Smith Ellis, Secretary of Higher Education, State of New Jersey

Zakiya Smith Ellis has been nominated by Governor Phil Murphy to serve as New Jersey’s Secretary of Higher Education, where she is responsible for policy development and coordination of higher education activities for the state.

Smith Ellis previously led work at Lumina Foundation, the nation’s largest foundation focused solely on higher education, to advance federal policy to increase attainment and to develop new postsecondary finance models, focusing on issues of affordability.

Prior to her work in philanthropy, Zakiya served as a Senior Advisor for Education at the White House Domestic Policy Council, where she was tasked with developing, informing, and promoting President Obama's higher education policy. She also served in the Obama administration as a senior adviser at the U. S. Department of Education, where she developed programmatic, policy and budget solutions to respond to pressing challenges in college access, affordability, and completion.

Before transitioning to work as a political appointee, Dr. Ellis served as Director of Government Relations for the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, where she authored reports on the efficacy of financial advising in college access programs, on community college transfer and articulation, and on the ability of low- and moderate- income families to afford college more broadly.

Earlier in her career, Zakiya worked directly with students in various capacities across the K-12 system, and her goal is to always bring those insights to her current work. She worked on staff in various capacities for Teach For America, helping to train new teachers, and for the federal GEAR UP program in East Boston, Massachusetts, providing college preparation and financial aid information to high school students. Ellis was introduced to federal policy as an intern on Capitol Hill with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, working for her former hometown Congresswoman.

Zakiya has been featured on C-SPAN and Fox Business News, profiled in the Chronicle of Higher Education and Diverse Issues in Higher Education and was twice named to Forbes Magazine 30 Under 30. She recently completed a three-year term as an appointed member on the board of directors for the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC).

Dr. Ellis holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and secondary education from Vanderbilt University, a master’s degree in education policy and management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and holds a doctorate in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania.  

Elizabeth Maher Muoio, Treasurer, State of New Jersey
Elizabeth Maher Muoio, Treasurer, State of New Jersey

Elizabeth Maher Muoio was officially sworn in as State Treasurer on April 17, 2018 after being confirmed by the State Senate. She had been serving as Acting State Treasurer since Gov. Murphy assumed office on January 16, 2018.  

Prior to joining the administration of Gov. Murphy, she had served as a member of the New Jersey General Assembly, representing the 15th Legislative District in Mercer and Hunterdon counties since February of 2015. 

During her time in the General Assembly, Ms. Muoio served on the Assembly Budget, Judiciary, and Commerce and Economic Development committees where her signature legislative initiatives focused on improving access for women’s healthcare, closing the gender pay equity gap, protecting the environment, reducing exposure to hazardous lead, improving prison re-entry services, increasing literacy rates, fighting against concentrated poverty and expanding economic opportunities for all New Jerseyans. 

As a result of her legislative efforts, she was honored for her work in the Assembly by the Sierra Club of NJ, the Trenton Chapter of the NAACP, the New Jersey Association of the Deaf, Inc., the Constitutional Officers Association of New Jersey (COANJ), the National Congress of Black Women – Trenton/Mercer Chapter, and the Trenton Public School system for her efforts to help improve literacy.

Ms. Muoio also served as Director of the Mercer County Office of Economic Development and Sustainability from 2008 to January 2018.

Prior to assuming that position, she served as a member of the Mercer County Board of Chosen Freeholders from 2000-2008, serving as Chair in 2004 and Vice Chair in 2003 and 2008.  While Chair, she worked with the County Executive to enact one of the first countywide anti-pay-to-play ordinances in the nation and led the effort to ensure that the building of the new $81 million dollar Mercer County Courthouse was constructed to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards.

She began her career as an elected official serving as a member of the Pennington Borough Council from 1997 to 2002.

Throughout the years, she has been involved in a number of community-based organizations, serving as a Troop Leader for the Girl Scouts of Delaware Valley, coaching youth basketball for the Hopewell Valley YMCA and the Hopewell Hoops Basketball League, and serving as a member of the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, the Pennington Public Library Board of Trustees, the ARC of Mercer Board of Trustees, and the League of Women Voters.

An attorney, Ms. Muoio received her JD from Georgetown University in Washington, DC, and her BA from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT.  She lives with her family in Pennington, NJ.


Public Members
Joshua E. Hodes, Chair
Joshua E. Hodes, Chair

Joshua Hodes is a Partner at Public Strategies Impact, a government relations, public affairs and association management firm located in Trenton, NJ. Previously, Mr. Hodes served as Chief of Staff to Assembly Majority Leader and as senior staff member of the Assembly Majority Office, advising the Assembly Democratic Caucus on public policy initiatives. Prior to joining the Assembly Majority Office, Mr. Hodes served as an associate in government relations at Public Strategies Impact.

Mr. Hodes is active in local, state and national politics. In 2008, he served as a political advisor to the Hillary Clinton for President Campaign in New Jersey and was a member of the NJ Delegation as a page at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Mr. Hodes also served on the New Jersey Democratic State Committee's Committee on Vacancies, which was responsible for selecting the New Jersey Electoral College members.

In addition, Mr. Hodes serves as an Advisory Board Member to the New Leaders Council of New Jersey. The mission of the New Leaders Council (NLC) is to train and support the next generation of progressive political entrepreneurs.

Mr. Hodes received his bachelor's degree from Rutgers College and a Master's in Labor and Employment Relations from Rutgers University.

Ridgeley Hutchinson
Ridgeley Hutchinson

Ridgeley Hutchinson is Executive Director of the New Jersey Carpenters Apprentice Training and Educational Fund. He joined the Carpenters Union in Princeton in 1978 where he served an apprenticeship.  In 1994 he was elected Business Representative of Carpenters Local 781, Princeton.  In 2002 he was appointed to the executive board of the New Jersey Regional Council of Carpenters where he serves as a trustee.  That same year he was also appointed to serve as a trustee to the New Jersey Carpenters Health and Pension Fund.  In 1996 Mr. Hutchinson was appointed by Governor Whitman to the New Jersey Clean Water Council where he served for 6 years.  He is currently the co-chairman of the Mercer County Chapter of The Alliance for Action.

Louis A. Rodriguez
Louis A. Rodriguez

Louis A. Rodriguez - Appointed to the Authority Board in November 2013, Mr. Rodriguez is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of New York.  He has provided consulting services to electrical utilities throughout the world on projects funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the World Bank, the International Development Bank (IDB), the U.S. Trade Organization and others. He is also a qualified Financial Advisor and has worked in that capacity for Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch and Met Life. 

An active civic and community leader, Mr Rodriguez served from 2005 - 2013 on a volunteer basis as Executive Director of the Latino Chamber of Commerce of Monmouth County.  He is currently a Trustee on the Monmouth County Art Council, the community YMCA, Monmouth Medical Center, and The Parker Family Health Center, among others. He also serves as a Member of the CentraState Children Wellness Committee and the Wilbur Ray Scholarship Committee at Brookdale Community College, and is a former Trustee of the Boys Scouts of America Monmouth County and the Family and Children Services organization. 

Mr. Rodriguez has authored numerous technical papers published by the following industry and/or trade magazines: Institute of Electrical Engineers (IEEE), Power Apparatus and Systems Transactions, The Electrical World, Transmission & Distribution-USA., and Transmission & Distribution-International. He is also a coauthor of The Electric Distribution Power Systems Manual developed by Ebasco Services Inc and published by McGraw-Hill for use by electric utilities throughout the world.

He is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions, including: George Perrot Macculloch Award for Leadership, November 2013; Red Bank Regional High School the Source Outstanding Community Partnership Award, 2011; Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office Certificate of Appreciation, October 2010; Latino American Association of Monmouth County Award for Outstanding Contribution, Dedication and Community Service, October 2006; Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition, Congressman Frank Pallone, October 2006; Tu Sello Latino Market Award for Contributions and dedication to the Community, September 2006; Brookdale Community College Leadership Shore Certificate of Recognition, 2004; and Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Certificate of Achievement Financial Advisor, July 2000.

Mr. Rodriguez holds an Electrical Engineering Bachelor (EEB) degree from the City College of New York.

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