Vereliz Santana-A2

Born in the City of Newark to immigrant parents of Dominican descent, Vereliz Santana has dedicated her career and life to public service and has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to championing social, racial, and educational justice. She is an ardent believer that the sacrifices her parents endured illuminated a path of opportunity for her. It was on this path where she learned education has the power to transform dreams into realities.

Ms. Santana attended Stockton University where she earned a bachelor’s degree English and later obtained a master’s degree in English literature and linguistics at the University of Granada. While abroad Ms. Santana gained a global perspective on education through an externship as a student-teacher at the International School of Granada, where she taught second-language learners. After returning to New Jersey Ms. Santana joined the administration of Mayor Ras J. Baraka as a senior aide, where she developed and oversaw programs and initiatives designed to serve and empower the city and its constituency. After serving in the administration, Ms. Santana worked at the International Division at The College Board Headquarters, after which she joined the office of New Jersey Senator M. Teresa Ruiz, the chair of the Senate Education Committee. She was quickly promoted to the role of legislative director, a title she still holds today.

As legislative director to the president pro tempore of the New Jersey State Senate, Ms. Santana is responsible for developing and driving the Senator’s legislative, policy and budget agenda while developing corresponding advocacy strategies. Ms. Santana is also granted the opportunity to examine and mitigate some of the state’s most complex issues, including: the creation of an inclusive apprenticeship bill package to address the disproportionate number of underrepresented minorities in high-growth industries, the realignment of state tax incentive programs to meet the needs of New Jersey’s vulnerable communities, and the decriminalization of marijuana to address the racial and social disparities of marijuana prohibition and enforcement.

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