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Eagleton Institute of Politics
Eagleton Institute of Politics


Eagleton Faculty, Staff and Visiting Associates


Jennifer Velez joined Barnabas Health in 2015 as senior vice president of strategy and planning after serving for eight years as commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Human Services, serving under both Governors Chris Christie and Jon Corzine. She has the distinction of being the longest-serving commissioner at the department, 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.

At Barnabas, Velez's area of focus is the health of our communities, understanding the societal and economic issues of primarily the urban Medicaid populations in Newark, Lakewood, and other communities served by RWJ Barnabas Health, and correlating needs with improving the health of populations. In addition, she will have direct oversight over all aspects of Barnabas Health Behavioral Health, which includes a stand-alone 100-bed inpatient facility.

Velez received her bachelor of arts in economics from Drew University and holds a JD from Rutgers School of Law, Newark.  She was #1 on the 2014 NJ BIZ Power 50 Healthcare list, where she has 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.  She recently received the 2015 Codey Award from Carrier Clinic and 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.