Meet Sheila

Share Email Print Font SizeAAA

Sheila Oliver is no stranger to breaking glass ceilings. She is the first African-American woman to lead a legislative house in New Jersey and only the second African-American woman to lead a legislative house in American history!

Raised in Newark with a deep commitment to family and community, Sheila knew from a young age that she had a passion to serve her community and uplift working and middle class families.

Sheila Oliver wasn’t born with a silver spoon in her mouth. She had to work hard all her life to achieve. Coming from humble beginnings, she learned the value of hard work and it’s those working and middle class families she grew up with that she’s looked out for all her life.

America deserves a United States Senate that looks a little more like New Jersey. We don’t need more multi-millionaires and celebrities. We need real Americans who understand what it’s like to struggle and who are looking out for middle class families back home.

Before she entered public service, Sheila Oliver devoted her life to community service as a non-profit administrator for an organization that uplifted our young people and taught them life lessons in program development, grantsmanship, and training. She’s also a teacher committed to imparting her knowledge on the next generation of leaders teaching at several universities, including Rutgers Graduate School of Business Administration in Newark where she taught a course in non-profit management.

Sheila Oliver was elected to the New Jersey General Assembly in 2003.  While in the assembly, Speaker Oliver worked hard to protect New Jersey’s families. She sponsored legislation creating paid family leave and legislation that amended the state’s wrongful death law. She also sponsored legislation that provides low-cost auto insurance for people with low incomes and co-sponsored the law creating the Department of Children and Families.

Sheila Y. Oliver took the oath of office as New Jersey’s 169th Assembly Speaker on Jan. 12, 2010 after six years of service in the New Jersey Assembly.  As Speaker, she has stood strong against the destructive right wing agenda of Governor Chris Christie. She’s fought for tough new gun laws in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy. And, she’s stood strong against Governor Christie’s harmful cuts to the services that working families rely on to survive.

Speaker Oliver was born in Newark.  She graduated cum laude from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania with a degree in Sociology.  She later earned a Master of Science degree in community organization, planning, and administration from Columbia University.