Sheila Oliver was the first Black woman to serve as Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly, and only the second Black woman to lead any state legislature.
She was also the first Black woman to serve as Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey, and the first woman of color elected to statewide office in New Jersey. Oliver was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey, and graduated from Weequahic High School in 1970.
She went on to earn a B.A. in Sociology from Lincoln University in 1974 and an M.S. in Planning and Administration from Columbia University in 1976. Oliver began her career in public service working for the Newark Housing Authority.
She later served on the East Orange Board of Education and the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders. In 2003, she was elected to the New Jersey General Assembly, where she served for 14 years. In 2009, Oliver was elected Speaker of the Assembly. She was the second woman to hold this position and the first African American.
As Speaker, Oliver was a strong advocate for progressive policies, including affordable housing, education reform, and criminal justice reform.
In 2017, Oliver was elected Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey. She served in this role until her death in 2023.
Oliver was a dedicated public servant who made significant contributions to New Jersey. She was a trailblazer for women and minorities in politics, and her legacy will continue to inspire for years to come.
Sheila Y. Oliver Children: Does Sheila Y. Oliver Have Kids?
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