NJ POWER COUPLES: InsiderNJ’s 2021 Edition

power couple

InsiderNJ’s annual Power List drops on this Tuesday. Will you be joining us in Atlantic City to celebrate the release?

In the meantime, here’s something to tide you over until Tuesday’s main course, it’s this year’s tribute to the power couples of New Jersey politics. These dynamic duos drive the debate in Trenton and in NJ’s halls of power!

Krista Nash & Jeff Nash

Krista and Jeff Nash are always relevant and influential but never more so than right now. Krista serves on New Jersey’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission which totally controls and regulates all aspects of NJ’s medical- and (hopefully soon) recreational cannabis marketplace. Ms. Nash is also a longtime animal rights advocate who uses her influence to protect companion animals as well as wildlife and their habitat. Jeff Nash is a long-time Camden County commissioner whose stock rose when he was picked by outgoing Senate President Steve Sweeney to serve on NJ’s redistricting commission where Mr. Nash will help to re-draw NJ’s congressional districts based on the most recent Census.

Nicole Moen & Bill Moen

After a stint with Planned Parenthood Action Fund of NJ where she worked to keep the government out of your womb, Nicole Moen headed to Princeton University where she’s Associate Director of Outreach and Communications in the Office of State Affairs. Her husband Bill Moen represents parts of Camden and Gloucester Counties in the New Jersey General Assembly.

Nicole and Bill Moen are excited for April 2022 when Baby Moen makes three!


Janice Fuller & John Fuller

John Fuller is the long-serving director of Government Relations for Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of NJ. After a decade-long stint with Congressman Frank Pallone, including as chief of staff, Janice Fuller availed her many considerable talents to Anbaric, a renewable energy company, where she’s President Mid-Atlantic. Ms Fuller also chairs NJ’s Congressional redistricting committee where she leads the Democratic Party’s team that hopes to re-draw NJ’s Federal political boundaries.

Tyla Minniear & Randy Minniear

Tyla and Randy Minniear found COVID’s silver lining, making the most of their time off to tie the knot. (see pic) They’re both among NJ’s most respected voices on health care policy. They’ve also served time as chief of staff for high-profile Trenton lawmakers, Ms. Minniear for Senator Troy Singleton and Mr. Minniear for former Gov/Senate President Bennett.

Ms. Minniear is currently Chief Operating Officer at the NJ Health Care Quality Institute where she promotes their mission to make healthcare more affordable. Mr. Minniear is a top healthcare lobbyist and Senior Vice President at Mercury, a powerhouse lobbying/government relations firm.

Kate Clark & Jorge Santos 

A bonafide NJ political love story, Kate Clark and Jorge Santos met while working together during the Jon Corzine administration. They’re still Trenton regulars. Ms. Clark is External Relations Director at the New Jersey Family Planning League protecting a woman’s right to decide when to start (or grow) her family. Mr. Santos is Chief of Staff at the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.

Sharon Shinkle Gardner & Steven Gardner 

For the past eight years, Sharon Shinkle Gardner has been Chief of Staff to 14th District Assemblyman Daniel Benson (who also chairs the transportation committee.) She previously worked at the Department of Transportation as Assistant Commissioner of Government Affairs under 3 administrations. Ms. Shinkle Gardner is also the Women’s Political Caucus of NJ PAC chair.

Steven Gardner is the longtime director at New Jersey Laborers Employers Cooperation and Education Trust. The New Jersey Laborers Union is the 20,000- member affiliate of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA!) the most progressive, fast-growing union in America comprised of construction workers, public sector workers, and service workers.

Storm Wyche & Derek Sands

Storm Wyche captained NJ Senator-elect Gordon Johnson’s decisive primary victory this year. Derek Sands remains Director of Communications for Bergen, NJ’s most populous county. We rarely do repeats but it’s their 2nd anniversary and we couldn’t resist!

Mariel DiDato and David Pilmenstein 

Both rising stars in the NJ democratic party, Mariel DiDato and Dave Pilmenstein inject a much-needed millennial sensibility into a conversation increasingly dominated by Gen X’ers.

Ms. DiDato is the legislative liaison for the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission and secretary of the Monmouth County democratic committee. Mr. Pilmenstein is part of the new breed of campaign videographers who’s interested in telling a compelling story to voters and not the usual boring, boilerplate campaign dreck that still dominates.


Th co-founder of the NJ Harm reduction Coalition, Jenna Mellor is NJ’s most prominent and well-respected voice advocating a different approach to drug policy. She might be NJ’s most committed needle exchange expert doing the gritty, often thankless work of protecting IV drug users from diseases like HIV and hepatitis. Her efforts to protect a highly stigmatized population pay dividends by keeping drug users out of the COVID- beleaguered healthcare system. She’s currently battling NIMBY democrats eager to close Oasis, Atlantic City’s only needle exchange program. Thanks to the courts and people like Jenna Mellor, Oasis is still operating, however tenuously.

Ms. Mellor’s longtime partner Louis Di Paolo is Communications Director for New Jersey Policy Perspective, a lefty, social justice-driven think tank. He’s also a former councilman for Dumont (Bergen County.)

Didn’t see your faves? Perhaps we honored them in previous editions (2020, 2019, 2018 and 2017.) Nominations for next year’s always accepted @Jay_Lass. 

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