NJ Human Services Commissioner Adelman Announces New Additions to Senior Leadership Team

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NJ Human Services Commissioner Adelman Announces New Additions to Senior Leadership Team


July 13, 2022


(TRENTON)Human Services Commissioner Sarah Adelman today announced new additions to and reorganization within the Department’s senior leadership team, including the naming of three new Deputy Commissioners.

“I am deeply grateful for the hard-working and compassionate leaders and employees across Human Services who work every day to help others, and who make it possible for our Department to provide life-enhancing services and programs to one in three New Jersey children, and one in four adults,” Commissioner Adelman said.  “And I’m thrilled to announce the expansion of the Department’s senior leadership team under a new structure and to welcome our newest team members. Each of these leaders bring diverse experiences and expertise to our Department, they are passionate about our mission, and I look forward to all we will accomplish together for the residents of New Jersey.”


Lisa Asare has joined the Department as Deputy Commissioner of Health Services overseeing the Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services, which administers NJ FamilyCare, and the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services, and will lead the Department’s work on First Lady Murphy’s Nurture NJ maternal health initiative. Asare will also support the Catastrophic Illness in Children’s Relief Fund.

Asare comes to Human Services from the Department of Health, where she was Assistant Commissioner for the Division of Family Health Services. Asare oversaw units that provide public health programs and services, including Maternal and Child Health, Special Child Health, Early Intervention Services, WIC Nutrition Services and SNAP-Ed. This work included addressing Black infant and maternal mortality through the First Lady’s NurtureNJ plan.


Also joining the Department, Kaylee McGuire will serve as Deputy Commissioner for Aging and Disability Services overseeing the Division of Aging Services, the Division of Disability Services, the Division of Developmental Disabilities and will support the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities and the Office of the Public Guardian.

McGuire comes to Human Services from Governor Murphy’s office, where she led on the administration’s health and human services policy agenda and COVID-19 response efforts as a Senior Policy Advisor. Before joining the Murphy Administration, Kaylee served as a health policy analyst in the Assembly Majority Office under Speaker Craig Coughlin, and formerly held a management role at one of the largest pediatric rehabilitation systems in the nation.


They join Elisa Neira, Deputy Commissioner for Social Services, who has been with Human Services since 2018 and continues to oversee the Office of New Americans, the Division of Family Development, the Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and the Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Neira will also serve as the Department’s liaison for county human services directors.




Chief of Staff Andrea Katz will become Deputy Commissioner of Operations overseeing human resources and employee relations, department operations, legal and regulatory affairs, facilities, the Office of Emergency Management and the Human Services Police.

Katz has served as chief of staff at Human Services since 2018 and has spent most of her professional career working in human services policy and legislative affairs as associate general counsel at the Assembly Majority Office and chief of staff for Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle. Katz also worked in private practice as an attorney.


Deputy Chief of Staff Jonathan Chebra will become the department’s Chief of Staff.  Chebra joined Human Services in 2020 and he will continue to oversee legislative affairs, policy, outreach and constituent relations.

Previously, Chebra worked for the New Jersey Hospital Association, Assembly Health Chairman Herb Conaway, M.D. and U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg.



Eric Kaufmann, Director of Special Projects, will become Senior Advisor to the Commissioner. In this role, Kaufmann will support the Commissioner’s priorities and will oversee the offices of Research, Evaluation and Special Projects; Information Systems; and Boards and Commissions. Kaufmann began his career at the Office of Management and Budget in 2005 and joined Human Services in 2010, where he has worked in various finance, operations and policy roles, including as the Department’s assistant chief financial officer.


Also recently joining Human Services as deputy policy directors are Vineeta Kapahi who comes to Human Services from New Jersey Policy Perspective and Michael Petruzzelli from the National Council for Mental Wellbeing.

Commissioner Adelman said the new additions and promotions strengthen a senior executive team that includes:

  • Office of New Americans Executive Director Johanna Calle;
  • Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired Executive Director Dr. Bernice Davis;
  • Chief Financial Officer Brian Francz;
  • Director of Communications Tom Hester;
  • Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Executive Director Elizabeth Hill;
  • Assistant Commissioner of the Office of Legal and Regulatory Affairs Gerard Hughes;
  • Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services Assistant Commissioner Jennifer Langer Jacobs;
  • Division of Family Development Assistant Commissioner Natasha Johnson;
  • Human Resources Director Denise Meckel;
  • Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services Assistant Commissioner Valerie Mielke;
  • Division of Disability Services Executive Director Peri Nearon;
  • Director of Appointments, Boards and Commissions Adam Neary;
  • Office of Program Integrity and Accountability Deborah Robinson;
  • Division of Aging Services Director Louise Rush; and
  • Division of Developmental Disabilities Assistant Commissioner Jonathan Seifried.
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