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Governor-elect Christie asks Jennifer Velez to stay on as Human Services Commissioner

Office of the Governor-Elect
For Immediate Release:
January 15, 2010

For Information, Contact:
Maria Comella, 609-575-1805

Trenton, NJ – Today, Governor-Elect Chris Christie announced additional appointments that further highlight his commitment to forming a bipartisan, highly qualified Cabinet. These appointments make clear Governor-Elect Christie’s desire to put together a team with strong backgrounds, differing perspectives and a willingness to tackle the tough work ahead.
 
 
Christie announced the reappointment of both Jennifer Velez as Commissioner of the Department of Human Services (DHS) and Major General Glenn Rieth as the Adjutant General of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. Christie also announced the appointment of Tom Considine as Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance (DOBI) 

Velez has served as Commissioner of DHS since 2007, bringing to the department a fierce commitment to child welfare and advocacy.  General Rieth began his military service in 1980, earning many awards and distinctions since graduating from the Citadel.  Considine currently serves as Vice President and Government Relations Counsel at MetLife.  In this role he oversees a broad range of state government relations and public policy issues for both the financial services and auto and home companies nationally.

Governor-Elect Chris Christie said, “My first commitment is putting qualified, strong individuals in positions where they can effect real change.  Our government has and can provide meaningful services to New Jerseyans and I am confident that working together we will be able to address our severe fiscal challenges while delivering on priority programs.”

 
 
Jennifer Velez, Commissioner of New Jersey Department of Human Services
Jennifer Velez, an attorney with an extensive background in social service issues in New Jersey, was nominated to be Commissioner of the Department of Human Services (DHS) by Governor Jon S. Corzine in February, 2007, and was confirmed and sworn in on June 21, 2007.

DHS has the largest budget in state government with more than half of the funds drawn from the federal government. It employs nearly 16,000 employees with just over 75-percent serving as direct care workers in the 7 developmental centers and 5 psychiatric hospitals. About one in eight New Jersey residents is impacted by the work of DHS.

Commissioner Velez works in partnership with the Administration on initiatives including: increasing enrollment in the state's subsidized health insurance program, NJ FamilyCare; ensuring a safe, secure and therapeutic environment in NJ's public psychiatric hospitals and developmental centers; advancing Olmstead plans which provide for the community placement of independent persons with developmental disabilities and mental illness; and sustaining the safety-net of services made available for NJ's low income individuals and families.

Additional priorities for the department involve increasing housing opportunities for those served by the department, increasing employment opportunities for persons with disabilities, and engaging in substantive contract reform.

Commissioner Velez served as Deputy Commissioner for Family and Community Services at DHS from January 2006 until her nomination. In that position, she oversaw the divisions that administer Medicaid and public welfare and was involved in making recommendations to the Commissioner on all aspects of the Department's responsibilities.

Velez came to DHS from the Office of the Child Advocate, where she was named the Office's First Assistant Child Advocate when it was created in September 2003. As First Assistant Child Advocate, she led the Office's investigations into the child welfare system's care for four chronically malnourished former foster children and was responsible for the Office's work in the area of juvenile justice reforms.

From 1998 until 2003, Velez served Governor James E. McGreevey, Acting Governor Donald DiFrancesco and Governor Christine Todd Whitman as Senior Associate Counsel and Assembly Liaison in the Office of Governor's Counsel. There, she was primarily responsible for advising each on legislation and regulations affecting the Department of Human Services. She also played a significant role in the architecture of several laws that have impacted the health and welfare of New Jersey's children. These include the Homeless Youth Act, the Safe Haven Infant Protection Act, NJ FamilyCare, the creation of a Kinship Legal Guardianship status, New Jersey 's implementation of the Adoption and Safe Families Act and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Before entering public service, Velez was in private practice at the law firm of Pitney, Hardin, Kipp & Szuch in Florham Park , New Jersey . She received her law degree from Rutgers School of Law in Newark, NJ and her undergraduate degree in Economics from Drew University in Madison, NJ.

She lives in Summit with her husband and two children.

 
 
Major General Glenn K. Rieth, Adjutant General of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs
Major General Glenn K. Rieth was confirmed by the New Jersey State Senate as the 30th Adjutant General of New Jersey on March 4, 2002.  General Rieth commands more than 9,000 Soldiers and Airmen of the New Jersey Army and Air National Guard.  He directs, controls, and manages the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs in the execution of federal and state missions.  In addition, he manages all state veterans’ programs, commissions, and facilities in New Jersey.

Major General Rieth earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from The Citadel-Military College of South Carolina where he was the Distinguished Military Graduate.  General Rieth’s military service began in 1980.  He received his commission as a Second Lieutenant through the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps.  He earned his pilot’s wings at Fort Rucker, Alabama in July 1981.  Prior to being appointed as The Adjutant General of New Jersey, General Rieth was the Director of the State Army Aviation Office for the New Jersey Army National Guard.

 
 
Tom Considine, Commissioner of thr New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance
Tom Considine joined MetLife in 1993 where he has risen through the ranks and currently serves as Vice President and Government Relations Counsel.  In this role Tom is responsible for a broad range of state government relations and public policy issues for both the financial services and auto and home companies nationally.  He possesses extensive professional government relations and financial services experience developed through service in the private sector, as well as with the quasi-governmental organizations that comprise the insurance guaranty association.

MetLife, Inc. is a leading provider of insurance and other financial services to millions of individual and institutional customers throughout the United States. Through its subsidiaries and affiliates, MetLife, Inc. offers life insurance, annuities, automobile and homeowner's insurance and retail banking services to individuals, as well as group insurance, reinsurance and retirement and savings products and services to corporations and other institutions. Outside the U.S., the MetLife companies have direct insurance operations in Asia Pacific, Latin America and Europe.

Considine manages a staff of state lobbyists, attorneys and public policy analysts in the Government and Industry Relations Department for the Company.  He personally directs government relations activity for the entire MetLife enterprise on all issues in New Jersey.  He also manages these issues before the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (“NAIC”) and co-manages them in the states.

He coordinated MetLife’s integration effort to secure national approvals for its $11Billion corporate acquisition of the Travelers life & health insurance companies.  Earlier in his career, he served as an active participant in a corporate crisis management team formed in response to a national, multi-state investigation of alleged improper sales practices.

Recognized as an industry leader in his field, Considine served on the Board of Directors of the National Organization of Life and Health Insurance Guaranty Associations, the national coordinating group for the state guaranty system.  He also serves on the Life and Health Insurance Guaranty Association Board of Directors in NJ, where he is Board Treasurer; and PA.

Considine served as a founding appointee to the NJ Department of Banking & Insurance Financial Services Advisory Board.  Further, he plays an active role in insurance associations in the states, serving as a member of the Board of Directors of the Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania, an organization that deals with all aspects of life, health, property and casualty insurance, as well as retirement issues; and having served on the Texas Association of Life and Health Insurers’ Board of Directors and that trade's Legislative Policy Committee.

In addition to this general government relations work, Considine serves on a Legal Affairs Diversity Subcommittee, and as the Company's national point person on tort reform issues.  He has taken a number of leadership positions throughout his career in national and state coalitions dedicated to achieving civil justice reform, including service on the Steering Committee of the Civil Justice Reform Group with the General Counsel of a number of the Fortune 200 companies.  He also serves as immediate past Chairman of the Board of Directors of the American Tort Reform Association. 

Prior to joining MetLife, Considine served as a litigation associate at Connell, Foley and Geiser, a major NJ law firm.  He was involved in all facets of a diverse practice including general business law, labor/employment law and litigation, various types of insurance litigation, including coverage and defense, environmental property damage litigation, complex commercial litigation, and criminal appellate work.  Following law school, Considine served as Judicial Law Clerk to the Honorable Clarkson Fisher, Senior United States District Court Judge in New Jersey.

Tom received his JD cum laude from the Seton Hall University School of Law and his BS magna cum laude from the W. Paul Stillman School of Business Administration at Seton Hall University.  During his college years, Considine served as an intern on the Washington staff of Representative Frank Guarini.  He recently served on the Seton Hall University Alumni Board of Directors. 

He is married to the former Anne E. Sullivan, and the couple has a daughter, Katherine Elizabeth ("Katie”) Considine, and a son, Brendan Sullivan Considine.

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