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Kerlyn Espinal

Deputy Assistant Commissioner of Cultural and Historic Commissions

Kerlyn Espinal joins the New Jersey Department of Education as  deputy assistant commissioner of Cultural and Historic Commissions. She is now the highest-ranking Latina at the agency. Prior to her current role, Ms. Espinal served as the director of immigration services for Democratic U.S. Senator Robert Menendez since 2006. 

When Sen. Menendez was sworn in to the United States Senate on Jan. 18, 2006, after being appointed by former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, Ms. Espinal was the only staff member from his congressional Constituent Services Department to transition with him into the Senate.  During her tenure as director of immigration services, she embarked on a number of initiatives that included, but were not limited to, liaison to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of State, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).  Additionally, she served as the point of contact with elected officials and community stakeholders.

Before transitioning to Sen. Menendez’s Senate Office in New Jersey, Ms. Espinal served as a congressional aide while the senator was a member of the U.S. House ofRepresentatives for New Jersey’s 13th Congressional District. During that time, Ms. Espinal was awarded Woman of the Year for her outstanding achievements in the community from all of the female consul generals at the United Nations. During her tenure, Ms. Espinal also obtained state-wide recognition and appeared in The Jersey Journal on a weekly basis, where she was noted as “Menendez’s aide who gets the job done.”

Ms. Espinal has been a “foot soldier” across the state for many of the less fortunate, and her work in both her professional and extracurricular time has earned her countless accolades that demonstrate her commitment and dedication to her calling as an ordained pastor.  Ms. Espinal also serves on the board of the New Jersey Latino Pastors and Ministers Coalition. 

Due to her hard work and dedication to meet the needs of New Jersey residents, Ms. Espinal has been profiled in many newspapers and magazines citing her as “Hispanic Pride,” and “ A True Leader.”

Ms. Espinal had the honor of being appointed as a Good Will Ambassador for Women and Migrant Hispanic Communities in New Jersey by the Executive Board of Directors of the United Nations for a five- year term that ends in 2023. She also is the recipient of the 2018 Distinguished Woman Award from El Diario, the largest and oldest Spanish-language newspaper in  the United States, which positioned her as one of the most powerful Latina women in the tri-state area.  Past honorees include Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor, Former New York Secretary of State, Loraine Cortez-Vazquez, Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez. 

Community service and the rights of students have been particularly important to Ms.  Espinal and her dedication to both these causes have earned her some of the following awards: the “Giving Heart to God and Hand to Man” award from the Salvation Army; the Role Model Award to Professionalism by the Vice Minister of Exterior Relations of El Salvador; the “Successful Women of the United States Award,” which was presented by The Honorable Judge  Carmen R. Velazquez, where Ms. Espinal represented the great state of New Jersey;  she was awarded honorary citizenship of both Ecuador and El Salvador by their respective governments and she served as grand marshal for the Hispanic State Parade in 2015, where she also received their excellence award. 

In 2019, Ms.  Espinal had the honor of representing Sen. Menendez when Fabiana Rosales, wife of Juan Guaidó, the president of the National Assembly of Venezuela,  came to New York City to speak about the dire circumstances in her country. Mr. Guaidó, is acknowledged  by the U.S. and many other countries the president of Venezuela. Ms. Espinal presented a proclamation for Mr. Guaidó on behalf of the senator.

Ms. Espinal has been the recipient of several local accolades, including receiving a proclamation in 2014 from the Township of West New York, New Jersey, which was memorialized at the town’s municipal chambers; and a similar proclamation from Harrison that same year. Ms. Espinal also serves as a member of the Harrison Downtown Community Development Partnership and Neighborhood Preservation Board of Directors.  

Ms. Espinal is fluent in Spanish, German, Portuguese, and English.


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