Women in Politics

One of the most common misconceptions of politics and public service is that they are largely male dominated. More women than ever are stepping up to make a difference in the Republican party as candidates, volunteers and operatives. This panel will focus on overcoming the challenges that come with being a woman in politics, a woman’s perspective on the direction of the Republican Party and strategies to continue to attract more women to get involved. 

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Amanda DePalma, Proprietor, Advissa LLC

Amanda M. De Palma (née Gasperino) is the owner of Advissa, a consulting firm focused on strategic communications and operations management.

In her current role, Mrs. De Palma is responsible for advising clients on the formation, establishment, expansion, and organization of political and issue/advocacy campaigns; including hiring of staff, budgeting, and field/internal operations.  Furthermore, she assists businesses, campaigns, advocacy groups, and other organizations in facilitating contact-initiation and network-building to meet organizational needs.

Before launching Advissa, Mrs. De Palma served as Governor Christie’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Programming and Planning.  In that role, she managed the Administration’s legislative agenda communications, community relations- and outreach-initiatives, strategic planning, messaging, and related special assignments.

Mrs. De Palma has extensive experience in organizational and structural operations over the last fifteen years, largely in senior-level political and government leadership roles, including Chris Christie for President (Director of Budget, Human Resources and Special Projects); the New Jersey Republican State Committee (Executive Director); Office of the Governor (Director of Intergovernmental Affairs); Christie for Governor (Political Director, 2009; Deputy Campaign Manager, 2013); Transition Office of the Governor-elect (Manager); Rudy Giuliani for President (N.J. Executive Director); and Tom Kean for U.S. Senate (Statewide Field Director), and Bret Schundler for Governor (2001, 2005).  

Mrs. De Palma received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Seton Hall University.  She currently serves on the Advisory Board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mercer County and is a Public Member of the Board of Trustees of the Trenton Psychiatric Hospital.  Born and raised in Bergen County, she currently resides in central New Jersey with her husband and two daughters.

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Kate Gibbs, Burlington County Freeholder Director

Katie Gibbs was elected in a bi-partisan and unanimous vote of her fellow Freeholders to serve as Director of the Board for 2018, after serving as Deputy Director in 2016 and 2017.

Gibbs lives in Lumberton with her Burlington County Animal Shelter rescue-dog Fitz. She currently works in Business Development for the Engineers Labor-Employer Cooperative, a collaborative trust that represents the interests of Local 825 Operating Engineers and focuses on promoting economic development and job creation in our region and the entire State of New Jersey.

Prior to joining the Freeholder Board, Gibbs served on the Rowan College at Burlington County Board of Trustees where she worked closely with the County’s new Workforce Development Initiative and played an active role in establishing the College’s partnership with Rowan University, paving the way for the 3+1 program which provides access to a four-year bachelor’s degree for under $30,000 – total.

She received her Master’s in Business Administration from Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business, graduating Summa Cum Laude after earning a B.A. from The American University in Washington, DC, graduating Cum Laude with a Double Major in Public Communications and Political Science.

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Sarah Neibart, Mendham Township Committeewoman

Sarah Neibart is the Founder and President of Citizens for Accountable Taxation, Inc. She is also a Republican political operative, currently working as Deputy Campaign Manager for Bob Hugin For Senate. Previously, Ms. Neibart served as the Statewide Political Director for Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadgano’s Campaign for Governor of NJ. In 2016, Sarah was campaign manager for Scott Garrett for Congress and National Ballot Access Director for the Chris Christie for President Campaign.

In March 2018, Ms. Neibart entered public service when she was appointed to her municipality’s Township Committee. Sarah graduated from the University of Wisconsin Honors Program with a B.S. in Political Science and a Certificate in Middle Eastern Studies. She currently resides in Mendham Township with her husband Josh Barer and their four pet pigs.

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Ileana Schirmer, Hamilton Township Councilwoman

Born in Cuba and raised in Union City, New Jersey. 

Graduate of Stockton State College, Ileana began her career working in the pharmaceutical industry in clinical research where she had the opportunity to travel extensively nationally and internationally. In 1999, Ileana started her own pharmaceutical staffing firm from the ground up.  Her staffing firm grew into a successful and well-recognized company in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries.  While owning her staffing firm, in 2005, Ileana purchased a franchise childcare center in North Brunswick, turning the school into an award winning school.

Ileana has served on the Hamilton Township Council since December 2012 to present.  First Hispanic female elected in Mercer County and the first Hispanic elected in Hamilton Township. 

During her time on council, she has contributed to a governing body that has kept municipal taxes stable, helped township earn and maintain a AA credit rating, and removed ordinances to continue a business-friendly environment. Ileana is actively working on overseeing fire consolidation, which is anticipated to increase efficiency and reduce cost.  She has been an active representative in her community.  Ileana continues to build relationships with the Hispanic and minority communities and currently serves on the board of directors of the Hamilton YMCA and the John O Wilson Neighborhood Center.  Ileana also serves as an advisor to the MIDJersey Chamber of Commerce, Hispanic Business Council.

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Serena DiMaso, NJ State Assemblywoman

Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso, Esq. was sworn in as an Assemblywoman for New Jersey’s 13th Legislative District on January 9th, 2018. She sits on the Assembly Education Committee, Assembly Law & Public Safety Committee, and the Assembly Human Services Committee. As well as the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission and the Special Task Force on Volunteer Retention and Recruitment.

Dedicated to bettering Monmouth County, and her community, Assemblywoman DiMaso served three terms on the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders; acting as Deputy Director in 2016, 2015, and 2013. Prior to becoming a Freeholder, Serena DiMaso served on the Holmdel Township committee for ten years.  She served as mayor from 2006 to 2010 and deputy mayor in 2011.

While on the township governing body, she chaired the Public Safety and Administration committees, co-chaired the Public Works committee and was a member of the township Planning Board. While serving Holmdel, DiMaso supported the preservation of open space in the township. She has also been an advocate for expanding shared services and responsible budgeting.

She currently serves as Chairwoman of the Bayshore Hospital Foundation and as an active member of the Holmdel First Aid Squad. Some of her other community involvement activities have included President of Village School Parent School Association and the William R. Satz School Parent Support Group, league president of the Holmdel Youth Athletic Association and teaching C. C. D. at St. Catharine’s Roman Catholic Church.

Assemblywoman DiMaso is an active Board member of the National Foundation for Women Legislators where she serves as Chair Elect. 

Assemblywoman DiMaso has received recognition for her efforts as a county freeholder, including being honored with a 2015 Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore Women of Distinction Award and nominated for the 2016 Athena Award.  In 2015, Freeholder DiMaso was named Woman of the Year by the New Jersey Federation of Republican Woman.

Serena DiMaso holds a Juris Doctorate degree from St. John’s University School of Law and is a member of the New York State Bar. She is also a graduate of St. John’s University, College of Business Administration with a B.S. in management with minor concentrations in economics and marketing. She is also a 2004 graduate of the Christine Todd Whitman Excellence in Public Service Series.

Assemblywoman DiMaso lives in Holmdel with her husband, Dr. Gerald DiMaso; they have four children.

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Kristin Corrado, NJ State Senator

Kristin M. Corrado is a life-long resident of the Borough of Totowa and attended St. James School in Totowa and Paul VI High School in Clifton. She is a graduate of East Stroudsburg University and Seton Hall Law School. She has been an attorney for more 27 years and is admitted to practice law in New Jersey and Florida. After graduating from Seton Hall, Kristin served as a law clerk to the Honorable Amos Saunders, Presiding Chancery Judge in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Passaic Vicinage. She then served as an Assistant Counsel to Governor James Florio working in the Authorities Unit.

Kristin also worked at the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission in Wanaque as the Purchasing Agent and Contract Administrator before entering private practice. Kristin is a partner in the law firm of Corrado & Corrado, Esqs., with her father, Robert E. Corrado. They have a general practice family firm specializing in real estate and probate transactions. She represented the Borough of Totowa as their municipal attorney for 10 years before becoming the Passaic County Clerk. Kristin was first elected County Clerk in November of 2009, and re-elected in 2014. She served in this position until October 2017 upon being sworn in as Senator of the 40th Legislative District. Kristin currently serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee and Health, Human Services & Senior Citizens Committee.

She has served as a member of the Supreme Court’s District Fee Arbitration Committee and is a member of the Passaic County Bar Association. Kristin served as the COANJ Section Chief for Clerks and Registers in 2012.

As the Passaic County Clerk, Kristin opened a satellite office in Wanaque and expanded their Outreach Program for passports and notary services throughout the county by establishing a set monthly calendar for these services with night and Saturday hours. She expanded services and hours at no additional cost to the taxpayers of Passaic County. In 2016, In-Person Early Voting was offered at the Wanaque satellite office for the first time in the county’s history. Residents now have the convenience of voting early and in person at both offices in all elections.

Kristin partnered with the county’s Department of Veterans’ Affairs to bring back the Veterans ID Program. She established the Passaic County Veteran’s Discount List by working with local businesses to provide discounts to veterans and their families. Together with John Harris, the county’s Service Officer, and David Pearson, Assistant Director of Veteran Services, Supportive Services for Veterans and Families (SSVF) Catholic Family and Community Services, they hosted benefits and educational seminars and created a resource manual for Passaic County’s veterans.

Kristin served on the Passaic County Military Appreciation Committee, which honors and celebrates members of the military, past and presently serving, and their families. She was responsible for creating a keepsake book for the Gold Star and Blue Star Mothers the Committee honors each year as part of an annual celebration and remembrance of their children that have served and sacrificed so much for our country.

As the County Clerk, she sponsored toy drives for the Passaic Vicinage National Adoption Day Celebration and partnered with Blue Star Mothers to collect necessities for our soldiers currently serving overseas and in Military Hospitals. Kristin established the ‘Socks For Soldiers’ Program to collect and provide necessities for soldiers and homeless veterans. She has continued this program as Senator, teaming up with Senator Kip Bateman for the latest drive this past winter.

Kristin performed 1,500 wedding ceremonies as the County Clerk.

Kristin is also a proud member of the Do Good Student Support Group which is dedicated to giving scholarships to deserving students that are in need of financial assistance. Kristin coached softball for the youth division of the Totowa PAL softball program for 13 years. She also spent numerous hours volunteering her time in the Snack Shack for the Totowa PAL Football Program and working at the annual PV Junior Hornets Wrestling tournaments.

Kristin is the daughter of Bob and Eileen Corrado of Totowa. She is the second of seven children, with sisters and two brothers. She is married to Stan Alcala and is step-Mom to Danny, Matt and Nicole. Kristin and Stan are grandparents to Mia and Valentina Alcala.

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