Women in Politics

Public polling consistently suggests that the GOP in New Jersey has work to do in closing the gender gap. Our panel of prominent elected officials and operatives will break down their perspective and help outline a plan to bring more women under the Republican tent. They will discuss the importance of having female voices on your leadership team, outline how to approach the issues from a woman’s point of view and help us understand the challenges of winning the woman vote. We are honored to have Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno moderating this discussion.

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Chairwoman Linda DuBois

Linda DuBois was elected Salem County Chairwoman in March of 2018, then went on to lead campaign in fall for when Republicans regained control of the Salem County Board of Freeholders and reelected longtime Salem County Sheriff.  Linda was elected in Pittsgrove Township as Committeewoman for 27 years where she served 5 of those as appointed Mayor.  Linda was an active member of the League of Municipalities and is still an active member of NJ Conference of Mayors, but now serving as a Mayor Emeritus.

Linda is a retired Health & Physical Education teacher and continues as a longtime coach in Pittsgrove Township. Currently Linda is active as swim coach (30 yrs on deck), a NJ High School Swim Official and serves NJSAIAA as Site Director for State Swim Championships. As a graduate of Trenton State College, Linda now is a member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors for The College of New Jersey.

Linda has been part of her husband’s family farm which has allowed her to serve on NJ Farm Bureau, first female to represent a County, not part of the Women’s Committee.  Serving her third President for the US Department of Agriculture, Linda is currently the NJ Farm Service Agency State Committee Chairwoman appointed this time by US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. 

Linda also enjoys being a longtime volunteer for American Red Cross in many capacities. She also enjoys being a volunteer with the Parvin State Park Appreciation Committee for over 20 years.

Linda and her husband Steve live in Pittsgrove, mother of two sons and grandmother of 5.

Freeholder Amy Gatto

Amy Gatto, 37, was first elected to the Hamilton Township Committee in 2007 at the age of 24 and at 29 years old, became the youngest and only the third woman to hold the office of Mayor in the Township’s several hundred year history.  In 2019, Freeholder Gatto was proudly selected to serve as the first female to Chair the Board of Freeholders in its 182 year history. Despite the tough times facing our region, during Gatto’s tenure on Township Committee, the governing body was able to eliminate their $2.4 million structural deficit by encouraging economic development and making government more efficient as well as pay down millions in municipal debt without raising taxes several years following. She was honored to be elected to the Atlantic County Board of Chosen Freeholders in 2016.

A lifelong resident of Mays Landing, Gatto graduated from Oakcrest High School in 2000. She attended Widener University in Chester, PA, graduating in 2004 with a Bachelor of Science degree in International Business and a Bachelor of Arts degree in French. Following graduation, Gatto committed herself to public service, becoming a graduate of the Christine Todd Whitman Excellence in Public Service Series and becoming an elected member of the local school board in 2005. She also went to work for PECO Energy, an Exelon Company, in Philadelphia, PA as an Executive Assistant to the Chief Operating Officer.

In 2008, Gatto was honored as one of Atlantic City Weekly’s “Top 40 Under 40”. As her career progressed, she went to work as a Project Manager and Manager of Service Operations at AtlantiCare in Hammonton, NJ, and Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of NJ in Mount Laurel, NJ. Currently, she serves as a Lead Manager in Service Operations for AXA, a financial services company. 

Gatto is proud to be the daughter of Dr. Jeri-Lynn Vernon, principal of Absegami HS and lifelong educator who currently resides in Galloway, NJ with her husband Walter Vernon, retired Army Major; and Bill Gatto, retired union Laborer, Local 172 and 40 year employee of the Atlantic City Race Course, who currently resides in Absecon, NJ and honors the memory of his late wife Maryann.  She has one brother, Billy Gatto.

Gatto has long battled Crohn’s Disease and is an active advocate for the disease. She is a proud member of the Italian American Service Organization, UNICO – Greater Atlantic City Chapter. She has also organized and participated in many community service initiatives including “Rock-N-Vote;” Martin Luther King, Jr. “Day of Service;” public speaker for local high school and college assemblies; member, OHS 50th Anniversary Celebration Committee; member, Township’s 200th Anniversary Celebration Committee; fundraiser for Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, MS WALK, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, Hamilton Township PAL, HERO Campaign, Susan G. Koman Breast Cancer Foundation and she fondly volunteers at various events at area schools and local organizations. 

 

Candice Greaux

Candice Greaux is the Vice President of Public Affairs at Jamestown Associates, as well as a columnist and communications consultant.

At Jamestown, Candice maintains direct oversight of the firm’s growing international and public affairs portfolio. By establishing and managing close relationships with national and international public affairs clients, Candice helps organizations achieve their public affairs goals by providing strategic counsel and critical communications insights. Previously, Candice had worked at Jamestown as an account manager, writing and producing direct mail, radio and television advertising campaigns for the firms’ roster of political and nonprofit clients.

Prior to rejoining Jamestown, Candice served a number of international clients as an independent communications consultant specializing in guiding international groups’ efforts to connect and communicate with American audiences.

An astute observer of politics, media and tech, Candice also serves as a contributor to Observer Media, ModernConsensus.com and the California Globe. As a columnist, Candice has written extensively on topics ranging from women in politics, to the rise of cryptocurrency, to trends in modern political and public affairs strategy.

Candice’s career in politics, communications and public affairs began at a young age, when, at only twenty-three years old, Candice ran for countywide public office. Despite being lavishly outspent by a margin of forty-six-to-one and facing a severe three-to-one registration disadvantage, Candice managed to secure a 45% of the vote in that race.

Candice is a graduate of Rutgers University and lives in Alexandria, VA where she is a member of the Junior League of Washington and the National Press Club.

Erica Jedynak

Erica L. Jedynak is the New Jersey State Director for Americans for Prosperity. She brings her skills and passion for a free society to build a grassroots army to take on the special interests in Trenton and Washington, D.C. Jedynak drives the vision for the chapter’s policy agenda; lobbying and coalition-building; field operations; fundraising; media relations; and digital advertising and mail campaigns. Jedynak also serves as the New Jersey Private Sector Chair for the American Legislative Exchange Council.

In 2018, she was named to the New Jersey Globe’s Top 100 Most Powerful People and received the Athena International Leadership Award. Jedynak was voted “Top Young Female Talent on the Right” in the State of New Jersey; named to InsiderNJ’s Power 100 List and Top 100 Policymakers; published in The Wall Street Journal and Forbes; and appears on Fox Business, News 12, and Bold TV.

In 2017, Jedynak was one of seven emerging state leaders selected as part of an exchange with Australia through the American Council of Young Political Leaders to study public policy and diplomacy. She was also appointed to the New Jersey State Advisory Committee for the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.

Having served in numerous roles working for state legislators in district offices and on the campaign trail, Jedynak has earned a reputation as a high energy, dynamic policy advisor and grassroots organizer.

Erica Jedynak holds a B.A. in Political Science with an International Relations focus, and minor in Sociology, cum laude from Drew University. She studied at both the United Nations Headquarters in New York and abroad at the Institute of Venice, Italy. She later earned a Mini-MPA from Rutgers University’s Center for Executive Leadership in Government.

Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi

Holly Schepisi was first elected to the New Jersey General Assembly in November 2011 representing the 39th Legislative District. A strong advocate for the residents of her District and the State, Assemblywoman Schepisi is the leading proponent for local issues such as efforts to retain businesses, finding remedies for the disproportionate funding issues, leading the fight to stop over development mandates, or as the loyal opposition to attempts at increasing taxes on Bergen and Passaic counties. She has continued to work to strengthen the rights of crime victims, provide mandatory treatment for non-violent drug offenders, enhance transparency in medical billing, protect drinking water from drug contamination, and deny bail to dangerous offenders. Assemblywoman Schepisi currently sits on the Assembly Education, Health and Senior Services, Housing and Community Development committees and the Joint Committee on Housing Affordability, Joint Committee on Economic Justice and Equal Employment Opportunity and New Jersey Legislative Select Oversight Committee. 

The Assemblywoman is special counsel at the law firm of Huntington Bailey, LLP, where she practices governmental law, corporate law, land use, employment matters, criminal defense, and structured finance.  She was Managing Director of Clear Spring Capital Group, encouraging private investing for job creation.  She has also served as the public defender for the Borough of Oakland, the alternate prosecutor for Westwood and Old Tappan and was the township attorney for the Township of River Vale.  

Assemblywoman Schepisi holds degrees in politics and psychology from Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, and a juris doctorate from Fordham University School of Law.  

The Assemblywoman currently lives in the Township of River Vale, New Jersey with her husband, Paul, and their two children, Kayla and Easton.

Elissa Voccola

Elissa is the Northeast Political Director for the Republican National Committee.  In this role she assists and advises campaigns and State Parties on every element of a successful political operation including field, fundraising, communications, as well as messaging and strategy development.  Prior to her time at the RNC, Voccola worked on Senator Mitt Romney’s Presidential campaign in 2012, was the Executive Director of both the Connecticut and New Hampshire Republican Parties, served on Senator Marco Rubio’s 2016 Presidential campaign, and worked on both successful campaigns for Governor Charlie Baker and Governor Chris Sununu. 

Elissa was born and raised in Connecticut.  She studied political science and history at Clarkson University and Western Connecticut State University.

Moderator: Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno

Guadagno was sworn in as New Jersey’s first Lieutenant Governor in January 2010, and was elected to a second term in 2013. As Lt. Governor, she worked to bring New Jersey out of the recession by helping to cut unemployment by 50% over the last eight years. Specifically, as to nurses, she and her Red Tape Commission, worked tirelessly to streamline the licensing process. She also served as the 33rd Secretary of State.

Lt. Governor Guadagno has been a lawyer for more than 3 decades. She began her public service career as a federal prosecutor with the Organized Crime & Racketeering Strike Force in Brooklyn, New York and later served as a federal corruption prosecutor in New Jersey. She taught at Rutgers Law School for six years. Her first elected office was as commissioner in Monmouth Beach, NJ in 2005. In 2007, the Lt. Governor was elected the first woman sheriff in Monmouth County, New Jersey’s history. And two years ago, she was the Republican nominee for Governor. Today, after 13 years in elected office, Lt. Governor Guadagno is a partner at Connell Foley, one of New Jersey’s fastest growing firms.

Lt. Governor Guadagno is most proud of her 27 year marriage to her husband, Mike, and of their three sons, Kevin, a F-16 fighter pilot in the United States Air Force; Michael, who graduated, with a job, from Dartmouth College this year and Andy, a senior in high school, who keeps her grounded.