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Annette Quijano is a Jersey native born to Puerto Rican parents. After a B.S. in Management from Rutgers University, she earned her Juris Doctor degree from Rutgers School of Law in Newark. She was admitted to the bar in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and completed her clerkships at Essex County Superior Court, the Governor's Office and NJ Department of the Public Advocate.

            Ms. Quijano has always fought against inequality and the difficult challenges that all people face regardless of race or culture. Drawing inspiration from her upbringing, she has provided a voice for those who often go unheard. Her career began as a young teen advocate successfully organizing a grassroots campaign to dispute a local cable company’s decision to eliminate Spanish language programming. This led to growing recognition and her election as board member of the Puerto Rican Congress of New Jersey (PRC). While in the PRC, she rose through the ranks to become their youngest Vice-President.

            Annette Quijano worked as a Compliance Manager for Prudential/Aetna U.S. Healthcare.  She also practiced as a civil attorney, served as an adjunct professor at Kean University and was an instructor for the United States Hispanic Advocacy Association intern program.  She was hired as Chief of Staff for Senator Raymond Lesniak from 1992-1994, the first ever Latina Chief of Staff. Assemblywoman Quijano served as a member of the 1992 Commission of New Jersey’s Congressional Redistricting efforts and as a board member for Legal Services – Elizabeth. She also served as an assistant counsel to Governors James E. McGreevey, Richard J. Codey and Jon S. Corzine.

            Ms. Quijano was sworn in to fill a vacancy in the Assembly on September 25, 2008. She subsequently won a special election for the seat and was re-elected to a full term in 2009 and 2011.  She is the first woman and the first Latina to represent the 20th Legislative District.

            Raised to work hard in order to succeed, Assemblywoman Quijano is one of the legislators who has had more bills signed into law. She sponsored measures addressing enhancement of workers’ rights, attracting and retaining quality teachers in our urban schools, improving the lives of seniors and veterans, protecting women’s health care, and spearheaded legislation to combat the dangers posed by texting and driving. Other legislative accomplishments include bills promoting job growth, reviving tax credits for small businesses, using alternative fuel to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and reducing the amount of sulfur in home heating fuel to ensure our children breathe clean air. She has also worked vigorously to provide financial assistance and counseling to homeowners facing foreclosure, foreign language services to constituents and organizing workshops for businesses.

            Recalling her grandfather’s decision to live in the United States as a farm worker to pursue the American Dream, the Assemblywoman began the “Come Grow with Us” initiative to bring food producing gardens and programs to non-profits, schools and community groups. She also hosts a series of workshops for container gardening, a viable option for urban communities to explore. All of these efforts are sought to create a sustainable food supply, eliminate food insecurity and encourage a healthy lifestyle. Currently, there are 12 gardens countywide, which have generated over 5,000lbs of organic food and plans to expand. 

            She has received much acclaim for an Emergency Preparedness Program that trains individuals to be ready for any kind of emergency. This comprehensive workshop provides steps on how to identify hazards, how to develop an emergency communications plan, a family plan, a disaster supplies kit, and contains information specific to people with access and functional needs. Such a workshop proved useful for those affected by the devastation of superstorm Sandy. 

            Ms. Quijano has received numerous leadership awards including the Women of Excellence in Government, Excellence in State Government Leadership, Latina’s United for Political Empowerment (LUPE) Power of Women award, Notable Women in Politics, and YWCA recognition. She was one of two legislators selected statewide to participate in the State Legislative Leaders Foundation’s 2011 Emerging Leaders Program. The program was held at the Darden School of Business, University of Virginia and recognized future leaders in their respective states.

            The Assemblywoman also serves as a member of the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey, the Hispanic National Bar Association, and as a member of PRIMER, an organization to promote Hispanic leadership in the public and private sector. She is a member of the Cuban Club of Elizabeth, the Urban League of Union County, the Portuguese Club of Elizabeth, LUPE, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), the Women’s Political Caucus of New Jersey and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). She is also a member of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) where she serves on the Labor and Workforce Development Task Force and as Chairperson of the Hispanic Delegations on Racial Equity, a National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) initiative funded by the Kellogg’s Foundation.

            She is presently serving as Chairwoman of the Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee and as Vice-Chair of the Judiciary Committee. This is in addition to serving as a member of the Housing and Local Government Committee, the New Jersey Assembly Latino Caucus, the Assembly Life Science Task Force and the National Immigration Working Group Executive Committee.

Assem. Annette Quijano

Honorary Marshal - 2013