I am running for the office of NJ State Assembly because I believe my professional and life experiences have prepared me to represent the people of Hunterdon, Somerset, and Warren Counties.
Throughout my leadership experience as a Bell Labs executive, an entrepreneur, and the Municipal Chair of the Democratic Committee, I have successfully implemented solutions using a three-pronged approach:
- Data-driven: both in issue identification and proposed solutions
- Efficient with resources: I have a lifetime of experience assessing resources and putting them to their most efficient use
- Compassionate: it’s the cornerstone of our Party and our Values.
Bell Labs Executive
I have been successful by working smart, being efficient with resources, and leading collaborative teams. Throughout my professional life, I unified my team around a common goal, produced innovative solutions to problems, managed the vision as well as the details, and collaborated with other stakeholders. My R&D management experience has taught me that a data-driven, user-centered approach to problem-solving is critical, but only when combined with collaboration on a shared vision will the result be a successful network infrastructure deployment. I believe the same analysis is needed to develop effective policy and the same collaboration is needed to turn policy into law. Read more
I worked in telecommunications research and development for over 30 years. My job typically required leading dozens of engineers to deliver nation-wide network infrastructure projects, applying new hardware and software technology, meeting market-driven time constraints, and managing budgets of hundreds of millions of dollars. I led projects in a culture of accountability where I identified key metrics that could be tracked to understand how our solutions were performing.
You are familiar with one of my projects: text messaging. I led a team that deployed hardware and software in telephone equipment offices across the country to enable people to communicate without a phone call. Today, six billion text messages are sent over mobile networks every day in the US alone.
My interest in computer science began in the late 1970’s, when Mrs. Gould, my calculus teacher, set up something new: a terminal to an APL computer. My first computer programming project used artificial intelligence to “learn” to play tic-tac-toe. I was hooked. I was valedictorian of my class and secured an engineering scholarship to Rice University where I double majored in Computer Science and Math Science. Sponsored by Bell Labs, I went on to get my Master’s degree in Computer Science.
Being a Member of the Technical staff at Bell Labs and working my way up to Executive Director required similar skills to being a successful legislator: performing data-driven analysis to understand the problem, finding solutions within the constraints of limited resources, and gaining support through collaboration across a diverse set of stakeholders.
In 1998 the business environment provided little support for executives with families, and my four young children needed more time with me at home. I took the opportunity to start my own consulting company where I helped other entrepreneurs build the financial stability they needed to compete in their chosen marketplace. Read more
My clients included a dentist, a music store, an ENT doctor, a wildlife artist, and a roofing company. This broad spectrum of clients translates into a comprehensive understanding and appreciation of what our entrepreneurs need no matter what field they pursue. One highlight was project management for modular construction at Kullman Buildings Corp in Lebanon right down the street from where I live. I worked with the customers to design the buildings, spent time in the factory where they were manufactured, and went to the sites where a crane would take the building off the truck and place it on the property. I learned about construction, just-in-time inventory, and sales. I gained a huge respect for the union workers in the factory who were both engineers and artists. (Have you ever been to a genuine NJ diner and admired the distinctive shiny metal trim formed into fan-like designs? It’s art!) Although I spent a relatively short time in my career working for Kullman Buildings Corp, I was grateful for the opportunity to see first-hand how a union protects its employees and strengthens a manufacturing company.
Municipal Chair, Clinton Township Democratic Committee
As Municipal Chair, I work with a cross-section of the 1,718 registered Democrats in Clinton Township as well as the broader community of all registered voters to promote unity during this time when politics threatens to pit neighbor against neighbor. Under my leadership, our committee has tripled membership and started a volunteer program in which we invite community members to join us in activities such as clean-up day at Round Valley Reservoir, Clinton Township Community Day, Meals on Wheels, and Grow A Row. I also participate in the Hunterdon County Executive Board meetings to develop outreach across the county.
While proposing solutions and identifying needs are priorities, I know that change must start with listening to our constituents. Listening is a skill I hold as a project manager and one I will carry with me to the legislature.
Support women in STEM Read more
I didn’t know any other young woman who enjoyed coding in the late 1970’s. In college and graduate school, there were very few women in the computer science program. When Bell Laboratories recruited me to come to New Jersey as a Member of Technical Staff, I was the only woman in the department working on personal computers. My work started on a team involved in research and development on the first generation of voice and data communications for personal computers in partnership with Olivetti in Ivrea, Italy. My trip to the Olivetti factory was fraught with awkward moments while the men who ran the factory adjusted to working with a female manager. (In the end, they were quite gracious!) I have the same experiences as most women, like the conversation with my manager who was hesitant to assign me a high-profile project right after I got married until he asked me if I was pregnant. And the engineer on a new team that I was asked to manage who told me that if not for Affirmative Action he would have gotten my job. I learned that I had to perform better than most to earn my seat at the table. But as I took on management positions, I was able to help other women. When I was one of the hiring managers for a project management position, we interviewed a candidate with three young children. One of the interviewers said she was not a good fit because she had too many responsibilities at home. I argued that a working mom is the most efficient person you’ll ever meet! She has been a top performer at that company for 10 years.
I support equal pay for women in all fields and would like to see that past salaries no longer hold women back from fair pay for new jobs. Families succeed when both women and men are allowed to reach their potential.
Strong family values Read more
I met the love of my life, Rich, when we came to New Jersey for R&D jobs. We were two science geeks starting out together, both with eager enthusiasm behind thick glasses. We married in 1983 and got $5,000 together to buy our first home in Monmouth County. We had 4 daughters and raised them as a close-knit family. Our evenings were cherished family time with lively conversation around the dinner table followed by homework or board games. Much to the kids’ chagrin, there was no TV in the house. They read lots of books and put on plays together. Excellence at school, especially in math and science, was valued in the Shaw household. Failure was a precious learning opportunity. Weekends were busy with sports, music, church, Girl Scouts, Destination Imagination, Forensics tournaments, NYC and Philly museums, and outdoor activities like hiking, canoeing, and camping. Summer vacations included trips to Minnesota, Colorado, Connecticut, and Maine to visit relatives. Spring vacation was often spent in Washington, DC, enjoying the many Smithsonian museums. Let’s be clear, raising four kids while working was tough and chaotic.
As a working mother, I know the importance and the associated expense of high-quality child care. I support legislation that extends the federal tax credit for child and dependent care to our state taxes to help NJ families afford the care they need.
Support for public school education Read more
My passionate support for NJ public schools started in Colts Neck where I joined a coalition of concerned parents to successfully fight for the school budget as well as a referendum for a much-needed high school. About 1,500 students attend that school today. Go Cougars! Later, I helped to organize the first fundraisers for the Bernards Township Education Foundation BTEF. I made a point of supporting the classroom teachers. If they asked for glue sticks, I included some money so they could buy something else that the classroom needed. Eventually, all four of my daughters graduated from North Hunterdon High School where I supported activities across the spectrum of academics, music, and athletics. Later, our family hosted a Ghanaian foreign exchange student who attended NHHS and then went on to Raritan Valley Community College, RVCC. I am eternally grateful to the teachers and guidance counselors who made such a difference to our family. New Jersey public schools are one of our crown jewels, and I gladly assume the responsibility to support them.
Democratic values are personal to me
Women’s Health Read more
Women’s health funding is critical to me and my four daughters. I’m passionate about cancer screenings and unfettered access to birth control for our young men and women. I firmly believe that no woman wants to have an abortion and no man wants his partner to go through such trauma. The abortion rate dropped 21% from 2009 to 2014. That downward trend would most likely end if contraception services were denied.
Freedom from Religious Persecution Read more
While my path as a woman in a STEM field was tough, as any parent knows, you are more profoundly impacted by the obstacles that your children encounter. My oldest daughter Clara converted to conservative Judaism and married a wonderful man who is now the Rabbi of a Jewish Center in New York. They have 2 children. So when I see hatred and abuse targeting JCCs or religious groups, I think of my four-year-old granddaughter Eliza and my eight-month-old grandson Nathaniel. Shortly after the inauguration, 69 bomb threats were received by Jewish Community Centers in at least 27 states causing the Anti-Defamation League to issue an advisory to Jewish institutions nationwide. No one should have to feel unsafe when practicing his or her chosen religion.
Racial justice Read more
My youngest daughter Anna fell in love and married Daniel who is from Ghana. After completing college and his required national service, he came to the US on a fiancé visa and now holds a green card. Anna and Daniel are a wonderful couple, full of happiness and promise. But Daniel has entered a country where opportunity is not always open to him due to the color of his skin and his accent. And even his safety is at risk. Recently in Manhattan, white supremacist James Harris Jackson was charged with murdering Timothy Caughman, a 66-year-old black man who was collecting bottles for recycling. Jackson’s motive was to strike terror in black men across the city and country and to deter white women from interracial relationships. The current administration had no reaction to this crime. I cannot stress strongly enough: my son-in-law and all other Black Lives Matter to me.
Where are they now?
All my four girls attended our top-notch NJ public schools, graduated from North Hunterdon High School, and finished college. My oldest daughter Clara is now an Assistant District Attorney in NYC. Emily is a Technical Account Manager for a Boston-based hi-tech web content management and hosting company. Her twin Margaret works on the west coast designing instruments carried into space on satellites. My youngest daughter Anna works as a Senior Policy Analyst at a Manhattan think-tank. Thanks to Hulu they are now able to see the TV they missed in their youth.
Watching my girls accept jobs out of state was difficult for me. We are a close-knit family. I want to make sure that there are jobs for our young people as well as reasonably-priced housing for our elderly so that NJ families can stay together.
Why I’m running
Through hard work and careful money management, I was able to retire early last year, three months before the presidential election. Like millions of others, I was shocked into action after the election. I found the biggest safety pin in my sewing basket and started wearing it around my neck as a constant reminder of my Democratic values. I signed petitions and went to protest group meetings. I joined the Women’s March right outside Leonard Lance’s office in Westfield. I read the Indivisible guide which advises us to bring about change by leading one thing, following one thing, and changing a habit. This country has been lax when it comes to truth and science. That’s the habit I urge us to change. Let’s check the source before we read a news article. Let’s look for the facts and data. Scientific fact is based on observation, objective thinking, analysis, and peer review. There are no Alternative Facts.
I had to decide where to follow and where to lead. I’m inspired by our protest groups. They are getting traction in their efforts to resist the policies coming from our federal government that have strayed far from our Democratic values. The ACA is still here; already surviving longer than many thought it would! I am proud to be a member of Indivisible: Garden State Values, Challenge the Change, and follow several others.
But I am called to lead in the state legislature. With the federal government relinquishing key responsibilities to the states, it is more imperative than ever to ensure that those shaping policy in Trenton work smart, are efficient with resources, and show compassion. We need to harness our strengths:
- remarkable human resources
- an infrastructure that can be retooled to lure back STEM
- pride in our public education system
- fierce protection for our open spaces and waterways
- effective advocacy for our vulnerable citizens
I’m not naïve. Translating our Democratic values into legislation won’t be easy. NJ has complex problems to be solved with limited resources. Data-driven solutions and creative problem-solving will be required. Creating a common vision and collaborating with other legislators will be the only way to make progress. I am ready to serve. I am eager to devote all my experience, skills, and energy to the legislature.
Help me turn our collective passion into action.