From Data to Diversity

The Demographics of New Jersey's Appointed Officials

Executive Summary

Thousands of New Jersey residents are appointed to serve on state boards, commissions, and authorities that regulate industries, create environmental standards, promote the arts and more throughout the state. To date, a scarcity of available data has made it difficult to know how closely those appointees reflect the demographics of the state’s population. Recent legislation attempts to address this knowledge gap by mandating the collection and analysis of the demographics, specifically race/ethnicity and gender, of the state’s appointed officials. In this report, we provide details on what led to the legislation, how we developed and implemented the data collection process, and what we found. The data findings show significant disparities in representation in appointed positions for women and among various racial/ethnic groups, while process findings illustrate the numerous obstacles to studying appointed officials, including a lack of centralized and complete contact information on state appointees within the governor’s administration. We offer recommendations towards creating processes to build transparency about appointee demographics, showcase opportunities to serve on appointed boards, and create accountability for diversifying the pool of the state’s appointed officials.