From Data to Diversity

The Demographics of New Jersey's Appointed Officials


Citizen engagement and participation are crucial components of democratic government. Intentional efforts by state government leaders to foster participation and ensure diversity on state appointed boards can make a difference; to that end, CAWP recommends several practical steps to increase accountability, transparency, and opportunity for New Jersey’s citizens interested in serving as appointed leaders.  


The state administration should build and maintain a centralized database of all boards and commissions and their current members and make this information publicly available. As of the beginning of this study, the list of boards and commissions on the state’s official appointments web site was out of date and did not have any demographic information or information about term of office for members6. To accomplish this goal, we recommend:

  • Requiring the state to collect demographic information: State government should collect demographic information about state appointees, either on the appointment application forms or upon appointment (perhaps through mandatory ethics forms), and keep the data in a centralized and secure digital database (i.e. not maintained separately within each department). This will markedly streamline the process of collecting demographic data on appointees and ensure that the dataset of state appointed officials is consistently updated and available for analysis. To ensure continuity over time, legislation should mandate this demographic data collection through the state administration. While outside research groups such as CAWP can be helpful in conducting analysis, it would be far more efficient and effective to have state administration collect the information as part of the appointments process. 
  • Making demographic data public: Appointees’ demographic information should be provided publicly, as is done in Illinois7 and Connecticut8. Both of these states’ demographic reports are mandated by state statute9. Connecticut’s reporting is more comprehensive, providing the data and analysis of each board and commission’s current membership. The Illinois statute requires each governor to report on the demographics of his or her appointees; in other words, only on new appointees, not on appointees who are holdovers from previous administrations. While it is helpful to know the demographics of a current governor’s appointees to ensure that diversity in recruitment and nomination is a priority, it does not offer a complete analysis of all board members by board, which helps pinpoint representation gaps on individual boards as well as provide a comprehensive view of representation overall. Still, Illinois’ reporting does offer helpful data on the current governor’s efforts to address diversity of state appointees.   


On New Jersey's main boards and commissions page, each individual board listing currently includes the statute or directive explaining the board, as well as a list of board members. In the interest of transparency, ideally each listing would include:

  • A link to the board’s website and the end date for each board member’s term, as is done in Virginia10.
  • Contact information for a staff member or representative in charge of each board, as listed on Illinois’ appointments site11. In 2011, the New Jersey legislature passed legislation (signed into law in January 2012) requiring all state authorities, boards, and commissions to establish a public website and post information related to the entity's mission, finances, meetings, and employees. Among other things, the legislation states that the web site must include “the name, mailing address, electronic mail address, if available, and phone number of every person who exercises day-to-day supervision or management over some or all of the operations of the authority, board, or commission.” In our research, we found information to be uneven across entities; most boards and commissions did have web sites but contact information for staff varied widely.
  • Board status as active or inactive. As noted earlier in this report, of the 473 boards (excluding county election boards) listed on the governor’s website, more than 90 of them were found to be inactive but were not clearly described as such. On Michigan’s online state boards and commissions list, a defunct board is clearly noted12, and a link to the final report is included with the board listing13. In the interest of making it easier for members of the public to determine which boards they can apply for, clear documentation of defunct or time-limited boards is useful. After a certain period of time, defunct boards could be moved off the main list entirely and included on a separate, searchable archived list for historical purposes. 


In order to encourage more citizens to participate on state appointed boards and commissions, the state should employ more mechanisms that create as well as showcase opportunities to serve. These mechanisms include: 

  • Publicizing vacancies: Vacancies represent an opportunity for appointing authorities to enhance diversity on boards and commissions. Some states provide extensive details on board vacancies. California provides a monthly list of current state board vacancies14, and Alabama provides a list of vacancies along with information about that particular board15. New Jersey should follow suit, posting information about vacancies along with application information. 
  • Legislatively-mandated diversity efforts: Fourteen states currently have a form of “gender balance legislation” in place16. Gender balance legislation is an institutional intervention designed to increase women’s representation on state boards and commissions. The legislation details vary widely from state to state, with different reporting requirements (including many with no reporting requirement or other accountability measure), enforcement mechanisms, and sanctions17. While success is mixed, gender balance legislation can nonetheless serve as a model for balancing boards by various demographic representation. In New Jersey, gender balance legislation has been introduced during the two most recent legislative sessions (Bills S1149 and A943 in the 2022/23 session). This legislation is a positive step in efforts to ensure gender balance on the state’s boards. The state could look to expand legislative efforts to include other types of diversity. A proposed bill in Massachusetts seeks to ensure gender parity and racial and ethnic diversity on public boards and commissions, stating that “[e]very appointive board or commission of the state established by the Code, if not otherwise provided by law, shall endeavor to have, or explain why it does not have, (1) at least fifty percent members who self-identify as Female, and (2) at least thirty-percent members who self-identify as an Underrepresented Minority or as LGBTQ+.”18 

6 Office of the Governor, Boards, Commissions & Authorities: Official Site of the State of New Jersey. (n.d.). Boards, Commissions & Authorities. Retrieved April, 2022, from
7 State of Illinois, Office of Executive Appointments. (n.d.). Reports. Retrieved October 6, 2023, from

8 Connecticut Office of the Secretary of State. (n.d.) Gender and Racial Composition of Connecticut State Boards and Commissions. Retrieved October 6, 2023 from…
9 An Act Concerning the Recommendations of the Governor’s Council on Women and Girls. CT SB No. 883, Public Act No. 21-49. (2021). and Gubernatorial Boards and Commissions Act. IL 15 ILCS 50/ (2009).
10 Secretary of the Commonwealth of Virginia. (n.d.) Virginia Government/Boards and Commissions/Comprehensive Board Listing/detail/Art and Architectural Review Board. Retrieved October 6, 2023 from:…
11 State of Illinois, Office of Executive Appointments. (n.d.) Arts Council, Illinois Board and Commission Details. Retrieved October 6, 2023 from:…
12 “Ninety (90) days after the issuance and transference of its final report, the Commission was deemed to have met the charges placed upon it by Executive Order 2016-6 and ceased operations.”
13 Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. (n.d.) Appointments, Boards and Commissions, 21st Century Education Commission. Retrieved October 6, 2023 from:…
14 California Office of the Governor. (n.d.) Appointments. Retrieved October 6, 2023 from:
15 State of Alabama Office of the Governor. (n.d.) Appointments. Retrieved October 6, 2023 from: :
16 Manzo, Whitney Ross and David B. McLennan. (2022). Halfway There:The Impacts of Gender Balance Laws on Women in Appointed Office. Annual Meeting of the North Carolina Political Science Association, Rock Hill, SC; McQueen, Shannon D. (2021). Pipeline or Pipedream: Gender Balance Legislation’s Effect on Women’s Presence in State Government. State Politics & Policy Quarterly, 21(3), 243-265.; additional findings by CAWP research staff.
17 McQueen, Shannon D. (2021). Pipeline or Pipedream: Gender Balance Legislation’s Effect on Women’s Presence in State Government. State Politics & Policy Quarterly, 21(3), 243-265.
18 An Act to ensure gender parity and racial and ethnic diversity on public boards and commissions, MA S2016 (introduced 2023).