Sheila Oliver began her career working in municipal government, serving as the Director of the Office of Youth Services and Special Projects for the City of Newark. She was responsible for developing strategic plans to prepare youth 14 – 21 for entry into post-secondary education and entry into the workforce.
A decade later, Oliver became the Development Director for The Newark Literacy Campaign, while working at Caldwell College as the Coordinator of Career Guidance within the Educational Opportunity Fund Program. For several years, she worked on several college campuses, teaching classes in Achievement Motivation, Non-Profit Management, and Pre-College Preparation. During this time, Oliver served as a consultant to a variety of non-profit organizations to provide training in board and program development; grantsmanship and financial management, and spent several years as the Director of the Essex County Division of Community Action, an anti-poverty initiative established by the federal government.
In 1996, Oliver became an Essex County Freeholder, and served on the Board of Chosen Freeholders until 1999.
Assemblywoman Oliver has spent a significant number of years serving on the boards of voluntary non-profit organizations, including but not limited to East Orange General Hospital Board of Trustees; the United Way; the Newark Coalition for Neighborhoods; the East Orange Board of Education; the Newark Collaboration Group; the Rutgers-Newark Educational Opportunity Fund Advisory Council; the Global Women’s Leadership Collaborative of NJ; the Essex County and East Orange Committees on the Status of Women; Programs for Parents; and a number of other community-based entities. She has held membership in the Women’s Political Caucus of NJ, the NAACP and the Urban League.
Oliver was elected to the NJ General Assembly in 2003 and began to serve her first term in 2004, representing District 34. During her tenure in the General Assembly, she has chaired the Human Services Committee, and served on the Labor, Higher Education, Women and Children; Commerce and Economic Development; and Transportation and Independent Authorities committees.
She also serves on the Joint Committee on the Public Schools and the Economic Justice and Equal Employment Opportunity.
In 2010, the Assemblywoman became the Speaker of the General Assembly, and served as Speaker until 2014. She became only the second woman in New Jersey’s 300 year history to serve as Speaker, and the second African-American woman in the United States to lead a legislative house, following Congresswoman Karen Bass, who served as Speaker in California.
In 2017, Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, was elected the state’s first African American lieutenant governor. During her victory speech she stated, “My commitment will be to create a stronger and fairer economy. Every New Jersey family needs to know that their future in our secure in our state.”