Born in the City of Newark to immigrant parents of Dominican descent, Vereliz Santana has dedicated her career and life to public service and has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to championing social, racial, and educational justice. She is an ardent believer that the sacrifices her parents endured illuminated a path of opportunity for her and it was on this path where she learned education has the power to transform dreams into realities.
Vereliz attended Stockton University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English. Determined to continue her path of higher education, Vereliz traveled to Spain where she obtained a master’s degree in English Literature and Linguistics at the University of Granada. While abroad Vereliz gained a global perspective on education through an externship as a student-teacher at the International School of Granada, where she taught second-language learners.
Vereliz returned to New Jersey and joined the administration of Mayor Ras J. Baraka. As the Mayor’s senior aide, Vereliz established and maintained relationships with constituents, community stakeholders, and local public interest groups. She planned, developed, and oversaw programs and initiatives designed to serve and empower the city and its constituency. She also established neighborhood, block, and tenant associations with the goal of fostering community and establishing a direct line of support and communication with the City of Newark.
After serving in the administration, Vereliz began working at the International Division at The College Board Headquarters. Vereliz was assigned to manage the Division’s International Professional Learning program, where she planned & executed over 12 Professional Learning events throughout the world. Following her time at the College Board, she joined the office of New Jersey State Senator M. Teresa Ruiz, the chair of the Senate Education Committee. She was quickly promoted to the role of Legislative Director, a title she still holds today.
As Legislative Director to the president pro tempore of the New Jersey State Senate, Vereliz is responsible for developing and driving the Senator’s legislative, policy and budget agenda while developing corresponding advocacy strategies.
Vereliz is currently pursuing her Master of Business Administration degree at Rutgers University—Newark in hopes of one day obtaining her MBA.