Home>Feature>Murphy names first transgender cabinet member in N.J.

Allison Chris Myers, Gov. Phil Murphy's pick to serve as acting chair of the Civil Service Commission. (Photo: New Jersey Civil Service Commission).

Murphy names first transgender cabinet member in N.J.

Governor picks Allison Chris Myers to replace Deirdré Webster Cobb at helm of state Civil Service Commission

By David Wildstein, December 05 2022 1:30 pm

One of Gov. Phil Murphy’ original cabinet members is retiring and will be replaced by the state’s first transgender cabinet member.

Murphy is expected to announce today that Allison Chris Myers will replace Deirdré Webster Cobb on an interim basis on January 1.

“ I couldn’t think of a better candidate to fill the shoes of Deirdré than Allison, who is a career public servant, having started her career in the United States Navy and serving over 20 years at the Civil Service Commission. I am truly grateful to Deirdré for all that she has helped us accomplish over the past five years. I wish her a happy and healthy retirement,” Murphy stated. “As I have said many times before, it is important that the leadership in this state reflect the communities we serve, and I am looking forward to working with Allison to determine how we can better serve our state workforce.”

In addition to her military service, Myers is an attorney who has worked at the Civil Service Commission for nearly 22 years.  After serving as director of the Division of Appeals and Regulatory Affairs, Myers has most recently served as deputy chair and CEO of the department.

“During my career with the CSC, I have assisted numerous public-sector employers and employees in addressing and resolving their civil service system related concerns,” Myers said.  “Our aim every day is to better serve the people of New Jersey through the selection and appointment of its public servants based on relative knowledge, skills and abilities while ensuring equal employment opportunities at all levels of public service.”

Murphy has not said if he will nominate Myers to hold the post on a permanent basis.  If he does, she will need sign off from State Sen. Michael Testa, Jr. (R-Vineland) because she is a Cumberland County resident.”

Myers will become the first Cumberland County woman to head the Civil Service Commission since Thelma Parkinson Sharp held the post from 1959 to 1970.  Parkinson Sharp as also the first woman to win a major party nomination for statewide office as the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in 1930 at age 32.

“In cooperation with labor and management, the CSC will continue to work diligently to implement Governor Murphy’s agenda to provide the finest public services delivered by a top-notch and diverse public workforce,” Myers pledged.

Webster Cobb praised Murphy’s interim pick of Myers to succeed her.

I am confident that Allison will continue to build on the foundation I’ve successfully laid to ensure an effective and efficient civil service delivery system for years to come,” she said.

Webster Cobb has spent more than 30 years in state government, beginning as a Governor’s Fellow during the administration of Gov. Thomas Kean, and held top posts at the old Department of Personnel and the Department of the Treasury.

“I am honored to have led the Civil Service Commission as its Chair/CEO over the last five years and very grateful to Governor Murphy for giving me the opportunity to help build a stronger New Jersey by ensuring that the people who serve our residents have the resources they need to effectively perform their jobs,” said Webster Cobb.  “I am extremely proud of the CSC leadership team and employees for their unwavering commitment to CSC’s priorities of renewed responsiveness, expert problem solving, transparency and education, and removing barriers to elevate the status and desirability of public service.”

The Civil Service Commission cabinet post, which has included three iterations under the current State Constitution, has attracted some marquee names in the past, including former Assembly Speaker S. Howard Woodson, former State Senators Lester Clee and William F. Kelly (the grandfather of Assemblywoman DeAnne Fuccio, and former Assemblyman Anthony “Skip” Cimino.

Last year, Rachel Levine became one of the highest ranking transgender person in the federal government when President Joe Biden nominated her as an admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioners Corps.  Levine also became the first transgender member of a governor’s cabinet when Pennsylvania Gov. Thomas Wolf named her as his state’s physician general and then as Secretary of Health.

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