By Jennifer Boyer
The Rebovich Institute hosted an evening with Regina Egea, president of the Garden State Initiative, on Sept. 25 where she discussed her time working with Governor Chris Christie’s chief of staff from 2015 to 2016 and as a public sector employee with AT&T for 30 years.
“It only makes sense that we will spend an evening looking at the crucial and unique role of the governor’s chief of staff of New Jersey,” said Micah Rasmussen, director of the Rebovich Institute. “Especially one who served a governor, who dominated the state’s politics as thoroughly as Chris Christie did during his two terms.”
At the start of her career, Egea held many leadership positions in the workfield and in office. She joined the State Treasurer’s chief of staff in 2010 and joined the Governor’s Office as director of the authorities unit in 2012.
“One of things that I took away from my time in Trenton was that the administration talked about the lack of serious policy research in the state of New Jersey [which] was more focused on the physical side,” Egea said.
She addressed this problem during her time working for the Garden State Initiative by talking to universities about their willingness to tackle public policy at their schools. Egea wanted institutions to use graduate and undergraduate programs to inform students about the nature of public policy.
“We began to really look outside the state for informing us of the ways that we can grow our economy, that being the core idea, that we can research and support,” Egea said.
Egea’s first project focused on doing a side-by-side comparison of Connecticut and New Jersey.
“Connecticut is an interesting lab for New Jersey because they have a similar economic profile, similar high education and a similar relationship with New York City in terms of jobs and commuting many of the population into the city,” she said.
“The basic principles and goals of Egea’s proposed Garden State Initiative Project and a more in-depth insight of what it was like to be in the capitol during Christie’s tenure as governor and the height of the Bridgegate scandal,” said Nick Zolkiwsky, sophomore secondary education major.
According to Egea, her co-workers at the Garden State Initiative saw public policies that were not designed to expand the economy but rather to fund programs.
“Being able to draw that direct line from funding programs and growing the economy is really one of the core things they are trying to work on,” Egea said.
While trying to promote the awareness of public policy for the Garden State Initiative, Egea also discussed her time at AT&T, expanding her leadership skills through network operations, sales, marketing and human resources.
“We did startups in AT&T so that made me understand, not the risks, but understanding how to manage capital, manage the startup expenses and [how to]introduce yourself into the marketplace,” she said.
She was able to harvest products from calling cards to operator services. Egea managed them through a product life cycle and maximized the return as it was declining it’s value. Her time at AT&T served her well in the long run for her career.
“State and local government need to think about the things that really need to be harvested out of operations so you can really get to the core and nut of what people value from your state government,” Egea said.
Zolkiwsky believies that other states can learn from New Jersey’s public policy.
“I think it would be most beneficial if those in the state assembly would ask their residents what changes they want to see and what issues they feel are most important,” said Zolkiwsky. “I think that, remembering who they are representing will benefit states the most and ultimately improve their public policies.”