After working more than 20 years to promote legislation that help improve public education and employment in New Jersey, Ginger Gold Schnitzer is calling Saint Peter’s her home.
Schnitzer, former director of government relations for the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), was named the new executive director for the Guarini Institute for Government and Leadership at the university on March 4.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, but raised in Plainsboro, New jersey, Schnitzer earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Douglass College, Rutgers University, as well as a JD from the Villanova University School of Law and a master’s degree of government administration from the University of Pennsylvania.
Over the 22 years she has worked with NJEA, Schnitzer was responsible for promoting “good education policy and good labor policy.”
She has worked on NJ’s progressive school funding formula, the Education Facilities Construction and Financing Act and helped update the state’s teacher tenure law.
Schnitzer also worked on legislation that allowed NJEA members to bargain a contract up to five years instead of three years. Other pieces of legislation that she helped to push forward include improving working conditions for the people that work in our schools.
“I have such great respect for educators,” Schnitzer said. “So to get to work with people who work in our schools and work with students every day for 22 years, I felt I had the best client in the world because they were important people who do important work.”
She was appointed to the position of executive director for the Guarini Institute earlier in March, but she already has big plans.
For those not in the know, the institute was founded in 1994 thanks to an endowment by former congressman Frank Guarini.
According to Schnitzer, the institute aims to provide a forum for the critical analysis and discussion of current public policy issues, and as a way to encourage students who are interested in pursuing careers in public service.
“I’d like to think of the Guarini Institute as a bridge from everything that we’re learning here in the classroom no matter what our discipline or subject is to the practical world of making and influencing policy,” she explained.
On April 10 in McIntyre A from noon to 1 p.m., the institute will hold an open house which Schnitzer is calling a “networking reception” for students to get a chance to meet local political figures and learn more about how the institute works.
The open house will also serve to promote the institute’s event on April 24 in McIntyre B from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. called “In the Weeds,” a policy discussion about the legalization of marijuana.
Confirmed speakers for that event include Assemblyman Jamel Holley, who is the sponsor of the marijuana legalization bill in the assembly. The other guest will be Senator Ron Rice of Newark, who is a vocal opponent of the legalization. Lee Keough. editor-in-chief of NJSpotlight.com, will also be on the panel.
Schnitzer hopes that the event will look at the issues from a social justice perspective, the decriminalization of nonviolent marijuana offenses as well as the health aspects of marijuana.
“My goal for this institute is to help our community here at Saint Peter’s become engaged [through politics and policy], to know that democracy is not a spectator sport. There is a place for them on the field and let’s help them find it.”