Chief of Staff
George Helmy serves as Chief of Staff to the Governor.
A native of Jersey City, Helmy served as State Director to U.S. Senator Cory Booker for three years, serving on the Senator's senior staff and overseeing the day-to-day operations of his New Jersey offices. Prior to serving as State Director, he worked as Senator Booker’s state office Deputy Chief of Staff for two years. Prior to serving in Senator Booker’s office, he worked in the private sector with two Fortune 100 companies and served as an aide to the late U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg, handling issues such as gun safety and financial affairs.
Helmy currently lives in Morris County with his wife and two children. He received his Bachelors of Arts from Rutgers University and a Master’s degree from Harvard University.
Parimal Garg serves as Chief Counsel.
Previously, he served as a Senior Policy Advisor during the gubernatorial campaign, helping to formulate the campaign’s substantive positions. Prior to joining the campaign in August 2016, he clerked for New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner. He previously worked as an attorney at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP in Washington, DC, where his practice focused on antitrust matters, financial investigations, and appellate arguments.
Garg received his B.A. from Georgetown University, magna cum laude, and J.D. from Harvard Law School, cum laude.
Chief Policy Advisor
Zakiya Smith Ellis serves as Chief Policy Advisor to Governor Phil Murphy where she is responsible for developing and directing the Governor’s policy initiatives in coordination with the Cabinet.
Previously Dr. Ellis served as New Jersey’s Secretary of Higher Education, where she was responsible for policy development and coordination of higher education activities for the state. In this role, she led the development of a student-focused state plan for higher education featuring a vision for a student bill of rights, the reform of the state’s funding methodology for public institutions of higher education, and the design of the state’s efforts to expand college affordability through tuition-free promises to low-income students.
Prior to her work in New Jersey state government, she led the DC office of Lumina Foundation, the nation’s largest foundation focused solely on higher education. At Lumina she led work to advance federal policy to increase attainment and funded projects to develop new postsecondary finance models, focusing on issues of affordability.
Dr. Ellis has also worked in the Obama administration as a Senior Advisor for Education at the White House Domestic Policy Council and as a senior adviser at the U. S. Department of Education. Earlier in her career she authored reports on the ability of low- and moderate- income students to access, afford, and complete college while on staff at the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance.
Dr. Ellis holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and secondary education from Vanderbilt University, a master’s degree in education policy and management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a doctorate in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania, where she graduated with distinction for both written dissertation and oral defense.
Acting Communications Director
Alexandra Altman serves as Deputy Communications Director to the Governor.
Previously, Altman served as Deputy Press Secretary, leading the communications and messaging strategy for key areas of the Governor’s agenda including climate action and clean energy, public health, and First Lady Tammy Murphy’s Nurture NJ initiative. Altman joined the Murphy Administration as Public Information Officer for the New Jersey Department of Corrections before moving to the Governor’s Office in the Fall of 2018.
Prior to serving in the Murphy Administration, Altman held roles as Assistant Director for Communications and Media Relations at the Institute for Advanced Study and Head of Communications and Customer Relationship Management at HelloFresh USA.
Altman holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Legal Studies and Political Science from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a Master of Arts degree in Political Science from Oklahoma State University.
Born and raised in New Jersey, Altman currently lives in Montgomery with her husband and two sons.
Acting Deputy Communications Director and Press Secretary
Alyana Alfaro Post serves as Press Secretary to the Governor.
Previously, Alyana served as Deputy Press Secretary and Press Aide to the Governor. From 2015 to 2017, Alyana served as a politics reporter for Observer New Jersey, covering local, state, and national politics in the Garden State. She previously served as a freelance journalist and as Specialty Editor for the monthly medical journal Federal Practitioner. Alyana received her bachelor’s degree from Seton Hall University and a Masters of Arts in Multimedia Journalism from New York University. She currently resides in Plainsboro with her husband.
Christine Guhl Sadovy serves as Cabinet Secretary, working as the primary liaison between the Governor’s Cabinet and the Governor’s Office.
She joined the Murphy Administration at the Board of Public Utilities, where she rose to the position Chief of Staff, helping to spearhead Governor Murphy’s clean energy agenda. During her time at NJBPU, she worked on several key initiatives of the Administration including the 2019 Energy Master Plan, implementation of the 2018 Clean Energy Act, and development of the State’s electric vehicle incentive program.
Prior to serving in the Murphy Administration, Christine worked as the Legislative and Political Director for Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey. At Planned Parenthood, she worked to ensure the election of pro-women’s health candidatesto state office and advocated for the restoration of funding for family planning, the first piece of legislation Governor Murphy signed upon taking office.
Christine began her career working on energy and environmental issues with the Sierra Club as a representative of the Beyond Coal campaign, where she spent five years advocating for clean energy policies in New Jersey.
Christine is a lifelong New Jersey resident. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Rutgers University and serves on the board of Anchor House, Inc., a Trenton-based youth homelessness organization. She lives in Lambertville with her seven-year-old son, Julian.
Senior Deputy Chief Counsel
Kate McDonnell serves as Senior Deputy Chief Counsel.
Previously, she served as General Counsel to the Assembly Majority Office, a position she has held for eight years. Prior to becoming General Counsel, she served as an Associate General Counsel in the Majority Office, where she worked in a variety of policy areas.
McDonnell is a magna cum laude graduate from the University of Notre Dame and holds both a J.D. from the Rutgers School of Law – Camden and a Master’s Degree from Rutgers – New Brunswick’s Bloustein School of Policy and Planning.
Deputy Chief Counsel
Director of Authorities
Noreen Giblin serves as Deputy Chief Counsel and Director of the Authorities Unit for Governor Phil Murphy.
A native of New Jersey, Noreen previously served as Cabinet Secretary to the Governor and as Chief Counsel at the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. At NJBPU, Noreen worked on advancing Governor Murphy’s clean energy agenda, including the 2019 Energy Master Plan, the Offshore Wind inaugural solicitation, the establishment of the State’s first community solar program, and the transition of the state’s solar market.
Additionally, she has also served as Counsel at Gibbons P.C. representing businesses on legislative affairs, public policy, and government affairs matters.
During the Corzine Administration, Noreen served as Chief of Staff at the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities and as the Chief Advisor to the President of the Board. In this role, Noreen oversaw the day-to-day management of the Board, including core operational, financial, and human resources initiatives.
Noreen formerly served as Director of Executive Office Operations for Governor Corzine and, before that, as State Director to United States Senator Frank Lautenberg, where she oversaw the staff and operations throughout New Jersey. She also served as Deputy Director of the Authorities Unit during the administration of Governor James McGreevey.
Giblin received her B.A. from Villanova University and J.D. from Seton Hall University School of Law.
Deputy Chief Counsel
Previously, she served as Senior Counsel, advising the Governor on consumer affairs, environment, and energy matters. Prior to joining Counsel’s Office, Lisa focused on environmental litigation and policy. She worked for the Environmental Practice Group of the Division of Law within the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General for many years with an emphasis on environmental enforcement litigation, solid waste licensing, and Superstorm Sandy recovery. She graduated from Widener University School of Law in Wilmington, Delaware and from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology.
Chief of Staff to First Lady Tammy Snyder Murphy
Stephanie Lagos serves as Chief of Staff to First Lady Tammy Snyder Murphy.
Previously, she was a Senior Policy Advisory to the Murphy for Governor campaign. Prior to that, she served as Deputy Chief of Staff and Legislative Director to Assemblyman Schaer.
Stephanie holds a Master’s of Science in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University and a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Biology, Ecology, and Environmental Science from Christopher Newport University. She served for over two years in the United States Peace Corps working on Environmental Sustainability and Diplomacy.
Deputy Chief of Staff of Outreach
Deborah previously served as a statewide organizing expert at the New Jersey Education Association. She specializes in building statewide campaigns and coalition building, with educators, advocacy organizations, parents, faith-based leaders, and community members. Deborah's work includes both issue and electoral campaigns, ranging from community schools to the gubernatorial race. Deborah has worked as a community organizer and lobbyist for nearly two decades in New Jersey, including as parent advocate in her hometown, NJEA Associate Director of Government Relations, and Legislative Director of New Jersey Working Families.
Deborah graduated cum laude from Dartmouth College, and holds a masters and Ph.D. from UCLA in Anthropological Archaeology with a specialization in Latin American cultures prior to Spanish contact, where she was a Fulbright scholar.
Deputy Chief of Staff for Economic Growth
Mr. Kelley manages economic affairs for the Governor's Office. In this role, he oversees major policy initiatives, manages large economic development projects, and works with the Governor on marketing the state to businesses around the world. Since joining the Murphy Administration, Mr. Kelley has served as the Governor’s point person for several critical issues, including the economic restart and recovery from Covid-19; the American Dream development; statewide transit oriented development; corporate relations; and foreign direct investment, including the Governor’s trips to Germany, Israel, and India, which have brought over 1200 jobs to NJ.
Mr. Kelley was a Deputy Campaign Manager and Finance Director for the 'Murphy for Governor' campaign. He previously owned and operated a public affairs consultancy, working with U.S. Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, the 2012 Democratic Convention Host Committee, and NARAL Pro-Choice America, among others. In 2013, he was appointed by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer to midtown Manhattan’s Community Board, a volunteer body with oversight of zoning, land use, liquor licensing, and other economic development issues. Mr. Kelley grew up in Morristown, NJ, and is a graduate of Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA. He is a Member of the Councilor's Program of the Atlantic Council, a foreign policy think tank.
Deputy Chief of Staff for Intergovernmental Affairs and Appointments
Tim Hillmann serves as Governor Murphy’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Intergovernmental Affairs and Appointments
Previously, Tim served as the Governor’s Director of Appointments. Prior to joining the Murphy Administration in 2019, he spent nine years on the staff of Senator Bob Menendez, rising to the position of Deputy State Director.
He is a graduate of Fordham University and resides in Metuchen with his wife Catherine, son Owen, and dog Gus.
Deputy Chief of Staff for Legislative Affairs
Justin Braz served as Senior Advisor to Murphy for Governor and the New Jersey Democratic State Committee 2021, Labor Director for Victory 2017 and was Chief of Staff to Assembly Budget Chairman Gary S. Schaer from 2013 until August 2017. He also was the New Jersey Political Coordinator for 1199 SEIU and Chief of Staff to Assemblywoman Annette Quijano. Braz also is a national board member and a founding member of the New Jersey Chapter of the New Leaders Council, a leadership and professional development organization. He is the current Chairman of the State House Commission as the Governor’s representative. Braz is a graduate of Penn State University.