Public servant first: Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter talks the political and personal
Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter and FDU Acting President Sheldon Drucker enjoy the spring-like weather on the terrace of Hennessy Hall on Thursday, March 8. (Photos by Dan Landau)
By Kenna Caprio
Without ever having held elected office, Shavonda Sumter of Paterson ran for N.J. Assembly and won. She took her seat in January 2012.
Sumter, who earned her MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson University, represents the 35th Legislative District, encompassing Paterson, Elmwood Park, Garfield, Haledon, North Haledon and Prospect Park.
In her talk to FDU students, faculty, staff and visitors, Sumter first described herself as a “servant,” saying that she has always been a volunteer and public servant.
“In trials and tribulations,” she says, “they call on women to serve.”
Balancing the various aspects of her life, from family to career to the Assembly to alone time to spirituality, dominated Sumter’s lecture. Striking that balance, is perhaps, just another way of fixing a problem.
Women, she says, are “open to finding solutions, not just talking about problems.” This is the tact Sumter applies to politics, “reaching across the (Passaic) River “ to talk to the towns in Passaic and Bergen counties that she represents. She’s consistently interested in what the state, the county and the municipalities can offer to one another.
Sumter currently serves on the Commerce and Economic Development Committee and Health and Senior Services Committee.
Describing her experience at FDU, Sumter says the University worked with her. For two years she took classes all day on Saturdays, working towards her MBA with a concentration in health systems management.
The degree “expanded my knowledge base, so thank you FDU,” says Sumter.
She also jokes about the fact that she’s not a lawyer, saying that recently she’s constantly being asked if she is. In fact, Sumter works in healthcare administration at Mountainside Hospital in Montclair.
Sumter spoke in Lenfell Hall, invited to present in PublicMind’s “Politics on the PublicMind” series and as part of Fairleigh Dickinson University’s celebration of Women’s History Month.
The next 'Politics' event continues the Women's History Month theme, featuring Mayor Helen R. Le Frois, Mayer of Newton, N.J. Le Fois will speak on March 29 in Lenfell Hall, Hennessy Hall.
Assemblywoman Sumter talked candidly about how she balances the personal and professional in her life.