Vereliz Santana's journey began in the vibrant City of Newark, where she was born to immigrant parents from the Dominican Republic. Throughout her career, Vereliz has passionately dedicated herself to public service, championing causes related to education, social justice, and equity. She believes education holds the transformative power to turn dreams into reality, a conviction instilled by her parents' sacrifices.

Vereliz earned her bachelor's degree in English from Stockton University. Determined to further her education, Vereliz journeyed to Spain, where she obtained a master’s degree in English Literature and Linguistics at the University of Granada. During her international studies, Vereliz expanded her perspective on education by serving as a student-teacher at the International School of Granada, where she taught English-language learners.

Returning to Newark, Vereliz played a pivotal role in the community as Senior Aide to Mayor Ras J. Baraka, where she nurtured vital relationships with constituents, civic leaders, community stakeholders, and local businesses. She also established neighborhood, block, and tenant associations within the city, fostering a sense of community and enhancing direct support and communication between the city's residents and municipal services.

Subsequently, Vereliz joined the College Board's International Division, where she managed the International Professional Learning program. Overseeing the planning and execution of more than 12 international Professional Learning workshops for Advanced Placement teachers, she furthered her commitment to educational excellence.

Most recently, Vereliz served as Legislative Director to New Jersey Senate President Pro Tempore M. Teresa Ruiz, managing the Senator's legislative, policy, and budget agenda. She also developed consensus-building strategies and managed stakeholder relationships to advance the senator's priorities.

In January 2021, Vereliz Santana assumed the crucial responsibility of filling a vacancy on the Newark Board of Education following the untimely passing of Octavio “Tave” Padilla. Securing the confidence of the community, Vereliz was elected to a full three-year term just three months later and nominated Co-Vice President by her fellow board colleagues—a title she still holds today. As she embarks on the journey towards reelection, Vereliz remains steadfast in her dedication to the families and children of the great City of Newark.

Vereliz is currently Director of Lawmaker Engagement at The States Project, where she strives to provide nonpartisan tools and resources to connect a diverse community of state lawmakers committed to improving lives for the people they serve.

Beyond her public service and career, Vereliz is pursuing a Master of Business Administration degree at Rutgers University—Newark, further enhancing her expertise and commitment to making a positive impact in her community and beyond.

  • Born in Newark
  • Member of the Newark Board of Education since 2021
  • Co-Vice President of the BOE
  • Chair of the BOE Legal Committee
  • Member of the Governance, Instruction & Program and Budget committees
  • Legislative Affairs Director, National Policy Organization
  • Served as Legislative Director to Sen, M. Teresa Ruiz
  • Served as Senior Aide to Mayor Ras J. Baraka
  • Awarded Certified Board Member Status by NJ School Boards Association
  • Bachelor’s Degree in English from Stockton University
  • Master’s in Literature & Linguistics from the University of Granada, Spain
  • MBA Candidate, Rutgers University–Newark

Learn About Our Other 2024 Candidates for Newark Board of Education

Helena Vinhas
Dawn Haynes
Kanileah Anderson

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