Name: Regina M. Egea
Who she is: Appointed Chief of Staff to Governor Chris Christie on Monday,
Hometown: A resident of Harding Township in Morris County since 1996, she has served on both the Harding Township Board of Education and the Harding Township Committee.
What she does: Traditionally, the chief of staff runs the Governor’s Office, serves as one of the governor’s lead negotiators on policy and political issues, and effectively functions as the gatekeeper to the governor. With Christie traveling more frequently as chairman of the Republican Governors Association throughout 2014 and as a prospective GOP presidential candidate the following year, more of the day-to-day responsibility will fall upon Egea and Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno to keep state government running smoothly.
How she got here: Egea served as senior vice president of AT&T in Bedminster, where she managed a global sales marketing team of more than 300 employees in offices throughout the world. An active Republican, soon after she retired from AT&T she volunteered as a policy adviser in Christie’s 2009 campaign.
Hired as chief of staff to Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff in the new administration, Egea managed Treasury Department operations and played a leading role in developing the landmark pension and health benefits overhaul that was signed into law in June 2011. She then joined the Governor’s Office as director of the Authorities Unit, which is responsible for the 55 authorities over which the governor exercises veto power, including the powerful Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, New Jersey Turnpike Authority, and New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority. Christie chose her as chief of staff to replace Kevin O’Dowd, whom he nominated to be the new state Attorney-General.
What she brings to the job: Egea, who has earned the governor's trust on the job over the past four years, will be one of a handful of top officials who did not serve under Christie in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, as her predecessor O’Dowd did, work closely with him during the 2000 George W. Bush presidential campaign or serve in a senior position in his 2009 gubernatorial campaign.
“She’s conservative, she’s insightful, she reaches decisions, but she’s also pragmatic in figuring out how to achieve the objectives she would like to achieve,” said Harding Township Mayor Louis Lanzerotti, who worked closely with Egea on local government finances from 2008 until January 2012.
Egea and Christie administration officials did not respond to interview requests yesterday. But Egea made her fiscal philosophy clear when she was first elected to the Township Committee in 2008. “I firmly believe in the ‘live within our means’ policy. If revenues are challenged, priorities must be set,” she told her hometown Observer-Tribune newspaper. The comment, made before she joined the Christie campaign, perfectly mirrors Christie’s philosophy.
Egea’s three-decade career at AT&T, during which she headed teams focused on business strategy development, product management, core network operations, human resources, and executive-succession planning, gives her a deeper understanding of how the corporate world works than anyone who has served in Christie’s inner sanctum. That includes Richard Bagger, his first chief of staff, whose career at Pfizer focused more on government relations and legislation at the federal and state government levels.
Serving in a high-level spot in Treasury gave her a crash course in state government that no other vantage point except the Governor’s Office can match, because every state department runs both its fiscal and policy needs and priorities through Treasury as part of the annual budget preparation process.