Sara Peña, lives in Newark, New Jersey, along with her family, where she was born, raised and
educated. Her mother was born in Ecuador and her father in Dominican Republic. She is the
Director of the Center for Hispanic Policy, Research and Development in the Department of
State. Ms. Peña has two decades of initiating and delivering sustained results across a wide range
of industries including healthcare and government.
She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Management from Kean University and her Master’s
Degree in Public Administration from Rutgers University in Newark. She was inducted into the
National Honor Society for Public Affairs and Administration, Pi Alpha Alpha and a proud sister
of the first multicultural sorority at Kean University, Mu Sigma Upsilon Sorority, Inc.
Ms. Peña was recently named as one of 2018 New Jersey’s Top Policymakers by InsiderNJ for
her years of developing and implementing policies and programs that improve the lives of others.
Inspired by her son, Anthony, Ms. Peña founded the Boys to Leaders Foundation. Its mission is
to empower and motivate young men by providing leadership training, educational programs, and
positive personal and professional development. One of the many benefits from the Latino Youth
Leadership Conference, sponsored by her organization, is the ability to promote a culture of
communication that will translate into sustainable results for the future.
In 2018 Sara served on Governor Phil Murphy and Lieutenant Sheila Oliver’s Human and
Children Services Transition Advisory Committee.
The Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders congratulated and issued a resolution,
sponsored by Freeholder President Britnee N. Timberlake, to the Boys to Leaders Foundation for
their commitment to providing educational, social, and cultural, services and programs to the
community, especially young Latino males.
Sara was recently honored at the “Women on Fire; Our Time is Now!” award ceremony
sponsored by The Newark Circle of Sisters for her commitment to Mentorship. Their mission is
to empower women through the principles of sisterhood, scholarship, service, and celebration;
ultimately creating a stronger network of women in Newark who support one another.
In September 2017, Ms. Peña received the distinguished Illustrious Award, a signature initiative
of The Institute for Latino Studies, documents and highlights the contributions of Tri-State
Area Latinos to the advancement of the United States of America.
During Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration 2016, Ms. Pena was recognized by Essex County
Freeholder President and currently Assemblywoman Britnee N. Timberlake, for her
entrepreneurial success and for empowering women to make a difference in the community.
Ms. Peña received the Shaping Our Future Leadership Award in Political Empowerment
sponsored by Friends of the Hispanic Research and Information Center who support The
Newark Public Library and create awareness of the importance of documenting the history of
Latinos in New Jersey.
Serving on the Executive Board of LUPE Fund, Inc., an organization dedicated to the
empowerment of all Latinas in New Jersey, has also given her the opportunity to serve on
committees engaging our youth. She currently serves as the President, has served in the capacity
of Treasurer; Co-Chair of the Young Latina Leadership Conference; Chair of the Scholarship
Committee; and is actively involved in engaging Latinas in the LUPE mission, to Empower,
Educate, and Engage women from all walks of life through leadership, advocacy, and education
to benefit all communities and to elevate the status of women.
She has participated in the Emerge New Jersey's inaugural class of 2014. The organization’s
mission is to inspire women to run, and its goal is to increase the number of Democratic women
in public office. Ms. Peña is a fellow graduate of the Leadership Newark Program, which focuses
on public policy and issues that affect the city as well as various community engagement projects.
Newark Mayor, Ras J. Baraka appointed her to the Commission on Status of Women who serve
as Ambassadors, policy-makers for women’s issues, advocates for community outreach, and
advisors to the Mayor on city issues.
She was honored by the City of Newark Municipal Council, during Latin Heritage Month, for
her unwavering commitment to the residents through her affiliations with the Hispanic community
and community at large.
Ms. Pena has served on the Community Justice Advisory Board with the Essex County
Prosecutor’s Office which is dedicated to creating and putting forth programs aimed to provide
children and adolescents with positive alternatives and interventional strategies aimed at
Sara has volunteered at the Immigration Department at La Casa De Don Pedro, whose purpose
is to serve those who have been victims of serious crimes by ensuring those individuals are
provided with the right legal services and to educate them on the applicability of various
Immigration Laws; Annual Newark Women’s Conference sponsored by Councilwoman Mildred
She also served as the Chair on the Board of Trustee to Roseville Community Charter School and
on the Newark Pre-School Council Board. Ms. Peña received the Achievement Award from the
Puerto Rican Day Parade Committee of Newark for her outstanding service and dedication to
the Puerto Rican community.