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Ronald Chen was, until January 2010, the New Jersey Public Advocate. He was nominated to fill the position on January 5, 2006, by Governor of New Jersey Jon Corzine. He was the first Public Advocate to serve in the post since 1994, when the job was abolished by former Governor Christine Todd Whitman. The previous Public Advocate was Zulima Farber, who served as state Public Advocate from 1992 to 1994 in the Cabinet of former Governor James Florio, and served as New Jersey Attorney General in 2006. The first New Jersey Public Advocate, and the first of any state, was Stanley Van Ness who was instrumental in the creation of what was to become known as the Mt. Laurel Doctrine which prevents municipalities from using zoning as a means of excluding low income residents. Prior to becoming Public Advocate, Chen was an associate Dean and Professor of Law at Rutgers School of Law—Newark, and he has returned to Rutgers after his term as Public Advocate. Prior to becoming Public Advocate, Chen was an associate Dean and Professor of Law at Rutgers School of Law—Newark, and he has returned to Rutgers after his term as Public Advocate. Since April 2013, he has served as Acting Dean of Rutgers School of Law--Newark.
Chen was born on May 28, 1958, in Stamford, Connecticut, and raised in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, where he now resides. He attended Dartmouth College, where he was President of Phi Tau fraternity and a member of the rowing team, graduating in 1980. He then attended Rutgers School of Law–Newark, receiving his law degree in 1983. He served as Vice Chair of the New Jersey Supreme Court Committee on Professional Ethics from 1996 to 2006, and as a member of the American Civil Liberties Union National Executive Committee from 2002 to 2006. He has also served as Secretary and a member of the Board of Directors of the U.S. Rowing Association, and was a referee in the 1996 Summer Olympics.
- Meet Ron Chen, New Jersey Department of the Public Advocate. Accessed February 27, 2011. "A child of Chinese immigrants who came to this country after World War II, Chen has lived most of his life in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey."
- 92 N.J. 158, *; 456 A.2d 390
- Chan, Sewell. "Metro Briefing", The New York Times, January 6, 2006. Accessed June 20, 2008. "Governor-elect Jon S. Corzine nominated Ronald Chen yesterday to serve as public advocate and Lisa Jackson to head the Department of Environmental Protection."