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New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly… but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat," said President Theodore Roosevelt during a speech at the Sorbonne in 1910.

New Jersey's Governor, James E. McGreevey, is such a man. Devoted to a wide array of worthy causes, he projects the epitome of leadership and is successfully tackling a multiplicity of issues head on. A surge of energy surrounds this fast-paced individual whose actions are indicative of a future with bright tomorrows. Possessing a certain air that demands immediate attention—all the while charming others with exuberant action and eloquent mannerisms—McGreevey is supercharged.

Born August 6, 1957 in Jersey City, the grandson of a police officer and son of a Marine and nurse, James E. McGreevey was to become New Jersey’s 51st Governor at the age of 45. He’s married to Dina Matos McGreevey and is the father of two daughters, Morag Veronica, age nine, and Jacqueline Matos, who was born on December 7, 2001. His knowledge stems from earning a law degree from Georgetown University, and a master’s degree in education from Harvard University. Under his leadership, New Jersey shows immense promise. His attention to the importance of legislative issues concerning disability, health care, education and safety, is taking the state by storm. His energy level is as youthful as his appearance.

Prior to being elected Governor, McGreevey served as Mayor of Woodbridge, since 1992, and led an effort to revitalize Woodbridge's downtown business district. He designated police officials on the streets, resulting in a decrease in overall crime of nearly 40 percent since 1991. He sponsored and co-sponsored laws that established a budget cap and strict ethical standards for public officials. Another of his creations, "Woodbridge Tech 2000," installed computers into the classrooms and linked senior citizens to the Internet, enabling them to communicate with family and friends.

Aside from his dedication to fighting for better schools, fiscal responsibility, and the safety and security of New Jersey Citizens, he has also become a strong advocate on health issues, promoting cancer awareness. One of his many goals is to create a web-based reverse registry to assist cancer patients in finding information on clinical trials. Education is a primary concern. According to McGreevey, “The most effective weapon that we have in the battle against cancer is prevention and early detection.”

Under McGreevey's influence, Trenton, New Jersey will serve as a pilot program in which government and business will work in alliance to plan and prepare a public and private response to terrorists’ attacks. A national, non-partisan organization constituting of senior businesses leaders will exercise their ingenuity and leadership towards notional security. This will establish New Jersey as a business force for implementing the pilot program.

He has also helped Pfizer Inc., Chairman and CEO Hank McKinnell and Education Commissioner William Librera, launch the new Pfizer Medical ScienceAcademy. It serves as model partnership between the state of New Jersey, Pfizer, The Pfizer Foundation and the Morris District. According to McGreevey, "Working with the private sector and the education community, can prepare students for careers right here in New Jersey while providing them with the skills they need to compete in the global economy. Education is indispensable to comprehend possible encumbrances, and augment cooperation to protect citizens He not only works with corporations by creating a bridge between labor and business, but he also demonstrates the winsome possibilities with Pfizer by meeting the students' needs. The more New Jersey assembles a better education system, the more economy will benefit and be more effectively prepared to fight attacks. America needs effective public/private partnership to develop a proactive counter terrorism plan," said McGreevey. "Designed to prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from potential terrorists activities."

"This country will not be a permanently good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a reasonably good place for all of us to live in," quoted President Roosevelt. In his pursuit to make New Jersey a better place to live, McGreevey is ready to fight and not prepared to lose. The battle is staged as McGreevey, alongside Attorney General David Samson and State Treasurer John McCormac, recently filed four lawsuits against corporate defendants including: Qwest Communications Inc., Electronic Data Systems Corporation (EDS), Sears Roebuck and Co., and Tyco International Ltd. The suit seeks to recover colossal losses of $150 million in state pension that allegedly resulted from misconduct by the four companies and certain corporate officers. McGreevey's devotion and ability to balance impending issues toward the betterment of society is visible. "We must hold these corporations accountable and protect the interests of New Jersey taxpayers and pension members," said McGreevey.

Governor McGreevey served in the State Assembly from 1990 to 1991 and in the State Senate from 1994 to 1997. During his tenure in the legislature, he established a state law requiring insurers to pay for mammograms.

Even as mayor, his contributions in health care were acknowledged and commended by President Clinton. High quality leadership and dedication merited him to a position on the National Cancer Advisory Board in 1998. He has also served as Chair of the United States Conference of Mayors Su committee on Health Insurance and as Vice President of the New Jersey Conference of Mayors. In addition to his experience as a state legislator, he's also been as Assistant County Prosecutor and State Parole Board Director.

It’s quite relieving to see such an important figure connect with the people and actually feel their pain and target their needs. He walked 250 miles throughout the state of New Jersey, and interacted with moms, seniors and young families, discussing the dire necessity for cancer research and protocols. He also tore down the mayor’s building and made it accessible for people with disabilities.

Chet Cooper, editor-in-chief of ABILITY Magazine, recently sat down with Governor James McGreevey at the capital building in Trenton, New Jersey.

 

Interview with Governor McGreevey

Chet Cooper: There are many remarkable events, research facilities and programs coming from New Jersey. How did you become involved with the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Center?

Governor James McGreevey: Christopher Reeve brought to the forefront many challenges a person with paralysis or spinal cord injury faces—particularly in Neuroscience. We have previously worked with Dr. Dennis Choi who is Executive Vice President of Neuroscience for Merck Research Laboratories and particularly Dr. Wise Young who is Director of the W.M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience at Rutgers University. Understanding the number of adults and children who face paralysis, our goal was to combine the educational services of the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Center’s program with the New Jersey Commission on Spinal Cord Research to provide a greater degree of collaboration. The commission focuses on accelerating research to develop effective interventions and work with paralysis—particularly focusing on the consequences of spinal cord injury and disease. We’ve developed this collaborative approach between the W.M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience at Rutgers University, Christopher Reeve’s paralysis educational initiatives and the New Jersey Commission on Spinal Cord Research to coordinate academic research, university and private sector research, and educational programs to provide access to spinal cored injury and disease.

CC: Had you met Christopher Reeve prior to the collaboration?

GM: Yes. He and his wife are a visible testament to courage. I found his willingness to provide for an educational resource that provides access not only on-line but also for families throughout the tri-state area heartening. I had the honor of being at the dedication of his center in New Jersey. Much of the basic research is performed in New Jersey, particularly at the Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience at Rutgers, but the goal is to hopefully provide clinical trials in New Jersey hospitals, thereby accessing clinical information and effective interventions. The goal was to bring the Reeve Center as an educational initiative, and Rutgers University, Merck & Co. and the New Jersey Commission as a collaborative partnership.

CC: Now that New Jersey has established itself as a leader in spinal cord injury and disease research is New Jersey focusing on cancer research?

GM: Yes, but first we must understand the scourge of cancer: 41,000 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in New Jersey this year—of which 18,000 New Jerseyians will die from cancer this year; New Jersey has the 6th highest incidence of Breast Cancer in the nation and ranks 4th national for males with Colorectal Cancer and 11th for females. We must understand that cancer is something many New Jersey and American families face.
I was previously appointed to the National Cancer Advisory board, which oversees the National Cancer Institute. One begins to understand that it was president Richard Nixon who first declared the war on cancer and made known the importance of providing information, access to the most recent protocols and a reverse registry to families. New Jersey is providing $20 million to the Cancer Institute of New Jersey. One goal is to create a web-based reverse registry for clinical trials providing information to cancer patients in search of clinical trials so they can enter their vital statistics to match at a cancer center, pharmaceutical or biotechnology companies. We’re also working with epidemiologists and geographers to try and identify wherever we think there is a potential nexus or relationship between an above average incidences of cancer.

CC: Cancer cluster...

GM: Exactly. We want to identify contributing environmental factors. That’s why we’re also spending money on what we call “Cancer Cluster SWAT teams”—like a suspected cancer cluster in Tom’s River. This will enable us to assign -- a team of epidemiologists and geographers to investigate higher than average epidemiological rate of cancer. Another goal of the reverse registry it to provide patients with the latest information about best protocols, practices and treatments in the battle against cancer. We’re taking a comprehensive approach towards battling cancer and enabling patients to have the latest and best information to empower themselves if they want to take the next step. I did this crazy walk throughout the state of New Jersey from High Point New Jersey, Sussex County to Cape May Lighthouse; well over 250 miles. This is before the campaign. Single moms, seniors and young families told me of their battle against cancer and the difficulty they had in accessing information, and most recent research and upstate protocols. The goal is to provide access to the scientific information regarding the best immediate practices to families who are grappling with the challenges of cancer.

CC: Will the Internet be used as one of the main resources?

GM: Yes, absolutely. The reverse tumor registry will enable patients to search for clinical trials that are being performed in their area. They have the ability to submit their vital statistics with a potential matching cancer center or a pharmaceutical biotechnology company.

CC: Are you familiar with the digital divide and have you taken measures to bridge it for people trying to access this information?

GM: Sure. Again, our goal is to push our information as aggressively as possible. We’ll work with community based health care organizations to provide this information, particularly through community groups: churches, community organizations, community centers, and American Legions.

CC: What you’re doing is great and can truly become a national model. Do you think what you are accomplishing in New Jersey will impact a vast number of people?

GM: Oh yeah. We need to understand that the national cost of cancer averages about $105 billion dollars along with the loss of productivity, medical care, and mortality. The most effective weapon that we have in the battle against cancer is prevention and early detection. Raising the visibility in New Jersey in the war against cancer, but also providing information about the best practices and recent scientific information.

CC: On the medical front, what other areas do you see New Jersey expanding in?

GM: Right now, particularly in cancer we’re looking at surveillance prevention and treatment to disseminate research funds and treatment developments throughout the community. It’s our goal to ensure families throughout New Jersey have access to the best of the information.

CC: Will that website be available to anyone?

GM: Yes, which is important. It is currently being designed by the Cancer Institute of New Jersey with the Robert Wood Johnson University, a medical center in New Jersey.

CC: Will the website be funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation?

GM: We’ll receive funding both from the federal government, the National Cancer Advisory Board and the private sector that views this as a win-win situation. It’s a win particularly for the families, but the website will also attract or educate more people regarding the battle against cancer.

 

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