Senator M. Teresa Ruiz was elected to the Senate in 2007. A first-generation Puerto Rican American, she is the first Latina to serve in the New Jersey Senate.

Senator Ruiz, an Assistant Majority Leader, serves as chair of the Senate Education Committee. Upon assuming her leadership role in 2010 the senator began a statewide conversation about reforming the state’s teacher tenure laws, which served as the platform for legislation she sponsored to overhaul New Jersey’s 100-year-old statute. Signed into law in August of 2012, the Teacher Effectiveness and Accountability for the Children of New Jersey (TEACHNJ) Act was endorsed by the state teachers’ union and received unanimous bipartisan support in the state Legislature.

Senator Ruiz has sponsored numerous laws to improve the safety and preparedness of New Jersey’s public schools and institutions of higher education, including a law requiring education officials in K-12 districts to hold safety drills each month to prepare students, teachers and administrators for specific emergencies. She also sponsored a law requiring colleges and universities to distribute information about fire safety plans, including evacuation procedures, to the campus community. The legislation was part of the continued effort by lawmakers to improve fire safety on college campuses following a tragic Seton Hall University fire in 2000.