Ten Questions: Mary Pat Christie
First Lady Mary Pat Christie on hockey try-outs and hurricane funds
By Marianne Aleardi

Mary Pat Christie has made it known that even though her husband is governor of our state, she’s trying to keep her family life as normal as possible. With four kids – Andrew, 19; Sarah, 17; Patrick, 12 and Bridget, 9 – her job as managing director at a New York investment firm plus her husband’s very public life, “normal” might not be what comes to mind when you think of this First Lady.


Why did you continue to work when you became First Lady?

One of the reasons I work is to be an example for my children – not that’s it’s the only path to take – but it’s really been instructional for my children, not just my daughters, but my sons too. I’ve always been motivated to be happy and successful in my career regardless of what my husband may be focused on.


The Christies were married in 1986

The Christies were married in 1986

People say you are redefining the role of a governor’s wife. Was that your plan?

Oh my, no. I really am trying my best to not only help my husband but help the citizens of New Jersey, because I never understood the amazing platform this would be. Now that I realize it, I’m trying to make the best of it.


Have you honed in on one social issue you’d like to support?

Originally I thought I wanted to do a lot for autism and prisoner re-entry. But it’s like what happens in life – things happen and set your path differently. What we did to try to act as a catch-all was start NJ Heroes.


What is NJ Heroes?

That’s been a great vehicle to recognize people in all walks of life who are doing really great things in New Jersey, whether it’s for cancer, autism or any number of great causes out there. We’ve been able to give a boost to people’s causes through this one organization. For example, we recognized a woman named Asia Smith who started Purple REIGN to help victims of domestic violence. And through that same organization – NJ Heroes – we recognized a gentleman who is a quadriplegic and helps other quadriplegics make something more of their life. And that same organization recognized a woman who grows hydroponic greens and puts people with developmental disabilities to work. That’s the beauty of NJ Heroes.


You’ve raised more than $33 million for the Hurricane Sandy NJ Relief Fund. What was your first thought when the Governor asked you to take on the project?

My husband called me after returning from a tour of the storm devastation and said, “We have to do something, and you’re in charge.” I was happy to take on the job. In fact, I felt an obligation to do so. My thoughts were with the residents and businesses that lost so much; many of them lost a way of life. By the third day after the storm, we had announced the Sandy Relief Fund, had a website up and began using social media to get the word out.

I’ve been amazed by the spirit and resilience of our New Jersey community. For example, not long after the storm, I toured Sea Bright and met a man whose pizzeria had been destroyed by Sandy. My visit was at the same moment he was seeing for the first time the destruction to his business. He said to me so resolutely, “Don’t worry. We will build this back better than it was.”

I’ve also been so impressed by the generosity of people – from a 5-year old emptying his piggy bank to major corporations. We’ve had contributions from more than 18 countries.


You’ve expressed your desire to give your family some sense of normalcy. Is that hard?

Since my husband became governor, our schedules are hectic, so making time for family is a priority for us. In addition to our Sunday night family dinners, we have family dinner together at least once a week. It’s one of my favorite moments of the day, when the governor and I can settle down at the dinner table with our children. We’ve found that this special time is an effective way to bond with our children and catch up from the hustle and bustle of life. Our children are pretty well-grounded, and they support their father in all he does.

As long as you’re aware of what your priorities are, that should be your focus. I don’t want to say it’s hard, it’s just different. We really are normal. We’re as normal as most people. We do Little League, baseball and softball. Last night, I was at Mennen Arena with travel hockey try-outs until 10 at night – like a normal mom.


Did you have security with you?

No. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. I have the best of both worlds.


Is it weird for the other parents who are at hockey try-outs too?

I hope not. I think most people see us as a pretty normal family. From my kids’ perspective, they think it’s funny that people feel any differently – why wouldn’t we be normal?


The governor is known for speaking his mind freely. Is that how your marriage works?

Absolutely, whether I like it or not! And it always has. I can’t say that’s anything new.


Can you see yourself in the White House?

I can definitely see my husband as President, because I think he’d be a great president. I can’t say I’ve had any kind of vision of our family in the White House. I don’t think I’ve taken it to that next step.


May 2013
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