The Ombudsman Office
Sep 19, 2019 7:30 AM
Paul Aronsohn
The Ombudsman Office

His title may be the longest in state government, but his staff is the smallest. Paul Aronsohn, the New Jersey Ombudsman for Individuals with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities and Their Families, has an office with one employee — himself.  

Aronsohn occupies a year-old position in state government that has a bipartisan pedigree. Established through a law passed by a Democratic-controlled legislature, it was signed by Republican Gov. Chris Christie. Gov. Phil Murphy appointed Aronsohn as the first ombudsman in April 2018.   

“The governor appointed me because he wanted someone who spoke the same language [as families do], with urgency,” said Aronsohn, a 53-year-old former mayor of Ridgewood. He says he learned that language at home as the younger brother of a woman with disabilities.  

There, he saw his mother care for his sister, whose degenerative and ultimately terminal disability was never completely diagnosed. And through that, he said, he came to understand the struggles parents and siblings face to meet the constant and complex needs of their loved ones.