Mary Pat Christie is the First Lady of New Jersey and the wife of 2016 Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie.
She and Chris have been married since 1986. While she has taken a lower profile than other politician’s wives, she is said to be an important part of her husband’s career and will play a key role in his run for the White House.
“Mary Pat Christie is extremely smart, politically knowledgeable, and a great sounding board,” a source told the New York Post. “She is not one to back down from an issue.”
The 51-year-old was not seen making many speeches during Chris Christie’s gubernatorial campaign, but she was involved in staff meetings, conference calls and strategy sessions, and the investment banker was also in charge of fundraising, pulling together money for her husband’s campaign.
Here’s what you need to know about Mary Pat Christie:
1. She Was Born in Pennsylvania & Met Chris at the University of Delaware
Mary Pat Foster was born in Paoli, Pennsylvania as the ninth of 10 kids, according to her biography on the state’s website.
She attended the University of Delaware, where she was a year behind her husband. Chris Christie was the student body his senior year, and Mary Pat succeeded him, according to a Bloomberg profile, becoming the school’s first female president in 14 years.
Former Dean of Students Timothy Brooks told Bloomberg, “She led more by listening, by understanding situations, by developing really good decisions, and Chris was much more of an ’I’ve got the answer!’ type.”
Mary Pat defeated a petition to defund a gay and lesbian organization and led a protest by 55 classmates against higher tuition at a legislative hearing, according to the article.
She then went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Seton Hall University. She married Chris in 1986 and they lived together in Summit, New Jersey, while they were both pursuing postgraduate degrees at Seton Hall. The couple later settled with their family in Mendham Township.
2. She & Chris Have 2 Sons & 2 Daughters
Mary Pat and Chris Christie have four children, Andrew, Sarah, Patrick and Bridget.
In 2013, she told South Jersey Magazine that she wanted her family’s life to be as normal as possible:
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.
Andrew, 21, is a junior at Princeton University, where he plays baseball. Sarah, 19, is a student at the University of Notre Dame.
Patrick is 14, and Bridget is 11.
Her brother, Brian Foster, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that his sister is “very much her own woman.”
“She’s a career woman and a mom. She’s a real balabusta,” he told the Inquirer, using a Yiddish word that translates roughly to powerhouse homemaker. “She’s always cooking, loves making desserts. She always wants to know what she can bring if she’s coming to my place.”
Foster said, “When I’m over, there’s rules about video games and that stuff. Huge rules around television. They’re disciplinarians, for sure. That’s how Mary Pat grew up. They’re very decided about their philosophies. There’s no wavering. They see eye to eye. It’s all about school and manners, rules and table manners, extending your hand to be introduced, that whole thing.”
3. She Recently Left Her Wall Street Job as Her Husband Considered a Presidential Bid
Mary Pat Christie left her high-paying Wall Street job in April as her husband made his final decision on whether to run for president. She was making $475,000 as managing director at the hedge fund Angelo, Gordon and Co., according to the Asbury Park Press.
“Mrs. Christie has decided to take a hiatus from her work in the finance world to spend more time with her family and young children,” Kevin Roberts, a spokesman for the governor’s office, told NJ.com.
She previously worked at the firm Cantor Fitzgerald.
In 2013, she said one of the reasons she worked after her husband became governor was to set an example for her children.
“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,” she told South Jersey Magazine. I’ve always been motivated to be happy and successful in my career regardless of what my husband may be focused on.”
Chris Christie earns $175,000 as New Jersey’s governor.
“I’ve always been the breadwinner,” Mary Pat told Bloomberg in 2013. “I really just wanted him to be happy in his career, and he is.”
She told Bloomberg she wanted “to define the role of first lady in a way that I could manage it, and a way that I could still do my job, that provides for my family, and that I find interesting.”
Mary Pat said she considered retiring in 2003 after having her fourth child, but continued to work after her employer allowed her to work part time and at times from home.
4. She Started the New Jersey Heroes Organization in 2010
Mary Pat Christie launched the New Jersey Heroes organization in 2010 to “recognize, celebrate, and promote the Heroes of New Jersey who inspire fellow New Jerseyans to give back to their community,” according to the First Lady’s biography on New Jersey’s website.
She has named 30 Heroes across the state and given out more than $800,000 in grants and scholarships.
In an interview with South Jersey Magazine, Mary Pat said:
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.
5. She Also Founded the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund
In 2012, Mary Pat Christie started the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund after the storm battered her state’s shoreline. The relief fund has donated more than $37 million in grants and helped thousands of hurricane victims.
“Building back from Sandy has shown the true spirit of the New Jersey people. We support one another, look out for each other and pull together when disaster strikes to help our neighbors and communities in need,” she said in a statement in October 2014, two years after the storm struck.