Sadaf Jaffer, the new mayor of Montgomery, New Jersey, has become the first ever Pakistani-American woman to hold this office in any town in the United States.
A Khoja dedicated to the common good, she is also the first South Asian woman mayor in the state of New Jersey.
Mayor Jaffer is the daughter of Mushtaq Anwerali Jaffer Visram, who was born in Aden and immigrated from Karachi to the US in 1969 to seek education. Her mother is from Pakistan. She holds a doctorate from Harvard University in Near Eastern Languages and is a postdoctoral research associate at the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies.
She attributes her interest in politics to her parents guiding her to think about national issues from a young age. As children, she and her younger brother used to spend long car journeys participating in mock presidential debates chaired by Mushtaq.
Mayor Jaffer was elected to the Township Committee on the Democratic ticket last year and chosen to serve as mayor for a one-year term by her colleagues.
A natural leader
Catherine Gural, Mayor Jaffer’s deputy, said “Mayor Jaffer is really great at making personal connections, and reaching out to groups of people to bring them together. It’s one of the skills I admire most about her. She is a natural leader. I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we are committed to working as a team.”
Mayor Jaffer was sworn into office on January 3 in a historic and proud occasion for the Pakistani diaspora community. She aims to celebrate and represent the diversity of Montgomery’s constituents, saying: “To me, Montgomery is all about the people that make up our vibrant community.”
She added: “From my experiences in local community organizing and public service, I have concluded that it is indeed the people who make Montgomery great.
“The people of this community are kind, caring, and generous. I see my role as mayor to not only serve the people of this community but also bring them together for purpose of the common good and promote the synergies that result when we work together.”