Newly-elected Speaker Joseph Roberts probably gets some points for diversity — and a respect for seniority — in his appointment of key Assembly Committee Chairs for the 212th Legislature. Nellie Pou becomes the first Hispanic to chair the powerful Appropriations Committee (she takes over for Bonnie Watson Coleman, the new Majority Leader), Herbert Conaway, an African American physician from Burlington County, becomes the new Health and Senior Issues Committee Chairman, and Upendra Chivukula becomes the first Asian Indian to chair an Assembly Committee as the head of the Telecommunications and Utilities panel. Human Services Commissioner-designate Kevin Ryan’s worst nightmare may be the appointment of Joseph Cryan to chair the newly-formed Human Services Committee. Cryan has been one of the most outspoken critics of the management practices of DHS & DYFS. The committee chairmanship could put the soon-to-be Democratic State Chairman in a difficult position with the Corzine adminstration. Roberts eliminated the Federal Relations Committee, chaired by Reed Gusciora. The panel was initially conceived as a Bush-basing committee; its elimination is a sign that the new Speaker is trying to repair relations with the Republican minority. Roberts also reorganized the Health & Human Services Committee and the Senior Issues Committee to now be the Health & Senior Services Committee and the Human Services Committee. Legislation previously assigned to the Family, Women and Children’s Services Committee will go to the Human Services Committee. The Speaker has created a new committee to deal with Higher Education issues, to be chaired by Patrick Diegnan.