Public Servant, Friend to NJ Governors and Founder of Partnership for a Drug-Free NJ Passes Away at 81


MILLBURN – The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ) shared the passing of its founder and Chairman Emeritus, Joseph (J.P.) Miele.

Miele, who retired in 2007, was a philanthropist, businessman, author, devoted public servant and advocate for the residents of New Jersey, passed away peacefully, surrounded by his loving family, on May 26, 2021, at his home in Jensen Beach, Fla.

“J.P. Miele was a dedicated public servant whose commitment to the people and State of New Jersey spanned more than five decades,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “A successful businessman and advocate for modern and efficient transportation networks, J.P. served on the boards of the New Jersey Highway Authority and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, the latter of which he vice-chaired. However, his lasting legacy will be his leadership in the fight against addiction, whether it be the role he played in the creation of the Governor's Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, which he also chaired, or with the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey. Serving people was J.P.’s passion, and his dedication to a healthy New Jersey will be his legacy.”

“J.P was a great man, who worked tirelessly for the families and residents of our state,” said Angelo Valente, executive director of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey. “Through his dedication and work for substance use prevention and as the founder of PDFNJ he touched millions by the substance abuse prevention and treatment he spent his life advocating for. His passion and dedication to eliminating substance abuse across New Jersey held steady through this career, and he will be missed by all who knew him.”

J.P., the son of the late Maria E. (Cona) and Anthony Miele, was born and raised in Essex County, a community that never strayed far from his heart. J.P.’s long and storied public service career, spanned more than 45 years and was fueled by his passion to serve the state of New Jersey and his fellow residents. He was proud to have worked in publicly appointed positions with Governors Brendan Byrne, Thomas Kean, James J. Florio, Christine Todd Whitman, Donald T. DiFrancesco, John O. Bennett, James E. McGreevey, Richard J. Codey and Jon S. Corzine until his retirement in 2007.

“I lost a good friend and the state lost a devoted advocate with the passing away of J.P. Miele,” Whitman said. “An entrepreneur, builder and champion of help for those caught up in a cycle of addiction, J.P. volunteered countless hours to the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey. He will be sorely missed.”

In 1972, J.P. was named youngest first assistant prosecutor in the history of Essex County. A fierce advocate for the prevention of substance use disorder, J.P. was the founder and Chairman of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, the state’s largest public service campaign and was a driving force behind the creation of the New Jersey Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, for which he was appointed the inaugural Chairman by Governor Kean in 1985, a position he held until his retirement in 2007.

“Nobody worked harder or longer to fight drug abuse in New Jersey,” said Kean.

“J.P. Miele was a man of influence far beyond those who knew him,” Florio said. “He made a significant impact on many people’s lives and was a real warrior in the battle to combat substance abuse. He truly will be missed.”

J.P. held many other roles in New Jersey government. He served as a commissioner of the New Jersey Highway Authority, and as treasurer and president of the Garden State Arts Foundation. Whitman appointed J.P. as a commissioner of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, and in 2002, McGreevey appointed him as Vice Chairman of the Turnpike. J.P. also served as chair the Committee for a Smart New Jersey and Vice Chairman of New Jersey’s Constitutional Bicentennial Commission.

In an effort to help others, J.P. established the Joseph P. Miele Foundation, which awarded academic scholarships to needy students based on need and academic excellence and provided grants to individuals or groups in the field of addiction recovery. J.P. had a sincere interest in every student, serving as a mentor and friend to each of them, corresponding regularly with encouragement and advice. His foundation awarded more than one million dollars was awarded in scholarship aid.

A successful attorney and businessman, J.P. established the private law practice Miele, Cooper, Spinrad and Kronberg and was the owner of more than 20 companies throughout New Jersey and the United States.

While in retirement, J.P. became a best-selling author when he joined Jack Canfield to co-write the book, “The Road to Success: Today’s Leading Entrepreneurs and Professionals Reveal Their Step-By-Step Systems to Help You Achieve the Health, Wealth and Lifestyle You Deserve.” J.P. was the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions for his commitment to helping others throughout his life. His legacy is that his work, dedication, and accomplishments continue to improve the lives of countless people.

J.P. is survived by his loving brother Richard J. Miele, sons Joseph A. Miele and James L. Miele, daughter Dina M. Lobaina, grandchildren Joseph P. Miele II, Sean C. Miele, Alexis M. Lobaina, Nicholas A.J. Lobaina, Isabella G. Lobaina and great grandchildren Grace L. Miele and Joseph Lewis Miele.

Visitation and prayer service will be held from 4 – 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 2 at Forest Hills Memorial Park, 2001 SW Murphy Road, Palm City, FL  34990.

A funeral mass will be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, June 3 at St. Martin De Porres Church, 255 NE Savannah Road, Jensen Beach, FL 34957.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to:
Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey
155 Milburn Avenue
Millburn, NJ  07041
Treasure Coast Hospice Foundation
In Memory of JP Miele
1201 SE Indian Street
Stuart, FL 34997