Amy Zanelli has dedicated her life to serving community, family and country, most recently leading the Lehigh County Board of Commissioners where her education and skills in government, social work and law guided the county executives through a year of economic and cultural challenge. Working families, children, and senior citizens have always been at the heart of her work, values taught to her by her family and values she’s ingrained in her own children.
Born in Teaneck, New Jersey, Amy was educated in the public school system and attended Rutgers University where she earned degrees in sociology and forensic anthropology. Upon graduation, she was drawn to work as a child abuse and neglect investigator in distressed communities probing the needs of the most vulnerable. There she worked with both law enforcement and families to find equitable resolutions to crises involving family conflicts and the law.
The values of hard work, equality and community were instilled in her early on growing up in a family of workers in the trades and the military. As a shop steward she represented her fellow workers in negotiations and policy statements to maintain workplace safety and equality. After a decade-long career in human services in some of the most distressed neighborhoods in the region, Amy accepted work in the Lehigh Valley and pursued her community volunteering and involvement while continuing her education and raising a family.
Alongside her work on the county commission, Amy is a licensed real estate agent where she has clearly seen the diverse economic and cultural pressures in housing, jobs and human services. She has assisted a wide range of families, businesses, and individuals, and understands the regulations applied to home buyers and small business owners.
In 2017, Amy was elected to the Lehigh County Board of Commissioners to represent District 3, a diverse section of the county encompassing South and East Allentown, Hanover, West Bethlehem, and Fountain Hill. As a commissioner, she focused on important issues such as pay equity, non-discrimination policies and the renovation and sustainability of Cedarbrook Nursing Home.
Elected Chair during her third year, Amy gaveled down a tumultuous 2020 with not a single job or service lost, nor tax dollar raised. Under her leadership, Lehigh County doubled its dollars invested in preserving farmland, thus ensuring cleaner air, cleaner water, and an improved quality of life for our future generations. In addition, she helped to direct grant funding to seed progressive solutions to issues like homelessness and repeat criminal offenders. She also addressed a dire community need with the funding of two new substance abuse recovery centers.
Throughout her career and time as a public servant, Amy has also been a community volunteer, reaching out to at-risk youth, delivering groceries to seniors, serving meals to the homeless, and supporting parents and educators at school organizations and events. In 2019 she was appointed by the Governor to serve on the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission.
Amy understands the need to balance fair and equal justice for all with the rule of law of which no one is above. Her experience in government, awareness of community diversity and knowledge of the importance of equal application of the law more than qualifies to fill the role of magistrate.