Garden State Leaders Fall 2019 Class Begins in September

Garden State Leader Brian Kulas, U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ-12), and Renee Koubiadis, Executive Director, Anti-Poverty Network of NJ (APN)

Individuals Most Impacted by Poverty and Homelessness Must be at Forefront of Advocacy and Public Policy

Garden State Leaders is a six-month leadership and advocacy program for New Jersey residents with lived experience of poverty and homelessness. The program emphasizes using your own story to help change policy that you care about.

As just one example of how Garden State Leaders are helping to change policy, at the 2019 Congressional Reception on July 24, 2019, many Garden State Leaders shared their stories of the impact of homelessness on their lives.  Their training in how to use their stories to advocate for change made an impact on their elected officials in attendance.  They also used their stories to make direct connections to the 2019 Congressional Reception policy priorities.  
The Garden State Leaders reminded our elected officials of the critical importance of the Congressional Reception’s theme:   Opportunity Starts at Home:  Building a Necessary and Secure Foundation for Healthy Communities.
Click here for the 2019 Congressional Reception Highlights and video which includes Garden State Leaders telling their stories.  U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Congressman U.S. Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ-3), U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ-9), U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ-10), U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ-11), and U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ-12) along with the staff from other offices attended the event.  Garden State leaders reiterated for our elected officials that housing is a right, housing is healthcare, and housing creates healthy communities.
Garden State Leaders who spoke at the July 24 Congressional Reception included  Susan Biegen, LaShaunda Carter, Robert Hedden, Brian Kulas, Miguel Rodriguez, and Ivan Wei.
“For effective advocacy, the people most impacted must be at the forefront,” said Renee Koubiadis, Executive Director of the Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey (APN.)  APN is a Garden State Leaders partner and was also.  “Their experience equips them with the knowledge of the solutions needed most to end poverty and homelessness. Many of our leaders have gone on to become Boards of Trustees members of New Jersey non-profits, to educate the public through media interviews, and have been effective advocates at the local, county, state, and national levels on real policy change that will make a difference in the lives of many.”
Monthly Garden State Leaders sessions cover a wide variety of topics, from how to advocate on local, county, and state levels, to how to use social media to tell your story. Garden State Leaders work closely with other advocates and non-profit leaders, interact with elected officials, as well as by learning from each other and their experiences. It is also free to attend!
The Fall 2019 program will begin September 6th, and the sessions will be held at Seton Hall University in South Orange. 
Garden State Leader Program Highlights include:
  • Learn how to advocate and tell your own story to effect change on public policies that matter to you
  • Work closely with other advocates and key non-profit leaders throughout the state.
  • Interact with local and state government officials
  • Learn how to navigate county government and the NJ State House
  • Free to attend
These testimonials from our Garden State Leaders endorse the Program:
“Excellent program! Highly recommend to any advocate. Most helpful program I have ever been involved in. Knowledge is very empowering and I feel blessed to share my experience to advocate and help others. Thank you all!”
“This program changed me tremendously. Advocating and serving others has become my life’s purpose. I reached another chance for change and as fate would have it made the right choice. I know I can be a good advocate.  It comes from somewhere deep inside us. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity and the experience.”
Click here to register for the Garden State Leaders Program.  Please reach out to Kate Leahy or Renee Koubiadis with any questions.
Garden State Leaders is a partnership between the New Jersey Coalition to End Homelessness and the Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey.