Saily Avelenda, a progressive activist who helped found NJ 11th for Change and pushed House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen into retirement, is the new executive director of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee.
Tolulope Kevin Olasanoye, who took the post in July after a national search, will remain with the state party as a senior advisor working on issues related to the Democratic National Convention.
Avelenda first gained attention in 2017 when she organized a series of Friday afternoon protests at Frelinghuysen’s district office to call attention to his refusal to meet with constituents and hold town hall meetings.
Frelinghuysen sent out a fundraising letter talked about the “organized forces” out to defeat him to Avelenda’s boss at Lakeland Bank, where she was a senior vice president, that included a handwritten postscript: “P.S. One of the ringleaders works in your bank!”
Last year, Avelenda managed Democratic State Chairman John Currie’s re-election campaign.
An Obama campaign veteran, Olasanoye previously served as executive director of the Rhode Island Democratic Party.
He succeeded Elizabeth Gilbert, who left to become president of the Milwaukee 2020 Democratic National Convention Host Committee. She was fired from that job last week after allegations of a toxic workplace environment.
Olasanoye spent two years as a staff assistant to U.S. Senator Jack Reed and managed the 2012 campaign of Robert Craven for State Representative. Craven won the Democratic primary by 326 votes and went on to oust a Republican incumbent.
He was hired by the Obama campaign to serve as Connecticut GOTV Coordinator on the president’s 2012 re-election campaign.