Asbury Park, NJ — Garden State Equality is announcing today that Aaron Potenza will be stepping down from his role as Director of Policy on Friday, June 21, 2019. Later this summer, Potenza will begin a new professional opportunity serving as the Special Initiatives Program Manager for The New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NJCASA).
Potenza, who currently chairs New Jersey’s Transgender Equality Task Force (www.TransEqualityNJ.com), will remain a member of the Garden State Equality family and continue to serve in his capacity as chair and Garden State Equality’s representative until the Task Force concludes its mission in September 2019.
“Serving New Jersey’s LGBTQ community at Garden State Equality has been an honor, and a time of tremendous professional growth,” said Aaron Potenza, Director of Policy for Garden State Equality. “As a member of NJCASA’s robust policy team, I’ll be focused on issue-based, data-driven research that directly impacts the LGBTQ community alongside strategic planning around political and policy issues. Nothing could have better prepared me for this next professional challenge than my time working with Garden State Equality.”
“It is a bittersweet moment for all of us at Garden State Equality to part with Aaron as he pursues the next chapter in his professional career, but he will always be a member of our family,” said Christian Fuscarino, executive director for Garden State Equality. “From the Babs Siperstein Law to transgender student guidance to transition-related care, Aaron has been a pioneer for LGBTQ equality in New Jersey, and his mark will be felt for years to come. We are fortunate that we will continue partnering together through the Transgender Equality Task Force and NJCASA’s intersectional work.”
Potenza first joined Garden State Equality in May 2015 as its Anti-Bullying Organizer, overseeing advocacy and policy work serving New Jersey’s public schools. Shortly after, he was promoted to Director of Programs, where he built out the three pillars of Garden State Equality’s community programs for building safe and LGBTQ-inclusive schools (Teach & Affirm), expanding access to LGBTQ-affirming healthcare (Map & Expand), and protecting LGBTQ older adults (Pledge & Protect). Alongside Fuscarino, Potenza led many of Garden State Equality’s transformative legislative and policy victories including:
Ensuring transition-related care is covered under health plans sold in New Jersey;
Passing The Babs Siperstein Law, which removed the outdated “proof of surgery” requirement for gender marker amendments to birth certificates and created a third gender option for non-binary New Jerseyans;
Ensuring dignity in death by adding gender identity to death certificates;
Developing and implementing New Jersey’s statewide transgender student guidance;
Passing New Jersey’s LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum Law—the second law of its kind in the nation and the first-in-the-nation to be interdisciplinary;
And establishing the first statewide interagency Transgender Equality Task Force in the nation, which he chairs, to assess the legal and societal barriers to transgender equality and provide recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature on how to ensure equality and improve the lives of transgender people.
As Special Initiatives Program Manager, Potenza will have the opportunity to serve as part of NJCASA’s robust policy team to review draft legislation, write responses, and liaison with policy makers. He will additionally conduct assessments, data analysis, and reports about sexual violence prevention and direct service strategies as well as leading community engagement strategies, including outreach and support to the LGBTQ community.
“The New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault is proud to be adding Aaron Potenza to our team. We have greatly appreciated the opportunity to work with Aaron and his colleagues at Garden State Equality as our organizations have worked at the intersections of oppression. We look forward to continuing our allied organizational work and feel confident that Aaron will be a strong addition to our already impactful team of dedicated professionals working to reduce the impact and prevalence of sexual violence in New Jersey and beyond,” said Patricia Teffenhart, executive director of NJCASA.
NJCASA provides a statewide voice for survivors of sexual violence and the 21 county-based sexual violence programs (plus the Rutgers University Office of Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance – New Brunswick) that serve them. NJCASA advocates for survivor-centered policies and legislation, trains and educates for sexual violence service professionals and allied professionals, and develops prevention strategies to address and reduce the root causes of sexual violence.
Beginning Monday, July 1, Garden State Equality will be bringing on Alisha DeLorenzo as Interim Deputy Director to oversee Garden State Equality’s programs, development, and policy. DeLorenzo has deep roots in the public education system for over 15 years as a teacher, Student Assistance Counselor, and the first Social Emotional Learning Coordinator in the state. In addition, as a Licensed Professional Counselor, trained in an Integrative Mental Health model, Alisha specializes in working with LGBTQ clients and families as well as specializing in trauma, grief, anxiety and depression. She has been recognized state-wide for her leadership and the transformative work she brings to communities. Her work in the realm of social justice and equity dates back to 2004 with the National Non-Profit, American Conference on Diversity.
On Friday, June 21 at 5:00 pm, Garden State Equality will be hosting a Reception in Appreciation of Aaron Potenza at Watermark in Asbury Park to honor his contributions over the last several years. The event will be open to members of Garden State Equality along with colleagues and friends of Potenza.