Garden State Leaders Program: A New Initiative from the NJ Coalition to End Homelessness

15 Apr 2015 1:01 PM | Anonymous

The New Jersey Coalition to End Homelessness is a charter member of the Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey, and APN is proud to share this great information about their new initiative. 

The New Jersey Coalition to End Homelessness (the Coalition) is excited to introduce a new program beginning this summer called the Garden State Leaders.  This free program will be held at Georgian Court University in Lakewood, NJ.  We ask you to spread the word and encourage qualified applicants to apply at

The six sessions, to be conducted over six months, are designed to build leadership skills among those who have direct experience with homelessness.  Each session will focus on a different topic related to advocacy and leadership development, such as effective communication, the legislative process, working with the media, and how to get involved and advocate within your community. 

Participants will work closely with other advocates and key non-profit leaders throughout the state, have opportunities to interact with local and state government officials, and learn how to navigate county government and the NJ State House.  One session will include a trip to the State House and meetings with elected officials and staff.

The program has two primary goals:

  1. To help build leadership skills and the confidence participants need to increase their capacity to take on influential roles on issues pertinent to their lives. 
  2. To bring more individuals who have direct experience with homelessness around the table throughout the state in order to make a stronger case for anti-poverty advocacy efforts, particularly as they relate to those who are homeless or at risk of losing their homes. 

“The solutions for ending homelessness in New Jersey must come from the leadership of those affected,” explains Laura Rodgers, the Coalition’s Board President and Senior Director, Mental Health Services for Jewish Family Service of Atlantic County.

Renee Koubiadis, a Coalition board member and Advocacy Coordinator for the National Association of Social Workers - NJ Chapter explains, “Many social changes have come from those who are oppressed taking direct action to change policy for themselves and others.  We look forward to engaging homeless and formerly homeless New Jersey residents in learning how to do just that.”

A few other states have implemented similar programs with successful outcomes.   For example, in Washington State, the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance has completed two sessions of its Emerging Advocates program.  One program graduate, Thomas Green, a formerly homeless veteran says, “When I learned how easy it is to be heard by my representatives, I also realized that all those life experiences I was so good at minimizing were exactly the stories the elected officials need to hear.”  

For more information or questions, contact Kate Leahy, Director of Operations and Communications for the Coalition at:

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