The Garden State Leaders Program

The Garden State Leaders Program is a free leadership and advocacy training program for NJ residents with lived experience of homelessness and poverty.  Throughout the program we and our partners help participants learn to effectively tell their stories and further their advocacy goals.  Each session focuses on a different topic such as effectively telling your story, working with the media, and more. 

The program helps to build the skills of people with lived experience of poverty. The knowledge and skill built and connections made, help them take on influential roles on issues pertinent to their lives.  Participants are also connected regularly to a range of advocacy opportunities. 

The next round of the program will begin in July 2021 and will be offered in a virtual format.


 Above: 2019 Garden State Leaders at the NJ State  House with NJ Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker.   


 Below: 2020 virtual Garden State Leaders program   with Union and Camden County Commissioners

For questions or more information, please reach out to

Kate Leahy: or

Renee Koubiadis:

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Program Highlights:


  • 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

  • Develop strategies and techniques for working with the media 

  • Free to participate (technology assistance may be available)


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Testimonials from our Garden State Leaders:
  • “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."


  • "The Garden State Leaders Program has had such a positive influence in my life in so many ways.  I have always felt that I had potential, I was just completely in doubt as to what I felt confident in applying it to.  I knew I had an important personal story based on my life experiences that many people identified with and respected.  However, I was not educated on how to present my story in a manner for which it could be utilized as a resource tool of effectiveness.  The Garden State Leaders Program has broadened my horizons.  I am grateful, and honored to be an alumni of the program.  Ihave already started using the lessons and skilled trades learned in the program to engage with members of my local community."


  • "It was a wonderful experience.  Thank you for providing this."




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Garden State Leaders is a partnership between:


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