GARDEN STATE EQUALITY STAFF
Christian Fuscarino has deep roots in New Jersey, growing up in Belmar and spending much of his youth in and around Asbury Park. Fuscarino has been an activist and organizer in the LGBT community for over a decade. He credits his positive experiences in Asbury Park as helping influence him to become an activist. PolitickerNJ named Christian the 2nd most influential advocate in New Jersey politics.
Christian’s story of immersing his early years in LGBT advocacy and education began with formal training through the Gay, Lesbian, Straight, Education Network (GLSEN). Kevin Jennings, GLSEN founder, and his staff recognized Christian’s passion for the cause and became important mentors in his life.
At GLSEN, Christian worked with high school Gay Straight Alliances (GSA) for several years. In 2007, Christian joined the Pride Connections Center of New Jersey as a program developer serving gay inner-city youth. That same year, he won a student Emmy award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for his End the Silence public service announcement. In 2008, Christian founded The Pride Network, a national leadership development non-profit.
In 2013, Christian joined Alan van Capelle, former Executive Director of Empire State Pride Agenda, by serving as his digital strategist at Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice. They focused on mobilizing Jews to advance social issues by speaking out against injustice and inequality. One of the organization’s greatest accomplishments was a campaign that resulted in California Governor Jerry Brown signing The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.
Christian served as the Communications Director for the Educational Alliance until 2016. The Alliance is a non-profit organization that aims to break the cycle of poverty for low-income children and families through preschool, after school and college prep programs.
Fuscarino’s volunteer work has received numerous accolades, including recognition from the New Jersey State Senate and Assembly, Congressmen Bill Pascrell and Donald Payne, U.S. Senators Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg, and Governor Jon Corzine. Media outlets such as CBS News, Sirius XM and Genre Magazine have featured Christian in groundbreaking stories. Hofstra University honored Christian, an alum, as their 2012 Man of the Year for his work developing a safe-campus space for LGBT students while earning his BA in digital media and LGBT studies.
Christian recently moved back to New Jersey from Brooklyn where he was living with his partner, Aaron Williams, a tennis instructor, now serving in the Marines.
Aaron Potenza, Director of Programs
Aaron Potenza is an activist, educator, and historian. While attending graduate school he taught courses on the history of race and ethnicity, sexuality, gender, and gender identity at Yale University and Trinity College Hartford. Prior to attending graduate school he worked in the non-profit world, as a teacher with Talent Development, and then as assistant director for the YWCA of Greater Rhode Island. At the “YW” he pioneered programming for middle school girls facing social and economic barriers, and expanded access to health programming to lesbian and transgender identified women. Aaron received his B.A. in History and Women’s Studies from the University of Rhode Island in 2004, his M.A. in American Studies from Yale University in 2010, and his M.Phil in American Studies from Yale University in 2010. When not working on LGBT youth issues, he runs a mid-century furniture business, Postwar Restore. He also enjoys spending time with his husband James and their delightful German Shepherd Hound Jack.
Patrick Lenahan, Director of Operations
Patrick is responsible for managing the administration, finances, and human resources of Garden State Equality. In short, Patrick makes sure the doors stay open. Additionally, Patrick fields the calls that come in through the Discrimination Hotline, ensuring that GSE is connecting people who need assistance with resources, and he serves as the intake coordinator and supervisor for GSE’s cadre of volunteers and interns. Earlier in his career, Patrick worked in sales and customer service for large New Jersey-based companies in the private sector. Patrick came to Garden State Equality as a volunteer in 2008, when he decided to assist in the campaign to win marriage equality. In 2010, he was elected to the Board of Directors in recognition of his commitment to GSE. A graduate of William Paterson University, Patrick also studied at Montclair State University and Institut Savoisien d’Études Françaises at l’Université de Savoie in Annecy-le-Vieux, France, where he was first in his class.
Celeste Fiore, Development Manager
Celeste has been a long time volunteer and supporter of GSE and her knowledge of the organization, LGBTQ needs in New Jersey, and her passion for lived equality will aid us as we progress into the New Year and through our transition with a new Executive Director. Celeste is an attorney with the The Fiore Law Firm, LLC based in Montclair, New Jersey. Along with being a small business owner and a lawyer, Celeste has been an activist for LGBTQ rights since her college days at American University in Washington, DC. After graduation, she performed a year of community service with City Year-Greater Philadelphia where she founded a student-led citywide high school literary magazine. She continued her advocacy while at Rutgers School of Law (Camden) through her leadership of the LGBTQ student group. She currently serves as the Secretary of the LGBT Rights Section of the New Jersey State Bar Association and she regularly presents programming on LGBTQ cultural competency for various organizations. Celeste believes in the power of people to be the change they wish to see in the world, whether that change happens in their hearts or in their communities. She looks forward to working with new and existing partners to promote lived equality for all New Jerseyans.
GARDEN STATE EQUALITY BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Garden State Equality Education Fund Executive Committee
Chair: John Keating
Treasurer: John Otto
Add’l Members: Luanne Peterpaul, Toni Bonjavanni, Steve McIntyre, Lynn Centonze, Lori Marino, Robyn Gigl
Garden State Equality Action Fund Executive Committee
Chair: Luanne Peterpaul
Treasurer: Kim Otto
Secretary: Steve McIntyre
Add’l Members: John Otto, Robyn Gigl, Toni Bonjavanni, Lynn Centonze, Lori Marino
Elder Rev. Kevin E. Taylor
Rev. Jeff Ziegler
Dr. Stacy Brodsky
Rev. Gil Caldwell
Rev. Matt Cimorelli
Rev Bruce Davidson
Rev. L.L. DuBreuil
Rev. Rose Hardy
Veronica Hoff Kairos
John Otto III
Robert S. Powell