Garden State Equality is announcing the promotion of Mr. Aaron Potenza to the position of Director of Policy. From May 2015 to October 2015, Aaron served as GSE’s Anti-Bullying Organizer, overseeing advocacy and policy work in New Jersey schools on behalf of LGBT youth. In October of 2015, he was promoted to Director of Programs, a position he has held for the past three years. As Director of Programs, Aaron has overseen all of GSE’s programming initiatives. Under his direction, the organization’s programs have expanded to address issues facing LGBT people across all ages, with initiatives focused on youth, health and wellness, and older adults.
Mr. Potenza is an educator and historian by training and has taught courses on the histories of race and ethnicity, sexuality, gender, and gender identity at Yale University and Trinity College Hartford. He did his undergraduate work in History and Gender Studies at the University of Rhode Island and his graduate work in American Studies at Yale University. He brings a background in nonprofit management and a passion for legislative and electoral politics, public policy, and movement organizing, to the newly-created role of Director of Policy. He also brings a record of success in this area, serving as GSE’s point person on the organization’s last four legislative victories (ensuring transition-related care is covered under health plans sold in NJ; removing outdated “proof of surgery” requirement, and adding third-gender option for birth certificate gender marker changes; ensuring dignity in death by adding gender identity to death certificates; and working on the legislative and policy implementation sides of the new statewide guidance on transgender students). Aaron also recently served on Governor Phil Murphy’s transition team, as a member of the Education, Access, and Opportunity committee.
In his new role as Director of Policy, Aaron will be working to develop GSE’s legislative agenda in consultation with Board of Directors and national partners in the LGBT movement. He will be responsible for implementing the organization’s legislative agenda through meetings with legislative allies and state partners; collaborating with state agencies to implement legislative victories and develop LGBTQIA policies; managing GSE’s Municipal Equality work; managing all incoming advocacy and discrimination cases; and continuing his work with program staff on the policy components of their programs. He will also be serving as GSE’s representative on the NJ Transgender Task Force, the first interagency state Transgender Task Force in the country.
Aaron identifies as a transgender gay man and uses male pronouns. He is committed to ensuring that GSE’s legislative and policy work continues to be informed by broader racial, economic, and social justice concerns and that it is carried out in partnership with organizations and individuals who represent the diversity and the people of the State.