Garden State Equality
Garden State Equality
Christian Fuscarino, Executive Director
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 LGBTQ community for over a decade. He credits his positive experiences in Asbury Park as helping influence him to become an activist. In 2016, PolitickerNJ named Christian the 2nd most influential advocate in New Jersey politics and later that year The Observer listed him on the Power List 100.
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 LGBTQ students while earning his BA in digital media and LGBTQ 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.
Alisha De Lorenzo, Interim Deputy Director
As Interim Deputy Director, Alisha De Lorenzo MS, NCC, LPC, SAC oversees programs, development and policy at Garden State Equality as it relates to education and health care. Alisha brings her expertise from over 16 years in public education and as a licensed mental health clinician to guide the development and expansion of LGBTQ programs, education and advocacy for youth, educators, families and older adults.
She is also the Founder and Owner of Living YES, LLC. Created from her passions for education, equity, mental health and contemplative practices. Alisha provides quality professional development and consultation to school districts seeking to integrate wellness as an approach to address educational equity and the emotional literacy of all members of the school community.
Alisha received her Baccalaureate degree in Movement Sciences and Education and has worked in public education as a teacher and Student Assistance Counselor. Before leaving the public education system, she served as New Jersey's first Social Emotional Learning Coordinator, designing and implementing an "Integrative Education" model.
She received her Masters degree in Psychological Counseling from Monmouth University, NJ and has been trained in an integrative mental health model using conventional and contemplative approaches to help clients access physical, emotional and spiritual freedom. She has a private practice in Red Bank where she works with individuals and families around anxiety, depression, relationships, well-being and affirming LGBTQ+ identity and expression.
She has been recognized for her dedication to the mental health field and for the transformational work she brings to communities by receiving the Award of Excellence from the United States Army, Outstanding Alumni Award from Monmouth University, Outstanding Community Activism Award from the Monmouth County Latino American Society and the NJ Governor's Educational Service Professional of the Year Award by the New Jersey Department of Education.
Jon Oliveira, Director of Communications & Membership
Jon Oliveira is a digital, branding, and communications strategist who has worked in the LGBTQ movement for a decade. As Director of Communications & Membership, Jon oversees Garden State Equality’s strategic communications, digital program, media relations, and membership engagement. An alumnus of Garden State Equality, Jon began his career as a campus organizer advocating for marriage equality and anti-bullying protections before becoming Program Director. He previously worked at Freedom to Marry as part of the Digital Action Center, taking a leading role in developing digital strategies for marriage equality campaigns across the nation, including Freedom Indiana and New Jersey United for Marriage. His communications background is reinforced with experience on-the-ground organizing for numerous electoral campaigns up and down the ballot. Before returning to Garden State Equality, Jon ran a digital and design consulting firm to develop strategies, branding, and website solutions for dozens of LGBTQ nondiscrimination campaigns throughout the country—including historic winning ballot campaigns in Washington and Massachusetts—as well as other progressive organizations and causes. Jon received his B.A. in Political Science and Sociology from Rutgers University, where he was a founding father of Delta Lambda Phi, a social fraternity for gay, bisexual, transgender, and progressive men. Originally from the Jersey shore, Jon now lives in Newark with his dog Avner.
Ashley Chiappano, Safe Schools & Community Education Manager
Ashley Chiappano is a parent, advocate, facilitator and trainer. She has worked in the non-profit and public service fields for over 8 years. During her time as a public servant and child welfare professional, she trained and licensed many LGBTQ foster/adoptive parents for the Department of Child Protection and Permanency while also participated in their Safe Space Program. She took pride in working for an All Children-All Family recognized state that welcomes and celebrates LGBTQ families. She educated and trained families in areas related to trauma, child development, abuse/neglect and case practice. Prior to this work, she was a Resource Family Advocate at Foster and Adoptive Family services, where her focus was to educate, advocate and assist families by utilizing CP&P policy to resolve issues and create positive change. During her time as a Resource Family Advocate, she was a licensed resource parent and adoptive mother. Ashley received her B.A. in Communication-Public Relations and Journalism from Monmouth University in 2005 and her M.A. in Human Service from Capella University in 2010. She loves educating others on how to make schools safer for LGBTQ youth and is committed to creating safe and affirming school environments. Ashley enjoys spending her free time going on adventures with her four amazing kids.
Nealon Isaacs, Development Manager
As Development Manager for Garden State Equality, Nealon Isaacs works to connect existing and prospective donors to the organization and to the causes that are important to them. He will help to forge new relationships with business, foundation, and community leaders in support of GSE’s economic goals. The bulk Nealon’s work with GSE is centered on the targeted planning and implementation of major capital campaigns, effectively cultivating and soliciting major contributions and planned gifts, and growing the organization’s annual revenue.
Prior to joining Garden State Equality, Nealon was a Grants Manager for Millennium Strategies where he, quite successfully, worked with a number of municipal and county clients in pursuit of state, federal, and/or foundation-based grant funding opportunities. In this capacity, he collaborated with clients to develop project logic models, create program budgets, research crucial information for drafting grant proposal narratives, and compiled grant proposal components on behalf of clients, per individual grant program guidelines.
Before this, Nealon served as the Legislative Director for the Office of State Senator Raymond Lesniak, where he played a key role in the advancement of crucial social and economic legislation. His experiences have caused him to develop a passion for advocating on behalf of the “little guy”, which he incorporates into his everyday work. Nealon holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Rutgers University-Newark, where he studied Political Science and English.
Bianca Chanel Mayes, Health & Wellness Coordinator
Bianca Chanel Mayes is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) for the health and wellness of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community. In this role, her work encompasses all three education initiatives of GSE! Through the Teach and Affirm Initiative, Bianca presents on LGBTQ Youth around topics such as mental health, comprehensive sex education, and resiliency. For Map and Expand Initiative, Bianca is engaged in a quantitative research study with the Rutgers University School of Public Health and the Center for Health, Identity, Behavior and Prevention Studies department; she also provides LGBTQ competency trainings to healthcare providers and to the LGBTQ community about various topics. With Pledge and Protect Initiative, Bianca is currently in a qualitative study with Monmouth and Stockton University, conducting focus groups around New Jersey counties for LGBTQ aging; she also education to LGBTQ older adults and competency trainings to older adult providers.
Bianca’s career has been centered around general healthcare for vulnerable populations. Prior to joining Garden State Equality in November 2017, Bianca served as a Health Educator and Research Associate for the Community Education and Population Health Department respectively at Atlantic Health System. As a Health Educator she planned, implemented, directed, maintained, and evaluated community health and wellness programs including health education, healthy eating, and physical activity. In her Research Associate role, Bianca gathered and analyzed qualitative and quantitative data collection for each healthcare system.
A graduate of Montclair State University, Bianca holds a Master of Public Health with a concentration in Community Health Education. During Bianca’s graduate education, she worked as a Health Promotion Supervisor for the Health Promotion department. In this role, she developed and implemented a tobacco cessation group for the students and faculty/staff via the Tobacco-Free Campus Task Force. As a result of her efforts, Montclair State University will be tobacco-free by 2020! For her graduate internship, Bianca worked as a Digital Education Specialist for Planned Parenthood Federation of America. In this role, she contributed to the implementation paper about conducting an evaluation of a digital health intervention completely in the digital space. Bianca received her B.S. at William Paterson University of New Jersey with a minor in Women’s & Gender Studies in 2015. Bianca was born and raised in New Jersey. In her free time, this Gryffindor loves to travel, read, and explore new restaurants!
Cole Callahan, Safe Schools Coordinator
Cole Callahan serves as Garden State Equality's Safe Schools Coordinator. In this position, she focuses on the wellness of the LGBTQ youth, primarily focusing on their time as students in New Jersey’s school systems, by creating a safe and affirming space where they can flourish, living as their authentic selves.
Cole graduated from Kean University with her Masters of Arts in Counseling with a focus in School Counseling. While finishing her Masters, she had the privilege of working in the public school system as a counselor and as a coach. During this time, she stood out as an LGBTQ advocate, educating educators and supporting students in their journey for educational equality. Previously Cole received a B.A. in Sociology from Fordham University where she received a scholarship as a Division I athlete, followed by a B.A from Kean University in Psychology.
Outside of Garden State Equality, Cole has several years of military experience as a Field Artillery Officer in New Jersey’s Army National Guard(NJARNG). Within the NJARNG, 1LT Callahan continues to serve and is a Resiliency Trainer and Victim Advocate combating the Army’s concerns with suicide, sexual harassment, and assault.
Cole was born and raised in Monmouth County, where she continues to reside with her artist wife. She is aware of the strides that have been made to protect the LGBTQ community and is thrilled to be a part of an organization that shares her thoughts and beliefs in their pursuit to create a better world for all. She and her wife enjoy crossfit, good books, travel, and hanging out with their cats.