Rupande Mehta is an immigrant, a professional working for a Fortune 500 company, an activist for causes related to violence against women, environment, and social justice and an author. Her first novel, Trihayani came out in December 2021. In 2020, Rupande ran for State Senate in LD25 and received the most votes ever for that seat. She is currently undergoing the Climate Reality Project training aimed at tackling the climate crisis. Rupande is a State Committee woman from Morris County and lives in Denville with her husband and daughter. She loves to exercise, read and cook. Rupande can be found on Twitter @rupandemehta.
Emerge Aluma 2018. Executive Director of Inspiring South Asian American Women (ISAAW) Vice President of Women’s Political Caucus of Central New Jersey. President of Democratic Club of Edison. Member of NJ Democratic Federation of women. Ready to Run graduate 2018. Community volunteer on South Asian culture and values (various organizations).
Emerge Aluma 2018
Moira Nelson is a born and raised Jersey girl living in Monmouth County, NJ. She is a lifelong Democrat, a political activist, organizer, and leader. Her passions include fighting for justice and social equity for all humans and she is fanatical about increasing awareness of alcoholism and other substance use disorders. Because of her efforts in this arena, Moira was recognized by the New Jersey State Legislature twice in 2017 and is an Advocacy Leader with the National Council for Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD-NJ.) She is particularly passionate about reducing the stigma associated with this disease, fighting for the decriminalization of drug use, and educating others on the failure of the “War on Drugs,” its history, and how it targets people of color.
Moira is the Director of Drug Policy Reform for Action Together New Jersey, the fastest growing progressive, grassroots organization in the Garden State with over 18,000 members statewide and twenty local chapters. The drug policy reform team is focused on various legislative efforts and hyperlocal community-based initiatives. Moira also trains community organizations on topics such Advocacy 101- Crafting Your Story & How to Effectively Influence Your Legislator.
Moira trained with Emerge New Jersey in 2018. Emerge New Jersey is changing the face of New Jersey politics by training and encouraging Democratic women to run for office, get elected and to seek higher office. Moira was the Democratic candidate for Monmouth County, NJ Commissioner in both 2019 and in 2020.
Moira believes that we, as a people, are at our best when we leverage our diverse backgrounds, unique contributions, and varied perspectives. In today’s society, talent, character, work ethic, and intellect are equally distributed — but opportunity is not. She believes in building bridges between people from all walks of life and the institutions designed to support them to bring us one step closer to social justice. Because of her commitment to justice and equity, Moira sits on the board of the QSpot LGBT Community Center in Asbury Park, NJ. Moira was appointed to the Bloomfield, NJ Civil Rights Commission when she lived in Essex County and she served on the Bloomfield, NJ Beautification Committee. She was also a founding member of their ad hoc committee, Bloomfield Pride, which advocates for the LGBTQ+ community. She is dedicated to servant leadership to help individual members of society thrive in all aspects of their lives – in their homes, at work, and in their communities.
My name is Dania Martinez and I was born and raised in Paterson, NJ. I am the mother of two beautiful and intelligent children. During my senior year of highschool I was pregnant with my first child, Aaliyah. It was during this time that I faced some of my most difficult challenges. I remember a lot of people telling me that my sole purpose in this life was to raise my daughter. However, I was able to raise her and my son all while working on my dreams. This experience taught me the importance of resiliency.
I went on to attend William Paterson University where I majored in Spanish with a minor in Women & Gender Studies and Latin American Studies. I completed my Master’s Degree in Social Work from Monmouth University. I am also an Emerge NJ Alumni Class of 2018. Currently, I work as a school social worker and provided independent case management for Human Trafficking victims.
Later on I created a Women’s empowerment brand called Women’s HERstory: Leading by Empowerment. At Women’s HERstory: Leading by Empowerment I hold a panel of successful and/or scholared women to share their story of triumph, trials, and tribulations.
In 2020 I won a seat as a Commissioner for the Paterson Public Schools. I look forward to the future in anticipation of what is next to come. I continue to work hard every day toward my goal to be an agency of change in this world.
Since 2014, Lauren has been critical to the organizing structure of the Monmouth County Democrats in several roles- first as the Chairperson of the Monmouth County Democrats LGBTQ Caucus, which quickly expanded to include Ocean County members as well, then as an elected member of NJ Democratic State Committee from 2017 to 2021 and Deputy Vice Chair of the Monmouth County Democrats from 2019 to 2021. Lauren was appointed in 2019 by DSC Chairman John Currie to lead the NJ DSC’s LGBTQ Caucus, which she still serves as. In these roles, Lauren has proven an invaluable resource for campaigning and fundraising for, and built a robust network of, LGBTQIA+ Democrats running for office throughout New Jersey. Lauren also holds the position of Wall Township County Committeewoman, spending countless hours knocking on voter doors, sending postcards, dropping literature and phone banking to benefit all Democratic candidates up and down the ballot in Monmouth County. Lauren is a full-time Healthcare Finance Supervisor, managing a department of Data Analysts at a large outsource vendor, and a part-time policy consultant at Garden State Equality. She holds degrees in English and Art History and lives in Wall Township with her family. Lauren’s interests include live music, literature and travel.
Sam Parker (she/her) is an organizational, development and political professional with extensive experience in strategic planning, leadership management, civic engagement, and collaborative partnership building. Sam is currently the Director of Appointments for Governor Philip Murphy. Before joining the administration in March of 2021, Sam served as the Development and Political Affairs for the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide. Sam was also Congressman Frank Pallone’s Deputy Campaign Director (2013) and Deputy Field Director for the New Jersey State Democratic Committee’s Victory Campaign (2012). Previous to her return to her home state in 2012, Sam worked for organizations such as The National LGBTQ Task Force, Human Rights Campaign, EqualityMaine and Equality North Carolina on LGBT+ issue campaigns all over the country. Sam holds a master’s degree in Public Policy and Management and a certificate of SOcial Justice and Economics from The Muskie School at the University of Southern Maine.
Mayor Dahlia Vertreese brings a strong background and history in public service and government experience to the Township of Hillside.
Mayor Vertreese has been a lifelong public servant. The child of a police officer and nurse, she was well informed of the challenges and needs of her community. Mayor Vertreese started her career as a public servant working for the Newark Public School system. She began her local public service in 2016 as a member of the Hillside Board of Education, where she ultimately served as Board President.
After serving on the Board of Education, Vertreese successfully ran for Mayor. During her three plus years in the position, Mayor Vertreese has proven her ability to serve the citizens. She successfully relaunched the local public access channel TV-35, the purchases of a new senior bus, and street sweeper. Her administration launched the Township’s initial Breast Cancer Walk that raised over $40,000. She reinstated the annual State of the Town address, and her financial stewardship led to the Township successfully receiving an Opportunity Zone Designation and an A-1 Bond rating. Mayor Vertreese was the first Mayor to partner with Bloomfield College to create the “Hillside College Partner” wherein the mayor provided a full scholarship to a Hillside High School senior. Mayor Vertreese has been an advocate for small businesses and continues to promote the Hillside Chamber of Commerce.
Mayor Vertreese’s professional background in the labor industry is a testament to her intellect and hard work. As a labor organizer and labor specialist with Local 68 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, her day-to-day duties include organizing sites and handling grievances and arbitration.
Mayor Vertreese began her professional career in 2003 as a Labor and Employment Paralegal with Grotta, Glassman, and Hoffman PC before taking on a position as Labor Relations Specialist for the Newark Public Schools. She transitioned to the classroom, teaching AP US-History and AP European history. She also taught remedial classes to help students pass the HESPA exam. Since 2015 Vertreese has been working for Local 68 of the International Union of Operating Engineers.
Mayor Vertreese is an active member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and the A. Philip Randolph Institute. She currently serves on the New Jersey Labor Advisory Council. Vertreese is a member of both the Union County Central Labor Council and the Essex West Hudson Labor Council. She is a member of the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Newark.
Mayor Vertreese is a graduate of the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and History and a Master of Arts in Sociology. Mayor Vertreese is married to her husband, Derek. They are the proud parents of three sons. During her spare time Mayor Vertreese is a yogi.
Edina Brown lives in Old Bridge, NJ with her husband and two children where she currently serves as a Councilwoman. For over 10 years, she has been advocating for African American mental health consumers and those who support them, as an advisory member of AACT-NOW. She was drawn to AACT-NOW because it always considers the voices and experiences of the African American community through education and connecting the community to resources. As a board member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, her work with AACT-NOW has expanded out into the larger community,where she continues to increase inclusion, and to expand access to resources and support for families and individuals who work to achieve mental health. Her desire to help others pursue the work of improving our society, inspired her to write and self-publish a book titled “Make Humanity Great Again”, and to establish IHP Global – a culture & inclusion company. Mrs. Brown is helping youth in her community to learn more about local government and community outreach through her recently founded nonpartisan organization, Old Bridge Coalition for Equality. She continues to end stigma by serving on the board for Middlesex County Mental Health Services and CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for children). She also offers support to budding entrepreneurs from NJ’s inner city highschools, as a judge with Jobs for America’s Graduates during their annual student competition.
Priscilla Garces is a Climate Reality Leader and mentor. She has undertaken many leadership roles throughout her academic and professional career including her recent involvement in disability advocacy. Despite her visual impairment, she completed her education with honors, earning a bachelor’s degree in Diplomacy and International Relations, with a Minor in Latin-American studies and Spanish from Seton Hall University, a professional Certificate of Bilingual Translation from New York University, and later a Master’s Degree in Nonprofit Leadership/Development from Fordham University. Throughout her career, she has participated in the Emerge Training Program, An organization who’s focus is to train women to run for office at both the local and national level, further diversifying the political landscape. She has actively undertaken several leadership roles in steering committees like the Diversity and Inclusion Council for Governor Murphy, Emerge New Jersey, The Women’s March and The People’s Climate Movement. She also worked alongside elected officials and participated as a speaker/panelist at several conferences addressing different topics like the impact of climate change, diversity and civic engagement in at-risk groups. She also ran for Office as candidate for Board of Education in hopes of redefining the education platform with a new vision with renewed focus on Empathy, Direction and Unity, resulting in her being featured by Insider New Jersey as #1 in the list of most influential millennials of 2019. She is also a trained Climate Reality Leader, involved with the New York Metro Chapter. Recently, she has participated in the 2020 and 2021 Climate Reality Global Trainings as a mentor, sharing her experience with engagement in climate change with new climate reality leaders around the world. As part of her continued work, she has recently lead the coordination efforts with a team of disability activists, participating in a roundtable discussion organized by the NJDSC Disability Caucus with elected officials about the importance of prioritizing disability policy issues with focus on more diversity, better accessibility to resources and services during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the future, and more integration of individuals with disabilities in the leadership and decision-making processes at the core of policy development, from disability-related policies to the improvement of sustainability. She is now an active member of New Jersey Disability Collective, a group of advocates with disabilities who amplify one another’s work and share space to connect, engage and revitalize our communities. She hopes to amplify her voice to motivate others to continue leading in their communities.
Anjali Mehrotra serves on the Board of Directors of National Organization for Women (NOW) and is President of National Organization for Women of New Jersey (NOW-NJ). This past year he was a candidate for the New Jersey General Assembly to represent Legislative District 21.
Anjali was born and raised in Calcutta, India. She came to New Jersey to pursue higher education and received a Bachelor of Engineering and a Master of Science from StevensInstitute of Technology in the field of Computer Science. After seven years as a software consultant, she obtained her Certification in Digital Design from Parsons School of Design and started her own freelance design business.
Anjali worked on campaigns for Democratic Women candidates for President, Congress and State Assembly before running herself for the office of Borough Council Member in 2018. She is the elected Municipal Chair for the Mountainside Democratic Committee and Union County Director for the South Asian American Caucus of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee.In 2020, she served on the national communications teams for South-Asians for Biden. Anjali earned her certification in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University and serves on the Union County Advisory Board on the Status of Minorities and on the Berkeley Heights School District DEI Task Force. To raise awareness regarding period poverty and stigma, Anjali co-founded Equality, Period,NJ – the first statewide coalition working to achieve menstrual equity that is currently focusing on legislation to provide free menstrual products in NJ public schools. Through her experiences, Anjali strongly identifies as a feminist. In her role with NOW in New Jersey and on the National Racial Justice Task Force for NOW, she is an advocate for women of all ethnic backgrounds across the socio-economic spectrum. She is proud to be a leading voice in the push for the Reproductive Freedom Act, legislation that will protect and expand abortion access in New Jersey.
Nichelle Santos is an entrepreneur, business development leader in the insurance industry, practicing risk mitigation, healthcare to environmental health and safety (EHS), improving outcomes for families and communities in the public sector. Nichelle has practiced as a Safety Engineer & Risk Manager in the chemical/pharmaceutical industry. Nichelle currently serves as Vice President at a national employer services organization.
Nichelle earned her B.S. at Rutgers University, Cook College, in Environmental Health and Occupational Safety, and has recently continued studies at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and at the Harvard Kennedy School, in Healthcare, and Public Policy.
She is an advocate for public health and safety, social justice and sustainability of the environment. She currently serves the public as Commissioner, on the Somerset County Commission on the Status of Women, and Somerset County Committee. The Warren resident is a mother of three daughters, an alumni of EMERGE America, and was a Founding Board Member of Elect Women NJ, she continues her passion to increase gender and racial diversity of elected officials; while launching her own campaign for Warren Township Committee 2021.
Nichelle been an active member of numerous organizations: the NJ Business and Industry Association, The Somerset County Business Partnership, the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; the African American Chamber of Commerce; the National Forum for Black Public Administrators; where she is a member of the National Corporate Council; and has played a
critical role on the Program and Policy Committee. Nichelle tackles issues with City, County Managers, and School Business Administrators across the State in Risk Mitigation and cost saving strategies, of which she looks forward to bringing strong governance practices, thought leadership, and developing Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) goals for the township for a more resilient and sustainable future.