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New Garden State Equality Director Named

Patrick Lenahan

Thursday, July 24, 2014 • 2:15pm

WEST ORANGE,, NJ - After a national search, Andrea “Andy” Bowen, a transgender activist with a proven record of nationally notable policy victories, has been named the new Executive Director of Garden State Equality (GSE). Andy is one of the nation’s first openly transgender Executive Directors of a statewide organization for LGBT civil rights.

Andy is honored to be the next leader of GSE. She recognizes that GSE has been on the forefront of civil rights issues for the LGBT and ally community in New Jersey. She highlights and applauds GSE’s successful lawsuit for marriage equality, as well as its assistance passing landmark legislation, including the Anti-bullying Bill of Rights and the law banning sexual orientation conversation therapy.

“New Jersey has a lot of forward thinking policy already in place,” Andy says. “But we must continue to press for full equality for the LGBT and ally community, and be vigilant in working to ensure our current laws are implemented and enforced. My goal is to work with communities across intersections of race, class, gender, age, and ability to ensure that LGBT people and our allies are truly protected from discrimination, physical violence, and economic pain.”

Luanne Peterpaul, GSE Action Fund Chair notes, "Andy, by joining Garden StateEquality, is the first openly transgender person to lead a statewide LGBT organization. We are thrilled that she is bringing her expertise to New Jersey.Garden State Equality has a rich heritage of seeking ever-increasing justice for the LGBT and ally community. As Garden State Equality moves forward it will focus on issues including youth, seniors, and the transgender community.”

GSE Education Fund Chair John Keating says, “Andy’s vision of community empowerment will bring us forward and protect against the kinds of attempted civil rights rollback we’ve seen elsewhere in the country.”

Steven Goldstein, Founder and Chair Emeritus of GSE, says, “Andy Bowen’s becoming the next Executive Director of Garden State Equality is one of the most joyous moments in the history of our organization since I founded it in 2004. I’m on Cloud 9 – not only because Garden State Equality will be the first statewide organization for LGBT equality in any state with a transgender Executive Director, but also because Andy is an extraordinarily accomplished leader who is the right choice at the right time to take our organization to even greater heights. For me, the choice of Andy Bowen is a dream come true. What a magical way to mark our organization’s 10th anniversary.”

Andy comes to GSE from DC, where as a grassroots leader she played an integral role in engineering key victories for transgender justice.

As Social Policy Organizer with DC Trans Coalition and Policy Associate at the National Center for Transgender Equality, she led advocacy efforts toward successful passage of Washington DC’s landmark law easing the process whereby transgender people change their birth certificates and names.

Through community organizing efforts, she engineered a lawsuit against a homeless shelter that was denying entrance to transgender women. Most recently, she worked with community members to ensure that DC health insurance policies, including DC Medicaid, cover the breadth of transgender-specific health care needs.

Andy previously worked for the Ironworkers Union, undertaking research and community engagement activities for the Organizing Department. She has a Master of Social Work degree from the Catholic University of America, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in History and Certificate in Women’s Studies from the University of Maryland at College Park.

Both Peterpaul and Keating acknowledge the work of Interim Executive Director John Mikytuck, who led GSE through a transitional period following the achievement of marriage equality. “John has played a critical role in helping to shape Garden State Equality’s goals and priorities as we move forward. We are extremely grateful for his leadership and hard work,” Peterpaul noted.

Babs Siperstein, Director of Gender Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey, or GRAANJ, says, “We congratulate Garden State Equality for bringing Andy Bowen to lead New Jersey’s LGBT equality organization. Andy’s history of success working with bipartisan legislation, labor issues, LGBT policy and outreach programs make her an outstanding role model not only for transgender Americans, but for all. We thank Garden State Equality for ‘walking the walk’ and being the model of a truly inclusive statewide LGBT organization.”

Andy is looking forward to meeting the many GSE members and its allies on October 21st as the organization celebrates its 10-year anniversary and the first anniversary of marriage equality. The community will also be able to meet Andy during a series of community meet and greets through out the state of new Jersey.

About Andy Bowen

Andrea "Andy" Bowen is a noted transgender activist and social worker. After nearly four years as a researcher with the Ironworkers Union's Organizing Department, Andrea led successful transgender policy advocacy efforts in Washington, DC, including passage of birth certificate and name change reform legislation, and Mayoral policy solidifying transgender peoples’ right to insurance coverage of transition-related care. She also helped engineer a legal victory against a women's homeless shelter in DC that was denying access to transgender women. Andrea received her BA in History and Certificate in Women's Studies from the University of Maryland at College Park in 2008, and a Master of Social Work degree from Catholic University of America in 2014. She has won awards from the Washington Peace Center and Gertrude Stein Democratic Club of Washington, DC, and was recognized as an Emerging Young Leader of the LGBT Community by the Obama Administration. She also plays bass with the punk band Southern Problems.

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