Philanthropy Friday: Garden State Equality

Every Friday we spotlight a local LGBT nonprofit in Philadelphia. This week: Garden State Equality, New Jersey’s leading civil rights organization ensuring quality of life for the LGBT community through education, advocacy, service, and support.

Andrea Bowen, executive director of Garden State Equality.

Andrea Bowen, executive director of Garden State Equality.

Who are you? I’m Andrea Bowen, executive director of Garden State Equality (GSE). Garden State Equality is New Jersey’s statewide civil rights advocacy organization for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. I worked on transgender health care, identity document, and homelessness advocacy in Washington, DC before coming to GSE.

When was your organization founded? 2004.

The organization’s shining moment, to date … On October 21, 2013, same-sex couples in New Jersey began marrying, thanks to GSE‘s decade-long advocacy. Our founding Executive Director Steven Goldstein, and his successor Troy Stevenson, along with our staff, volunteers, board, and political allies, organized relentlessly toward the goal. GSE engineered several votes in the New Jersey legislature to pass a marriage legalization bill; the last try passed with bipartisan support, though Chris Christie vetoed the bill. Undaunted, GSE organized a successful lawsuit, Garden State Equality v. Dow, which resulted in marriage equality becoming the law in New Jersey.

GSE crew at the State Senate.

GSE crew at the State Senate.

That was before I became executive director. My proudest moment came this February and March, when GSE kicked off campaigns to expand the amount of schools, senior housing programs, direct service, and health care providers that are competent and sensitive to work with LGBT people. We’re transforming institutions across the state to ensure that our community is truly living equality.

If a check for $1 million found its way to my doorstep … I would hire two new organizers and a director of development, and then save the remainder to fund the organization at that size in the following fiscal year.

Special events coming up? Our Equality Walk, an annual fundraiser, which will be in June [final date not determined yet.]

Are there ways I can contribute without giving money? Surely! We love volunteers. Every Tuesday, we have something called Action Night, where we work with volunteers to collectively work on projects, figure how other things people can work on, and strategize about future work. If you’re interested in taking part (people join up both in person and remotely, via video or phone), just email

How can I donate money? Click here or mail a check to 40 South Fullerton Ave, Montclair, NJ 07042. If you’re okay that we use your money for lobbying (and you don’t care about tax deductibility), just make it out to “Garden State Equality Action Fund.” If you want something tax deductible, send it to “Garden State Equality Education Fund.”

Are you a local, LGBT-serving nonprofit that would like to be featured in an upcoming Philanthropy Friday post? Email details to Samantha Giusti at