Initiative Includes Review of Policies, Trainings, Independent Investigation Protocols, and More 

TRENTON, NJ — The New Jersey Democratic State Committee is launching a comprehensive new Workplace Culture Program designed to address systemic disparities in how people of color and women, the LGBTQ+ community, people with disabilities and others have historically been treated in New Jersey politics. The initiative will include mandatory trainings in sexual harassment and workplace bias for NJDSC staff; a thorough review of the party’s policies, materials, contracts, and related issues; and implementation of an independent investigation protocol to handle complaints. NJDSC is partnering with Ritu Pancholy, Esq., a New Jersey based HR consultant and founder of Culturupt, on this initiative.  

“It’s incumbent on us as Democrats to ensure that everyone is treated fairly and with respect and that we end the sad legacy of racism and sexism that has too often clouded our political culture. This new Workplace Culture Program will be a tremendous step towards those goals,” said NJDSC Chairman John Currie. “Communities of color and women, among other historically marginalized groups, should never fear harassment or discrimination while engaging in the political process. We owe it to them to take steps like this to confront these longstanding problems.” 

The Workplace Culture Program will convene an Advisory Group made up of the following members: 

  • Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, Honorary Chair
  • Saily Avelenda, Executive Director, NJDSC, Advisory Group Co-Leader
  • Nabila Baptiste, Deputy Executive Director, NJDSC, Advisory Group Co-Leader
  • Peg Schaffer, Vice Chair, NJDSC & Chair, Somerset County Democrats 
  • Kelly Stewart Maer, Treasurer, NJDSC
  • Shavonda Sumter, Assemblywoman LD 35 & NJDSC Committee Member
  • Janine Bauer, Chair, West Orange Democrats & NJDSC Committee Member
  • Alixon Collazos, NJDSC Committee Member
  • Joyce Mollineaux, NJDSC Committee Member
  • Amy DeGise, Chair, Hudson County Democratic Organization
  • Arlene Quiñonez Perez, Chair, Hunterdon County Democrats & Chair, NJDSC Latino Caucus
  • Mary J. Amoroso, Freeholder Chairwoman, Bergen County
  • Moira Nelson, Monmouth County Democratic Committee, 2019 & 2020 Freeholder Candidate, Activist
  • Deb Fabricatore, Somerset County Democrats, Disability Caucus
  • T. Missy Balmir, Co-Chair, NJDSC Black Caucus
  • Fatima Heyward, Chair, NJDSC Youth Caucus
  • Steven Goldstein, Chair, NJDSC Jewish Caucus
  • Sikander Khan, Chair, NJDSC Muslim Caucus
  • Toral Patel, Verona Democratic Committee Co-Chair, NJDSC South Asian American Caucus
  • Raj Parikh, Esq., General Counsel, NJDSC

The Advisory Group will help inform the NJDSC programs and offer input on areas where New Jersey Democrats can do better to foster a healthy and empowering workplace culture.

“With this announcement today, the New Jersey Democratic State Committee is one of the few political party organizations or campaigns in New Jersey that has taken this kind of direct action to ensure an equitable and fair workplace for everyone,” said Saily Avelenda, NJDSC Executive Director. “We believe that the Workplace Culture Program can become a model for local and county organizations and other state parties to confront the issues of racism and misogyny that have permeated politics for decades too long. I want to thank Chairman Currie and Governor Murphy and their teams for their total commitment to this initiative. At every stage of planning, they have made it clear that making this program a success and providing the resources needed to make a real difference in political workplace culture is a priority.” 

In addition to reviewing NJDSC policies, Culturupt will serve as an independent investigator outside the party structure to help develop an investigation protocol and to review significant claims of bias or other workplace issues. NJDSC will be working with local and county parties and candidates to offer informational training sessions to their staff and/or volunteers in order to further its goal of making politics and government in the state more inclusive and welcoming. Scholarship programs will be announced at a later date to cover the costs of candidate training for persons from underrepresented communities.