Trenton, NJ — Saily Avelenda, Executive Director of the grassroots organization NJ 11th for Change, is taking on a new role: Executive Director of the NJ Democratic State Committee. She is replacing Kevin Olasanoye in that position. Under Avelenda’s leadership, NJ 11th for Change grew to over 8000 members.
During the 2018 election, the group's volunteers contacted over 120,000 voters, helping Mikie Sherrill’s successful run for the CD11 congressional seat. In 2019, Avelenda moved the group into statewide prominence, cultivating relationships across New Jersey and co-founding #TakeBackNJ, a coalition of grassroots organizations intent on rooting out corruption within NJ state government.
In late 2019, Governor Phil Murphy tapped Avelenda to run the Currie-Schaffer campaign for Chair of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee. The campaign concluded successfully on January 11, with the re-election of John Currie as Chair and Peg Schaffer as Vice Chair.
Shortly thereafter, Avelenda was asked to serve as Executive Director of the NJ Democratic State Committee. “As the Democratic Party in New Jersey continues to lead our nation in promoting progressive policies, it is imperative we have leaders at the helm with a deep connection to the grassroots advocates who are at the forefront of so many issues,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “Saily Avelenda has time and time again proven herself to be an exemplary leader with the determination we need to push our party forward. I am incredibly proud to welcome her into this new position at the New Jersey Democratic State Committee and look forward to working together to continue the progress we have already made in building a stronger and fairer New Jersey.”
Avelenda is excited about the opportunities her new role presents. “As our country continues to grapple with a president eager to dismantle the very rights our nation was founded on, now more than ever we must take a stand for our communities,” said Saily Avelenda. “This is the cause I have been most passionate about, but for us to accomplish this in every corner of our state, we need to work collaboratively with Democrats, grassroots leaders, and progressive advocates. I am honored to be given the opportunity to work alongside Chairman Currie, Vice Chairwoman Schaffer, and Governor Murphy to continue raising voices and fighting for meaningful change not just in New Jersey, but throughout our entire country.”
Replacing Avelenda in NJ 11th for Change will be new Co-Executive Directors Judy Kelly (formerly Field Director) and Mara Novak (formerly Political Director). “I believe strongly that every organization needs fresh leadership, fresh eyes, and new perspectives from time to time,” says Avelenda. “[Judy and Mara] know what we are about and where we want to go, and I support their leadership 110%.”