Public forum to be held on-line on Wednesday, May 20, with confidential listening session to follow on Thursday, May 21
Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and the Workgroup on Harassment, Sexual Assault and Misogyny in New Jersey Politics today announced that they would resume their hearing schedule with a Zoom public forum on Wednesday, May 20, and a confidential listening session on Thursday, May 21.
“The two sessions we are announcing today will provide an opportunity for us to hear from women in politics, government and the public sphere about their lived experiences relating to harassment, sexual
assault and misogyny, and to continue to gather ideas on steps that can be taken to positively change the political climate for women in New Jersey,” Weinberg said.
“We plan to follow these sessions with the release in June of the results of the anonymous Survey on Misogyny and Sexual Misconduct in New Jersey Politics that is being conducted by the New Jersey
Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NJCASA), followed by a report and recommendations in July,” she said.
Like the public forums held in Fort Lee and Mount Laurel prior to the coronavirus outbreak, the Wednesday, May 20, hearing will be open to the public and to the press on Zoom. Unlike the first two forums, there will not be an opportunity for individuals to testify confidentially at the public forum because of the inability to guarantee privacy in a Zoom hearing that is open to the public. This forum replaces the New Brunswick public forum that was postponed due to the pandemic. Individuals wishing to provide public comments to the workgroup can register for the session here:
The Thursday, May 21, private listening session provides an opportunity for those who desire full anonymity to speak confidentially to the committee to do so individually in what will effectively be a closed session. Individuals will be admitted to the Zoom session consecutively during requested or assigned time periods.
Individuals wishing to provide private comments to the workgroup can register for this session here:
Both forums will start at 3 p.m. and continue for as long as needed.
The public forum and the closed-door listening session are part of a multi-layered strategy of outreach that also includes the anonymous on-line Survey on Misogyny and Sexual Misconduct in New Jersey
Politics survey (https://njcasa.org/njpolitics/) that is being conducted by the New Jersey Coalition on Sexual Assault, to ensure that all voices are heard.
“We want individuals to know that they can choose how they want to share their experiences and ideas,” Senator Weinberg said. “We are offering multiple options so they can do so safely, privately and
without fear of intimidation or retribution from those responsible for their harassment or assault, from those with an interest in protecting the political careers or interests of those responsible, or from those
who encouraged or allowed a toxic political climate to develop.”
In addition to hearing from those who have experienced sexual misconduct, the panel welcomes expert commentary referencing research, best practices, and statewide or national data that will inform the
Senator Weinberg created the workgroup in the wake of a Star-Ledger/NJ Advance Media report in which 20 women told of being groped, propositioned, harassed and even sexually assaulted while serving as campaign staffers, political operatives, legislators and lobbyists.
The workgroup includes: Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver; Alison Accettola, Senate Majority General Counsel; Laurel Brennan, Secretary-Treasurer, New Jersey State AFL-CIO; Elizabeth Coulter, Director of Public
Health, Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey; Sonia Delgado, Partner, Princeton Public Affairs Group; Rosa Farias, Deputy Executive Director, Casino Reinvestment Development Authority; Jeannine LaRue, Senior Vice President, Kaufman Zita Group; Sabeen Masih, Vice President of Public Affairs, Capital Impact Group; Debbie Parks, International Vice President, AFSCME; Crystal Pruitt, Franklin Township Council; Lisa Randall, Commissioner, Bergen County Improvement Authority; Julie Roginsky, Co-Founder, Lift Our Voices; Christine Shipley, Executive Director, New Jersey Senate Minority Office; and Patricia Teffenhart, Executive Director, New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NJCASA).
“Our public forums and private listening session provide an opportunity for those interested in sharing their experiences, thoughts and perspectives on how to shape policy and implement reforms to address the toxic climate of misogyny, sexual assault and harassment in New Jersey politics,” said Ms. Teffenhart. “It is not the workgroup’s role to adjudicate individual cases about specific people, but we do believe it is our role to center the voices of those most impacted by the issues at hand.
“What we’re talking about is power and control. Therefore, understandably, some people may be uncomfortable attending a public forum, so we are hosting the private listening session for those who
want to share their stories privately and anonymously. In addition, many have already left anonymous comments in the open field section of NJCASA’s on-line survey. That option remains available,” she said.