NJ LGBT Chamber of Commerce appoints Augusto Penaranda Jr. as Executive Director

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Augusto Penaranda Jr
Augusto Penaranda Jr. appointed as the first Executive Director at the NJ LGBT Chamber of Commerce

Penaranda will work toward economic equality and prosperity for all LBGT+ business owners and employees

The NJ LGBT Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors have appointed Augusto Penaranda Jr., MS, as its new Executive Director. Penaranda is the former-Public Information Officer for the NJ Division of Consumer Affairs in the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General.

This newly-created position is the Chamber’s first dedicated paid staffer and is the beginning of a Realignment Plan for 2022. The Chamber plans several organizational improvements to better serve the interests of its members’ businesses. Among the goals for 2022 is to aid in growing a stronger local economy, and directly contribute towards shaping the LGBTQ community’s quality of life in the region.

Penaranda’s main objective is to build an agenda that will help lead the organization in a new direction that will help revitalize Governor Phil Murphy’s commitments to the LGBTQ community.

In Penaranda’s previous role at the NJ Division of Consumer Affairs, he served directly under the former-Director Paul Rodríguez, who now serves as the U.S. Department of Health’s deputy general counsel in President Joe Biden’s administration.

Penaranda previously served as the Chief External Relations Officer for the American Red Cross of the New Jersey region in Princeton, where he designed programming, oversaw the organization’s key awareness campaign rollouts, and served as the Latino Media spokesperson. Though deploying to both Florida and Texas for hurricane Irma and Harvey tested his skills as a bilingual communicator and disaster volunteer, his most rewarding work to date was during hurricane Maria and Puerto Rico. Working via satellite phone with ARC’s North Jersey Regional CEO Ana Montero, they successfully provided information and directed resources to help those affected by the devastating hurricane during a time of almost total communication blackout.

“We are very excited to welcome Augusto Penaranda as the Chamber’s first Executive Director. The board has great confidence in his ability to help persuade Governor Murphy’s team to build greater economic opportunities for the LGBT community,” said Stephen Blazejewski, President of the NJ LGBT Chamber of Commerce.

“Although we are only in the first phase of the Chamber’s 2022 Realignment Plan, our mission to build prosperity and resiliency for New Jersey’s LGBT community remains steadfast and stronger than ever. As a result, we hope to see more state contracts made available for business owners who are certified LGBT Business Enterprises (LGBTBEs).”

LGBTBE certification provides for more equitable access to contracting opportunities through participating state and local government agencies as well as Fortune 500 companies who are looking to increase their spend within the LGBT community. The certification process is overseen by the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC). In New Jersey, LGBTBEs are not yet acknowledged statewide, only three municipalities currently participate: Jersey City, Hoboken, and the County of Essex.

Penaranda’s high-level understanding of, and experience within, New Jersey’s political system will be crucial in working with Governor Murphy’s office to ensure that LGBTBEs are recognized for state-wide contracting opportunities moving forward said the NJ LGBT Chamber in a press release.

Early in Penaranda’s career, he established himself as a community advocate when he served as the Regional Communications Officer for the NJ Schools Development Authority. While there, he played a vital role in understanding how a community’s intricate needs can be better relayed to state officials charged with overseeing multi-million dollar projects as part of the $9-billion dollar schools construction program, all while having the final outcome better reflect the community’s input. Once he understood how to meet the needs of a larger community, he set forth on helping individual students and their parents navigate the higher education system by moving into a counselor and community outreach position for Passaic County Community College.

Penaranda is a longtime member in the LGBT sports scene, and is actively involved with the International Gay & Lesbian Football Association and the New York Gay Flag Football League since 2000. He also enjoys volunteering and championing support for advocating the importance of mental health and wellness issues that the LGBT community faces.

Penaranda earned a Master of Science degree in International Relations and Public Policy from William Paterson University of New Jersey; and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from William Paterson University of New Jersey.