New Collaborative Strives to Make NJ Lead-Free


Jael Davis | Lead-Free New Jersey program manager


Inclusive collaborative adopts unique approach to organizing in effort to eliminate lead contamination in NJ homes, schools, communities

TRENTON, May 27Lead-Free NJ, a new collaborative established in response to New Jersey’s worsening lead crisis, seeks to mitigate the prevalence and impact of lead contamination across the state by pursuing an action-oriented agenda. Lead-Free NJ’s diverse leadership and members, who include policy advocates and community leaders, reflect the organization’s commitment to inclusivity and equity. By advocating for state and local policy changes, the community members and organizations that form the collaborative strive for the remediation of lead contamination in every New Jersey home, child care center, and school in 10 years.

“I am excited to co-chair this coalition working together to make sure not one more child suffers from lead poisoning. We know the solutions and now is the time to take action,” said Debbie Mans, Lead-Free NJ co-chair.

Tackling the lead crisis once and for all requires a comprehensive approach that addresses all sources of lead. Lead contamination predominates in paint, water, and soil, all of which may be prevalent in the residential, professional, and outdoor environments frequented by adults and children on a daily basis. Because each source requires unique remediation methods, a holistic approach that seeks to change the systems that have sustained New Jersey’s lead legacy is necessary to achieve the widespread removal of the toxin from environments across the state.

“Lead poisoning is a public health crisis that requires our collective efforts in order to successfully remediate this hazardous metal in our communities. I was raised in a Black and Brown community where lead continues to pose a serious health threat to our youth. Lead remediation must be prioritized alongside critical matters, such as nutrition and early childhood education, when we discuss goals to improve the lives of children,” said Rashan Prailow, Lead-Free NJ co-chair.

Undergirding Lead-Free NJ’s efforts to respond to lead contamination is the recognition of lead’s disproportionate impact on vulnerable populations. People of color, as well as individuals living or working in economically distressed communities, are especially susceptible to lead contamination, due to systemic inequities. By directly engaging with community members and facilitating spaces in which individuals can share their lived experiences, Lead-Free NJ seeks to advance environmental justice and respond to lead contamination in the most severely burdened communities.

“New Jersey’s dangerous lead crisis has gone on for too long and has put Black and Brown families at risk for years. I’m happy to be working with Lead-Free NJ to finally find and actually implement real solutions to this persistent problem,” said Imani Oakley, Lead-Free NJ Steering Committee member.

Because it is everyone’s job to keep New Jersey’s children safe, the collaborative invites individuals and organizations to join Lead-Free NJ to stay informed on lead-related issues, learn about upcoming events, and participate in advocacy efforts. The collaborative will offer resources for community members to get involved, including community organizing and social media toolkits that provide the strategies necessary to successfully advocate for change and engage with their neighbors. For more information about Lead-Free NJ, contact Jael Davis, Lead-Free NJ program manager, at

“For far too long, we have used children as lead detectors, waiting for a diagnosis in order to repair homes that are poisoning our kids. This is both backwards and unconscionable. We need to get the lead paint out of older homes to end this entirely preventable health crisis that continues to irreparably harm vulnerable children.” – Staci Berger, Lead-Free NJ Steering Committee member.

“At Paterson Habitat for Humanity we are hopeful that Lead-Free NJ will catalyze a genuine attempt to not just talk about, but to implement, policies and practices which will realize the goal of a community free from the risks of lead and freedom from the effects of lead for our children.” – Scott Millard, Lead-Free NJ Steering Committee member.

“Isles is pleased to participate in the Lead-Free NJ collaboration and steering committee. With decades of experience researching, addressing, and training others on environmental hazards and lead-safe remediation, we are excited and inspired by the statewide momentum to tackle the intractable threat of lead poisoning and ensure all children in New Jersey have a safe, lead-free future.” – Elyse Pivnick, Lead-Free NJ Steering Committee member

“Our community is one that is grappling with the problem of lead contamination. As part of Lead-Free NJ, our plan is to mobilize Trenton residents to boldly advocate for strategies that will reduce lead levels within the community, as well as empower residents with the information they need to advocate for themselves on an individual level.” – Shereyl Snider, Lead-Free NJ Steering Committee member.

“New Jersey must become a place where all parents can raise their children without worrying about toxic lead exposure. Lead-Free NJ is about making a state-wide commitment to achieving a lead-safe environment in ten years. We can do this.” – Chris Sturm, Lead-Free NJ Steering Committee member

“The Fund for New Jersey is proud to support Lead-Free NJ as it works to protect New Jersey’s children from the dangers of lead poisoning. We look forward to working together with our philanthropic, non-profit, government, and community partners to build an equitable collaborative that is effective at finally eliminating this entirely preventable public health crisis that disproportionately harms children of color.”
– Lucy Vandenberg, Lead-Free NJ Steering Committee member 

“Lead Free NJ is a nationally-innovative approach to tackling lead’s toxic legacy. We are bringing together community leaders, parents, property owners, state policy leaders, and national experts to define and advance a comprehensive approach to the elimination of lead poisoning. Together, we can deliver on the promise of a lead free future for New Jersey’s children.”- Catherine Klinger, Lead-Free NJ Steering Committee member 

Lead-Free NJ was founded in 2021 as an equitable and inclusive collaborative. The organization works to ensure that New Jersey’s children are free from lead poisoning and that our environment is lead-safe by advocating for changes to state and local policy. Lead-Free NJ seeks to eliminate racial and economic inequities by focusing on legacy lead hazards in low-income communities and/or communities of color, while also creating the conditions for children to be free from lead poisoning statewide.