Newark - U.S. Senator Robert Menendez met with 50 African American leaders; New Jersey residents that understand the needs of their communities and came forth to voice their concerns and offer potential solutions to improve the quality of life of the African-American community in the state. Professionals, business, and community leaders representing, labor, education, health, science and technology, organizations and agencies had a frank discussion with Senator Menendez, who expressed his commitment to take action in the Senate.

"I am always impressed by the commitment shown by so many prominent African-American New Jersey residents that come to explore solutions that can improve job creation, better educational opportunities, housing, and health care for a community that often times sees harsher times," said Senator Menendez. "I look forward to expanding on their valuable input so that together we can create a better future for African -American families in New Jersey."

Lively conversation among the participants surfaced the following additional topics: federal funding to New Jersey through Community Development Block Grants and SMART Grants, Pell Grants, assistance to disabled veterans coming from Iraq, and regulatory issues regarding institutions for higher education.

The following African-American leaders were among Senator Menendez's Policy Roundtable attendees:

Anthony Smith, Director of Communications and Community Affairs - Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District

Barbara Georges Johnson,Esq. - Thomas Edison State College

Beverly White, President BKW Transformation

Brenda Hopper, Executive Director NJ Small Business Development Center

Cid Wilson, Bergen County College

Clarence Jackson, Disabled Veterans

Dawn Martinez, Executive Director-Irvington Neighborhood Improvement

Ella Teal, CEO - Union County Urban League

Elnora Watson, CEO - Hudson County Urban League

Gerry Gibbs - Capital Impact Strategies

Gerry Harvey, CEO-CREST

Hans Goff, CEO-Voting Works

Jackie Love - Deptford

James Harris, NJ NAACP State President

James Gaymon, VP of Gov't Relations, Rowan University

Jeannine LaRue

Jerry Harris, Black Issues Convention

Jiles Ship, National President of NOBLE

Keith Beasley - CEO, I am

Larry Hamm, Executuve Director - People for Progress

Loretta Winters - Gloucester County NAACP

Maurice Brown, Verizon

Michellene Davis, VP of Government Affairs and Policy Development-SBHCS

Rev. Dr. Gerald Lamont Thomas, Sr. Pastor-Shiloh Baptist Church

Rev. Dr. Guy Campbell, President, NJ General Baptist Convention

Rev. Dr. Jethro James, Paradise Baptist

Rev. Dr. Joseph Woods _ Special Asst. to the President of the General Baptist Convention

Rev. Dr. Lester Taylor, Sr. Pastor-Community Baptist Church

Rev. Regena Thomas, Allen AME - Atlantic City

Rev. Dr. Ronald Owens, Sr. Pastor-New Hope Baptist Church

Rev. Dr. Vernon Walton, Sr. Pastor- Mount Calvary Baptist Church

Reva Foster, Director - Willingboro Senior Center

Robin Walton, Director of Government Relations, Thomas Edison State College

Roland Whitley, Executive Director, Community Technical Assistance

Vivian Cox Fraser, CEO - Essex County Urban League

Wesley Jenkins, Executive Director of Babyland

Yvonne Witter, VP of Advocacy, NCBW 100 Bergen/Passaic

Dr. Joseph Youngblood II is the vice provost anddean of the John S. Watson School of Public Service and former director of the John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy of Thomas Edison State College.