Disability Rights NJ’s protection and advocacy work is carried out by a dedicated, knowledgeable, and experienced team comprised of attorneys, advocates, support, and management. From an initial staff of seven, we have grown to over thirty employees.
Disability Rights NJ is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and this commitment is reflected on our team. Many individuals with disabilities are on our staff, including individuals with physical and developmental disabilities, learning differences, deafness, and lived mental health experience. Several are family members of a person with a disability. We also employ/seek a racially and ethnically diverse staff, including people who are fluent in languages other than English.
Gwen Orlowski has served as the Executive Director of Disability Rights New Jersey since January 2019. Prior to taking the helm at Disability Rights NJ, Gwen held a variety of positions that allowed her to use her talents as an attorney and policy wonk on behalf of people with disabilities, older adults, and other underserved communities including: Senior Staff Attorney in the health group for Justice in Aging (formerly the National Senior Citizens Law Center), Chief Section Counsel for Legal Services of New Jersey (where she supervised both the Senior Legal Rights Project and the Anti-Predatory Lending Project), Director of Elder Advocacy and Director of Advocacy for People with Developmental Disabilities at New Jersey’s Department of the Public Advocate, and New Jersey’s Statewide Long-Term Care Ombudsman.
Early in her career, Gwen was an Associate Clinical Professor for the Center for Social Justice at Seton Hall Law School, where she focused on the legal rights of individuals who were homeless. She has taught Elder Law at both Seton Hall University School of Law and Rutgers University School of Law. She received her JD from Rutgers School of Law — Newark and graduated from Georgetown University with an AB in Government. An interesting fact about Gwen: while in college she served as a parliamentary intern for Margaret Thatcher. A lifelong New Jerseyan, Gwen lives in New Brunswick with her husband, where she loves to cook and she tries each summer (not so successfully) to grow a nice Jersey tomato. Gwen and her husband have three wonderful grown children whom she’d love to tell you all about over a cup of tea.