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In Nov. 2021 after ten years of our evolving mission and impact, we changed our name to Gathering Ground. You may still find reference to our old name Creative New Jersey in posts created prior to Nov. 2021.

Announcing Our New Executive Director!

The Board of Directors of Gathering Ground is very pleased to announce the appointment of its new Executive Director Maria Carnemolla.

Ms. Carnemolla comes to Gathering Ground having spent the last 10+ years co-leading New York City’s progressive media nonprofit Democracy at Work where she grew programming, audience reach, impact, and financial resources. She has deep expertise in executive leadership as well as creating and producing TV, radio, and digital content for advancing social justice and equitable change. After conducting a months-long competitive executive search, Ms. Carnemolla’s appointment to serve as the organization’s leader was a unanimous decision of the Board of Directors.

The advent of Ms. Carnemolla’s leadership tenure ushes in an exciting new cycle of growth and impact for Gathering Ground. Since its inception in 2011, Gathering Ground has taken a long view in how it has built and sustained its operations and impact. This long-term strategic approach has enabled us to grow from a fiscally sponsored foundation initiative into a fully operational 501c3, balancing our budget every year and carrying no accumulated debt.

Currently, demand for our community-power building programs and services is growing and our operational needs have expanded. To meet demand and capitalize on opportunities, we needed to expand our staff, and with an eye towards the next ten years of growth and sustainability, we established two new positions:
–a new full-time executive director position which Ms. Carnemolla has been appointed to, and
–a part-time strategic advancement position (to be carried out by our former founding director)

Gathering Ground’s Board Chair, Natasha Dyer, said, “We are thrilled to welcome Ms. Carnemolla as Gathering Ground’s next Executive Director. Her social and economic justice background coupled with her exceptional communication and executive level skills will enable us to meet demand and serve New Jersey’s communities in a deeper and more expansive manner. I look forward to growing this organization alongside Ms. Carnemolla and collaborating with our many valued and trusted nonprofit and philanthropic partners throughout the state to advance a dialogue on critical issues, build and strengthen diverse networks, and cultivate equitable, community-rooted solutions.”

Ms. Carnemolla said, “I am thrilled and honored to be the new Executive Director at Gathering Ground. I come to this role with a great deal of enthusiasm, passion and a deep-rooted commitment to advancing economic and social justice causes. I am excited to begin contributing to Gathering Ground’s continued success and growth. Now more than ever, people all over this great state are facing racial injustice, economic and gender inequality, climate change, healthcare disparities, access to affordable housing, and so much more. We still have a lot of work to do. I am enthusiastic and eager to collaborate with the dedicated team and Board, our volunteers, and partners who have been the backbone of Gathering Ground. I firmly believe that by leveraging our collective strengths, we can drive meaningful impact in communities all over New Jersey.”

Elizabeth Murphy, Gathering Ground’s founding director added, “We are very fortunate to welcome Ms. Carnemolla to Gathering Ground! I’m very confident that her experience and executive expertise is exactly what Gathering Ground needs in order to heighten the visibility of our community-based Calls to Collaboration and Elevating Equity anti-racist training program, strengthen organizational operations, and leverage our diverse partnerships for driving equity and justice outcomes both in our social sector and in communities throughout New Jersey.”

Ms. Carnemolla began her leadership tenure with Gathering Ground on September 5, 2023. She can be reached at

Maria Carnemolla Bio

Maria obtained her BA in Economics from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst and her MS in Management from The College of St. Elizabeth in Morristown, New Jersey. She has over 25 years of leadership experience working in higher education and nonprofit organizations. Her passion and enthusiasm for social justice began at a young age, engaging in activism to fight for the rights of workers and marginalized groups of people.

Prior to joining Gathering Ground as Executive Director, Maria served as the Co-Managing Director and Media Director at Democracy at Work (DAW) in New York City. During her 10+ years at DAW, she produced the national TV and radio show Economic Update with Richard Wolff. She co-led DAW through its period of greatest programmatic and financial growth, expanding the roster from 2 to 8 audio and video podcasts; books publishing; and producing live events that advocate for economic justice. She co-edited the second book published by Democracy at Work, Understanding Socialism. Prior to her leadership of DAW, Maria held the position of Senior Director of Financial Aid at Berkeley College where she was responsible for the management and oversight of 6 campuses.

Maria has also served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Left Forum where she assisted in planning annual conferences that featured renowned academics and activists like Noam Chomsky, Cornel West, Chris Hedges, Jill Stein and the work and initiatives of many marginalized and under-resourced groups. She is active in her neighborhood and kids’ schools and has been a member of the Home and School Associations boards, fundraising for and organizing events for school children.

Maria was born in New Jersey and raised in Sicily where she learned about the importance and power of community. She has dedicated her life and is deeply committed to working on transforming and challenging structures that perpetuate inequality, and promoting and creating more equitable, democratic communities that put people and their needs before profits. She currently lives in Woodland Park, NJ with her husband and two children and two dogs.


“What an energizing and enlightening event! It was so wonderful to convene with recovery partners across the state to reflect on lessons learned. When we join forces and find a common voice, we are so much stronger and more effective. I look forward to being part of this movement to make meaningful changes which will positively impact the future of response and recovery in NJ.”

– Kelly Higgs – Former Executive Director of NJVOAD (statewide)