Assistant Director of Advocacy
Maria Connolly lives in Lawrenceville, NJ with her husband, Matt, and three children. Maria is a licensed NJ Professional Planner and works full time as a land use planner with the NJ Department of Community Affairs. She holds a Master’s Degree in City and Regional Planning (MCRP). Maria also volunteers for her municipality and is the Vice-Chair of both the Township Planning Board and Growth and Redevelopment Committee. Maria and Matt are licensed resource parents and adopted their son through foster care. From the moment she became a resource parent and felt how frustrating the system was, Maria made it her mission to make changes to NJ’s foster care system that actually consider the child’s best interest. Maria joined with several other foster moms (including Heather Janci) to form a resource parents’ advocacy group and they began researching foster care laws, meeting with legislators, and drafting foster care reform legislation. When learning that one of Miriam’s Heart’s 2021 goals was to get more involved in advocacy work, including foster care reform legislation, Maria knew it would be a perfect fit. Maria and Heather quickly jumped on board and together with Miriam’s Heart’s co-founder and the Director of Advocacy and Grants, we formed the Child Advocacy Association of New Jersey (CAANJ), an initiative of Miriam’s Heart. Now we are full speed ahead working on a common goal: To advocate for these children who desperately need people to stand on their behalf.