History of CHN

Founded in 1981 by organizations concerned about President Reagan’s proposals to consolidate targeted federal funding for human needs programs into block grants, the Coalition has since expanded its work into other issue areas. The Coalition promotes adequate funding for human needs programs, progressive tax policies and other federal measures to address the needs of low-income and other vulnerable people.


The Coalition serves as a clearinghouse of information on poverty and human needs issues for our members and the general public. CHN publishes a bi-monthly legislative newsletter, the Human Needs Report; legislative analyses; issue briefs; fact sheets; action alerts and other informational materials. We also sponsor educational seminars and briefings on issues of concern to the human needs community such as our annual Budget Briefing and a variety of issue specific briefings.  You can learn more about the positions that CHN takes on various issues by checking out our issue pages or reviewing our public policy document.


CHN convenes meetings, forums, and working groups of our member organizations to share information, forge consensus positions, and develop and implement collaborative strategies on public policy issues. A cornerstone of this activity is our CHN Advocates’ Meetings held every other Friday while Congress is in session to discuss the latest legislative developments.


CHN’s most recent IRS 990 tax form is here. CHN’s most recent financial statements are available for Fiscal Years 2019, 2020, and 2021.

CHN Staff

JOSEPH BATTISTELLI | Director Of Outreach & Membership

Joseph has 10 years of experience in advocacy, public policy, project management, and program management.  Prior to joining CHN in his current capacity, Joseph was a longtime consultant for CHN and worked on major policy initiatives, fundraising projects, coalition outreach, and partnership building for them.


Before coming to CHN, Joseph worked for Bloomberg, Public Citizen, and on the historic 2008 election.  Additionally, Joseph’s strong interest in Socio-Economic affairs has lead him to volunteer his time helping teach basic economic and financial literacy as well as contribute to papers on how economic forces effect international relations.



Joseph Battistelli, PMP
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DAVID ELLIOT | Editor, Voices for Human Needs

David Elliot edits CHN’s blog, Voices for Human Needs. He has 20 years of experience engaging in communications advocacy in the nonprofit world. He served as communications director for the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (2001-2008); for USAction (2008-2013); and most recently for Fair Share, a part of The Public Interest Network.


Prior to his career in nonprofit advocacy, David worked as a newspaper reporter in the state capitol bureau of the Austin American-Statesman. He covered state politics and the Texas Legislature. He was recognized for outstanding coverage by the Associated Press Managing Editors Convention for his article A Day in the Death of Inmate No. 918, an eyewitness account of an execution in Texas. He also was honored by the Center for Public Policy Priorities and the Texas State Conference of NAACP Branches. When he isn’t working, David enjoys reading historical fiction, travelling to warm and sunny locales, and following his beloved Texas Longhorns and Washington Nationals.



David Elliot
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LEO NGUYEN | Digital Communications Associate

Leo Nguyen was born and raised in the bustling city of Sài Gòn, Việt Nam. When Leo was 16 years old, he decided to pack up, and embarked on his American journey. Leo spent a year in Wichita, Kansas as an exchange student, and 4 years at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. During that time, Leo interned at the Congresswoman Cheri Bustos reelection campaign in 2016, and advocated for international and minority students’ representation on campus. Fun fact, Leo was the 2x Last Comic Standing Champion at the college’s annual stand-up contest.


Leo’s journey to the District started in 2017, when he interned at the Coalition on Human Needs and Main Street Alliance. After his graduation in May 2018, Leo is excited and humbled to return to CHN as a full-time staff member.


Outside of work, you can find Leo following the English Premier League (go Liverpool!!), doing open-mics in local comedy bars, cooking tasty home meals, or jamming in his bedroom.



Leo Nguyen
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DEBORAH WEINSTEIN | Executive Director

Deborah Weinstein came to the Coalition on Human Needs as its executive director in June of 2003. In her four decades of advocacy experience, Debbie has worked on a wide range of issues at both the state and federal level.


Prior to coming to CHN, Weinstein served for nine years as director of the Family Income division of the Children’s Defense Fund. At CDF she worked on policy strategies to lift children and their families out of poverty, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), child support, jobs and wages, housing, nutrition, unemployment insurance, and equitable tax policy.


From 1983 to 1993, Weinstein was executive director of the Massachusetts Human Services Coalition, a nonprofit advocacy organization made up of human service providers, religious organizations, labor, and advocacy groups and focusing on the needs of Massachusetts people, especially those with limited income.


Weinstein has been the recipient of many awards from human services and advocacy groups. She has a Master of Social Work degree from San Diego State University.



Deborah Weinstein
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MEREDITH DODSON | Senior Director of Public Policy

Meredith Dodson joined the Coalition on Human Needs as the Senior Director of Public Policy in February 2023. In this role, Meredith coordinates CHN’s advocacy campaigns on Capitol Hill and with the Executive Branch including lobbying, chairing of regular information-sharing meetings, tracking priority legislation, co-chairing the SAVE for All lobby working group, and engaging advocates in legislative Hill work including on CHN’s lead budget and tax issues. She works with CHN members to develop joint congressional legislative strategies, including organizing lobby visits, on human needs topics and join in Capitol Hill advocacy work of CHN member organizations on issues they lead. Meredith collaborates with CHN field staff in identifying issues and targets for field advocacy, represents CHN in coalitions working on issues consistent with CHN’s positions, presents at (virtual and in-person) events on panels and conferences on CHN issues, and produces materials for CHN’s newsletter, The Human Needs Report, as well as occasional fact sheets, talking points, letters representing CHN positions, blog and social media posts, and other analyses.

Prior to her work at CHN, Meredith spent over 24 years at RESULTS, a grassroots anti-poverty organization, serving as Director of RESULTS’ U.S. poverty policy work, overseeing RESULTS’ legislative and coalition work on budget and tax policy, affordable housing, anti-hunger programs, health policy, and other US anti-poverty initiatives. She worked directly with RESULTS’ grassroots network, training and supporting RESULTS volunteers all over the country build relationships with members of Congress and their staff, generate local media, and network with local community groups and other allies to build the organizations.

Meredith lives in Washington DC with her husband, son, and daughter, and can be found on the trails of Rock Creek Park – or the sidelines of a soccer field, attempting to coach young players – when she is not on Capitol Hill or Zoom.

DOMINIQUE ESPINOZA | Outreach and Engagement Specialist

Dominique plays an integral role in conducting outreach, developing strategic partnerships, and increasing engagement nationwide for the Coalition on Human Needs. Dominique works in concert with all CHN staff to collaborate on activities to support or oppose restrictions to federal programs and policies that assist people with low/moderate incomes, with particular attention to addressing systemic racism and other forms of discrimination.

Before joining CHN, Dominique worked as a program manager for an international nonprofit based in Ecuador that protects asylum seekers. Before that, she served as the Special Assistant to the National Political Director and Latinx Liaison in Cory Booker’s presidential campaign. Throughout her time in D.C., she has worked for various Members of Congress, including U.S Rep. Henry Cuellar, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin.  

Dominique has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Florida International University. Outside of work, Dominique enjoys advocating for mental health, exercising, and dancing salsa.  

REBECCA VUCIC | Membership and Operations Manager

Rebecca Vucic (she/her) is CHN’s Membership and Operations Manager. In this role, she manages the financial, operational, and administrative functions of the organization, as well as the organization’s membership program and membership database. Rebecca initially joined CHN in the fall of 2020 as the Voter Engagement Project Coordinator, where she oversaw the organization’s efforts to increase voter outreach and engagement efforts among underrepresented populations.


First and foremost a voter and advocate, Rebecca has spent almost a decade working with nonprofits to participate in various civic engagement activities. She also has extensive experience in event planning, program management and design, as well as outreach and mobilization.


Becca spends her spare time helping friends and family navigate election cycles at all levels of government, cheering on the Black and Gold (Go Pens & Steelers), and crafting with anything she can get her hands on. She lives in Arlington, VA with her husband, twin girls, and cat Tango.


Rebecca Vucic

Board of Directors

An active Board of Directors, representing a cross-section of our national constituency, guides the work of the Coalition. Board members are senior staff members of leading non-profit organizations addressing human needs issues and take an active part in Coalition committees and issue working groups.


Chair: Ellen Teller, Chief Government Affairs Officer – Food Research and Action Center

Vice-Chair: Corrine Yu, Senior Advisor to the President, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

Treasurer: Ed Jayne, Director of Federal Government Affairs – American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees

Secretary: Jihad Saleh Williams, Senior Advisor for Advocacy and Government Affairs – Islamic Relief USA


Melissa Boteach, Vice President of Childcare/Early Learning & Income Security – National Women’s Law Center

Jaya Chatterjee, Legislative and Advocacy Director – Community Change

Rebecca Dixon, Executive Director – National Employment Law Project

Christin Driscoll, Federal Government Relations – National Education Association

Indivar Dutta-Gupta, President and Executive Director – Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)

Carmen Feliciano, Vice President, Policy and Advocacy – UnidosUS

David Goldfarb, Director of Long-Term Supports and Services Policy – The Arc of the United States

John Gray, Legislative Director – Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

Vince Hall, Chief Government Relations Officer – Feeding America

LaQuita Honeysucker, Legislative Director – United Food and Commercial Workers

Dina Kastner, Public Policy and Advocacy Manager – National Association of Social Workers

Bruce Lesley, President – First Focus

Celine McNicholas, Director of Policy and Government Affairs – Economic Policy Institute

Ellen Nissenbaum, Senior Advisor to CBPP’s President – Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Laura Peralta-Schulte, Chief Lobbyist – NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice

Sarah Saadian, Senior Director of Policy – National Low Income Housing Coalition

Jackie Vimo, Economic Justice Policy Analyst – National Immigration Law Center

Jennifer Flynn Walker, Senior Director of Mobilization and Advocacy – Center for Popular Democracy

Shannon Williams, Director of State Policy – Children’s Defense Fund

Deborah Weinstein, Executive Director – Coalition on Human Needs


Join Us: Become Part of a Growing Coalition


More and more groups across the country benefit from the work of the Coalition on Human Needs (CHN) as our alliance of national, state, and local organizations continues to grow. Since 1981, CHN has played a vital role in bringing human needs organizations together to expand and defend federal investments in health care, income assistance, education and training, housing, and other services for young and old. Knowledge is power, and CHN is a reliable source of essential information, presented in a straightforward manner, to enable advocates to be more effective. CHN is proud to join with advocates nationwide in the fight for low-income and vulnerable people and to make Congress respond to human need.


Yet in more than two decades, defenders of low-income and vulnerable people have never faced a bigger challenge in maintaining essential social services and protecting the federal role in meeting basic human needs for all Americans. CHN can help, but only with a strong and growing membership.


Joining CHN gives your organization the chance to share its views and seek active support from a growing network of advocates. It means you will have timely access to information you need, from key policy issues to nationally coordinated activities that will strengthen your work. CHN helps its members to communicate more persuasively – with each other, with the media, and with policy makers. Please join today – too much is at risk not to work together.


JOIN CHN TODAY! Online Membership Form


Fill out this invoice and return to the Coalition.


Benefits of Membership


Member organizations of the Coalition on Human Needs receive the following benefits:


  • Electronic subscription to the Human Needs Report – CHN’s legislative newsletter, published every other Monday when Congress is in session;
  • Ability to disseminate your organization’s reports, announcements, and letters seeking organizational signers on CHN email lists;
  • Posting your organization’s research and reports on the CHN website – with links directly to your organization’s website;
  • Legislative analyses and concise overviews of specific anti-poverty policies, programs, and legislation;
  • Training about federal budget process and effective communication;
  • Access to professional communications help, as resources permit;
  • Job announcement listings for your organization on the CHN website;
  • Event announcements for your organization on CHN’s website and electronic calendar;
  • Notification of all CHN events and meetings;
  • Eligibility to serve on CHN’s Board of Directors to shape CHN policies;
  • Invitations to CHN-organized Capitol Hill visits and briefings.
  • Subscription to CHN email lists, which include:
    • Congressional and Administration updates;
    • Action alerts from CHN and its member organizations;
    • Distribution of CHN and member-produced policy analyses, special reports, and research.

For more information on membership and member benefits, contact Joe Battistelli at jbattistelli@chn.org.

CHN Member Organizations