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 2018, 2019, and 2020.

CHN Staff and Contact

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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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.  

NICOLAI HADDAL | Field & Events Manager

Nicolai is responsible for developing and executing outreach campaigns and events that support the mission of the Coalition on Human Needs.

Prior to joining CHN, Nicolai worked as an office manager and a grants administrator. Nicolai holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Davis. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with his wife and cat, and playing one of his four guitars.



Nicolai Haddal
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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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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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RICHELLE FRIEDMAN | Director Of Public Policy

Richelle Friedman, PBVM, joined the Coalition on Human Needs as director of public policy in April, 2006. Richelle has over 30 years of legislative experience on a wide range of issues with the goal of strengthening the economic reality of low-income families.


Before coming to CHN, Friedman worked at the Children’s Defense Fund, McAuley Institute and NETWORK, Lobby for Catholic Social Justice as a policy analyst and lobbyist. Prior to coming to DC, she was a junior high and secondary school teacher. Richelle has a bachelor’s degree from Clarke College in Dubuque, Iowa and a master’s degree from Loyola University in Chicago.



Richelle Friedman
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LECIA IMBERY | Deputy Director

Lecia has over 17 years of experience in advocacy, civic engagement, volunteer management, fundraising and program management in the nonprofit field. Prior to joining CHN, Lecia managed federal and state grassroots advocacy campaigns at the American Diabetes Association and the American Association of University Women.


Before coming to DC in 2006, Lecia worked for nonprofits and engineering firms in San Francisco and Chicago. Lecia has degrees in civil engineering from the University of Illinois.



Lecia Imbery
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RADHA RATH | Administrative Associate

Radha has more than 10 years of experience in various management roles from budget and finance to HR and marketing. She has worked for government, media, IT, and management consulting firms across US, Europe and Asia. She holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration and speaks English, French, Hindi and Bengali. In her free time she enjoys making art and crafts. She lives in Maryland with her husband and daughter.


Radha Rath
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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, Director of Government Relations – Food Research and Action Center

Vice-Chair: Corrine Yu, Senior Program Director, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

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

Secretary: Olivia Golden, Executive Director – Center for Law and Social Policy


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

Rebecca Dixon, incoming Executive Director – National Employment Law Project

Christin Driscoll, Federal Government Relations – National Education Association

Laura Esquivel, Vice President, Federal Policy and Advocacy – Hispanic Federation

Tyrone Hanley, Policy Counsel – National Center for Lesbian Rights

LaQuita Honeysucker, Legislative Director – United Food and Commercial Workers

Chonya Johnson, Senior Domestic Policy Analyst – Bread for the World

Bruce Lesley, President – First Focus

Bethany Lilly, Director of Income Policy – The Arc of the United States

Emma Mehrabi, Director of Poverty Policy – Children’s Defense Fund

AnneRose Menachery, Senior Policy and Advocacy Advisor – Community Change

Ellen Nissenbaum, Senior Vice President for Government Affairs – 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

Deborah Weinstein, Executive Director – Coalition on Human Needs

Jihad Saleh Williams, Senior Advocacy & Government Affairs Advisor – Islamic Relief USA


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