Brenda Considine has spent decades helping nonprofits expand their outreach and earn recognition for their work through her company, Considine Communication Strategies. Now, the Hopewell resident is receiving a few honors of her own.
Last month, Considine won an Ann Klein Advocate Award, an honor presented by the Community Health Law Project. CHLP is a statewide nonprofit advocacy and legal services organization, and they give the award to people who are instrumental in caring and advocating for people with disabilities in their communities.
Considine Communication Strategies is a Hopewell-based marketing, public relations and public policy firm. Considine founded the company in 1997 with her husband, Rick. While CCS does do work in the corporate sector, it’s their work with nonprofits that stands out above the rest.
Considine’s work specializes in public policy as it relates to children and adults with developmental disabilities. Through CCS, which is located at 4 Mercer St., she helps people with special needs find the appropriate services and support.
“For me, anything that gets people with disabilities out of places where they’re segregated and into communities where they can contribute is a good thing,” Considine said.
Considine said she was floored and humbled beyond words when she first found out she was one this year’s five Ann Klein Advocate Award recipients. Those who know her, however, couldn’t think of a more deserving person to receive the honor.
“People who know her understand that she is very perseverant, very hard working and professional in what she does, but at the same time brings a very human approach that takes into consideration the needs of people and integrates all of those so effectively,” Rick Considine said.
Considine has been working in the communication field since 1985. She began her career working for Autism Community, now called Autism NJ, and was appointed to be the company’s first director of legislative affairs. She also previously worked as the director of government affairs at Arc of New Jersey and successfully lobbied to pass New Jersey’s Family Support Act.
Considine noticed that throughout the field, many nonprofits were unable to reach their audience. Together with her husband, who was working as the director of advocacy programs at Rutgers University, they founded Considine Communication Strategies to help connect nonprofits to the communities they serve.
“It was really just recognizing that the special needs community wasn’t able to communicate their messages effectively to the general public, to families that might need their service, and to decisions makers,” she said.
The field of public policy and developmental disabilities is a complex one. Considine said it’s full of rules, laws and regulations that often overlap. In order to deliver complicated information in an efficient manner, Considine keeps her focus on the people being impacted by the policies.
“You really have to listen to the person’s stories, but then look for the threads of commonality that weave together the picture that shows what’s really happening on the ground,” she said. “My job is to really make it as simple and concrete as it really can be.”
As challenging as her work can be, it can also be that much more rewarding. Considine will sometimes run into the young adults she advocated for when they were children. Hearing about their journey and successes puts her day to day work into perspective.
“It’s when I look back and say ‘wow we fought to get him into these schools and out of this particular situation, and the results are terrific,’” she said.
Considine and Rick met waiting tables while attending Rutgers University. They have two children together: 23-year-old Penner, who is studying at Pace University, and 21-year-old Callie, studying at Ithaca University.
Running a business together has pros and cons for the Considines. While there have been a few vacations interrupted by client needs, the company has become part of the fabric of their lives together, Considine said.
“It’s nice to wake up in the morning and know you’re doing something good for people,” Rick Considine said. “It makes the work in some ways that much easier and enjoyable.”