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The Lesniak Institute for American Leadership

Based at Kean University, the Lesniak Institute is a nonprofit think tank and training institute to develop the next generation of American leaders, and to partner with grassroots leaders from across the country, to advocate for social justice.  The Institute is named for Senator Raymond J. Lesniak, who, over a 40-year career in the New Jersey Legislature, authored and sponsored hundreds of laws that have advanced civil rights and the quality of life for millions.  Senator Lesniak is the winner of the International Human Rights Competition at Le Mémorial de Caen in Normandy, France.

Our Causes

Animal Welfare

The Lesniak Institute advocates on behalf of animal welfare, training the next generation of American Leaders to protect animals from cruelty and endangered species from extinction. 

Community Service

The Lesniak Institute for American Leadership believes the best way to educate future leaders is by example and works tirelessly to recruit and train volunteers to serve in their communities.

Criminal and Social Justice

The Lesniak Institute advocates to end mass incarceration, reduce recidivism by promoting effective re-entry practices, and to stop the abuse of solidarity confinement. These efforts result in both lives and tax dollars saved.


Children suffering from substance use disorder rarely graduate from high school and often wind up in prison, die young, or both. The Lesniak Institute is dedicated to providing an array of services to  youth and families suffering from substance use disorder.

Curbing Gun Violence

Our youth are leading the way on gun control issues. We support their urgency and advocacy. The Lesniak Institute supports three common sense laws to protect Americans, young and old, from gun violence.


More than 775 million people over the age of 15 in the world are illiterate. Our goal is to strengthen the capacity of communities to support basic education and literacy programs, reduce gender disparity in education and increase adult literacy. 

Environmental Protection

Protecting the environment for current and future generations is a core mission of the Lesniak Institute, as we work to train both young and old citizens to be American Leaders.

Latest Causes

Stand Up For the Other

On July 12, The Lesniak Institute For American Leadership hosted a Stand Up For The Other forum where people of different faiths, ethnicity, gender, age, and sexuality came together and took a stand against hate speech and bigotry. To join us at our next forum, please contact us below.

The Humane State Scholarship Contest

To encourage our youth to advocate for animal protection, The Lesniak Institute is sponsoring a License Plate design and essay contest. Two design finalists will receive $1000 scholarships and six essay finalists will receive $500 scholarships provided by NJCAR Foundation.