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Introducing our second honoree for 2023 Citizens of the Year!

We could not be more excited to introduce our second honoree for 2023 Citizens of the Year: Dee Gillen! Read on to learn more about her and The Black Poster Project.

Dee Gillen is a Haworth native that was born and raised in the house that her father and grandparents built together. After marrying her husband, Greg, she raised her own family in that same house. Dee is the proud mother of Scott, Deborah, and Eric.

After losing Scott in 2015 to an overdose, Dee founded The Black Poster Project. While preparing for an overdose awareness event in 2019, she felt it would be an impactful visual to have posters of lost loved ones displayed behind the event speakers. She was right.

The project has grown exponentially in the three years since its inception: from 50 awareness posters to now over 500 and counting. Dee handmakes each poster and does not ask for donations from the grieving families that request them. She handles all storage and travel needs for the many, many posters which are collectively used in a very moving exhibit entitled Silent Memorials that travels throughout New Jersey and New York. This is no small undertaking; for perspective, if you lined up about 450 of these posters with a mere six inches between each one, it would span the length of over three football fields.

Dee’s work with The Black Poster project has not gone unnoticed. Just this past summer, she was honored as a Hometown Hero by Congressman Josh Gottheimer. The congressman stated that “… she brings together grieving families, people in recovery, and local communities, to educate about the dangers of alcohol and drug use.”

Beyond her activism, Dee is valued by her family and friends as creative, witty, and reliable. Any time spent with her is guaranteed to be memorable – whether it’s because you saw her incredible impact on someone’s life or because you ended up singing loudly at a public restaurant. For these reasons and more, The Greater Pascack Valley Chamber of Commerce is honored to name Dee as one of our 2023 Citizens of the Year.


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