New Jersey recently sent one lawmaker to join legislators from 42 other states at a prestigious leadership conference.

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Assemblywoman Betty Lou DeCroce is back home in the Garden State. She says one constant theme ran through the forum, but it is easier said than done.

"We all agreed as a whole there that it's reaching out across the aisle to work with each other that matters most," explains DeCroce. "We're not going to agree all the time, but there can be a common goal and in that common goal can be an outcome that can help everybody."

The Assemblywoman took part in the nationally recognized State Legislative Leaders Foundation's (SLLF) "Emerging Leaders Program" at The Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia.

The four-day highly interactive program, designed to develop the leadership potential of emerging political leaders for the challenges of the 21st century, to be held in July, will focus on:

· Analysis and feedback on elements of personal leadership style.

· Awareness of the importance of values and ethics in governance and public service.

· Gaining perspective on the importance of the role of the state legislature in contem-porary American politics.

· Recognition of the importance of legisla-tors as consensus builders and facilitators of compromise.

"The ultimate goal should be what's best, the best decision, not for one (political) side or the other," says DeCroce. "Because of what's going on in Washington, D.C. it gives greater importance to what's going on in each state."

The dysfunction in the nation's Capitol is all the more reason for state legislators to work in a bi-partisan fashion says DeCroce because if federal legislators can't or won't take the lead, progress has to be made at the state and local levels.

In 2012, DeCroce was elected to the General Assembly to represent the 26th Legislative District. She fills the seat formerly held by her husband, the late Alex DeCroce, who served as Assembly Republican Leader. She currently serves on the Assembly Education, Higher Education and Women and Children committees, and the Joint Committee on Public Schools.

Another interesting thing came up quite a bit at the conference. DeCroce says New Jersey was not the butt of jokes. In fact, people spoke very highly of the Garden State and DeCroce gives much of the credit for that to Gov. Chris Christie.