Patricia Harrington, Intake Coordinator

Patricia is a native New Yorker. After graduating from Queens College with a B.A. in Physics and Mathematics, she had a twenty year career as a programmer and medical physicist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. She entered Pace Law School in 2006. During the summer of her first year she interned with the Westchester County Law Department assisting child abuse and neglect attorneys in Family Court. At Pace, she was active in the Public Interest Scholarship Organization, Lambda Law Students, and the Women’s Association of Law Students. Prior to entering law school, Patricia spent a year as a volunteer tutor at the Hetrick-Martin Institute. She is committed to eliminating the discriminatory obstacles facing transgender people in daily life.  In her spare time she works on her personal animation projects.

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Robert Hupf, Legal Intern

Robert Hupf was raised in Miami, FL and moved to NY to find a more progressive, LGBTQ friendly community. He is currently a third-year law student at CUNY School of Law and is a clinical member of the International Women’s Human Rights Clinic (currently working on gender based violence issues within Iraq). He is a member of Law Review, vice president of Moot Court, and is heavily involved in the school’s OutLaws organization. In the past, Robert has worked and interned with various LGBTQ tailored non-profits and legal services organizations, including the It Gets Better Project, Housing Works, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, and the LGBTQ Direct Legal Services Roundtable. He is excited to work with Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund this Fall as part of his mission to become a community lawyer when he graduates, one driven by the interests and lived experiences of actual community members.

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Shai Ornan, Legal Intern

Shai Ornan is originally from Ohio and is currently a third-year law student at Brooklyn Law School. He is a member of the school's LGBT organization and a member of the Brooklyn Law Review. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill with a major in History and a minor in Chinese. Shai studied abroad in Xiamen, China during his undergraduate experience. During the years in between his undergraduate career and law school Shai lived in Israel, working with youth and serving in the military. Additionally, he took that time to travel and spent a number of months in India and Southeast Asia. Shai passionately believes in the progression of civil rights for the transgender community and the LGBT community as a whole.

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Rita Petite, Bookkeeper

Rita is TLDEF’s bookkeeper.  She also works as a bookkeeper for other non-profit organizations and teaches QuickBooks.  Prior to joining TLDEF, she was in charge of accounts payable and payroll for the town of Darien, CT and then used her masters degree in music education to teach.  She taught band and orchestra for over ten years before playing the trombone for national Broadway tours and on cruise ships.  Rita settled in New York City in 2000 and has been performing as both an instrumentalist and actor.  She is a past president of Crossdressers International and is an avid supporter of TLDEF.

Ethan Rice, Volunteer Attorney

Ethan is a graduate of Florida State University College of Law.  He was a child welfare attorney in Florida for four years before relocating to New York City.  In law school, Ethan worked on behalf of children in the adult prison system, children in the foster care system, and children with disabilities. As a graduate fellow at FSU College of Law, Ethan researched and co-authored, Juvenile Life without Parole for Non-Homicide Offenses: Florida Compared to the Nation.  The article was cited by the U.S. Supreme Court in Graham v. Florida in its decision finding sentences of life without parole for juveniles unconstitutional when imposed for non-homicide crimes.  He co-authored an amicus brief for Florida State University’s Children’s Advocacy Clinic in support of overturning Florida’s statutory ban on LGB individuals and couples adopting children in the case In re: Matter of Adoption of X.X.G and N.R.G.  Ethan also has a B.A. in International Relations.  Ethan spends much of his free time reading vegan and vegetarian cookbooks, obsessing over restaurant menus, and trying new recipes. 

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Kiera Robinson, Intern

Kiera is currently an intern at TLDEF during her year off from pursuing a B.A. degree in Molecular Biology. During her time here, she hopes to gain a greater understanding of some of the issues affecting transgender people, while providing any type of assistance that she can to the community. In her spare time, she loves listening to her music collection, and experimenting with cooking.

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Michael D. Silverman, Executive Director

(hi-res photo)

Michael has been TLDEF's Executive Director since it was founded.  He has worked as an attorney in the LGBT civil rights movement since 1994.  In addition to his work at TLDEF, Michael is Adjunct Professor of Law at Fordham University School of Law, where he teaches courses on gender, sexuality and the law.

As a cooperating attorney with Lambda Legal, Michael worked on a number of groundbreaking cases, including Baehr v. Miike, one of the earliest challenges to restrictions on the freedom to marry, and Boy Scouts of America v. Dale.  In that case, Michael represented a coalition of religious organizations opposed to the Scouts’ exclusionary policy, and his brief  (cover, tables, brief) submitted to the United States Supreme Court on their behalf was cited in the opinion of the dissenting justices.  While on a Georgetown University Law Center Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellowship, Michael taught in the law school’s domestic violence clinic and worked in the legal department at NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Immediately prior to joining TLDEF, Michael worked for four years in New York Lawyers for the Public Interest’s Access to Health Care Program and Disability Law Center.  In that capacity, he provided technical assistance to numerous community groups seeking to end discrimination in access to health care on the basis of race and ethnicity.  He also successfully prosecuted large scale litigation in conjunction with the United States Department of Justice against hospitals for violations of, among other things, the Americans With Disabilities Act.  He is thrilled to be back in the movement for transgender equality.

Michael is a graduate of Vassar College and The University of Michigan Law School.

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