Staff

Carly Calhoun, Legal Intern

Carly just finished her first year at the University of Alabama School of Law. Originally from Kennesaw, GA, she earned her undergraduate degree in social work from Georgia State University. During her undergraduate experience, she interned with the Atlanta Long Term Care Ombudsman Program investigating nursing homes and volunteered with a domestic violence resource center. Between college and law school, Carly worked in various settings in Frankfort, KY and Portland, OR, and volunteered as a visitor for people in hospice care. As a law student, she is active with the school’s Public Interest Institute, recently earning the Dean’s Community Service Award. She is also a member of both the law school’s student run LGBTQ organization, OUTlaw, and the University’s faculty, staff, and graduate student LGBTQ organization, Capstone Alliance. Carly’s goal is to work for LGBTQ equality with her law degree. In her spare time, she likes to snuggle up with her four rescue animals and her partner of four years and watch stand-up comedy.

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Katie Cullum, Legal Intern

Katie is a rising third year law student at Indiana University Maurer School of Law. Originally from Philadelphia, Katie earned her B.A. in English and Gender Studies from Skidmore College, where her passion and activism for LGBTQ issues began. As a law student, Katie is active in several progressive student organizations. She is the current student director of the LGBT Legal Project, President of Maurer’s chapter of the National Lawyer’s Guild, and serves on the executive board for OutLaw, Law Students for Reproductive Justice, American Constitution Society, and Inmate Legal Assistance Project, among other projects. Katie plans to use her law degree to serve the LGBTQ community, focusing on issues effecting transgender individuals, and concerning the intersections of racial justice, prison abolition, and reproductive justice. In her free time, Katie loves enjoying the outdoors, reading a great book, volunteering, and spending time with her rescue cats.

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Rachel Frank, Legal Intern

Rachel just finished her first year at Stanford Law School. She grew up in the Seattle area and graduated from the University of Washington in 2014 with a BS in economics and minors in math and political science. While in undergrad, she completed a thesis on higher education costs and participated in student government. As a law student, she works on the Stanford Journal of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and participates in the Stanford Law Association. In her spare time, she enjoys running, powerlifting, and skiing.

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Kristen Gardner, Director of Development

Kristin has a diverse background in non-profit management and a passion for social justice. Most recently, as the Regional Manager of Annual Giving for the Arthritis Foundation, she successfully created and launched an annual campaign which raised over $1.1 million in its first year.

She received her BA and MA in Communication Studies from Texas Tech University. Her graduate studies focused gender communication and included research entitled “Women articulating their feminist standpoints” because she believes that allowing women the space to tell their stories gives them agency in a world that often does not privilege their voices.  During this time she also spent many years as a public speaking instructor.

Kristin volunteers with the National Organization for Women - New York State (NOW-NYS) as the Legislative Vice President. She also serves on the Political Action Committee for NOW-NYC. In the rest of her free time she enjoys yoga, cooking, a good nap, and playing on her long-standing kickball team.

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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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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, Staff 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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Taylor Ruggieri, Legal Intern

Taylor just finished her first year at Widener University School of Law in Wilmington, Delaware and will be transferring to Rutgers School of Law in the Fall 2015.  She earned her undergraduate degree from Stockton University in Galloway, NJ with a BA in Psychology and minors in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Political Science.  She was a member of the Pride Alliance at Stockton and scheduled diversity events to raise awareness on LGBTQ issues.  During her studies at Stockton University, Taylor and her girlfriend slept outside the Supreme Court of the United States for fifty-three hours to view the DOMA Oral Arguments.  Taylor was a volunteer with New Jersey United for Marriage before starting law school.  She was a member of the Public Interest Law Association, OUTlaws, and Women’s Law Caucus at Widener University and was named to the Dean’s List in her first year.  She received the Taischoff Family Endowed Scholarship for her continued involvement in community service and public outreach.  Taylor plans to continue to work towards LGBTQ equality through continued participation in volunteer work, through her law school career, and in her future career.  In her spare time she likes to go to karaoke bars, try different foods, and binge on Netflix.

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Michael D. Silverman, Executive Director

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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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