About

Founded in 1990, the LGBT Bar Association of the District of Columbia is an independent, non-partisan bar association serving gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender lawyers, law students, and legal professionals in the national capital area. The LGBT Bar Association of DC works to advance the interests of the LGBT community, to be their voice within the legal community, and to improve their professional lives. An affiliate of the National LGBT Bar Association, the LGBT Bar Association of DC acts in coalition with other local and national groups dedicated to LGBT concerns.

The LGBT Bar Association of DC’s advocacy and activities on behalf of the LGBT community include:

  • Raising issues of concern with officers and directors of the American Bar Association, the D.C. Bar and other state and voluntary bars.
  • Sponsoring a Mentorship Program.
  • Recruiting and training volunteers to provide pro bono legal services for people living with HIV/AIDS through Whitman-Walker Clinic.
  • Co-sponsoring the D.C. Bar Candidates Forum and endorsing candidates for local bar offices and the judiciary.
  • Hosting continuing legal education programs, social activities and other membership networking events.
  • Sponsoring public forums on legal issues of concern to the LGBT community.

Our Mission

The mission of the LGBT Bar Association of DC is to advance the rights of persons in the LGBT community, to be their voice within the legal community, and to improve their professional lives.

Funding

The LGBT Bar Association of DC, is a nonprofit 501(c)(6) tax-exempt corporation supported entirely by its members and other private contributors. Contributions are not deductible as charitable contributions for Federal income tax purposes, but membership dues may be deductible as a business expense to the extent permitted by law.

Board of Directors

President

JORDAN NYE currently works for Ackerman Brown PLLC. He grew up in New Hampshire and attended Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts where he obtained his undergraduate degree in political science and philosophy. He moved to the DC area in 2010 and has lived in the area since. He went to law school at George Mason University School of Law and is currently admitted to practice in Washington, DC. He has a strong background in criminal and litigation practice. He previously worked as a prosecutor for Arlington County and in the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia. He has also worked for the National Law Center for Homelessness and Poverty, and many private defense firms. Currently his practice is primarily litigation based and covers many different fields of law including civil litigation, landlord and tenant matters, family law, employment disputes, and estate planning.

Vice President

JAMES SMITH is an associate at Latham & Watkins and a member of the Benefits, Compensation & Employment Practice. Mr. Smith’s practice focuses on counseling clients on all matters related to executive compensation, deferred compensation, and employee benefits. He is experienced in designing and implementing equity-based compensation plans, qualified and non-qualified retirement plans, deferred compensation plans and agreements, executive employment agreements, and health and welfare benefit plans for public and private companies, tax-exempt entities, and executives. Mr. Smith also works with the Internal Revenue Service and Department of Labor to resolve any compliance issues that may arise with such plans. Mr. Smith frequently advises clients with compliance and administration matters under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), the Internal Revenue Code (including Sections 409A, 280G, 162(m), and 83), and securities laws relating to qualified and non-qualified deferred compensation plans, equity-based plans, health and welfare benefit plans, and fringe benefit plans. He also assists public company clients with their US Securities and Exchange Commission reporting and compliance obligations, including proxy and disclosure issues, corporate governance, and matters related to executive compensation. In addition, Mr. Smith helps clients with the Dodd-Frank Act pay ratio and clawback rules, including their implementation and compliance. In connection with Latham’s transactional practice, Mr. Smith represents private and public companies on employee benefits and executive compensation matters related to asset and stock sales, spin-offs, acquisitions, mergers, divestitures, and other complex corporate transactions, including those with respect to executive retention and post-transaction employee transition matters. Prior to joining Latham, Mr. Smith was an associate at a prominent global law firm.

Secretary

MEGHAN DROSTE is a Senior Associate at Wilkenfeld, Herendeen & Atkinson, a civil rights firm, where she advocates for employees who have experienced discrimination in the workplace. Ms. Droste was previously an Associate Attorney and the Team Lead for the LGBTQ and Gender Issues Practice Group at The Law Offices of Gary M. Gilbert & Associates, P.C. (now Gilbert Employment Law). Originally from Boston, Ms. Droste holds a B.A. from Boston University, an M.S. from American University, and a J.D. from The George Washington University Law School.

Treasurer

JOE SCAVETTA is Counsel and Real Estate Agent for Keller Williams Capital Properties, as well as Compliance and Transaction Director for the MG Residential Real Estate Team.  Joe’s management of legal issues and operations for the brokerage give him a unique perspective on the challenges people face when buying and selling a home.  Joe’s experience as a contract drafter and negotiator allow him to solve the the compliance and transaction issue that arise for the other members of the MG Residential Team.  Joe has lived in the Washington area on and off for over 25 years and has a deep understanding of the rapidly changing neighborhoods in the area.

Prior to working for the brokerage and the MG Residential Real Estate Team, Joe practiced law in Los Angeles and Washington, drafting general business contracts and contracts related to the production of television programs, as well as in compliance with FCC rules for television programs.

Joe holds a B.A. in Chemistry from the University of Virginia and a J.D. from Notre Dame Law School, where he was a member of the Notre Dame Law Review.  In addition, Joe has taught courses in legal research and writing at George Washington University Law School.  He currently resides in the Shaw neighborhood of Washington with his husband, John, and his French Bulldog, Alice.

Members

JESSICA DESTEFANO is a Supervising Attorney with the Housing Advocacy and Litigation Clinic at Rising for Justice (formerly Law Students in Court). Prior to joining Rising for Justice, she worked as a Staff Attorney in the Housing Rights Project at Legal Services NYC, where she defended low-income tenants in eviction proceedings. She was also a Staff Attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Rockland County.  Jessica is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, where she focused on public interest law.  During law school, Jessica clerked for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, The Trevor Project, and Whitman-Walker Health. She also holds degrees from American University (B.A.) and Shepherd University (M.A.). In her spare time, Jessica volunteers for several LGBTQ rights organizations, including Boston Pride for which she edits the annual magazine.

DENNIS JANSEN is a state and local tax associate at Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP. Dennis holds a B.A. from the University of Miami, a J.D. from the University of Minnesota, and an LL.M. in taxation from Georgetown University with a certificate in state and local taxation. Prior to practicing tax law, Dennis worked at Thomson Reuters for 7 years and served as an editor at the Dallas Morning News, where he also reported on LGBTQ+ issues. Dennis splits his time between Washington D.C., and Dallas, Texas, where he lives with his partner and two dogs – a chiweenie named Gunter and a labradoodle named Ingrid.

RICHARD KELLEY is the Managing Attorney of the Immigration and Child Advocacy practices at the DC Volunteer Lawyers Project. In addition, he volunteers as the Legal Director for Center Global (a program of the DC Center for LGBT Community), an organization that focuses on holistic support for LGBTQ asylum seekers and refugees. Prior to joining DCVLP, Richard was a litigation associate at DLA Piper LLP and a senior attorney at the DC Affordable Law Firm, where he represented survivors of domestic violence, at-risk children, and asylum seekers. In his volunteer time, Richard also works with Whitman Walker through their name-change clinic. Richard has previously spoken on asylum issues for the D.C. Mayor’s office and briefing panels for both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate focused on the asylum process for LGBTQ individuals and has written about issues impacting LGBTQ asylum seekers. He received his J.D. and LL.M in International Business and Economic Law and LL.M in Civil Justice from Georgetown University Law Center and his Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University. Richard has been in D.C. for over a decade; he and his husband are residents of Columbia Heights.

BEN SCHENKER was born in Massachusetts, moved to Virginia as a teenager, and then returned to Massachusetts to attend Brandeis University. After earning his B.A., Ben moved across the country to attend the law school at the University of San Diego School of Law, where he earned both his J.D. (Juris Doctor) and LL.M. (Master of Laws) in tax law. He returned to the East Coast and became licensed to practice law in Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Pennsylvania. While his initial focus was on tax law and trusts and estates, relatively early in his career, Ben began working in family law as well. Families’ legal needs, of course, tend to require many different aspects of all different types of law. Ben recognizes that families come in all shapes and sizes and he offers his services to all families in need.