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.
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.
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.
DON DAVIS is an Employment, Labor & Benefits Associate in the Washington, DC office of Mintz Levin and co-author of LexisNexis’ LGBTQ Employment Law Practice Guide. His practice involves representing employers in a wide variety of workplace-related matters. Before joining Mintz Levin, Don was Senior Litigation Associate at Ackerman Brown, an LGBT-owned law firm in Washington, DC, and previously practiced at an employment litigation boutique in North Carolina. Don is a loyal and proud alumnus of both North Carolina State University and The Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law. Don was recognized as one of the nation’s Top LGBT Lawyers Under 40 by the National LGBT Bar Association in the summer of 2015 and has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star in 2017 and 2018. Having also been active in LGBT advocacy in North Carolina prior to moving to Washington, Don now serves on the SMYAL Board of Directors in addition to his work for the LGBT Bar Association of DC. Don and his husband Nick enjoy the many cultural and recreational opportunities the DC area has to offer.
KATIE O’CONNOR is the Director of Policy Development and Programming at the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, where she and develops and implements national programming for ACS’s Democracy & Voting and Equality & Liberty portfolios. Before joining ACS, Katie was a staff attorney with the Voter Protection Program at Advancement Project, where she coordinated and advocated with local and state election officials, legislators, and community organizations to ensure fair and accessible elections. Prior to joining Advancement Project, she worked as a staff attorney with the ACLU Voting Rights Project in Atlanta, where she litigated several federal court challenges to laws that burdened the fundamental right to vote. Katie received her B.S. from the Georgia Institute of Technology and her J.D. from Georgia State University College of Law.
JOSEPH VARDNER is an antitrust compliance officer at Wells Fargo and previously worked as an antitrust associate in the Washington, D.C. office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. His practice has focused primarily on antitrust, intellectual property, and consumer protection matters, including litigation, transactions, and client counseling. Prior to his private sector work, Mr. Varnder served as a trial attorney in the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, where he began his legal career through the Attorney General’s Honors Program. He earned his law degree cum laude from Harvard Law School in 2011, where he was a Heyman Fellow and served as the Submissions Editor for the Harvard Journal of Law & Technology. He also won the National Giles Rich Patent Moot Court before a panel of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. In 2006, Mr. Vardner received his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). He presently serves as an Adjunct Professor at the Georgetown University Law Center, where he teaches a course on U.S. Legal Discourse. Prior to law school, Mr. Vardner served as a judicial extern to the Honorable S. James Otero of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Mr. Vardner is heavily involved in several volunteer and pro bono efforts, including work in DC Landlord-Tenant Court, as well as his service as a Member of the Trevor Project’s DC Ambassador’s Board, whose focus is raising awareness of mental health and youth suicide issues. Mr. Vardner is admitted to practice in California, the District of Columbia and is a member of the Federal District Court of Colorado bar.
MATT WETZEL is Vice President & Assistant General Counsel of the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed), the world’s largest trade association of medical device manufacturers. At AdvaMed, Mr. Wetzel advocates on behalf of the medical device industry with respect to several key legal issues, including ethics and integrity, health care fraud and abuse concerns, anti-bribery/anti-corruption measures, and physician-industry transparency initiatives, among others. He also oversees the Association’s amicus curiae program. Prior to joining AdvaMed, Mr. Wetzel served as Senior Counsel, Global Compliance and Ethics at Boston Scientific Corporation. While there, he played an integral role in overseeing several critical elements of the company’s global compliance and privacy programs and advised on a variety of legal issues. Previously, Mr. Wetzel was as an Associate in the health care practices of Reed Smith LLP and Latham & Watkins LLP, both in Washington, D.C. Mr. Wetzel is also a trained executive and career coach, a member of the American Health Lawyers Association Diversity & Inclusion Council, and a Fellow of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity. He received his J.D., cum laude, and his A.B., magna cum laude, from Georgetown University. He spends his spare time spoiling his English Bulldog, Boris.
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.
BRANDON ROMAN works at Squire Patton Boggs in developing comprehensive strategies to further assist clients with their legislative and regulatory interests before Congress, relevant congressional committees, and various regulatory agencies. Brandon also assists various non-profit organizations with their corporate formation, including assistance with obtaining tax-exempt status with the IRS and state-level tax regulators. He also advises nonprofit organization, such as charities and trade associations, on corporate governance and compliance issues. Prior to joining Squire Patton Boggs, he served as a judicial intern for Chief Judge Nancy V. Alquist of the United State Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maryland, as well as for Judge Laura Cordero of the Superior Court for the District of Columbia. Brandon also spent time in El Salvador where he leveraged his fluency in Spanish to assist ALDES (La Oficina de Asistencia Legal para la Diversidad Sexual El Salvador) in organizing the country’s first conference on LGBT rights.
MEGAN SCHAEFFER is the Chair of the Trusts & Estates practice group at Ackerman Brown PLLC, an LGBT-owned law firm in Washington, DC. Prior to joining Ackerman Brown, Megan was an associate in the Private Wealth Services group at Holland & Knight LLP. Megan grew up in the Washington, DC area. She attended DePaul University College of Law in Chicago for her law degree and received her undergraduate degree from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana. While at Saint Mary’s College, Megan founded the first gay-straight student alliance in the nation to receive funding from a Catholic college. In law school, Megan was the president of DePaul’s student LGBT organization and was a board member of the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago. As an estate planning attorney, Megan’s practice focuses on assisting LGBT families and individuals protect their assets and loved ones. Megan currently serves as the Chair of the Estate & Trust Study Group for the Maryland State Bar Association. In 2017, Megan was recognized as a “Rising Star” in the areas of estate planning and probate by D.C. Super Lawyers.
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.
RICARDO MUÑIZ-ALMEYDA is an associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell specializing in antitrust and foreign investment regulatory matters. He received his B.A. in International Affairs and Geography from The George Washington University and his J.D. from Duke University School of Law. His previous experience includes working with both the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the District of Columbia and the District of Puerto Rico, and a judicial internship with the Hon. Judge Torruella in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Ricardo is originally from Puerto Rico and a big Duke basketball fan.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Law Student Representative
AMY ERNST is in her second year at American University Washington College of Law. Her focus is on human rights and public interest law. Before law school, Amy worked in crisis intervention with survivors and perpetrators of sexual assault in the United States and abroad.