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Board Election Voting for the LGBT Bar Association of the District of Columbia
December 29, 2020 - January 12, 2021
Thank you to everyone who ran for a board spot for the LGBT Bar Association of the District of Columbia. Please review the candidates’ statements of interest and vote for your favorite candidate(s) below.
Voting will be open through Tuesday, January 12, 2021.
Eric Ashby II
Eric Ashby II is an associate in the Washington, D.C. office of Crowell & Moring, and is a member of the firm’s Antitrust and Government Contracts groups. He maintains an active pro bono practice including matters involving landlord-tenant disputes, immigration and asylum claims, LGBTQ-rights advocacy, voting rights, racial justice, veterans affairs, and First Amendment matters. Eric received his J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School where he was Notes Editor for the Michigan Journal of Environmental & Administrative Law. During law school he was an extern for the Honorable Cathy Ann Bencivengo in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. He also volunteered with the Central Florida Gay & Lesbian Law Association where he drafted a model ordinance for Florida localities banning the practice of conversion therapy. Eric graduated phi beta kappa from the University of Oregon with a B.S. in Political Science. During college he interned for U.S. Congressman Peter DeFazio, working primarily on military and veterans affairs. He is a military veteran who served in the United States Air Force where he earned the Humanitarian Service Medal for disaster relief efforts. Eric is admitted to practice in both California and D.C., and in addition to the LGBT Bar Association of DC is a member of the ABA’s Antitrust and Litigation Sections.
Statement of Interest
I grew up in a small rural town in conservative northeastern California. The county in which I went to high school gave Trump over 70% of the vote in both 2016 and 2020. It wasn’t always easy living in such a place, especially as I realized I was gay and knew that if anyone found out things would be exponentially more difficult for me.
Shortly after high school graduation I enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. For approximately half of my time in the military the policy of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was in place, a policy that required me to lie about who I was while serving in a position that also required me to be truthful and serve with integrity. This contradiction was an unnerving experience to say the least.
After leaving the military and gaining the ability to live openly and honestly, I have made continuous efforts to advocate for and serve the LGBTQ community. While serving as a congressional intern I assisted a fellow veteran in obtaining an upgrade of her discharge classification she received as a result of being kicked out of the military under “Don’t ask Don’t tell.” During law school I volunteered with the LGBTQ Know Your Rights Project helping members of the community obtain custody rights, effect name changes, and receive vital health care services from the University of Michigan Medical Center. I also served as a mentor to new students as part of my law school’s LGBTQ student group’s mentorship program. I spent a spring break volunteering with the Central Florida Gay and Lesbian Law Association writing stronger anti-discrimination protections and lobbying for their passage as well as drafting a local ordinance banning the practice of conversion therapy for use by Florida localities. Upon returning to Michigan, I lobbied the mayor to enact a similar ban in Ann Arbor, MI. That ordinance is currently under review by the City Attorney, Human Rights Commission, and City Council.
I’ve continued to advocate for LGBTQ rights in my pro bono efforts as an attorney. I also work within my law firm to promote diversity and inclusion and regularly work with my alma mater’s LGBTQ student group to provide mentorship and advice to current students.
I hope to bring this experience and passion for LGBTQ rights to the LGBT Bar Association of DC. As a board member, I will continue the Association’s work to raise issues of concern with officers and directors of the American Bar Association and the D.C. Bar. I also plan to expand and promote the Association’s mentorship program and to partner with law firms to grow and improve diversity and inclusion programs. Finally, I will work to organize events to inform the public, the legal community, and elected officials on issues of importance to the LGBTQ community, even as we are relegated to the virtual environment for the time being. Thank you.
Dennis Jansen is an associate in the state and local tax (SALT) group of 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.
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.
Statement of interest
I have been an active member of the DC LGBT Bar Association’s Board of Directors and would like to continue my participation with the organization. Currently, I help administer the organization’s website and write the monthly member newsletter.
I am a graduate of AU Washington College of Law, and a former Division I athlete at Indiana University. My interests include criminal justice reform, civil rights law, criminal law, immigration law, as well as LGBTQ+ advocacy, and creating a more accessible environment for those who need legal services. LGBTQ+ issues have been at the forefront of my studies, as a member of OUTlaw at Washington College of Law as well as a member of the Gay Straight Alliance during my time at Indiana University, I hope to create a path of normalcy, and comfort for those who choose the legal field as their endeavor. I identify as a gay woman, and have been out since high school. There are challenges and barriers we all face as members of the LGBTQ+ community, wherever you fall, or don’t fall on the spectrum. We need leaders who will push the boundaries, and make sure our voices are heard.
Statement of interest
I am running for a board position so that those with the intention of pursuing the law, have a safe harbor. It is integral to have individuals to consult with, debate with, and network with who understand, as well as advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. The legal field begs for a place that is free from fear of judgment or employment bias. I hope to be a trailblazer towards a path of normalcy for those who wish to debate difficult ideas, challenge societal norms, and can have uncomfortable, yet respectful and intellectual, conversations, in a safe and welcoming environment. It is important to me to have board members who truly understand the plight of those of us in the community.
I am a Senior Associate at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, where I have maintained a litigation-focused practice and a strong pro bono portfolio focusing on asylum cases, immigration rights, and appeals. Although based in DC, I am regularly recognized by the New York State Bar Association as an Empire State Counsel for pro-bono efforts. And prior to joining Willkie, I did volunteer work with Outserve-SLDN over my winter breaks during law school. Originally from San Diego, I hold a B.A. from Yale University, and a J.D. from the University of Virginia.
Statement of interest
I’m interested in serving as a member of the board to further give back to the DC LGBT+ community and help the organization move into the 2020’s in as strong a position as possible. I’ve enjoyed past events hosted by the LGBT Bar Association of the District of Columbia and have often felt that there are so many more LGBT+ attorneys living and practicing in the district that could be further included in the bar’s activities and general network. So one area I would love to assist in is trying to expand our outreach.
Additionally, pro bono work has been a huge part of my practice and focus at Willkie. Last year, I was awarded the Future Leader – LGBT+ Equality award at the Chambers Diversity & Inclusion Awards for my LGBT+-focused pro bono work along side my active support of and work with LGBT+ organizations based, here, in DC. I was also recognize with a Safe Haven award from Immigration Equality for excellence in pro bono representation. Accordingly, I’d love to support the bar’s continued efforts to make a positive impact in our community.
I’m all ears, always willing to help, and really invested in doing some good. So I hope you’ll consider allowing me to do so as a board member. Thanks for your attention!
To those I have not had the opportunity to meet, my name is Devan Patel. I am a second-generation American from San Francisco, CA and have been in D.C. for much of the past eight years, and I am currently a clerk on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. I grew up in a single room occupancy (SRO) building in SF and later went on to become the first person in my family to graduate from college when I received my B.A. from the George Washington University. After graduating from college, I spent a year working and then enrolled at Notre Dame Law School, with an eye on returning to D.C. to begin my legal career. During these COVID times, despite my best efforts I have been unsuccessful in picking up a new hobby or skill. I live in the Thomas Circle area and will soon be getting a corgi puppy – female name suggestions welcome.
Statement of interest
When I was a child, my grandfather told me about the time he was fired as a farmhand in the 1960s. My grandfather’s supervisor told him to his face that he was being fired because the other farmhands did not want to work with “a colored.” Because of this, my grandparents and their three young children were forced to live in a car since my grandfather was no longer able to pay rent on their one-room apartment. That story always resonated with me growing up, and it factored heavily into my desires to both become the first person in my family to graduate from college and then to attend law school.
While at Notre Dame Law, my studies, extracurriculars, and intern and extern positions were all directed at serving underrepresented communities and building bridges. I was also fortunate to become the first openly gay person elected president of Notre Dame Law – the nation’s oldest Roman Catholic law school – working alongside faculty, staff, and even clergy to build a better student-experience, enhance mental health resources, and ensure all students felt comfortable being who they were. Working alongside Notre Dame Law’s administration, I helped to steer the law school through the first semester impacted by COVID-19 – fighting for grading transparency, even more access to mental health resources, getting our low-income students access to laptops and internet, and giving students and faculty the information and tools they would need to get through a tumultuous semester of online legal education.
Though I have not been out of law school for long, I am not lacking in service experience. I have served on the exoneration project at my law school, protected the rights of immigrant employees at the Department of Justice, and worked to bring state and federal legislation to protect the rights of LGBT Americans. This organization gave me a community of shared experiences when I was still a wet-behind-the-ears law student. Now I would like the chance to begin paying back that favor. As the end of the pandemic is within sight, the legal and LGBT communities, like many others, will be faced with questions as to how to move forward in light of the impact the pandemic has had on our personal and professional lives. A diverse set of experiences and views will be necessary to navigate the tail-end of the pandemic and subsequent reopening of our community and profession. Give me the opportunity to serve this group, and I will prove myself to you by bringing the same commitment to strengthening organizations and enhancing inclusivity that I have brought over my few short years in the legal community.