July 12 – Tech, Policy, and Equity: Innovation and the LGBT Community

















Mara Keisling, Executive Director, National Center for Transgender Equality

Mara Keisling is the Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, the nation’s leading social justice advocacy organization winning life-saving change for transgender people. Since founding NCTE in 2003, Mara has led organizational and coalition efforts that have won significant advances in transgender equality, including the inclusion of gender identity in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the first-ever Congressional hearing on transgender issues, and countless federal administrative and state-level wins. As one of the nation’s leading voices for transgender equality, Mara is regularly quoted in national and local print media and has appeared on major television networks, including CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News. She was part of the first all-transgender television interview on Melissa Harris-Perry’s show in 2012. A proud Pennsylvania native, Mara holds a BSS from Pennsylvania State University and did her graduate work in American Government at Harvard University. Prior to founding NCTE, Mara worked for 25 years in social marketing and opinion research.

Maya Rupert, Senior Director, Policy & Managing Director, D.C. Office, Center for Reproductive Rights

Maya Rupert, Senior Director, Policy & Managing Director, D.C. Office, joined the Center for Reproductive Rights in 2017 and is responsible for overseeing the Center’s federal, state, and local policy work in the U.S., and is responsible for developing, implementing, and managing the Center’s multi-faceted reproductive rights policy initiatives and strategies across multiple branches of government. Maya also leads the Center’s Washington, D.C. office and focuses on deepening the Center’s efforts, maximizing impact, and forging new partnerships and opportunities in our nation’s capital. Prior to joining the Center, Maya served the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development as Senior Policy Advisor to Secretary Julián Castro and earlier, as Chief of Staff and Senior Counsel in the Office of General Counsel. Prior to HUD, Maya was Policy Director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights. In that role, she led the organization’s policy and legislative work and advocated on behalf of the LGBT community in areas including housing, employment, relationship recognition, and immigration. Maya has also been a regular contributing writer to a number of media outlets—including O Magazine, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and The Huffington Post—where she frequently addresses the intersection of politics, race, and gender. She has been recognized by the National Association of Black Journalists for her writing and by national outlets like Ebony Magazine and The Root for her leadership in the black community. Maya received her B.A. from U.C. Santa Barbara and her J.D. from U.C. Berkeley. She clerked for the Honorable Eric L. Clay of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Lucy Vasserman, Software Engineer, Jigsaw

Lucy Vasserman is a Software Engineer at Jigsaw, Alphabet’s incubator focused on tech products to help the world’s vulnerable populations. She works on the Conversation AI team, which uses machine learning to improve conversations online. Prior to Conversation AI, Lucy worked on machine learning research and engineering for several other Google teams including Speech Recognition and Google Shopping. Lucy is passionate about computer science education and spent fall 2015 teaching computer science full-time at Xavier University in New Orleans through the Google in Residence program, a partnership between Google and Historically Black Colleges and Universities. She also serves on the Board of Advocates for Citizen Schools, a national non-profit that runs career-focused after school programming for low income middle schoolers. Lucy received her B.A. in Computer Science from Pomona College.

Ilan H. Meyer, Williams Distinguished Senior Scholar for Public Policy, The Williams Institute

Ilan H. Meyer, Ph.D. is a Williams Distinguished Senior Scholar for Public Policy at the Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at UCLA’s School of Law. Prior to coming to UCLA in 2011, Dr. Meyer was Professor of Clinical Sociomedical Sciences and Deputy Chair for MPH Programs at the Department of Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Dr. Meyer’s academic background is in social psychology, psychiatric epidemiology, and sociomedical sciences in public health. Dr. Meyer studies public health issues related to minority health. His areas of research include stress and illness in minority populations, in particular, the relationship of minority status, minority identity, prejudice and discrimination and mental health outcomes in sexual minorities and the intersection of minority stressors related to sexual orientation, race/ethnicity and gender. In several highly cited papers, Dr. Meyer has developed a model of minority stress that describes the relationship of social stressors and mental disorders and helps to explain LGBT health disparities. The model has guided his and other investigators’ population research on LGBT health disparities by identifying the mechanisms by which social stressors impact health and describing the harm to LGBT people from prejudice and stigma. The model was cited by the Institute of Medicine as one of four cross-cutting perspectives (the only one stemming from LGBT scholarship) recommended for the study of LGBT health. For this work, Dr. Meyer received the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns of the American Psychological Association (APA) and Distinguished Scientific Contribution award from the APA’s Division 44. Based on this body of work, Dr. Meyer has provided expert testimony, including Perry v. Brown (later Hollingsworth v. Perry), a major civil rights case related to the right of gay men and lesbian to marry in the United States; testimony before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in their briefing on peer-to-peer violence and bullying; and statement submitted to the European Court of Human Rights in Bayev v. Russia, a case challenging the Russian law banning “homosexual propaganda.”

*Dr. Meyer will replace Dr. Jose Bauermeister on the panel.

Adam P. Romero, Director of Legal Scholarship and Federal Policy, The Williams Institute

Adam P. Romero is Director of Legal Scholarship and Federal Policy, and Arnold D. Kassoy Scholar of Law, at the Williams Institute. His research focuses on how the law shapes and responds to human vulnerabilities and to disparities and discrimination in our society. He will teach Law and Sexuality in the fall 2017 semester. Romero has published in numerous volumes and journals and is the co-editor of LGBTQ Divorce and Relationship Dissolution (with Abbie E. Goldberg) (forthcoming 2018, Oxford University Press) and Feminist and Queer Legal Theory: Intimate Encounters, Uncomfortable Conversations (with Martha Albertson Fineman and Jack E. Jackson) (2009, Ashgate/Routledge). Romero completed clerkships for the Honorable M. Margaret McKeown of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and for the Honorable Shira A. Scheindlin of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. He received his law degree in 2007 from Yale Law School, where he won the Kelley Prize and was a Coker Fellow, an editor of several law journals, and a student director of the Complex Federal Litigation Clinic. He received his undergraduate degree in 2002 from Cornell University, graduating summa cum laude and winning the Sherman-Bennett Prize. Prior to joining the Williams Institute, Romero a senior associate at the law firm WilmerHale, where he was a member of the Intellectual Property Litigation and Appellate and Supreme Court Litigation Groups. He successfully represented the plaintiffs in Cooper-Harris v. USA, the first case in the nation to declare unconstitutional laws barring the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages in the veterans-benefits context. From 2007-2008, Romero was the Peter J. Cooper fellow at the Williams Institute. Prior to law school, he was a criminal defense investigator for the Bronx Defenders.

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