Former Williams Institute Public Policy Fellows
Chris Smith, received her doctorate in community psychology from National-Louis University in 2018. Her doctoral research examined how leaders of black LGBTQ/queer organizations situated their work on racial, gender and sexual justice in a broader landscape, set goals, and evaluated social change. Chris previously was the co-founder and board president of Affinity Community Services in Chicago, one of the longest standing institutions committed to advocacy, equity, research, and activism for black queer women. She holds an MSW from the University of Illinois, Jane Addams College of Social Work.
Sheila Nezhad holds a masters degree in International Development Practice from the Humphrey School for Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. Sheila also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Management from the University of Minnesota, Morris. While in her masters program, Sheila worked as a research consultant for a Tanzanian vocational education NGO and as an evaluator for JSI Research and Training, Inc. in Monrovia, Liberia. She also has conducted research on LGBT asylum, quotas for women’s political participation in India, and the intersection of sexuality, gender, and international HIV/AIDS education programs. Prior to the Williams Institute, Sheila worked as the Research and Education Manager at a community-based LGBT health organization, Rainbow Health Initiative where she helped co-author the first report of LGBT health in Minnesota.
Erin Fitzgerald holds a Master of Public Administration from the George Washington University, where she specialized in Social Policy. She received her BA in Gender Studies from Rutgers University. Her research has focused on economic insecurity, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, urban policy, and disparate mental and physical health outcomes of minority populations. Before joining the Williams Institute, she worked at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, performing statistical analysis of the data associated with the groundbreaking report, Injustice at Every Turn: National Transgender Discrimination Survey. At the Task Force, she authored reports on sex work in the LGBT community, LGBT older adults, and the impact of federal budget cuts on the LGBT community.
Sheldon Bernard Lyke, 2011 Dorr Legg Public Policy Fellow
Sheldon Bernard Lyke was the inaugural Dorr Legg Public Policy Fellow at the Williams Institute. Sheldon is currently Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago, finishing a dissertation examining the globalization of law and how courts around the world communicate with each other on human rights issues. A chapter of his dissertation, “Brown Abroad: An Empirical Analysis of Foreign Judicial Citation and the Metaphor of Cosmopolitan Conversation”, was published in the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law. Sheldon received an A.B. cum laude in Sociology from Princeton University, and a J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law. At the University of Chicago, Sheldon served as a lecturer and taught a variety of courses, including: Race as Property, Contemporary Global Issues, and Sexuality & Human Rights. His research explores the role of law and its institutions in the creation and amelioration of social inequality for marginalized people — specifically racial and sexual minorities. He is also the author of “Lawrence as an Eighth Amendment Case: Sodomy and the Evolving Standards of Decency” which appeared in the William and Mary Journal of Women and the Law.
Craig J. Konnoth, 2010-2011 Legal Research Fellow
Craig is the 2010-2011 awardee of the R. Scott Hitt Internship in Leadership Development, and a graduate of the Yale Law School (J.D., 2010), the University of Cambridge (M.Phil., 2007) and Fordham University (B.A., 2005). At Yale, Craig was a student supervisor of the LGBT Litigation Project, where he worked and litigated on behalf of LGBT students and international human rights organizations. He received the Parker Prize for his history on early gay rights litigation strategies, which appeared in the Yale Law Journal. While in law school, he sat on the Board of the National LGBT Bar Association and headed its Law Student Division, during which time he created the first system of regional representation for LGBT law student across the nation. He has also worked with the Lowenstein International Human Rights Law Clinic, and clerked for the ACLU LGBT Rights Project, and the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission as a Kirby Simon Fellow. He served as editor of the Yale Law Journal, the Yale Journal of Regulation and the Yale Journal of International Law, and Business Editor of Yale Journal of Law and Feminism. He clerked for Judge Margaret McKeown of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals during the 2011-2012 term.
Naomi Goldberg, 2008-2010 Peter J. Cooper Public Policy Fellow
As the 2008-2010 Peter J. Cooper Public Policy Fellow, Naomi Goldberg authored a number of reports at the Institute. Her studies, estimating the economic impact of prohibiting unmarried couples from adopting and fostering children, have informed state policy in Kentucky, Florida and elsewhere . In addition, Naomi has also co-authored several studies on the topic of domestic partner benefits. Her report, estimating the cost of providing domestic partner benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees, was recently introduced before a congressional committee considering domestic partnership legislation. Naomi received a Master of Public Policy from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan and graduated magna cum laude from Mount Holyoke College. Naomi’s work has been published in PolicyMatters, the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy journal, and the Michigan Journal of Public Affairs. Naomi is currently the LGBT Movement and Policy Researcher at the Movement Advancement Project (MAP).
Christian Cooper, 2007 Research Fellow
Christian Cooper graduated with honors from the University of Southern California in 1998 with a degree in Spanish and international relations. Before attending Loyola Law School, he produced and edited on-air features and the websites for two nationally-syndicated public radio shows, was involved in the launch of Univision.com, and was a writer and editor for the Recording Academy, home of the Grammy Awards and Latin Grammys. Christian was the president of Loyola’s gay/straight alliance and competed in the first-ever National Sexual Orientation Moot Court Competition at UCLA. While at Loyola, he clerked at the HIV & AIDS Legal Services Alliance, Lambda Legal, the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office and the United States Attorney’s Office. At the Williams Institute, Christian conducted a multilingual study of HIV discrimination in dental care in Los Angeles County. Christian currently runs his own law practice in Long Beach, CA.
Amanda Baumle, 2007 Public Policy Fellow
Amanda K. Baumle, J.D., Ph.D., specializes in demography, social inequality, and the sociology of law. Prior to obtaining her Ph.D. in sociology at Texas A&M University, she earned a J.D. from the University of Texas and practiced labor and employment law. Her current research explores issues involving the demography of sexual orientation, labor demography, and gender inequality in the legal practice. In these areas, she has published a variety of books, articles, and book chapters examining issues of inequality and discrimination, as well as the manner in which the law might be activated as a means to challenge existing inequalities. She recently completed a coauthored book, The Demography of Sexual Orientation, which draws on 2000 U.S. Census data to examine the manner in which sexual orientation affects a variety of demographic processes. Amanda is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Houston.
Danielle MacCartney, 2006 Public Policy Fellow
Danielle MacCartney earned her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California, Irvine. Her dissertation analyzed the effect of both geographic location and occupation percent female on the wages of cohabiting gays and lesbians, and also analyzed levels of family inequality in married, heterosexual cohabiting, and homosexual cohabiting couples. Her research interests while at the Williams Institute included wage and labor market differences by race, class, gender, and sexual orientation, focusing on occupational characteristics such as occupational percent female and occupational status. Danielle is currently in an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri.
Rebecca Stotzer, 2006 Public Policy Fellow
After earning her B.A. in Psychology and English from Carnegie Mellon University, Rebecca spent her Master’s in Social Work internship at the American Red Cross of Washtenaw County, where she specialized in Community Programming and Health and Safety Services. She came to the Williams Institute following the completion of her joint Ph.D. in Social Work and Psychology from the University of Michigan, where her dissertation focused on how threats to masculinity encourage men to commit acts of violence against gay men. Her research included analyzing patterns of hate crime offenses, determining factors that generate positive attitudes toward the LGBT community among heterosexuals, and exploring the role of stereotypes in predicting types of violence for different categories of hate crime victims. Rebecca is an Associate Professor and Director of Distance Education Program at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work .
Deborah Ho, 2006 Public Policy Fellow
A graduate of UCLA, Deborah Ho worked at the International Migration Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace where she became interested in refugee issues. Deborah then went to study at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa on a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship where she conducted research on the South African asylum system anaylzing the shortcomings the country’s international legal obligations and practice. While in South Africa, she interned with the International Organization for Migration in Tirana, Albania shortly after the end of the conflict in Kosovo working on refugee resettlement and local development. Deborah decided to attend law school as a result of her experiences working with refugees in South Africa. While at UCLA Law, she interned with the Office of the Prosecutor at the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and served as the Editor-in-Chief of the UCLA Journal of International Law & Foreign Affairs. Deborah graduated from UCLA in May 2006. After leaving the Williams Institute, Deborah clerked for the Honorable Judge Spencer Letts in the Central District of California.
Noa Ben-Asher, 2006 Public Policy Fellow
From 2004-2005, Noa practiced in the litigation department of Proskauer Rose LLP in New York. Upon completion of her fellowship at the Williams Institute, Noa went on to participate in the Associate-in-Law program at Columbia Law School (2007-2009). She is a graduate of New York University School of Law (LLM 2001; JSD 2006), and Bar-Ilan University School of Law (LLB 1999). Noa is a currently a Associate Professor of Law at Pace Law School where she teaches teaches Torts, Family Law, and Sexuality, Gender & the Law.
Elizabeth Kukura, 2004 Public Policy Fellow
Elizabeth Kukura came to the UCLA School of Law as the 2004 Public Policy Fellow. Ms. Kukura joined the Williams Institute after completing a M.Sc. in Human Rights from the London School of Economics (LSE). At the LSE, Ms. Kukura focused on international law, women’s human rights and sexual orientation policy issues where she produced her Master’s thesis on same-sex marriage and the definition of family under human rights law. In 2009, she completed her J.D. from New York University School of Law. Elizabeth is currently an Associate at Bryan Cave LLP in New York.