FreeState Legal, Maryland’s legal advocacy organization for the low-income lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community, has named Patrick Paschall as its next Executive Director. Beginning March 30, Paschall will take the helm of a rapidly growing statewide organization that serves low-income LGBTQ Marylanders through direct legal services and systemic policy advocacy.
“We are so excited for Patrick’s vision of growth and expansion of the services FreeState Legal provides to the low-income LGBTQ community across Maryland,” said Judge Shannon Avery, Chair of FreeState Legal’s Board of Directors. “Patrick’s depth of experience at the national, state, and local level, combined with his understanding of the needs of low-income LGBTQ people and his track record of coalition-building success, make him the ideal person to lead FreeState into a future of expanded capacity and broader impact.”
Paschall comes to FreeState Legal with over a decade of experience in LGBTQ activism. Most recently, Paschall was Senior Policy Counsel at the National LGBTQ Task Force where he led an aggressive policy portfolio focusing on federal administrative policy and state/local non-discrimination legislation, including a deep focus in health care, housing, employment, criminal justice, anti-violence, and religious exemption issues. Paschall earned his J.D. at Hofstra University School of Law, where he was awarded a coveted LGBT Rights Fellowship – the only law school fellowship in the country dedicated to training the next generation of legal advocates on LGBT issues. He has had a varied career in LGBTQ activism, having worked for the National Center for Transgender Equality, Lambda Legal, Family Equality Council, Pride at Work, and others. Paschall is also a local elected official, having served on the Hyattsville, MD City Council since 2013.
“I am deeply honored and incredibly excited to be selected for such an important position at such a pivotal time in the LGBTQ rights movement both nationally and in Maryland,” said Paschall. “We know all too well that low-income LGBTQ Marylanders, and especially LGBTQ people of color, face significant economic and social barriers to accessing health care, housing, employment, public accommodations, and basic things like identity documents. Leading such an effective, life-saving organization into a future of greater success and deeper impact will be the opportunity of a lifetime, and I couldn’t be more grateful to the Board for trusting my leadership at such a critical time in our state.”
“Congratulations to Patrick and to FreeState Legal,” said Aaron Merki, FreeState Legal’s co-founder and most recent Executive Director. “Patrick brings the perfect combination of leadership, experience in LGBTQ activism, and vision for the future to lead FreeState to achieve the goals we all set out to accomplish when we started the organization seven years ago.”
Avery also praised the work of Merki and FreeState Legal’s Interim Executive Director, David Pittenger. “Aaron Merki has always been a driving force behind FreeState Legal – from developing the idea as a law student, to co-founding the organization with me and others, to taking the helm as Executive Director, Aaron’s leadership is what has made this organization both possible and sustainable. We wouldn’t be where we are without Aaron’s dedication to FreeState, and we owe him our deepest gratitude for his service to the organization.”
“We also could not have successfully completed this transition without the assistance and advice of David Pittenger, our Interim Executive Director,” said Avery. “Thanks to Dave’s long career in organizational leadership and personal commitment to FreeState’s work, the transition between executive directors has been smooth. Thank you, Dave, for all the work you have done for FreeState.”
Since 2008, FreeState has been expanding the ways in which it promotes justice for the low-income LGBTQ community in Maryland. FreeState (1) provides direct legal services to low-income LGBTQ clients through its in-house counsel and pro bono attorney network; (2) works towards systemic law and policy changes through governmental advocacy; (3) conducts outreach activities designed to promote self-advocacy within the LGBTQ community, particularly among LGBTQ teens; and (4) provides educational training to Maryland lawyers and judges about LGBTQ legal needs.
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