FreeState Justice believes it is essential to have a Board of Directors that reflects the unique backgrounds and experiences of the LGBTQ+ Marylanders we serve. 

This is why we are committed to creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment where all of our board, staff, and volunteer committee members, regardless of their gender identity, sexual orientation, race, age, ethnicity, national origin, disability, or education, feel respected and valued across our organization. 

Here is some Board demographic data that will provide insight into our current Board makeup as of January 2021:


We are currently working to increase the representation of transgender, nonbinary, Black, and Latine/Latinx people on the Board to better ensure that the community we serve is embedded throughout our organization by actively recruiting community members to join one of our board committees. 

All interested community members can volunteer to join a FreeState Justice Board Committee as a non-board member.

In recruiting new Board members, we seek committed individuals who:

  • Provide the talent and skills needed to support the organization (i.e. governance, finance, litigation, policy advocacy, event planning, fundraising, equity, etc.)
  • Provide fiduciary support 
  • Represent the work we do and the communities we serve

FreeState Justice strives to recruit, nominate and approve new board members of diverse nationalities, ethnic backgrounds, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, education, and professional experience in order to establish an environment that reflects the community we serve.

Eric Thomas

President (he/him/his)

Eric is a Baltimore-based Senior Staff Writer for where he writes “Eric Reads the News,” a daily current events and culture column. He is also a playwright and the long-running host of The Moth in Philadelphia and D.C. Prior to joining the staff at ELLE, he was Program Director for the William Way LGBT Community Center in Philadelphia. He won the 2016 Barrymore Award for Best New Play for TIME IS ON OUR SIDE, which focuses on the LGBTQ rights movement in Philadelphia and the lives of queer elders. His debut collection of essays on belonging, being, and otherness, entitled “Here For It”, will be published by Ballantine Books in early 2020. His website is



Lee Westgate


Vice President (he/him/his)

Lee C. Westgate, MBA, MSW, LCSW-C is a board approved clinical supervisor in the state of Maryland. He obtained his Masters in Social Work at the University of Maryland, School of Social Work and a Masters in Business Administration with a focus on Leadership and Management at the University of Baltimore. He is currently serves as a Clinical Instructor at the University of Maryland, School of Social Work. He has participated in a CSWE-sponsored National Trauma Task Force work-group that focused on the intersection of ethics and trauma-informed practice. Additionally, he was awarded an immersion fellowship through Boston University to study addiction and behavioral health. Teaching is of central importance to Lee. As a faculty member in the University of MD, School of Social Work’s graduate program he has received numerous teaching awards including the Exemplary Faculty Member of the Year Award along with the Dean’s Teaching Award for several consecutive semesters. He has been published in the The Social Worker, The Journal of Employee Assistance, Infusion Magazine, Provider Magazine, and Social Work Today.


John Conwell

Treasurer (he/him/his)

John is the Vice President of Government Affairs at Comcast for Beltway Region with responsibility for franchise agreements in our five state area, including Maryland, Virginia, District of Columbia, Delaware and West Virginia.




Riley Grace Roshong

Secretary (she/her/hers)

Riley Grace Roshong is a JD Candidate at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. There, she serves as Co-Chair for the OutLaw student LGBT+ organization.

Before starting her legal education, Riley was involved in social activism work in the south. After receiving her B.A. in Political Science and Religious Studies from Rhodes College in Memphis, TN, Riley worked and lived at Constance Abbey: a multi-faith intentional community dedicated to serving the people of Memphis. There, she was involved in work ranging from providing day-to-day necessities—such as food, water, clothing, etc.—to providing more substantive services—such as counseling, housing, and job placement—to community organizing and outreach—especially on issues of poverty, racism, islamophobia, homophobia and transphobia.

While in undergrad, Riley conducted research into how political bias influences interpretation of the Bible, especially on passages relating to same-sex marriage. When she presented her research, she was awarded Honors in Political Science. After law school, Riley aspires to continue her spiritual development by pursuing divinity school.

Lee Carpenter, Esq.


Lee Carpenter is a partner at the Baltimore law firm of Niles, Barton & Wilmer and an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law. His legal practice focuses on estate planning and administration and includes a special emphasis on the unique needs of same-sex couples and other members of the LGBTQ community. He is admitted to practice in Maryland and is a member of the Maryland State Bar Association, the LGBT Bar Association, and the Estates and Trusts Section Council. Lee is a member of the Baltimore Community Foundation’s Professional Advisors Recognition Society and the Baltimore Estate Planning Council, where he is a member of the Board of Directors. He also serves on planned-giving councils at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Walters Art Museum, and the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland. He is a volunteer attorney for FreeState Justice, in addition to serving on the organization’s Board of Directors. Lee is a frequent author and lecturer on topics related to estate planning and LGBTQ law. Lee received a B.A. in Journalism and English from the University of Maryland University College and a J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law, where he was Editor in Chief of the Journal of Business & Technology Law. After graduation, he served as the first Dean’s Fellow to the head of the School of Law.

 Stephanie Castro


Stephanie Castro was born and raised in Miami, FL.; she is a first generation American and college student. She completed her undergraduate studies at Florida International University where she graduated Cum Laude with a degree in psychology and a minor in criminal justice. During her undergraduate university she researched juror decision making in relation to truth spotting, in addition to conducting a study on cognitive behavioral treatment in children with anxiety. She then attended the University of Wyoming and directed research on juror verdict decision making, as well as presenting various studies at the American Psychology and Law Conference. She graduated in 2018 with her Master’s in experimental psychology. Stephanie was accepted at the University of Baltimore Law School and expects to graduate in 2022. She is an active member of OUTLAW, the student LGBT+ organization, and diversity chair for LALSA, the Latin American Law Students Association.




Brenda Dorsch


Brenda is a licensed clinical professional counselor with training as a pastoral counselor who is open to a broad spectrum of understanding how the transcendent moves in each person uniquely.





Brianna January


Brianna January is a researcher for the LGBTQ program at Media Matters. Brianna holds a Masters in Public Policy from the University of Maryland School of Public Policy and has a background in LGBTQ human rights and advocacy.




Mala Malhotra-Ortiz

Mala Malhotra-Ortiz, Esq.


Mala Malhotra-Ortiz, Esq. works on Global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion with W.L. Gore, is an Adjunct Law Professor at the University of Maryland, Law & Dickinson Law, Penn State where she teaches Gender and the Law, Negotiations & Mediation. Mala serves as an ADR Advisor for FEMA’s Office of Chief Counsel during national disasters. Formerly, she was the head of dispute resolution with the U.S. Air Force and a founding Director of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Division of the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. She was also an executive appointment in the U.S. Departments of Interior, Justice, and Transportation as a Presidential Management Fellow. She has owned and managed a law practice specializing in immigration litigation and family law, particularly focused on providing services to the LGBTQ+ community. She has mediated over 800 disputes including business, domestic relations, estates, multiple-party environmental disputes, products liability, real property, worker’s compensation and zoning. She has served as counsel in over 200 matters in both state and federal forums. Ms. Malhotra-Ortiz earned her J.D. from the University of Maryland, School of Law; cum laude graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park; and studied at the American School of International Business in Vevey, Switzerland and at the University of North London, U.K.. She served in the U.S. Peace Corps, Paraguay, and is fluent in Guarani, Hindi, Punjabi, and Spanish.

Rianna Matthews-Brown


Rianna P. Matthews-Brown is a policy and communications expert with over fifteen years of experience in the federal, state, and local policy arena. Currently, Rianna is the Director of University Initiatives at Johns Hopkins University. In this role, she is responsible for coordinating and advancing local and regional projects and initiatives for the President of the University. Immediately prior to joining the President’s Office, she worked for Johns Hopkins as a state lobbyist in Annapolis. Rianna began her career in the Washington, DC office of U.S. Senator Paul S. Sarbanes and worked on Capitol Hill for approximately six years where she specialized in health, labor, and employment issues. She subsequently worked for the Baltimore City Health Department as the Director of the Office External/Legislative Affairs and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene as the Chief of Staff for Behavioral Health. Rianna earned her bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College and her juris doctor from the University of Maryland School of Law.



 Board5ThompsonEbony Thompson


Ebony Thompson is an Associate in Venable’s Commercial Litigation Group. Prior to joining Venable, Ms. Thompson provided wealth management services to clients internationally as a Private Client Group Associate with UBS Global Asset Management, Inc. in New York. As a private real estate investor, she developed partnerships with leading real estate financiers in Maryland and Virginia to rehabilitate dilapidated neighborhoods. She is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and serves as a mentor to many children and teens in West Baltimore.


Jessie Weber, Esq.


Jessie Weber is an attorney at Brown, Goldstein & Levy, LLP (BGL).  Her practice includes cases involving disability rights, civil rights, wage and hour violations, and appeals.  She has handled LGBT rights cases involving discrimination  on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression in contexts ranging from employment to students’ exercise of their First Amendment rights. Prior to joining BGL, Jessie served as the 2010-2011 Francis D. Murnaghan, Jr. Appellate Advocacy Fellow at the Public Justice Center, where she represented clients and authored amicus briefs in federal and Maryland appellate courts on a variety of civil rights and anti-poverty issues.  Jessie graduated from Princeton University and Yale Law School, where she co-directed the LGBT Rights Litigation Clinic.  Following law school, Jessie clerked for the Honorable Catherine C. Blake of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.

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