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.
Susan Leviton is Professor Emeritus at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. She is Founder and Honorary Chair of Advocates for Children and Youth, a statewide child advocacy organization. In the past, she was the chairperson of the Maryland Human Relations Commission. Presently, she is on the Advisory Board of the Open Society Institute, Baltimore, Trustee of the Aaron and Lillie Straus Foundation and Vice President of the Board of FreeState Legal Project. Her areas of expertise include child abuse and neglect, special education, and juvenile delinquency. Leviton has lobbied extensively on behalf of children and families and has published numerous books and articles on related subjects. She was the recipient of the American Bar Association’s Third Annual Child Advocacy Award, the Maryland Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics Child Advocacy Award and the recipient of the Founder’s Day Award for Public Service, University of Maryland, Baltimore campus. She has taught and practiced law for over 40 years. She is married , the mother of a son and daughter and has two grandchildren.
Ronald C. Hokemeyer has over 30 years of employment at Baltimore Gas and Electric, an Exelon company. With a significant background in customer relations and leadership, his most recent roles have focused on process improvement and change management for large corporate projects. As well, he was a founding member and the leader for five years of the company’s LGBT Employee Resource Group known as Exelon Pride Baltimore. In the community, Ron was the president of the Gay Fathers’ Coalition/Baltimore for three years and volunteered as a District Coordinator with Equality Maryland for over five years.
Ryland Sumner is currently an equity research analyst at Brown Advisory in Baltimore, where he covers business services and financials companies. Prior to joining Brown Advisory, Mr. Sumner was an associate at the law firm Venable LLP. There his practice focused on transactions involving middle market companies, including mergers and acquisitions and debt and equity financing. Before law school, Mr. Sumner was a business analyst at McKinsey & Company in San Francisco, California. He currently serves on the board of directors of the Baltimore Efficiency and Economy Foundation.
James Astrachan is a principal in Baltimore’s Astrachan Gunst Thomas, P.C., a member of the Maryland, D.C. and Pennsylvania bars, and a national speaker and writer on intellectual property topics. A substantial part of Jim’s practice involves litigating copyright, trademark, trade secret, defamation, idea misappropriation and technology related matters.
James and his partner Donna Thomas are the authors of the 6-volume, and electronic, legal treatise, The Law of Advertising and Mass Communications, published by LexisNexis and in 2013, the Maryland State Bar Association published the Patent, Copyright, Trade Secret, Right of Publicity, Trademark Handbook for Maryland Business and Litigation Lawyers, of which Jim is the editor.
For 15 years James has been an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law and University of Baltimore School of Law teaching Trademark and Unfair Competition and Copyright law. He is a Life Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, and the Maryland Bar Foundation, and chairs The Daily Record’s Legal Editorial Advisory Board. He has a J.D. from the University of Baltimore School of Law and an LL.M. (Taxation) from Georgetown University Law Center. He was named Intellectual Property Litigation Lawyer of the Year in 2015, Trademark Lawyer of the Year in 2013 and Copyright Lawyer of the Year in 2012 by Best Lawyers as well as BEST LAWYER and SUPER LAWYER for many years.
Shannon Avery is an Associate Judge in the District Court of Maryland for Baltimore City. Prior to her appointment in August, 2010, she focused on public policy relating to public safety, domestic violence, and corrections, at the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. As an attorney, she worked in the Office of the Attorney General and, previously, in the Office of the Public Defender, primarily in the area of criminal appeals.
José Bahamonde-González is the Associate Dean for Professional Education at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law and Chair of the Diversity Advisory Council (DAC) for the University of Maryland Baltimore. He is responsible for the promotional efforts for the Master of Science in Law (MSL) academic program and for counseling prospective students in all aspects of the admissions and enrollment process. He is also responsible for delivering Professional Development programming and counseling to MSL and LLM, Master of Laws students and serves as Advisor to the Latino/a Law Student Association and the LGBT Law Student Alliance. As Chair of the DAC, he leads a group of faculty, staff and students volunteers who provide strategic advice and counsel to the President of UMB on matters related to diversity. He earned his B.S. from the University of Massachusetts and his J.D. from the Syracuse University College of Law and is a frequent speaker on topics related to law student professional development, diversity, legal employment and law school administrative matters.
Mara Drummond is an independent business owner, software engineer and author. For over 20 years she developed systems and Internet communication software before opening her own software consulting business in 2000. Since that time, her main focus has been the development of en route air traffic control software for the FAA. Being a strong support of LGBT rights, she has been involved in the fight for LGBT equality at the local, state and federal levels. In 2012, Mara played a major role in the effort to pass anti-discrimination legislation in Baltimore County, MD. Mara wrote and self-published the self-help book Transitions – A Guide for Transsexuals and Their Families, and she co-produced the full-length documentary film Unraveling Michelle.
Lois Blum Feinblatt is a Licensed Certified Professional Counselor (LCPC). She received her training at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in an innovative program in which women were trained to become psychotherapists. Graduating in 1969, Mrs. Feinblatt became a staff member of the newly formed Sexual Behaviors Consultation Unit in 1970 where she has remained as a member of the Senior Staff. She is a practicing psychotherapist. Mrs. Feinblatt had worked at the Department of Welfare in the Adoptions Division from 1957-1966. She is also interested in public education & started the Blum Mentoring Program to support first & second year teachers in 1999.
Michael Franklin is the Coordinator of the No Wrong Door Program at the STAR TRACK Adolescent Health Program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. In this role, he provides case management for gay and bisexual men and transgender women, support for young men of color on unpacking systemic oppression and the effects of internalized oppression and shame, and offers LGBTQ cultural competency trainings to providers across the city. He is also the Co-Chair and Partnerships and Operations Manager of GLSEN Baltimore, a chapter organization working to establish safer schools for all in the Baltimore Metro area. Through that work, he organizes conferences for students of color, provides trainings to school staff around anti-harassment, and manages fundraising and relationships with community and governmental partners.
He currently sits on the Leadership Board of the Baltimore Homeless Youth Initiative, which advocates for the needs of homeless youth in the city, and the People of Color affinity group within Baltimore Racial Justice Action, a network of Maryland individuals committed to social and economic transformation with an emphasis on racial equity.
Theo George is a DC-based digital strategist, community-based activist, and musician. As a digital strategist, Theo helps a variety of nonprofit organizations, arts festivals, and community-based grassroots organizations connect on a deeper level with their target audiences. He has worked on projects for the Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival, 2015 International Jazz Day, and DC Jazz Festival. Theo’s music career highlights include being a percussionist for the Baltimore Ravens Marching Band and DJ’ing an after party for 2013 MacArthur Fellow, Kyle Abraham. He is most passionate about promoting and preserving the artistic and cultural legacy of African American communities and was named to the 2015 Trans100 list for his leadership and advocacy work. Theo received a Master of Arts Management degree from Carnegie Mellon University and a B.A. in Africana Studies from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Mala Malhotra-Ortiz, Esq. is the Director of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Division of the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. At the federal level, she is an ADR Advisor for FEMA’s Office of Chief Counsel. She was an executive appointment in the U.S. Department of Interior, Department of Justice, and the Department of Transportation as a Presidential Management Fellow. During her tenure with the federal government, Ms. Malhotra-Ortiz negotiated international air-rights agreements, facilitated multiple-party discussion around public land-use planning, negotiated divestitures involving corporations under anti-trust investigations, and litigated in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of the Department of Justice. She was also owner and managing attorney of a solo practice specializing in immigration litigation and family law, particularly focused on providing services to the GLBT 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 P. Matthew-Brown is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Law with nearly ten years of federal, state, and local policy experience. Currently, Rianna is the Chief of Staff for Behavioral Health and Disabilities with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH). She regularly briefs and advises the Deputy Secretary on policy, programmatic and administrative issues. Rianna began her career in the Washington, DC office of U.S. Senator Paul S. Sarbanes. She worked on Capitol Hill for approximately six years and specialized in health, labor, and employment issues. Rianna subsequently worked for the Baltimore City Health Department as the Director of the Office External Affairs. In this capacity, she served as the Department’s official spokesperson and advised the Commissioner of Health on the Department’s strategic communications, legislative and policy direction. Prior to joining DHMH, Rianna worked as Assistant Director of Legislation for the Service Employees International Union.
Baltimore City Solicitor, George A. Nilson, was appointed City Solicitor in January 2007 by Mayor Sheila Dixon. Prior to his appointment as the City’s top lawyer, Mr. Nilson was an attorney at DLA Piper. Mr. Nilson’s career also includes serving six years as the Deputy Attorney General of Maryland. He was a member of the Maryland Court of Appeals’ Standing Committee on the Rules of Practice and Procedure for six years and was chairman of the General Assembly Compensation Commission for eight years. Mr. Nilson has three degrees from Yale University, a Bachelors of Art, a Masters of Urban Studies and an LLB. Mr. Nilson, whose legal career and public service span over five decades, has lead legal teams on a range of issues including tobacco litigation, consumer controversies, public and administrative law, environmental controversies, zoning and litigation related to real estate development, cable television controversies and complex litigation. Additionally, he is the founder of the Baltimore Efficiency and Economy Foundation, an organization that matches existing resources to help the City of Baltimore extend its limited resources.
A graduate of the American University and the University of Maryland School of Social Work, Ellen Patterson, L.C.S.W.-C., runs a private practice in Towson. She is the clinical director for the Baltimore County Office of the State’s Attorney’s Family Members of Homicide and Drunk Driving Fatality support group and counseling program. Her areas of clinical interest include trauma, GLBTQ issues, pregnancy loss and affective disorders. She is a volunteer fundraiser for Carver Center for Arts and Technology.
Joanne Rosen is an Associate Lecturer in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, where she teaches courses on the regulation of intimate behavior and on the intersection of public health, law and policy. She is also the Associate Director of the Clinic for Public Health Law and Policy. Her interests include reproductive health, the regulation of intimacy, and discrimination. Joanne served as counsel to the Ontario Human Rights Commission in Toronto for 17 years, and specialized in human rights and administrative law. Joanne appeared before tribunals and all levels of Canadian courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada. She was also an adjunct faculty member at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law and an instructor in the Bar Admission Course in Toronto. From 2007 to 2010, Joanne was a lecturer at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, where she taught courses on the public interest and on the right to privacy.
Diane Stollenwerk, MPP, is president of StollenWerks Inc, a consulting firm providing services in public affairs, strategic planning, performance measurement, sustainability, competitive intelligence, marketing, and product or service development. While her primary focus is healthcare, she has worked with clients in software, transportation, manufacturing, corrections, education, utilities, and professional associations. She has a masters degree in public policy from Harvard University and is currently a Commissioner on the Maryland Health Care Commission, which oversees performance measurement and public reporting about health care in Maryland.
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.