Eric is a Baltimore-based Senior Staff Writer for Elle.com 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 rericthomas.com.
Lee Westgate, MBA, MSW, LCSW-C is a board approved clinical supervisor in the state of Maryland. Lee obtained a 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. Lee is currently employed as a Clinical Instructor at the University of Maryland, School of Social Work. Lee also currently serves as National Director of Behavioral Health at Absolute Care assisting with program development related to provision of behavioral health services for high risk and medically and socially complex patients. Lee has participated in a CSWE-sponsored National Trauma Task Force workgroup that focused on the intersection of ethics and trauma-informed practice. Additionally, Lee 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, Lee has received numerous teaching awards including that of the Exemplary Faculty Member of the Year Award along with the Dean’s Teaching Award for several consecutive semesters. Lee has been published in the The New Social Worker, The Journal of Employee Assistance, Infusion Magazine, Provider Magazine, and Social Work Today.
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 is an attorney at the Baltimore office of Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr 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. 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 and in addition to its Board of Directors, serves on the organization’s Policy Committee. Lee is a frequent author and lecturer on topics related to estate planning and LGBTQ law.
Lee received his B.A. in Journalism and English from the University of Maryland University College and his 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 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.
Ronald C. Hokemeyer has been retired for three years after 35 years of employment at Baltimore Gas and Electric, an Exelon company. With a significant background in customer relations and leadership, work in his later years at BGE 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 LGBTQ 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.
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. 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.
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.
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.