Board RonRonald C. Hokemeyer

President (he/him/his)

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.


Rianna Matthews-Brown

Vice President (she/her/hers)

Rianna 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.


Theo George

Secretary (he/him/his)

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.

 Woody Derricks, CFP

 Treasurer (he/him/his)

Woody Derricks started working as a Financial Advisor in 1998.  He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and has the Accredited Domestic Partnership Advisor(sm) designation.  His firm, Partnership Wealth Management, specializes in working with same-sex couples.  Since 2001, Woody has been writing articles on LGBT financial planning for several regional newspapers.  Woody has served as a guest speaker on LGBT financial issues at the national conference for the American Psychological Association and as a panelist for organizations such as the University of Maryland and the Capital Area Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.  Additional, Woody has conducted workshops on financial planning for same-sex partners for corporations, federal agencies, and local advocacy groups.   Woody also serves as the co-founder/president of Paws for a Cause and is a current member of several LBGT, environmental, and local community groups. Woody and his wife, Heidi, enjoy hiking and traveling with their daughter, Elise, and dogs, Fenway & Roxy.

Lauren Fleming


Lauren Fleming is in her final year at the University of Baltimore School of Law (UB). While in law school, Lauren has honed in on her passion to combat human trafficking and serve the public. She has worked at FreeState Justice and the Office of the Attorney General Organized Crime Unit. She was a Student Attorney in the Human Trafficking Prevention Project at UB. She currently works as a law clerk at Schlachman, Belsky & Weiner, P.A. Lauren currently serves as the Vice President of the University of Baltimore Students for Public Interest and as an Associate Comments Editor on Law Review. Lauren’s work in the LGBT community earned her the “Jessica Emerson Outstanding UB Student Contribution” Award from UB’s OUTLaw organization. Finally, when she has time, Lauren works at UB’s law library and as a Research Assistant for Professor Garrett Epps.


Mala Malhotra-Ortiz

Mala Malhotra-Ortiz, Esq.

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.

Joanne Rosen

Joanne Rosen, Esq.


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 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.

Sarah Sandison


Sarah Sandison is a senior in high school at the Institute of Notre Dame, situated in east Baltimore City. She is on the indoor soccer team and crew team, as well as participating in student government and ‘It’s Academic’. Her previous volunteer experience includes working as a reading specialist at Living Classrooms, interning at the Anne Arundel Conflict Resolution Center, and working with Courts for Kids in the Dominican Republic. She will be attending Hamilton College in the fall to study World Politics and will be on the women’s crew team. She hopes to go to law school one day to become an attorney specializing in international law.


Ellen Schwartz Patterson

Ellen Schwartz Patterson, L.C.S.W.-C


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.



Avatara Smith-Carrington


Avatara Antoinette Smith-Carrington, is a third-year law student at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. In their current position as the 2018-2019 Linda Kennedy Fellow, they are building with Homeless Person Representation Project staff and the communities that HPRP serves to address legal issues impacting oppressed and disenfranchised people experiencing homelessness in Baltimore City through holistic and community-informed approaches. Prior to joining HPRP as the Linda Kennedy Fellow, Avatara interned at Whitman-Walker Health in Washington, D.C. Avatara is an Associate Editor on the Maryland Law Review, co-chairs Maryland’s chapter of OutLaw, and is the Research Assistant to Professor. Taunya L. Banks.




Diane Stollenwerk


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.


Eric Thomas


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


 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.

Susan C. Westgate


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

Sam Williamson


Sam Williamson is a graduate of the University of Maryland Carey School of Law and was valedictorian of the 2018 class.  While in school, Sam focused on public interest and civil rights work.  Sam interned with FreeState Justice, the ACLU of Maryland, the Maryland Office of the Public Defender’s Mental Health Division, the Public Justice Center, and the University of Maryland’s Gender Violence Clinic.  Sam also worked as Manuscripts Editor for the Maryland Law Review and as Co-Chair of OutLaw at the University of Maryland.  Sam’s work to promote trans and nonbinary inclusivity at law school earned them the Sam Allen Memorial Prize.  Prior to attending law school, Sam worked as a community organizer in Baltimore.

Board Members not pictured

Vanessa Bowling

Crystal Coache

Brianna January