Kate Barranco is very excited to be an intern at FreeState Justice this summer. A rising sophomore at Georgetown University, Kate is planning to major in Culture and Politics with a concentration in International Equitable Leadership. She has been heavily involved in various advocacy efforts since the beginning of high school. Throughout grade school, Kate was the president of her school’s GSA chapter, in addition to leading in her school’s Diversity Leadership cohort. Since her arrival to university, her passion for leadership and diversity has guided her toward various advocacy positions, including: a deputy for Georgetown University’s PRIDE, an active member of LEAD (Leaders in Education About Diversity), Director of Advocacy for Georgetown’s Mental Health Policy Coalition, and Director of Student Wellness for Georgetown University’s Student Association. Although she’s not sure what she wants to do career-wise, she knows her experience with FreeState Justice will allow her to see what advocacy looks like in a real-life setting.
Mackenzie Dadswell is an attorney dedicated to fighting for and expanding social justice for LGBTQ+ and other underrepresented groups. Prior to her time with FreeState Justice, she worked as a Public Defender in Virginia, representing clients in a multitude of areas in criminal law. She also served as counsel of record in two Virginia Court of Appeals decisions during her time with that office. While attending law school at the University of Richmond, she participated in the Children’s Defense Clinic, working with juveniles caught in the juvenile justice system. She obtained B.A.s in government and psychology from the University of Virginia, where she also served as a section leader in the cavalier marching band.
Shannon joined the FreeState Justice team this past winter as the staff accountant, managing all things money related. FreeState is one of a dozen clients Shannon serves in the greater Baltimore community. All of her clients are non-profit organization with a commitment to social justice, reproductive rights, and mental health support. In her down time, Shannon enjoys cooking, reading, and dreaming about her next travel adventure.
Ezra Halstead is the Director of Education and Outreach at FreeState Justice. In their position, they work to build connections and resources through client advocacy, community organizing, education, and outreach to achieve equity for vulnerable LGBTQ+ Marylanders.
Ezra moved to the Baltimore area in 2017 after graduating from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies with a master’s degree in International Policy and Development and a dual concentration in Human Rights and Advocacy and Gender, Power, and Identity. A passionate activist for several years, they have had various professional experiences pertaining to LGBTQ advocacy, including working as a Campus Leader with Equality Pennsylvania at their undergraduate institution (Juniata College) in 2014, where they successfully advocated for nondiscrimination and gender inclusive housing policy reforms. More recently, Ezra was the Operations Manager at Code in the Schools and a Baltimore Corps Cohort 4 Fellow, where they regularly advocated for employees’ needs, updated policies to ensure all were supported and protected, and received professional development around the areas of racial equity and social justice.
Outside of their work with FreeState, they are a Law and Policy Committee Member of the Baltimore City LGBTQ Commission and a Core Team Member of Trans Healthcare Maryland, a trans-led group that aims to unify the transgender community of Maryland for the purpose of extending competent, accessible, and affirming healthcare to everyone in the state. They currently live in the Mount Washington neighborhood of Baltimore City with their partner, Erika, and their puppy, Mango.
C.P. Hoffman is a non-binary lawyer dedicated to expanding the rights of queer individuals and shifting cultural discourses towards inclusion. Prior to joining FreeState Justice in 2019, C.P. practiced antitrust law in New York City, worked in-house advising the nation’s leading digital accessibility services firm, and published broadly on a number of subjects, including law and social justice, gender, and popular culture, as well as intersections of the three. C.P. holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of Chicago, a J.D. from the University of Illinois College of Law, and an LL.M. in Comparative Law from the McGill University Institute of Comparative Law. From 2018 through 2020, they served as an Advisory Committee Member and the MidAtlantic Region Leader for the Intersex & Genderqueer Recognition Project (now the Nonbinary and Intersex Recognition Project), a national organization dedicated to ensuring the rights of individuals to identify as something other than male or female on government-issued documents.
Jeremy LaMaster is the Executive Director of FreeState Justice, a social justice organization that works statewide to improve the lives of LGBTQ Marylanders and their families through legal services, policy advocacy, outreach, education, and coalition building. As an upwardly mobile LGBTQ person, Jeremy experiences and witnesses the ways power and privilege circulate to inform systems of oppression within our communities. His career has focused on translating feminist and anti-racist theory into practice by incorporating social justice into programs and adapting business tools to address systemic inequities.
Before joining FreeState Justice, Jeremy was an educator and student affairs professional at Rutgers University, teaching undergraduate courses on race, gender, class, sexuality, and social justice. More recently, Jeremy managed the merger of two landmark national HIV research programs at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He employed vision and strategy to streamline study operations and to ensure that the experiences of Black women, trans folk, and gay/bisexual men remained centered.
Jeremy holds Bachelor’s degrees in Women’s Studies and Biology from Penn State, a Master’s degree in Women’s & Gender Studies from Rutgers University, and recently completed his MBA at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. He and his spouse, Santiago, live in Baltimore City with their French Bulldog, Bohunka. When he has time, Jeremy enjoys video games, cooking, and Grey’s Anatomy.
Lauren Pruitt is a Staff Attorney who provides advice and legal representation for the clients of FreeState Justice on a broad range of legal matters including rendering written and verbal advice on legal subjects; recommending legal strategic and tactical initiatives; evaluating the merits of legal cases, and working with the legal team to define strategies to increase organizational knowledge in our many practice areas.
Before working at FreeState, Lauren spent 10 years as a professor at a small college in Virginia teaching courses for the Business Administration and Criminal Justice bachelor’s degree programs. Her work in curriculum development for the Business Law program has informed her passion for advocacy in employment law and her work towards the protection of LGBTQ Marylanders from workplace discrimination. She also previously worked in several capacities for Maryland’s Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services within correctional facilities in Baltimore City and Jessup, Maryland. Her firsthand experience has helped her develop ideas and strategies to assist clientele in conditions of confinement cases and other detainees’ rights cases. She believes that informing citizens of their rights is their first line of protection against discriminatory acts and practices.
Lauren earned her Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center and a Bachelor’s of Business Administration from Howard University where she graduated magna cum laude. She is an active member of the Maryland State Bar Association, LGBTQ Bar Association of Maryland and the Alliance of Black Women Attorneys of Maryland, Inc.
In her spare time, Lauren enjoys traveling with her partner. She is an avid concert-goer and participates in a wide variety of sports including golf, football, lacrosse, soccer and basketball. She hopes to add surfing to her resume soon. She is an active member of her church and loves to spend time with her friends and family.
Eli Washington is the Development Director at FreeState Justice. In this position, he works to support the efforts of FreeState Justice to improve the lives of LGBTQ people in Maryland by expanding its funding base and building relationships with individuals, corporations, and foundations, both in Maryland and nationally.
Eli is from Beaufort, South Carolina. He went to Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science. In college, he developed a passion for addressing the discrimination issues queer communities and people of color face through his membership and leadership positions with various student activity groups, including Furman’s LGBTQ student group and the Furman chapter of the NAACP.
Eli comes to FreeState Justice after five years of using his fundraising skills to support organizations, causes, and political campaigns that work to improve the lives of disadvantaged communities. Prior to joining FreeState Justice, he served as a Field Organizer on a local House of Delegates race in Northern Virginia and as the Administrative and Development Assistant at the Center for Responsive Politics, a national nonprofit in Washington, D.C. focused on government transparency in campaign finance. Most recently, Eli served as a Development Manager at Prosperity Now, a national intermediary organization in D.C. focused on poverty alleviation through asset-building programs, especially for communities of color. As a member and advocate for the LGBTQ community, he is thrilled to move to Baltimore, MD and support the work of FreeState Justice.
Outside of work, Eli enjoys creative writing, reading, running, and watching movies and television.