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.
Amanda Donoghue was raised in Frederick, Maryland. They attended Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA where they studied history and French. Currently a rising 2L at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey Law School, Amanda intends to pursue a legal career in public service. As a member of the queer community, they are excited to intern at FreeState Justice and assist in providing legal aid to other LGBTQ+ individuals.
Becca Fowler is a Master of Public Health Student at Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School. Her areas of focus include reproductive justice, LGBTQ health, health disparities, and gender-based violence. Before joining the MPH cohort, she received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in Public Health and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. At UMass, she worked as a sexual assault crisis counselor and was heavily involved with the planning of the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Conference. After graduation, Becca worked as a Domestic Violence Intervention Advocate for the state of Massachusetts, where she provided advocacy and support to survivors of intimate partner violence. Becca relocated to Burlington, VT and began working as a medical assistant at Planned Parenthood, working closely with their abortion program.
Outside of school and work, Becca can be found at home with her partner and three cats trying to keep her plants alive.
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. They currently serve as an Advisory Committee Member and the MidAtlantic Region Leader for the Intersex & Genderqueer 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.
Sam is the Administrative Assistant at FreeState Justice. As the Administrative Assistant, he works in both an office management role and a paralegal role.
He earned his undergraduate degree in Psychology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, then earned his Paralegal Studies Certificate in 2018. He spent is undergraduate years involved in LGBTQI+ activism efforts, having been President of AACC’s Lambda Pride Alliance and Communications Director of QUMBC. He felt he could have a greater impact on the community by pursuing a future in the legal field, fighting for both legal equality and lived equality. Before joining FreeState, he spent a year working for the Court, where he gained valuable experience in civil procedure.
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.
Krithika is a MSPH candidate in Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She recently graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in April 2019, where she received a BA in English Writing, History, and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies. Her academic interests include combining scholarship within the humanities and the sciences in public health practice and using interdisciplinary approaches in addressing violence prevention and access to care within marginalized communities. During her undergraduate career in Pittsburgh, she was a community organizer, continuously pushing for intersectional approaches relating to issues about women, LGBTQ+ rights, reproductive rights, and intimate partner violence outside of the classroom through campus and city-wide activism. She worked on creating safe spaces for healing and inclusive discussion environments, serving on many campus organization boards and working with prominent Pittsburgh activists to center and serve marginalized communities. Additionally, she received two funded fellowships to study intimate partner violence within marginalized communities, while regularly volunteering at Planned Parenthood and at a local women’s hospital. She views her academic interests and her extracurricular interests as complementary, ultimately striving to have a career where she can integrate her experiences as a community organizer and in academia to push for progressive local and state policies.
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.
Shea just completed her first year at the University of Baltimore School of Law. Shea was born and raised in Denver, Colorado and completed by B.A. in Sociology at Metropolitan State University of Denver. While earning her B.A., she was involved in projects to raise awareness about interpersonal violence, access to abortion, Title IX reform, street harassment and workplace harassment. She decided to go to law school after learning about systemic social inequality and becoming passionate about helping people who have been disproportionately impacted by it. Her dream is to become a Supreme Court Justice or a House Representative. When Shea is not studying, she enjoys reading Terry McMillan novels over and over again, and watching 90 Day Fiancé.
Mary Solimon is currently working towards her Ph.D in Cellular and Molecular Medicine and Johns Hopkins Medical Institute. Her research focuses on understanding immune responses to HIV-1 and Hepatitis C in PWID (people who inject drugs) population. She has actively been focused on communicating science to the general public and has done so by teaching science to students of the community using various opportunities. She works on campus representing graduate students as the University health and mental health representative. Through this she advocated for policy changes to available health services for graduate students. She has also spent time interning at STARTRACK, which focuses on supporting the LGBTQ community by providing health care, education, and support for HIV and various STI (sexually transmitted infections). At NARAL she is working on better understanding the lack of access to certain forms of contraception and EC contraception on HBCU campuses in Maryland. She hopes to use all these experiences to prepare me for pursuing a career in science policy. In her free time she enjoys boxing, writing for blogs, and exploring art exhibits all over the city.
Shannon Thomas is Juris Doctor candidate attending the University of Baltimore School of Law. There she serves on the Executive Board of OUTLaw, UB Law’s LGBTQ+ student organization. She is also a representative to the Student Bar Association’s Diversity Council within the University of Baltimore. Shannon also holds a BA in Jurisprudence and Philosophy from the University of Baltimore.
Shannon has researched and written about intimate partner violence and necessary improvements in the courts for the past three years, focusing on protective orders. She recently completed her second semester as a Research Fellow at the Sayra and Neil Meyerhoff Center for Families, Children and the Courts. She hopes to expand her research into juvenile justice issues and to graduate with a concentration in Family Law.
In her free time, Shannon loves to cook and talk about food. She’s an avid reader and podcast listener, and considers herself as a collector of tattoos.
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.