Staff

Patricia Harrington, Intake Coordinator

Patricia is a native New Yorker. After graduating from Queens College with a B.A. in Physics and Mathematics, she had a twenty year career as a programmer and medical physicist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. She entered Pace Law School in 2006. During the summer of her first year she interned with the Westchester County Law Department assisting child abuse and neglect attorneys in Family Court. At Pace, she was active in the Public Interest Scholarship Organization, Lambda Law Students, and the Women’s Association of Law Students. Prior to entering law school, Patricia spent a year as a volunteer tutor at the Hetrick-Martin Institute. She is committed to eliminating the discriminatory obstacles facing transgender people in daily life.  In her spare time she works on her personal animation projects.

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Rita Petite, Bookkeeper

Rita is TLDEF’s bookkeeper.  She also works as a bookkeeper for other non-profit organizations and teaches QuickBooks.  Prior to joining TLDEF, she was in charge of accounts payable and payroll for the town of Darien, CT and then used her masters degree in music education to teach.  She taught band and orchestra for over ten years before playing the trombone for national Broadway tours and on cruise ships.  Rita settled in New York City in 2000 and has been performing as both an instrumentalist and actor.  She is a past president of Crossdressers International and is an avid supporter of TLDEF.

Ethan Rice, Staff Attorney

Ethan is a graduate of Florida State University College of Law.  He was a child welfare attorney in Florida for four years before relocating to New York City.  In law school, Ethan worked on behalf of children in the adult prison system, children in the foster care system, and children with disabilities. As a graduate fellow at FSU College of Law, Ethan researched and co-authored, Juvenile Life without Parole for Non-Homicide Offenses: Florida Compared to the Nation.  The article was cited by the U.S. Supreme Court in Graham v. Florida in its decision finding sentences of life without parole for juveniles unconstitutional when imposed for non-homicide crimes.  He co-authored an amicus brief for Florida State University’s Children’s Advocacy Clinic in support of overturning Florida’s statutory ban on LGB individuals and couples adopting children in the case In re: Matter of Adoption of X.X.G and N.R.G.  Ethan also has a B.A. in International Relations.  Ethan spends much of his free time reading vegan and vegetarian cookbooks, obsessing over restaurant menus, and trying new recipes. 

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Michael D. Silverman, Executive Director

(hi-res photo)

Michael has been TLDEF's Executive Director since it was founded.  He has worked as an attorney in the LGBT civil rights movement since 1994.  In addition to his work at TLDEF, Michael is Adjunct Professor of Law at Fordham University School of Law, where he teaches courses on gender, sexuality and the law.

As a cooperating attorney with Lambda Legal, Michael worked on a number of groundbreaking cases, including Baehr v. Miike, one of the earliest challenges to restrictions on the freedom to marry, and Boy Scouts of America v. Dale.  In that case, Michael represented a coalition of religious organizations opposed to the Scouts’ exclusionary policy, and his brief  (cover, tables, brief) submitted to the United States Supreme Court on their behalf was cited in the opinion of the dissenting justices.  While on a Georgetown University Law Center Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellowship, Michael taught in the law school’s domestic violence clinic and worked in the legal department at NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Immediately prior to joining TLDEF, Michael worked for four years in New York Lawyers for the Public Interest’s Access to Health Care Program and Disability Law Center.  In that capacity, he provided technical assistance to numerous community groups seeking to end discrimination in access to health care on the basis of race and ethnicity.  He also successfully prosecuted large scale litigation in conjunction with the United States Department of Justice against hospitals for violations of, among other things, the Americans With Disabilities Act.  He is thrilled to be back in the movement for transgender equality.

Michael is a graduate of Vassar College and The University of Michigan Law School.

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Samantha Weiss, Law Intern

Samantha Weiss is originally from New Jersey and is a second year law student at Brooklyn Law School. She loves the diverse environment New York City offers and tries to seize upon everything the city has to offer. She earned her undergraduate degree from Eugene Lang College for Liberal Arts at the New School University. Her concentration on Identity Politics and Gender Studies at the New School gifted her with an opportunity to explore what makes people different and what makes them the same. Studying discourse and difference led Sam to work towards a career in LGBTQ equality. She is a strong believer in the law's unique ability to act as a catalyst for social change and volunteers much of her time to advocate for the rights of marginalized groups. After pursuing law school, she became Le-GaL’s Student Liaison, the school's LGBTQ organization's Community Board Educator, the National Lawyer Guild's Co-Chair, and the Legal Association for Women's Social Chair. Sam spent a semester interning at a non-traditional family law firm after a summer interning at Gay Men's Health Crisis.

Click to contact Samantha.