Staff

James Alicea, Legal Intern

James Alicea is currently a second-year law student at Cornell Law School. He graduated valedictorian from Wagner College in 2013, and has worked as a student intern for the Human Rights and Constituent Services division of City Council member Deborah Rose for the 49th District of Staten Island, New York. Having been inspired by the altruism of his mother who passed away in 2009, James is dedicated to using his legal education and passion for political voice to advocate for the rights of the transgender community. His interests include creative writing, science fiction/ fantasy novels, Japanese art and animation, fashion trends, and Spanish cuisine.

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Charli Cleland, Legal Intern

Charli Cleland is a Ghanaian artist who graduated from University of Maryland, Baltimore County in May 2013, with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a double minor in Gender Studies and Political Science. He is currently earning a criminal law degree at Brooklyn Law School. In addition to academic pursuits, Charli is a photographer, spoken word poet, web designer, and activist. His works, both visual and written, often focus on themes of transnational identity, gender, race, sexuality, and the location of one’s selves in these experiences.

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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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James Holloway, Intern

James is a California native and a current undergraduate at Harvard University where he studies sociology. On campus he serves on the board of Queer Students and Allies, works as the Mentorships Director of Harvard Undergraduate Legal Committee, and is the Co-Coordinator for the African-American division of the Undergraduate Minority Recruitment Program. His work this past year included creating "study breaks" for queer students and managing the finances for the Black Arts Festival. He hopes that his summer internship with TLDEF will provide a solid foundation for a career in public interest law.

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Noah E. Lewis, Staff Attorney

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Noah is a Pittsburgh native and a graduate of Harvard Law School. There he received the Dean's Award for Community Service for his work with the Harvard Transgender Task Force, Lambda, and the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund. His work included assisting with the campaign that added gender identity to Harvard's nondiscrimination policy and achieving improvements in insurance coverage for transgender health care. Noah also graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh with a B.S. in chemistry and a B.A. in the history and philosophy of science. While at Pitt he helped lead a successful campaign to get domestic partner health benefits at the university. Prior to joining TLDEF, Noah worked in animal advocacy. He is a long-time vegan.

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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.

Michael D. Silverman, Executive Director

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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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