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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | February 14, 2007

The National Center for Lesbian Rights Expands Legal Programs

Addition of Three Staff Attorneys Extends Organization's National Reach

(San Francisco, CA, February 14, 2007) — Today, the National Center for Lesbian Rights announced that it is adding three new attorneys to its national legal team. Two will be based in the San Francisco national office, and the third will join NCLR's expanding Southern Regional Office in St. Petersburg, Florida. Celebrating its thirtieth anniversary, NCLR is poised to expand and improve its legal services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and their families.

"This is a critical time for the LGBT community, as we face unprecedented legal challenges and opportunities across a tremendous array of issues from marriage to immigration and asylum," said NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell. "Since our founding in 1977, NCLR has played an increasingly visible national role in pioneering new legal strategies and policy initiatives to advocate for the most vulnerable members of our community. The addition of these new attorneys will enable NCLR to expand our leadership role."

Vanessa H. Eisemann joins NCLR after three years with Traber & Voorhees, a public interest civil rights law firm in Pasadena, California, and two years with the Los Angeles office of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips. Before entering private practice, Eisemann served as a law clerk to the Honorable Gary L. Taylor in the Central District of California. Eisemann earned her bachelors degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1997 and her law degree from the University of Southern California Law School in 2000, where she was a Notes Editor of the Southern California Law Review. She received the National Association of Women Lawyers' Outstanding Woman Law Graduate Award and USC's Lambda Alumni Association's Professional Role Model Scholarship. Eisemann authored "Protecting the Kids in the Hall: Using Title IX to Stop Student-on-Student Anti-Gay Harassment," Berkeley Women's Law Journal, Volume 15 (2000), which received the 2000 Berkley Women's Law Journal Writing Award, and "Striking a Balance of Fairness: Sexual Orientation and Voir Dire," Yale Journal of Law and Feminism, Volume 13 (2001). Eisemann served as Co-President of the Lesbian and Gay Lawyers Association of Los Angeles in 2004 and as a member of its Board of Governors from 2001 through 2006. In 2005 and 2006, she was named a "Rising Star" in Southern California Super Lawyer magazine.

Melanie Rowen comes to NCLR from the San Francisco office of Latham & Watkins, where she was an NCLR cooperating attorney. At Latham & Watkins, she participated extensively in pro bono work, including advocating on behalf of the homeless and defending the housing rights of individuals with HIV/AIDS. Rowen received her J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School in 2004. While in law school, she represented low-income children in the Cook County criminal courts as a participant in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Project at the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic. Rowen also received the law school's Stonewall Scholarship, given to the student most likely to advance the cause of civil rights for LGBT people.

Shelbi Day joins NCLR's Southern Regional Office after two years at Southern Legal Counsel, Inc. (SLC), a Florida-based non-profit civil rights law firm, where she was a cooperating attorney with NCLR. Prior to her work at SLC, she served as a law clerk to the Honorable Charles R. Wilson of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. In 2002, Day received her J.D. with high honors from the University of Florida Levin College of Law. Subsequently, she received an M.A. in Latin American Studies from the University of Florida's top-ranked Center for Latin American Studies and was inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi National Honors Society. She co-authored Property, Wealth, Inequality and Human Rights: A Formula for Reform, 34 Indiana L. Rev. 1213 (2001)(with Berta Hernandez-Truyol) and AfterwordStraightness as Property: Back to the Future-Law and Status in the 21st Century, Symposium: Liberalism and Property Rights, 12 U. Florida J.L. & Pub. Pol'y 71 (2000)(with Berta Hernandez-Truyol). Prior to her advanced studies, Shelbi graduated magna cum laude from Missouri State University.

"We are delighted to welcome Vanessa, Melanie and Shelbi as the newest members of NCLR's devoted legal team," said NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter. All three bring an impressive breadth of skills and experiences. The demand for NCLR's services is increasing at a breakneck pace. This expansion of NCLR's legal team assures that we keep pace with the growing legal needs of our community."

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.

media contacts:


Erik Olvera
Director of Communications
National Center for Lesbian Rights
office: 415.392.6257 x324

Bethany Woolman
Communications Associate
National Center for Lesbian Rights
office: 415.392.6257 x305

Shannon Minter
Legal Director
National Center for Lesbian Rights
mobile: 415.595.2125


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