Board Member Transitions
Gender Justice bids a fond farewell to two of our longest-serving board members, former chair Amanda Furst and Legal Advisory Committee chair David Schlesinger, both of whom joined the board in 2018 when Gender Justice was on the cusp of a period of transformational change, and whose significant contributions have helped make Gender Justice the organization it is today.
As their terms draw to a close, we thank them both for their stellar leadership.
Amanda Furst has served as a Gender Justice board member for six years, beginning at the outset of a tremendous period of growth in 2018: at the time, Gender Justice employed just four staff members. Today, we number 22 (and are currently hiring for even more open positions!)
Her tenure as board chair, from July 2019 through 2021, coincided with the launch of the UnRestrict Minnesota campaign and continued through the emergence of a global pandemic, during which she provided steady leadership for the first two tumultuous, uncertain years of COVID-19. She not only helped us keep our wits about us, but helped to strengthen the organization’s processes and structures as a whole, as she continued on the board as treasurer for another two years.
As the Assistant Dean and Chief of Staff of the University of Minnesota Law School, Amanda has provided Gender Justice with a crucial connection to some of our very best young legal minds—both through the institution’s Saeks Public Interest Residency Program that she established in 2016 and continues to oversee, as well as additional fellowships and internships she has thoughtfully guided law students towards and from which Gender Justice has benefited as a host.
Amanda Furst is, simply, unflappable. Her calm and confident leadership steered Gender Justice through the tumult of the past few years, shepherding the organization even as the pandemic erupted around us, always there to lend an ear, provide much-appreciated guidance, and right the ship. She has helped to shape the organization into the effective force for gender equity that we have become, and we owe her a debt of gratitude.
In a deeply moving 2017 MinnPost essay reflecting on what Donald Trump’s 2016 election would mean for the future of civil rights and democracy, employee rights attorney David Schlesinger called on his memories of his father, a civil rights lawyer in the 1960s who later practiced family law. If he were here today, David writes, “I think he’d advise me to be guided by the history of the struggle for civil rights, and of the ability we all have to improve people’s lives through that struggle.”
The following year, David joined the Gender Justice board. He has since served for six years, the maximum our bylaws allow. During that time, he has been an energetic booster and advocate—a true champion of Gender Justice.
As an attorney at Nichols Kaster, LLP, he also served as co-counsel on our landmark case representing JayCee Cooper, a trans athlete who in 2018 was denied entry into competitions hosted by USA Powerlifting (USAPL) because she is a trans woman.
As the longest-serving chair of Gender Justice’s Legal Advisory Committee, David has been an insightful, responsive, and frankly invaluable sounding board for our award-winning legal team, and we’re so pleased that he will remain as a community member of the committee.