Dear Wonderful Gender Justice Community,
I'm writing with some big news. I have decided to step down from my position at Gender Justice to pursue a one-of-a-kind opportunity for change and growth: beginning in August 2017, I will be a student in the Harvard Divinity School's three-year Masters of Divinity (M. Div.) program.
This might seem like a huge pivot from the work that I have been doing since June 2010, when Lisa Stratton and I co-founded Gender Justice. And in many ways, it will be. For the next three years, I won't be juggling the demands that a start-up nonprofit places on its founders and leaders, and I won't be litigating cases. I won't miss the late nights! However, I will miss collaborating with such brilliant colleagues. I will miss being part of an organization that is fighting so hard to realize its vision. I will miss being able to support our plaintiffs' courageous battles. As my Grandpa Tex might say, I will miss being on the front lines with all y'all.
In many ways, though, my transition feels less like a pivot and more like a natural progression. I felt called to the M.Div. program because of its broad curriculum, which includes access to any relevant course offered by the university. This curriculum has the potential to help me to think anew about interrelated aspects of cognitive science, social justice, and theories of personal and societal change: How do we move away from "rare bad guy" notions of discrimination and toward accepting that we can all be complicit in maintaining inequality, via the mechanisms of implicit bias? How do we move away from blame and toward mutual responsibility for creating change? How do we recognize both the commonalities across the ways we harm each other and the unique aspects of every intersecting form of oppression?
As I make this transition, I look back on the last seven years with so much pride and so much gratitude. I think we have accomplished a lot in this short time. For example:
- Because our mission encompasses "gender writ large," we have helped people to focus on the deep connections between issues like pregnancy accommodations, toxic concepts of masculinity, and anti-trans bias-connections that otherwise tend to be erased by the "siloed" world of gender rights advocacy.
- We have changed the way people think about where discrimination comes from, why it persists, and what we can do to eliminate it. We have done this, in part, by presenting many trainings on implicit bias, locally and nationally, that have reached large numbers of key decision-makers. We have also done this through our litigation program, in the way we frame our cases, write our briefs, and present legal arguments to the courts. It's making a difference. Just recently, for example, our amicus brief about the importance of implicit bias evidence was cited in a key Minnesota Supreme Court decision.
- Speaking of litigation: We've helped a large number of people figure out how to challenge injustices they have encountered. Along the way, we've offered legal know-how, moral support, and our love and admiration. Together with and on behalf of our clients, we've brought many first-of-their-kind, high-impact cases, including a case that established that protections against discrimination "because of sex" under Section 1557 of ACA must include protection against discrimination on the basis of transgender status.
We should all be celebrating these accomplishments, since they only came about through our shared efforts. I am grateful to each and every person who helped me and helped Gender Justice over the last seven years. Thank you!
We all know that the work of Gender Justice is more vital now than ever. To meet the challenges that will keep arising, Gender Justice itself will continue to change and grow over the coming years. I know that Gender Justice has the deep commitment needed to do so, and to do so skillfully, guided by our capable board and staff and through a comprehensive strategic planning process that has already begun. You can count on me to support Gender Justice's future success in any way I can, and I trust that I can count on you to do the same.
With pride and gratitude and optimism,
Co-Founder & Senior Counsel
On behalf of the staff and board of Gender Justice, we would like to wish our colleague an immensely fond farewell as she embarks on her new endeavor this summer.
We will be forever indebted to Jill Gaulding for her vision, tenacity, and seven-plus years of tireless work creating this incredible organization and guiding its ground-breaking litigation and public education efforts. Needless to say, Gender Justice wouldn't be here today without Jill.
We are excited to see what the next chapter holds for her and take comfort knowing she will always be part of the Gender Justice family. We look forward to continuing Jill's legacy of legal advocacy and education to dismantle gender barriers in our next chapter.
Please join us in celebrating Jill and the launch of the Jill Gaulding Summer Fellowship in her honor:
Wednesday, May 17th, 5:30-7:30pm
LUSH, 990 Central Ave. NE, MPLS
Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to raising a glass with you in a toast to Jill!
With gratitude for your friendship and support,
M. Kathleen Murphy
Megan J. Peterson
Co-Founder & Senior Counsel