Staff & Board

Megan Peterson

Executive Director

she / her / hers

Bio

Executive Director

Megan J. Peterson joined Gender Justice in 2016, bringing her many years of experience in progressive social justice causes, primarily reproductive rights and justice. As Deputy Director for the National Network of Abortion Funds (NNAF), Megan helped lead the organization through a period of significant growth and increased impact by expanding and strengthening its network of grassroots abortion funds and increasing its donor and foundation funding. Megan was instrumental in NNAF’s founding leadership in All* Above All, a national campaign to repeal the Hyde Amendment. 

Prior to her nine years with NNAF, Megan served as Director of Development and Communications for Pro-Choice Resources (now called Our Justice) in Minneapolis and as a patient advocate at Planned Parenthood in St. Paul. In college she worked with the National Organization for Women in Washington, DC, and the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund (now called Legal Momentum).

Erin Maye Quade

Advocacy Director

she / her / hers

Bio

Advocacy Director

Erin Maye Quade is the Advocacy Director at Gender Justice, where she works to advance gender justice through public education, legislative outreach, strategic partnerships and coalition-building.

Erin Maye Quade is a former Minnesota State Representative who was first elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2016. There, she quickly established herself as a candid and fierce advocate for Minnesotans championing paid family leave; expanding access to affordable child care; ending childhood hunger; eliminating gun violence; and investing in treatment for mental health and substance abuse issues. In 2018, Rep. Maye Quade founded the Childhood Hunger Caucus, a coalition of businesses, nonprofits and policymakers dedicated to ending childhood hunger in Minnesota.

After legislation to prevent gun violence was stopped by Republican lawmakers, Rep. Maye Quade held a 24-hour sit-in on the House floor to protest Republican inaction on the issue and shared stories of victims and survivors of gun violence. In June 2018, Rep. Erin Maye Quade became the first LGBTQ person – and among the youngest – to be endorsed as the DFL candidate for Lt. Governor.

Jess Braverman

Legal Director

she / her / hers

Bio

Legal Director

Jess Braverman is the Legal Director at Gender Justice, where she ensures that our litigation strategy not only promotes the dignity of our clients, but also advances our mission of removing barriers to gender equity.

Jess came to Gender Justice from the Hennepin County Public Defender’s office. After representing hundreds of clients in felony matters in the Fourth District, she spearheaded the office’s Special Litigation Unit, where she focused on racial profiling in policing. Jess developed litigation that challenged racially discriminatory undercover marijuana sting operations, which ultimately led to the end of the sting operations and the dismissal of dozens of wrongful charges.

Jess attended NYU Law School, where she was an Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Liberties Fellow with a focus on LGBTQ rights. She has worked with organizations dedicated to LGBTQ and gender civil rights advocacy, access to health care, immigration advocacy and workers rights, including the Silvia Rivera Law Project and the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund. After graduating, Jess worked at the Legal Aid Society’s Juvenile Rights Project, representing young people in delinquency and child protection cases in Brooklyn, New York.

Christy Hall

Senior Staff Attorney

she / her / hers

Bio

Senior Staff Attorney

Christy Hall is Senior Staff Attorney at Gender Justice, where she represents clients challenging gender discrimination. She practices in both state and federal court and has argued before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Christy litigates cases involving discrimination in employment, housing, health care and education. She is proud of her ground-breaking work on transgender rights in the Affordable Care Act and the Minnesota Human Rights Act. She has a particular interest in representing clients who have experienced trauma. Christy graduated magna cum laude from the University of Minnesota Law School and joined Gender Justice in 2011 as a Robina Public Interest Scholars Fellow. Prior to becoming an attorney, Christy worked as a computer programmer.

Stephanie Shea

Development Director

she / her / hers

Bio

Development Director

Stephanie Shea is project-oriented creative who, after working with Gender Justice in a contractor capacity through the Minnesotans for Trust, Respect, Access, and Keep Birth Control Copay Free campaigns, joined the organization as Communications and Engagement Manager in December 2018 and moved into the Development Director role in February 2020.  She has a Master of Fine Arts in Media Design and brings with her a broad set of skills, including graphic design, print and digital advertising, digital media strategy, event planning, public engagement and program management.

Stephanie is also on the board of Our Justice, the local Twin Cities-based abortion fund, and spent seven years at Whole Woman’s Health, a national independent abortion provider and lead plaintiff in the landmark Supreme Court case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. 

Abigail Hencheck

Saeks Public Interest Residency Fellow

she / her / hers

Bio

Saeks Public Interest Residency Fellow

Abigail Hencheck is a 2019 graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School and is a Saeks Public Interest Residency Fellow at Gender Justice. She is passionate about litigation, particularly in the area of civil sexual assault and harassment, gender violence, and international human rights. She has worked as a Student Certified Attorney at Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services, where she helped our most vulnerable community members stay in their homes through litigation and advocacy. She also spent time as Student Certified Attorney at Gender Justice advocating for the rights of victims of sexual assault.

Abigail served as a Benjamin B. Ferencz Fellow of Human Rights and Law at World Without Genocide. In law school, Abigail co-founded and served as executive board member for the Human Rights Advocacy Project.

Adrian Elaine Doerr

HR & Finance Manager

they / them / theirs

Bio

HR & Finance Manager

Adrian is the Finance and Administration Director at Gender Justice. They moved to Minnesota 20 years ago to pursue a PhD in Comparative Literature but found their skills were better suited to work outside of academia. 

Adrian brings to Gender Justice their years of experience as a finance director in both for-profit and non-profit settings, as well as their background in small business management. Prior to Gender Justice, Adrian served as Director of Finance and Operations at MinnPost a nonprofit newsroom.

Megumi Rierson

Communications & Advocacy Manager

she / her / hers

Bio

Communications & Advocacy Manager

Megumi is the communications and advocacy manager at Gender Justice, where she works to elevate the voices of clients and push for policies that advance racial, economic, and gender justice. She is passionate about making law and policy accessible to everyone, and believes that effective messaging and strategic communications are essential tools in that effort. 

Prior to Gender Justice, Megumi worked in communications for Minnesota elected officials and led organizing efforts in Washington state to bring comprehensive sex education to rural public schools and increase reproductive healthcare access at local hospitals. She also volunteers for local abortion providers and Women’s Prison Book Project. 

Board of Directors

Amanda Furst

she / her / hers

Bio

she / her / hers

Board Chair

Amanda Furst is the Chief of Staff at the University of Minnesota Law School, having previously served as Director of Public Interest Programs. A 2008 graduate of the University of Iowa College of Law, Amanda started her career as an Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow in New Orleans, Louisiana, where she developed a Medical-Legal Partnership with Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, a legal services organization.

Elizabeth Glidden

she / her / hers

Bio

she / her / hers

Board Vice Chair

Elizabeth Glidden is a public policy professional, lawyer, and fierce advocate for progressive causes. Elizabeth is Director of Strategic Initiatives and Policy at the Minnesota Housing Partnership, leading public policy housing justice change at the federal, state and local levels for since 2018. Elizabeth served on the Minneapolis City Council for 12 years from 2005 to 2017; in that role she chief authored transformational legislation affecting thousands of residents, including Minneapolis’ paid sick time law, $15 minimum wage, and a expansion of anti-discrimination law to section 8 housing voucher holders. Prior to her service on the City Council, Elizabeth represented individuals as a worker’s rights and civil rights lawyer for over a decade, including many gender rights cases.

Hetal Dalal

she / her / hers

Bio

she / her / hers

Board Treasurer

As a key member of Center for Popular Democracy’s legal team, Hetal provides legal counsel and legal compliance oversight for CPD’s work.  Hetal supervises CPD and CPDA’s grant-making and fiscal sponsorship to our field partners, ensuring that grants we make are compliant with IRS requirements while also serving to support our partner organizations. Hetal oversees contracts, employment law matters, and tax compliance. She also provides strategic guidance to new organizing endeavors: during the past seven years, Hetal has worked with founding organizers to help launch at least two dozen new community organizing endeavors.

Hetal helped launch CPD’s predecessor organization, Leadership Center for the Common Good, in 2010. Prior to that, she worked for a national nonprofit organization, handling lobbying matters, campaign finance law and employment law.  Hetal has also worked in private practice, representing employers and individuals in immigration matters. Hetal worked for the international law firm, Fulbright & Jaworski, LLP, for 3 years.  She is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of the University of Minnesota School of Law. After law school she clerked on the Supreme Court for the state of Minnesota, with then Chief Justice Kathleen A. Blatz. Before law school Hetal worked as a community organizer with the National Organizers Alliance and a union organizer (short-term) with UNITE-HERE.

Cierra Buckner

she / her / hers

Bio

she / her / hers

Cierra Buckner is a program coordinator, leader of community engagement, and licensed social worker for the Institute to Transform Child Protection where she maintains cohesion and organization of advocacy, training, and legislative efforts and engages community members and key stakeholders in meaningful ways. Cierra was born and raised in Minneapolis by a web of fierce and dynamic women and queer folks who lived life on the margins. The tenacity of her predecessors drives her passion for pursuing social justice and disrupting the status quo for women, transand non-binary communities. Though a young and recently graduated professional, Cierra has over 5 years of combined experience in case management, organizing, political advocacy, and strategic planning with local non-profits including People Serving People, Catholic Charities, and Lutheran Social Service. Cierra considers self-care an essential and invaluable pillar of sustainable advocacy and as such, spends her time away from work and Gender Justice board duties by cooking new meals, drinking good coffee, and watching feminist stand-up comedy specials.  

Sarah Clyne

she / her / hers

Bio

she / her / hers
Sarah is currently the executive director for Northside Funders Group (NFG), a funder collaborative that makes strategic investments in North Minneapolis. Prior to NFG, she was the executive director for Domestic Abuse Project (DAP), where she helped establish an innovative and transformational birth-to-3 therapy program, re-instated adolescent male programming and engaged in projects with Hennepin County and the City of Minneapolis to end gender-based violence. In addition, Sarah served as executive director of Joyce Preschool, which was awarded the Nonprofit Excellence award in 2013.
Additionally, Sarah also serves on the board of directors for Propel Nonprofits as Vice-Chair. She also served on Mayor Hodges’ Cradle-to-K Cabinet and the Governor’s Council on Law Enforcement and Community Relations. She is a founding local advisory board member for Educators for Excellence-Minnesota.
Sarah is passionate about education, social justice, ending gender-based violence, and building cross-sector relationships to dismantle disparities in our communities. Sarah received a master’s degree in education and a bachelor of arts degree in sociology and Spanish, both from the University of Minnesota.
Wintana Melekin

she / her / hers

Bio

she / her / hers

Wintana Melekin is the Executive Director of Minnesota Voice, the largest state-wide civic engagement organization in the State of Minnesota. A member-based coalition of non-profit organizations working toward permanent change in racial, social, and economic justice by increasing civic engagement and voter participation across the state, especially focused in underrepresented communities; making sure that every Minnesotans’ voice is heard, and the state reflects the values of its people. Before joining Minnesota Voice, Melekin was the Campaign Political Director for Congresswoman Ilhan Omar in her primary election. During her time on the campaign, Melekin helped secure the endorsement of almost every major progressive institutions in Minnesota. She also secured endorsements from over 50 elected officials across Minnesota. The campaign went on to win the election with a 25,000 vote lead.

Melekin became a community organizer after attending a protest for Trayvon Martin in 2012 that she helped organize. Melekin is a believer of a representative democracy where everyone’s voice is heard no matter their race, religion or sexual orientation. Wintana centers her life around the creation of joy and fighting for justice. She see’s her skills as an organizer and entrepreneur as tools for improving the conditions of her community and others. 

Jessica Nyman

she / her / hers

Bio

she / her / hers

Jessica Nyman currently serves as a member of the Minnesota Nurses Association Government Affairs team. Jessica graduated from DePaul University in 2009 with a degree in Women’s and Gender Studies and has since developed a professional expertise in policy development and communications strategy. She’s put those skills to work for the Minnesota House of Representatives and various political campaigns since, most recently as the Communications Director for a 2018 gubernatorial campaign in Minnesota.

Emily Ott

she / her / hers

Bio

she / her / hers

Emily has worked in chemical dependency and mental health for 23 years and has presented on trans issues at area healthcare facilities several times in the last 4 years. She is 63 years old and has two daughters, five grandchildren, and a Bengal cat named Chui. She enjoys running, reading, gardening, cooking, and being outdoors in warm or hot weather.

David Schlesinger

he / him / his

Bio

he / him / his

David Schlesinger is an experienced attorney who has been recognized for the quality of his work for employees. He is an MSBA Certified Employment Law Specialist who has been selected as a Super Lawyer for the last seven years. David has successfully litigated a wide variety of employment claims, including several significant cases involving gender discrimination, cases under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and many other claims. His practice also includes an emphasis on the intersection of employment and business disputes, including litigation of breach of fiduciary duty and minority shareholder claims. He has effectively defended employees from non-compete and trade secret claims brought by their former employers. David taught Law in Practice at the University of Minnesota Law School for several years and is the former president of the Minnesota Chapter of the National Employment Lawyers Association.

Summra Shariff

she / her / hers

Bio

she / her / hers

When she’s not walking on frozen lakes, cooking spicy food and spoiling her niece, Summra serves as the Executive Director and President of Twin Cities Diversity in Practice. Since taking on the position in 2018, Summra has built on the organization’s past successes, by re-energizing and revamping programming at all levels to ensure alignment with TCDIP’s ability to attract, recruit, advance, and retain attorneys of color in the Twin Cities. For example, she restructured the Emerging Leaders Group, to better reflect its mission to create a stronger community of early-career diverse lawyers.   

Prior to her work with TCDIP, Summra was a Diversity and Inclusion and Pro Bono Coordinator for a national law firm. She has a history of working with underrepresented groups, including with communities of color. Beyond her work with TCDIP, Summra continues to be active in the legal community by serving on the board of Gender Justice and also on the Minnesota Supreme Court’s Legal Services Advisory Committee. Summra also serves as a Vice-Chair for NALP’s Diversity and Inclusion Section. She is a former long-term member of the Minnesota Justice Foundation’s Board and Executive Committee and a former board member for the Housing Justice Center. She also formerly held a leadership role with the Minnesota Asian Pacific American Bar Association.

Ann Tobin

she / her / hers

Bio

she / her / hers

Ann Tobin is a retired executive, business attorney and compliance officer witdeep expertise in the healthcare industry. She has substantial experience with boards of directorsincluding governance, committee leadership, and development. Ann was on the boards of OutFront Minnesota and Headwaters Foundation for Justice. She served as a chairperson in both organizations and as chair of their development committees. Both organizations are focused on advancing equity and justice in Minnesota. Throughout Ann’s career, she has mentored women in formal and informal settings, including through Menttium, Medtronic, UnitedHealth Group, and Prime Therapeutics. 

In Ann’s profession, she was most recently Chief Compliance Officer at Prime Therapeutics, a pharmacy benefit manager owned by 18 Blue Cross Blue Shield plans and serving 28 million members nationwide. In this role, she reported to the Board of Directors through Prime’s Compliance and Audit Committee and brought strategy and direction for not only regulatory compliance but also privacy, ethics and corporate compliance, external audit management, governance and reporting, and compliance/ethics investigations. 

Ann is passionate about creating an equitable society that works for everyone and enhancing people’s lives through fighting discrimination based on sex, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity.  

Co-Founders Emeriti

Jill Gaulding

Co-Founder Emeritus

she / her

Bio

Co-Founder Emeritus

Jill Gaulding began her career at MIT, obtaining undergraduate and graduate degrees in Cognitive Science. She then pursued public interest law and has focused her legal career on understanding and eliminating gender barriers. She has done international research on gender stereotypes and family leave policies, as well as taught law at the University of Iowa with a focus on global feminist strategy.

Both as a professor and as a practicing lawyer, Jill has worked to modernize the legal system to better reflect what cognitive science has taught us about implicit bias. Seven years after co-founding Gender Justice, Jill accepted a call to pursue a Masters of Divinity at Harvard. She transitioned out of her role at Gender Justice in June of 2017.

Established in 2017, the Jill Gaulding Law Student Fellowship offers a second- or third-year LGBTQ (lesbian / gay / bisexual / transgender / non-binary / queer) and/or BIPOC (black / indigenous / native / person of color) law student the invaluable opportunity to work in a social justice, public interest legal and policy advocacy nonprofit dedicated to fighting gender inequality. The Fellowship is currently accepting contributions to fund our 2020 summer fellow.

Lisa Stratton

Co-Founder Emeritus

she / her

Bio

Co-Founder Emeritus

As an attorney, Lisa Stratton specializes in gender discrimination cases. She began her career at the University of Minnesota Law School, where she later joined the faculty as a professor and director of the Workers’ Rights Clinic. She has won noteworthy federal cases on behalf of undocumented immigrant workers and women trailblazing in male-dominated industries, such as paper mills and processing plants.

In 2014, she was a key advocate at the Minnesota legislature. As part of her work leading Gender Justice’s policy program, she lobbied for the progressive public policy changes in Minnesota’s groundbreaking Women’s Economic Security Act.

In June 2018, Lisa transitioned out of her role at Gender Justice and is now in private practice.

10 Years

For 10 years, Gender Justice has worked to dismantle barriers and advance gender equity. For 10 years, Gender Justice has fought to push the law forward through our work in the courts, the legislature, and the community. See what we have accomplished so far.