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).

Tana Hargest

Deputy Director

she / her / hers

Bio

Deputy Director

As Deputy Director at Gender Justice, Tana provides critical leadership management, shapes organizational culture, and guides work management processes.

From high-profile museums to start-up cooperatives, Tana has extensive experience in non-profit leadership, strategic planning, and project development. She has co-created a wide range of projects for creative and learning communities in New York, Boston, and Providence. After years working on the East Coast, Tana is back in her hometown of Minneapolis, creating art and action through public art-based policy engagement, and through the development of a network of artist-led worker cooperatives.

Tana is a collaborator in multiple Black-led and BIPOC-led movements. She is a member of the Black Liberation and Abolition Cohort, a group called together in the immediate aftermath of the murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis Police Department. Tana is a member of the Subversive Sirens, a Minnesota-based synchronized swimming team committed to Black liberation, equity in swimming and the aquatic arts, radical body acceptance in athleticism, and queer visibility. She is a cohort member of Don’t You Feel It Too?, a public art action and form of movement meditation that transforms the self while taking action in the world.

Erin Maye Quade

Advocacy Director & UnRestrict MN Campaign Manager

she / her / hers

Bio

Advocacy Director & UnRestrict MN Campaign Manager

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.

Yolanda Burckhardt

Advocacy & Engagement Manager

she/her/hers

Bio

Advocacy & Engagement Manager

Yolanda Burckhardt manages advocacy, education, and public engagement efforts across Gender Justice projects, coalitions, and partnerships. Her major focus is coordinating the Rights, Faith, and Democracy coalition, supported by the Proteus Fund, to counter the use of religion as a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people and to prevent people from accessing  reproductive health care.

Yolanda previously worked in the Civil Rights Department at the Met Council, where she coordinated community engagement and racial equity strategic planning efforts for over four years. As an alum, she managed the Council’s Urban Scholars Program, a leadership development internship to support and engage BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and low-wealth college students. Before that, Yolanda worked in Hennepin County’s Public Health Department and in Governor Dayton’s Administration.

Yolanda is originally from the Twin Cities area, received a bachelor’s degree in Social Psychology and Community and Global Health from Macalester College, and is a recent graduate of the Master of Human Rights Program at the University of Minnesota. Yolanda is excited to be joining the extraordinary team at Gender Justice.

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. 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.

Adrian Elaine Doerr

Finance and Administration Director

they / them / theirs

Bio

Finance and Administration Director

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.

Noble Frank

Communications Director

they/them/their

Bio

Communications Director

Noble Frank coordinates media and communications for Gender Justice, develops strategic messaging, and grows the organization’s audience and impact. Noble previously worked as the communications associate at the ACLU of Minnesota, where they managed digital communications including social media and digital action campaigns.

Prior to working with the ACLU-MN, Noble was the communications manager for the Center on Women, Gender and Public Policy at the University of Minnesota and the managing editor of The Gender Policy Report, a feminist policy blog published by the CWGPP.

Noble has a Ph.D. in Rhetoric & Writing from The University of Texas at Austin and bachelor’s degrees in English and Women’s Studies from the University of Georgia. Outside of the “office” they are an enthusiastic hiker and kayaker; a novice but dedicated vegetable gardener; and a doting dog parent.

Michelle Hesterberg

Development Director

she/her/hers

Bio

Development Director

Michelle has extensive experience in non-profit leadership, fundraising, political organizing, and social change advocacy. She has run record-setting fundraising campaigns and raised millions of dollars for LGBTQ+ equity, social justice, and environmental protection. She has previously worked for OutFront Minnesota, Save the Boundary Waters, Environment Minnesota, and a 2020 Congressional campaign.

Michelle first joined the movement for reproductive justice as a student at Carleton College. She currently serves on the board of YMCA Camp Menogyn, volunteers with the Sierra Club North Star Chapter, and participates in the Out After Carleton Leadership Committee.

Karina Estrada

Saeks Legal Fellow

she/her/hers

Bio

Saeks Legal Fellow

Karina Estrada is the Saeks Legal Fellow at Gender Justice. In the organization, she conducts legal research to support potential and current cases. She also provides summative legal analyses and does intake with potential clients who reach out to the organization.

Karina is in her 3rd and final year at the University of Minnesota Law School. During her first summer, she worked in the Dominican Republic with an international organization to research the conditions and promote the welfare of incarcerated juveniles in Central America. Last summer she interned with a local immigration center, did research for a decriminalizing sex work campaign, and helped a local law firm representing protesters arrested for curfew violations during the Uprising.

Law is Karina’s second career. Previously, she graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz with a BA in Intensive Psychology. During this time she worked as an artist, became a landlord, started a family, opened a blues bar, and produced a movie.

Grace Reardon

Project Manager, UnRestrict Minnesota

she/her/hers

Bio

Project Manager, UnRestrict Minnesota

While studying Political Science at Macalester College, Grace joined Gender Justice as an intern. She is now a Project Manager for the UnRestrict MN Campaign where she is excited to be a part of expanding abortion access in the state.

Before Gender Justice, Grace did on-campus voter engagement work and worked as a Research Assistant in Macalester’s Assessment Office. Her research focused on programming for first-generation students and student attitudes about the liberal arts.

Board of Directors

Biftu Bussa

she/her/hers

Bio

she/her/hers

Biftu Bussa is an Immigration Specialist at the Minnesota Freedom Fund (MFF). MFF’s mission is to pay criminal bail and immigration bonds for those that cannot afford it while working to end discriminatory and oppressive jailing. Prior to her work with MFF, Biftu was a Community Representative in The Office of Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. In this role, Biftu focused on outreach and organizing around housing, food access, and education. Additionally, she completed casework on behalf of 5th District constituents. Outside of work, Biftu serves on the Council for Minnesotans of African Heritage and as the Community Engagement Chair on the New Leaders Council Twin Cities board. Her career is driven by her passion for advancing marginalized communities’ health and well-being through direct service, policy, and advocacy. During her free time, Biftu enjoys spending time with family and friends, watching a good movie, and traveling.

Amanda Bartschenfeld

she/her/hers

Bio

she/her/hers

Amanda Bartschenfeld is a senior manager of Global Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity at Medtronic. She partners with business leaders and employees to create a powerfully inclusive and equitable workplace for everyone, knowing that diverse backgrounds and perspectives lead to better ideas and decisions. She also spent more than a decade in various communications roles at Medtronic, with audiences ranging from all 90,000 employees to clinicians, regulators, and patients around the world. Since 2011, Amanda has held global and local Medtronic Women’s Network leadership roles.

She is on the advocacy and community impact committee of the American Heart Association in Minnesota and previously served on the board of directors for Everybody Works!, a consortium in Western Wisconsin providing employment support to individuals with disabilities.

She earned an MBA from St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota, and a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication from the University of Minnesota.

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.  

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.

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.

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.  

CB Baga

they/them/theirs

Bio

they/them/theirs

CB Baga is a litigator and community care attorney at Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath with expertise in trans law, complex litigation, and risk management. In 2015, CB founded the LGBT Legal Clinic at the Volunteer Lawyers Network to provide a gateway to legal resources to the LGBTQ+ community. They have substantial experience helping community members navigate and access legal resources. CB has served as a volunteer and community partner for numerous community organizations including running the Legal Clinic in partnership with the Minnesota Trans Health Coalition and Family Tree Clinic. CB also has presented and trained legal community members on trans cultural competence, ranging from Judges to private law firms to public attorneys and law students. Throughout CB’s legal career, they have centered lifting the trans community in law and access to justice.

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.

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.

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.

Iman Hassan

she/her/hers

Bio

she/her/hers

After graduating Vanderbilt Law School, Iman started her career as a corporate lawyer representing lenders and corporate borrowers in complex domestic and international secured and unsecured bank financing transactions with extensive client contact and management responsibilities.

Shortly after entering private practice, she became determined to incorporate public service as a keystone of her career. After being admitted to the bar, she joined her firm’s Veterans Assistance Project, a program which provides legal representation to veterans seeking disability compensation and related benefits. After a short time with the firm’s Veterans Assistance Project and representing numerous clients in disability compensation and related claims she dedicated her legal career to a full time civil rights practice with the Center on Conscience and War. At the Center she worked  to extend and defend the rights of conscientious objectors (CO’s).

 

As a member of Lawyers for Black Lives, she actively organized  with the Black Lives Matter movement on racial justice issues. She has a passion for social justice movements and experience advocating on behalf of low-income persons to improve access to basic necessities.  In 2019, she joined Innocent Classroom as Program Trainer to change the public education system through the eradication of implicit bias and racial stereotypes which burden our black and brown students.

Melissa Harl

she/her/hers

Bio

Melissa Harl recently retired from the University of Minnesota after a 38-year teaching career, as Professor Emerita of Classical and Near Eastern Studies. While at the ‘U’ she served in leadership roles for the Transgender Commission and on many other committees, most recently as a member of the Social Concerns committee of the University Senate.

Melissa has a lifelong interest in social justice, particularly as it relates to race, gender, violence, and education. As a college student she opposed the war in Viet Nam as a conscientious objector, with some personal consequences. In the 1980s she headed a committee of churches in aid of refugees from CIA-funded violence in Central America. More recently she served on the board of the Twenty Percent Theatre Company, a small but fierce organization centering the lives and art of women, especially queer and trans people of color. The murder of Philando Castile in her Falcon Heights neighborhood in July 2016 drove her into deeper engagement with efforts to oppose state-sanctioned violence. Currently she is active in work supporting families seeking asylum and other relief from religiously and racially based over-enforcement of immigration law, and serves on the board of her church, First Congregational Church of Minnesota, in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood of Minneapolis.

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.

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.

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.