I am a long-time civil rights advocate and scholar. I care deeply about making the world a better place, contributing to the goal of “tikkun olam” (the fixing of the world) that I was taught to care about throughout my childhood.
I grew up in an Orthodox Jewish family. My father, a Holocaust survivor, was born in Lithuania, and came to the U.S. after World War II as a young man. He received a Ph.D in Talmudic studies from Yeshiva University and became one of his generation’s leading Talmudic scholars. My mother was the daughter of a Hasidic Rebbe who, defying the usual strictures of that world, went to college, and earned a Ph.D in Jewish history from Columbia University.
My original life goal had been to be the first Orthodox Jewish female Talmudic scholar. But halfway through my time at Barnard College, I decided I wanted to move my attention to more modern law and text. I graduated from Barnard College in 1979, worked on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. for several years, graduated from Harvard Law School in 1985, clerked for Judge Frank M. Coffin on the First Circuit Court of Appeals and for Justice Harry A. Blackmun on the Supreme Court, and have continued to work in the legal and political civil rights arena for the past 40+ years.
I have been incredibly fortunate in my professional career. I’ve been a drafter of bills, a teacher of students, an author of scholarly articles, an implementer of civil rights laws, and a helpmate in creating safe and respectful workplaces. I have done this work as a Legal Counsel at the ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project (1988-1991); a law professor at Georgetown University Law Center (1991-2010); a Commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (2010-2019), and a partner at the law firm of Morgan Lewis in Washington DC (2019-2021). I have worked primarily to advance the rights of people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ people and women, but I have also had the chance to work to advance social justice more broadly. As an out lesbian and an out person with a disability (the hidden disability of anxiety disorder), I have sought to advance LGBTQ+ and disability pride whenever and wherever I can.
After decades of work in the public and private sectors, I am shifting gears to serve as a freelance civil rights advocate, reveling in helping out causes I care about. This includes increasing the employment of people with disabilities, ensuring that the current protection for LGBTQ+ people under sex discrimination law is used to the greatest extent possible, preventing sexual harassment, and helping to create workplaces cultures of safety, respect, diversity, equity and inclusion.