Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Lambda Legal Announces Paul Smith as Co-Chair and Additions to Its Board of Directors

NEW YORK CITY (Observer Update) - Lambda Legal announced the election of Paul Smith as Co-Chair of its national Board of Directors and the election of two new members, Robin Burr of Illinois and Michelle Peak of Texas.

Lambda Legal’s newly elected Co-Chair, Paul M. Smith, is a partner in Jenner & Block’s Washington, DC office and is Co-Chair of the Firm’s Appellate and Supreme Court, and Media and First Amendment Practices. In 2003, he successfully argued Lambda Legal’s landmark Supreme Court victory, Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down all remaining state criminal sodomy statutes. He has an active Supreme Court practice including thirteen oral arguments before the Court.

Mr. Smith received a J.D. from Yale Law School in 1979, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of the Yale Law Journal. From 1980-81, Mr. Smith was a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr. He has served on Lambda Legal’s Board of Directors since 2005.

"We are very proud to have an attorney with such a distinguished career serve as Lambda Legal’s Co-Chair," said Kevin M. Cathcart, Executive Director. "When he successfully argued the Lawrence case before the Supreme Court, he played a tremendous and historic role in our movement. But Paul continues to serve – he brings enormous vision and experience to our work."

"At this moment in history I look forward to continuing to help an organization that is making a huge difference," Smith said, "with impact litigation and accompanying education efforts covering a wide range of important issues facing LGBT people. When the fight for LGBT equality is won, Lambda Legal will have played a central role. I'm glad to be playing a part."

Robbin Burr of Rockford, Illinois and Michelle Peak of Mansfield, Texas have also been elected to Lambda Legal’s Board of Directors.

"We're grateful these talented people have volunteered their time to be leaders for Lambda Legal. We look forward to their contributions as we continue to make the case for equality for LGBT people across the country," said Kevin Cathcart, Executive Director of Lambda Legal.

Robbin Burr is the former Executive Director of Center on Halsted, an LGBT center in Chicago and is currently the Diversity Relationship Manager for the MidAmerica Territory at Prudential Financial. Burr brings extensive strategic planning, program development and communications and marketing experience. She has also sat on the boards of Center on Halsted, CenterLink Dallas Black Tie Dinner and Forth Worth Samaritan House.

"To be a part of the Lambda Legal board of directors is a tremendous honor," said Burr. "There's never been a more pivotal time in our movement nor a more fitting organization to carry us forward towards equality. I'm looking forward to being a part of this important work by collaborating with the talented Lambda Legal board and staff to plan the strategic direction for the organization."

Michelle Peak is a Senior Labor Attorney at American Airlines. She has extensive experience as a labor union liaison. Peak is a member of the Texas Minority Counsel Program Steering Committee and for two years sat on the boards of Creche Child Care Center and the Omaha Butler-Gast YMCA. She also participates in the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program and the American Airlines Legal Department Mentoring Program for Law Students.

"I am ecstatic and honored to be joining Lambda Legal’s Board," said Peak. "While I believe the organization will continue to confront challenges, I believe these are unique and exciting times for change and education focused on improving the lives of my family and the LGBT community. The current docket of cases will have lasting impact towards protecting and advancing the rights of LGBT people and those with HIV. I look forward to building upon the robust reputation Lambda Legal has created across the country making the case for equality in courts and through continued education."

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