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Gervino-Ward LGBTQ+ Speaker Series

The Gervino-Ward LGBTQ+ Speaker Series is sponored by the Center for Social Justice and was designed to provide a venue for conversations about legal issues significant to the LGBTQ+ community.

The Gervino-Ward LGBTQ+ Speaker Series is made possible by a generous donation from WNE Law School alumna Elena Gervino ('88), her wife Kathleen Ward, and their two daughters. The mission of this series is to draw awareness to emerging trends in LGBTQ+ law and continuing social justice concerns that might affect LGBTQ+ clients or practitioners. The Western New England University Center for Social Justice provides the venue for conversations about legal issues important to the LGBTQ+ community by bringing prominent leaders, speakers and advocates to engage with the Western New England University School of Law Community. Lectures will be held during the lunch hour and are open to students, alumni, the University community, and the general public.

Upcoming and Recent Speakers

November 16, 2021
Interview with Ria Tabacco Mar joined by WNE Law Professor Jennifer Levi in a Q & A style event.
Ria Tabacco Mar is the Director of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, where she oversees the ACLU’s women’s rights litigation.

Previously, she was a senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & HIV Project, where she fought gender stereotypes, sex segregation, and attempts to use religion to discriminate in schools, at work, and in public places. Ria was part of the ACLU’s litigation team representing Aimee Stephens and Don Zarda, whose cases were decided as part of the recent Supreme Court ruling recognizing that federal employment law protections apply to LGBTQ people.

Ria is a frequent commentator on gender justice issues, appearing on television programs including All In with Chris Hayes, PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton, and PBS’s Firing Line with Margaret Hoover, and has authored opinion pieces for the New York Times, Washington Post, and other outlets.

Ria has been recognized on The Root 100, an annual list of the most influential African Americans ages 25 to 45, and as one of the Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40 by the National LGBT Bar Association.

Ria graduated from New York University School of Law and Harvard College.

September 10, 2020
Interview with Evan Wolfson joined by WNE School of Law Professor Jennifer Levi in Q & A style event:
Wolfson was the founder of Freedom to Marry, the successful campaign for marriage equality in the United States, and is widely considered the architect of the movement that led to nationwide victory in 2015. During the 1990's he served as co-counsel in the historic Hawaii marriage case that launched the ongoing global movement for the freedom to marry, and has participated in numerous gay rights and HIV/AIDS cases. In 2012, Wolfson received the Barnard Medal of Distinction alongside President Barack Obama. Wolfson earned a B.A. in history from Yale College and his J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Wolfson now devotes his time to advising and assisting diverse movements and causes in the U.S. and around the world. Based in New York City, Wolfson has been named a Distinguished Visitor from Practice at Georgetown Law Center, where he teaches law and social change; a Distinguished Practitioner in Grand Strategy at Yale University; and Senior Counsel at Dentons, the world's largest law firm.