Policy Advisory Board

The Policy Advisory Board (PAB) serves as an adjunct to the formal Board of Directors of each of the 501(c)3 and 501(c)4 organizations.  The PAB serves as a "brain trust" for Gender Rights Maryland and represents some of the best minds out there in our issue space. The PAB also serves as a vehicle for interested parties to participate actively in the direction of Gender Rights Maryland.  If you are interested in participating please send us a note.

PAB Members --

Jennifer Finney Boylan

Professor Jennifer Finney Boylan is the author of twelve books, including She's Not There: a Life in Two Genders, and I'm Looking Through You: Growing Up Haunted, both published by Random House. A novelist, memoirist, and short story writer, she is also a nationally known advocate for civil rights. Jenny has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Live with Larry King, the Today Show, the Barbara Walters Special, NPR's Marketplace and Talk of the Nation; she has also been the subject of documentaries on CBS News' 48 Hours. and The History Channel. She is a regular contributor to the op/ed page of the New York Times and Conde Nast Traveler magazine. Since 1988, she has been Professor of English at Colby College in Maine; in 2010, she was the Hoyer-Updike Distinguished Writer at Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pennsylvania. She has also served on the judging committee of the Fulbright Scholars, administered by the U.S. Department of State.

Rev. Emma Chattin

Is is a member and Assistant Pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of Northern Virginia.  Emma Chattin was born in the Allegheny Mountains.  She has been blessed to live in many different places, all over the state of Virginia.   In 1997, she discovered and joined the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, a denomination founded in 1968 with a primary outreach to Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered, and Questioning individuals.  Soon after, she resumed her studies to enter the ministry.  She was ordained in 2004 at MCC Richmond.  Her father and her Uncle, both Methodist ministers, participated in the service (at 87 years of age, her father still preaches from time to time).  Emma currently resides in Fairfax, Virginia, with Heather, her life-partner of 10 years.   While she lives and works in Northern Virginia, she currently spends a portion of the weekend in the Shenandoah Valley, and is hoping to plant an MCC Church here.  She enjoys religious diversity, and her theological perspective can be succinctly summed up with the words of her bumper sticker: "God [Divinity] is too big to fit into one religion."

David S. Fishback

David, a federal attorney, is Advocacy Chair for the Metro DC Chapter of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).  For the last decade, he has been active in curriculum and guidance issues relating to sexual orientation and sexual identity within the Montgomery County Public Schools, and represented PFLAG and his synagogue on the Marylanders for Marriage Equality Coalition in 2012.  David and his wife live in Olney.  Their two adult gay sons live in Rockville and Brooklyn. 

Alison Gardner

A co- founder of VenusPlusX.org, Alison Gardner is an independent activist in Washington, D.C., who is applying her background as a publicist and teacher to the struggle for universal equality rights and the sexual liberation of all humankind. In 2010, with her life partner of 35 years, Dan Massey, she helped launch a new digital platform for education, advocacy, and grassroots organizing leading to a future free from discrimination based on race, sex, gender, or sexual practice between consenting adults.

Lea Gilmore

Lea is a blues, gospel and jazz singing civic activist who has lent her voice, literally and  figuratively, to advocacy for the underserved of the world and made a huge difference. A former deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland and Program Director for the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, in addition Gilmore has testified before local, state
and federal commissions on issues ranging from immigration laws to the civil rights and liberties of women of color.   Appointed by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights,  she served for several years as a member of the Maryland Advisory Board to the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

Heath Goisovich


Heath Goisovich joined PFLAG in 2001 and currently co-chairs the advocacy committee for the Howard County Chapter of PFLAG. His responsibilities include organizing advocacy issues at the Howard County level and he also handles the various social events that the chapter hosts throughout the year. Most recently he helped pass a Gender Identity law in Howard County and has worked with the Howard County School Board on the issue of LGBT bullying. During the day he works as a recruiter and office manager of a local small business and in the evening attends UMUC, where he is working on his master’s degree in Environmental and Waste Management. He also attends Howard County Community College where he is learning to speak Spanish.

Laura Hart - Former Equality Maryland Board Member




Irene A. Huskens

Irene A. Huskens is currently in her nineteenth year of law enforcement in a position of upper management as well as a decorated officer.  Her philosophy of community oriented policing blends well with her passion for activism and equal rights.  Irene volunteers with several civil rights organizations particularly those focused on equal marriage, LGBTQ youth, and transgender rights.  She received her Master’s of Science in Management from Johns Hopkins University.  Having served in the United States Air Force, she is a veteran of Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.  Irene is a resident of Prince George’s County where she resides with her dog, Aunni,  and four rescues.

Catherine Hyde

Catherine Hyde is the parent of a just-graduated 18-year-old male-to-female trans child. She did not listen to her child when he, at the age of 4, told her that something had gone wrong in her belly and that he was supposed to be a she. She did not understand transgender or gender identity until NPR educated her 11 years later. Will, who still goes by her birth name, transitioned at age 15 and the sparkle is back in her eyes. Since becoming educated and watching her daughter blossom, Catherine has volunteered as transgender network coordinator for the Columbia-Howard County chapter of PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and speaks and trains on transgender understanding and sensitivity. For her day job, she is director of Online Services for the national nonprofit Enterprise Community Partners.

Stacey Jackson

Stacey Jackson's expertise is in progressive public policy and advocacy.  Stacey began her career working on the Judiciary Committee staff for Senator Edward M. Kennedy from 2003-2004.  In 2004, she joined the staff at American University Washington College of Law working on public policy at the intersection of access to essential medicines and health care and intellectual property. While working at American University, she successfully petitioned and negotiated for the removal of their health benefits exclusions for transition related health care, which made American University the first to offer trans inclusive health care benefits.  Expertise from this experience was critical during 2011 and 2012 when she served as Health Care Policy Fellow at the Transgender Law Center.  She has also previously served as a founding Board member for Collective Action for Safe Spaces.

Stacey is pursuing a M.S.W. in Clinical Social Work at Smith College, where she was also elected Student Body President for 2012-2013.  Stacey has been awarded a graduate certificate in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from American University, and granted an undergraduate degree, Cum Laude, in Law and Constitutional Studies from Utah State University.

Cydne Kimbrough

Ms. Kimbrough is Founder and Director of the Gender Learning Advocacy Support System of Baltimore, Inc (GLASSBaltimore, Inc.) and a 2008 Open Society Institute Fellow.  Her educational foundation in counseling and human sexual behavior has provided a platform for her to excel as one of the nation's leading trainers/educators on gender and sexuality issues.  Ms. Kimbrough has been influential as an adviser on gender issues to various law enforcement, public health, and policy agencies  and is a regular guest lecturer on gender/sexuality to the departments of psychology, sociology, criminal justice, social work and medicine throughout the Universities of Maryland System.

Dan Massey (1942-2013)

A co- founder of VenusPlusX.org, Dan Massey is an independent activist committed to the creation of a New Age of liberty, freedom, justice, and equality for all people. He named this program Columbia, the traditional name of the supreme being of our American civil religion, who personifies these great ideals in our national consciousness. VenusPlusX is the project Dan employs to inform and uplift that social system, through education, training, advocacy, and communications to support and accelerate the New Age.

Mallory McLaren

Mallory is a third-year JD candidate at Seton Hall University School of Law in New Jersey, and is specializing in biotechnology legislation and regulatory policy. Since her teenage years she has involved herself in numerous types of advocacy for trans Americans to gain fair and equitable access to health care that they too often go without. Previously, Mallory has worked for the U.S. State Department and for the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF) in New York. She is an avid rower and vegetarian. 

Diego Sanchez

Diego Miguel Sanchez, APR, is Legislative Assistant to Congressman Barney Frank (MA-4) and is the first openly transgender person to work on Capitol Hill. His portfolio of issues includes Health and Human Services, LGBT Civil Rights, Labor, Veterans, Social Security, Federal Employees, The Postal Service and The Census.

With decades of social justice and civil rights advocacy, including marriage equality and pharmacy access to clean needles in Massachusetts and gender identity and expression anti-discrimination in Boston, Diego has nearly 30 years of award-winning experience in global public relations, marketing and diversity management at the world headquarters of Starwood Hotels, ITT Sheraton, The Coca-Cola Company, Holiday Inn Worldwide and Burson-Marsteller/NY. At ITT Corporation, he earned the Harold S. Geneen Award, the company’s highest honor for Unique Team Achievement.

Mark F. Scurti

Mark is a partner with Hodes, Pessin & Katz, P.A. headquartered in Towson Maryland where he heads the Same Sex Law practice group handling estate planning, adoption, name and gender changes, divorce and dissolution and custody matters.  He is Past President of the Bar Association of Baltimore City, Baltimore Bar Foundation, LGBT Bar of Maryland, Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland, and past Chair of the Maryland State Bar Association Consumer Bankruptcy Section. He has served on the MSBA Board of Governors, the National LGBT Bar Association board and chaired the Free State Legal Project, a clinic for low income L/G/B/T individuals across the state of Maryland that is opening in July 2011. He currently chairs the MSBA Local Specialty Bar Liaison Committee, serves on the executive council of the Bar Association of Baltimore City and as a Trustee on the Baltimore Bar Foundation. In his free time he serves as an adjunct professor at both the University of Baltimore and University of Maryland Schools of Law teaching Sexual Orientation and the Law.

Jessica Serensits

Jessica Serensits, a born and raised Washingtonian, first found her voice as an advocate for LGBT rights when she started using her theatre training in gender performance in the DC queer community.  A staunch proponent of queer, trans, and women’s rights, Jessica likes to explore expressions of feminism in all forms, and challenge everyday perceptions of gender roles, stereotypes, and expectations.  Legally married in DC in 2010 to her partner, Jessica views every day as an opportunity to incite thought, critical thinking, and discussion to help pave the way for creating positive change for everyone within the LGBT community. 

Melissa Sklarz

Melissa Sklarz became the first transgender person elected to office in New York in 1999 when she was elected Judicial Delegate from the 66th Assembly District. In 2004, Melissa became the first transgender person from New York to be part of the state delegation at the Democratic National Convention, by being appointed to the Credentials Committee and again on the Rules Committee in 2008. She helped bring civil rights to transgender people in New York City when INT 24 became law in 2002, served on the Working Group with the New York Human Rights Commission to flesh out the law, and has been a lobbying leader for GENDA (Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act) since the bill was developed. Melissa is a past president of Gay & Lesbian Ind. Democrats, and is now a vice president of Stonewall Democratic Club of New York. She served on the Board of National Stonewall Democrats for 8 years, the last 2 as Board Co-Chair.

Lise Van Susteren

A psychiatrist in private practice in Washington, DC, environmental activist. and former U.S. Senate candidate for Maryland



JD Warford, DVM

Since moving to Maryland from the deep south in 2001, the last decade has been a period of personal exploration, first with gender performance, and now branching into political activism for equal rights for all within the LGBT community.  In smaller circles, JD is known as a veterinarian and as an advocate for animals and disadvantaged communities and access to quality animal/veterinary care.  Education and working within the boundaries of each client's unique situation are hallmarks of JD's practice, and these same listening and critical thinking skills are the ones JD hopes to bring to this organization.  A smart activist is always up to shenanigans, and JD enjoys rejecting labels and tip-toeing on the lines that others have drawn- for all of us.