Board of Directors & Staff

Board of Directors

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Gabriel Blau
Co-Chair

Gabriel Blau is a nationally acclaimed advocate for LGBTQ families and their communities. For more than 15 years his work has focused on LGBTQ rights, faith, and equality. He served as the Executive Director of Family Equality Council where he and his team pursued a strategy to reframe the very notion of family values through policy, community engagement, and public education to expand the national conversation about children, parents, and what it means to support families in America.

He has been called “A Dad fighting for all dads” and has represented these issues on television, in newspapers, and in front of legislators. In 1998 he founded the God & Sexuality Conference at Bard College where he and his colleagues gathered scholars to write and present on religion, sexuality, and gender. He is currently a member of the board of advisors of the LGBT Religious Archives Network.

He was named one of The Advocate’s 40 Under 40 in 2014, and honored by the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City. He lives with his husband and their son in New York.

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Tanya Asapansa Walker

Tanya is a U.S Army Veteran and the co-founder of New York Transgender Advocacy Group (NYTAG). She currently facilitates the Transgender Women’s Group at SAGE, in their Midtown Manhattan location. Tanya fought for the expansion of LGBTQ rights in New York both working on campaigns focused on passing SONDA & GENDA. She lobbied the Assembly and Senate in Albany for 17 years, helping get gender identity added to existing human rights legislation through GENDA. Tanya helped create the Transgender Transitional Housing Program (TTHP) at Housing Works and helped to develop program protocols which included affirming documentation, life skills, and holding cultural sensitivity competency trainings for both staff and clients.

Tanya is proud member of NYC Metropolis Council with A Wider Bridge a Jewish American LGBT organization. She has been awarded the Legacy of Life Award by New York City Councilman Richie Torres; Woman of Distinction from the New York State Senate Senator Brian Benjamin, the Marsha P. Johnson award, and many more awards.

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Brian Esser

 

Brian Esser is a lawyer with a solo practice focusing on building families through adoption, surrogacy, and assisted reproductive technology.  He regularly works with clients pursuing private placement adoption, as well as families securing the parental rights of a non-biological parent through a second-parent adoption.  He also counsels families on sperm donor agreements, and other aspects of assisted reproductive technology.

Brian has served on the board of directors of the National LGBT Bar Foundation and served two terms as the board’s president.  He is a fellow of the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys, a member of New York Attorneys for Adoption and Family Formation, and a member of the American Bar Association’s Family Law Section Committees on Adoption and Assisted Reproductive Technology.  He has been recognized by his peers as a Super Lawyers Rising Star and one of the Top LGBT Lawyers under 40 by the National LGBT Bar Association.

He and his husband Kevin live in Park Slope, Brooklyn and have two sons through open adoption.

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Cathy Marino-Thomas

Cathy spent many years as a Buddy in the Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) Buddy Program visiting people afflicted with HIV/AIDS and assisting them with daily chores, advocacy and information.

She has worked on the issue of marriage equality since 1998.  Serving as Executive Director of Marriage Equality NY for 3 years (2005 - 2008) and Board President for 6 years.  After merging Marriage Equality NY with Marriage Equality USA 2011, she served as Co-President of Marriage Equality USA for 3 years, retiring in 2014.  Cathy has spoken all over the country about the  rights, privileges and obligations that protect families only through the right to civil marriage.

Currently serving as Steering Committee member and organizer for Gays Against Guns, Cathy connects with like minded activists across the country, creating new GAGs along the way. 

Cathy lives with her wife, Sheila and daughter Jacqueline. Sheila and Cathy have been together 25 years.  The family lives in Queens, New York.

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Victoria Rodriguez-Roldan

Victoria M. Rodríguez-Roldán is the Senior Policy Manager for AIDS United, where she brings her own unique intersectional specialties to the fight against the HIV epidemic. Particular areas of expertise and focus are the intersections of issues affecting people living at the intersections of transgender identity, disability and mental illness from a social justice lens. She frequently speaks on discrimination issues impacting the trans and disability communities. She has been profiled in multiple national media outlets and has been published in multiple academic outlets. Prior to joining AIDS United, she was senior policy counsel at the National LGBTQ Task Force where she led the Trans/GNC Justice Project and the Disability Justice Project. She currently serves in the board of directors of HIPS, an organization dedicated to harm reduction for sex work and drug use in the District of Columbia and of Equality New York, New York State’s leading LGBTQ equality organization. Victoria holds a B.A. in psychology with honors from the University of Puerto Rico, and a J.D. from the University of Maine School of Law. She lives in the Washington, DC area.

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Kristen Browde

Kristen had a long career as an Emmy award-winning journalist, including a 17-year stint as a correspondent and anchor at CBS News, during which time she also attended law school, founded her own law firm, became a Trustee of a $2.5 billion pension fund, had two children and moved from New York City to Chappaqua. It was April 2016, in an appearance at New York City's largest media and political charity event - the Inner Circle Dinner - when Kristen came out as transgender.  Her visibility and activism shot to an entirely new level.

Kristen is now the President of the LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York and serves as co‐chair of the National Trans Bar Association. Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed Kristen to the Steering Committee of the New York State Council on Women and Girls, and, after serving on his transition team, Westchester County Executive George Latimer appointed Kristen to the County's Women's Advisory Board.

She also serves on the Trans United Fund Political Action Committee and Princess Janae Place. If that weren't enough she's also been elected a District Leader in the Town of New Castle's Democratic Committee, and has served for the past 12 years as a Trustee of the AFTRA Pension Fund. A graduate of Cornell University she received her law degree from Fordham University School of Law. 

She has two sons; one abroad in college and one at home attending the public high school in

Staff

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Amanda Babine

Amanda has been working in the social sector for the last 10 years, focusing  on leading impactful campaigns and programs using an equity lens. She has been committed to improving policies and programs that will impact communities and believe that accomplishing this goal is dependent on developing strong research findings, transferring knowledge, and shaping sound policies.

Amanda joined Equality New York after being the Director of Policy & Programs at the New York Transgender Advocacy Group (NYTAG). At NYTAG, she led advocacy and organizing programs, a state-wide coalition, and a gender diversity know your rights curriculum development. During her time there, the coalition assisted in passing 4 landmark pieces of legislation that helped us move towards our goal of creating a more equitable state for all LGBTQI New Yorkers.

Prior to her role at NYTAG, she worked as the Director of Evaluate for Change, a small firm that trains organizations, foundations, and governmental social programs to use data and evaluation in their practice - building the capacity of the social sector from within. She came to Evaluate for Change after working for years evaluating large city-wide pilot programs with Columbia University and City University of New York. 

Amanda has a Master's in Social Work and Public Policy from Columbia University. She lives in New York City with her wife Hannah.