I have been a San Francisco resident and tenant for nearly fifteen years and I am proud to call it home. I fell in love with the City and the West Coast way-of-life after having been born and raised almost entirely on the East Coast, in the Washington, D.C. region. The Bay Area’s natural beauty, tolerance, and relaxed style hooked me from the moment I arrived. I know and understand from personal experience why so many people want to live here, and why so many tenants want to remain living here. It’s a great place to be alive.
I attended Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco, where the focus was on the public interest -- the “good guy” law. While in school, I was a member and editor of the Golden Gate University Law Review.
My interest in tenant law led me to become a volunteer attorney at the Eviction Defense Collaborative for about two years, where I was honored to receive the 2009 Advocate Award for outstanding contribution to tenants’ rights. I was also a member of the Eviction Defense Collaborative’s Board of Directors.
Before law school, I worked as a legislative staffer for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C., covering issues such as civil rights, the judiciary, foreign relations, defense and military, veterans’ affairs, financial matters, immigration, and others. Within those areas, I interacted with constituents, met with community leaders and other groups, drafted speeches, and monitored legislation. That fast-paced environment laid the foundation that allows me to competently handle the rigors of the practice of law.
I received a degree in Political Science from the University of Colorado at Boulder. I was also privileged to earn a certificate (much like a minor) in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies. I feel honored to be in the first graduating class of students to have received that certificate in the University’s history.
I visited San Francisco for the first time in November 1993. As I walked the neighborhoods that first day, I knew instantly I was home. Like many before me, I stayed and never looked back. I now tell people I was born a San Franciscan but just had to find my way here. In my case it was from the Muscle Shoals area of Alabama. My legacy from the South is a commitment to social justice, informed not just by my experience of being gay but through direct exposure to the pernicious legacy of segregation. When I was a kid my grandfather, a union iron worker his entire life, gave me a piece of advice that stuck with me and by which I work and live my life. He said to always stand up for the little guy, that’s how I would know I was on the right side of the fight.
Over the last fifteen years of practicing law I have zealously advocated for just that- vindication of the rights of those who too often find themselves on the losing end of powerful, resourceful and unscrupulous landlords or employers. I have seen for too many years the dark side of the Bay Area’s boom times, the wrenching dislocations and injustices visited on its best citizens. I therefore take great pride in delivering justice for my clients, whether in the form of six-figure resolutions to wrongful eviction or work termination cases, or by stopping evictions and keeping clients in their homes.
I graduated Cum Laude from San Francisco State University with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations. I was then deputy director of the HIV/AIDS Reentry and Empowerment Project at New College of California before and while pursuing my J.D. at New College School of Law. Upon graduation I immediately began work as a tenants’ rights lawyer, representing a wide range of clients whether they were defendants battling their landlords in eviction actions or plaintiffs suing their landlords for harassment or retaliation, habitability violations, roommate replacements or wrongful evictions. That advocacy work led me to representing employees unjustly terminated by their employers or denied or bilked out of their full wages, overtime pay, or meal and rest breaks. This is my life’s work, and it drives me to action every day.
I am honored to have received the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Certificate of Honor in recognition of my work in the HIV/AIDS community, as well the San Francisco Bar Association Justice and Diversity Center Outstanding Volunteer of the Year award for multiple years, most recently 2014 & 2015.
In addition to my work as an attorney, I am also a documentary filmmaker. My most recent film, Claiming the Title: Gay Olympics on Trial, is currently airing on PBS stations nationwide.