Celebrating the 2023 Fellows Upholding LGBTQ+ Rights

/ Blog Post

On May 10, we announced the 76 new Fellows in our 2023 class who will launch their public interest careers through an Equal Justice Works Fellowship of their own design later this year.

In honor of Pride month, we are highlighting some 2023 Equal Justice Works Fellows—Jack Pellicano, Henry MacDonald, and Ellie Rutkey—and their LGBTQ+ rights-focused projects.

Headshot of Jack Pellicano
Photo of Jack Pellicano

At Brooklyn Legal Services, Jack Pellicano (he/they/theirs) will provide tailored civil legal services to support the economic stability and mobility of Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Non-Binary (TGNCNB) young people living in New York City.

State legislators across the country are expressing intense hostility toward TGNCNB young people, dramatically increasing administrative violence against them. Although New York City has long been a beacon for LGBTQ+ people, there remains a wide gap between the content of New York City and State anti-discrimination laws and the lived experience of TGNCNB young people. The TGNCNB community continues to face rampant discrimination in public accommodations, the workplace, school, and housing—which contributes to cycles of poverty, criminalization, and homelessness faced by many. Jack’s project is designed to address these barriers, with the goal of maximizing the opportunities for TGNCNB young people to live a life filled with joy—beyond mere survival.

Headshot of Henry McDonald
Photo of Henry McDonald

At Justice Resource Institute, Henry McDonald (he/him/his) will provide low-barrier, trauma-informed legal services to young Boston-area queer and transgender people of color by establishing a community-based HIV prevention medical-legal partnership.

In Massachusetts, sharp racial disparities persist in measures of HIV risk: Hispanic/Latino individuals face nearly four times the risk of HIV infection compared to white individuals, while Black individuals face nearly eight times the risk of white individuals. By extending HLI’s legal services to the clients at Boston GLASS, Henry will work in tandem with GLASS professionals to address the health-harming legal needs that tend to place the GLASS client population at heightened risk of HIV infection.

Headshot of Ellie Rutkey
Photo of Ellie Rutkey

At The Door’s Legal Services Center, Ellie Rutkey (she/her/hers) will work at the intersection of housing justice and LGBTQ+ rights to help meet the fundamental needs of unhoused people living in New York City.

In New York City, there are over 7,000 unhoused young people. Despite the broad range of unmet needs that unhoused youth are likely to have, they are chronically underserved by legal providers and may not realize that some of the hardships they face have legal solutions. In response to this, Ellie will seek name change orders and orders of protection to advance the safety of youth who have experienced abuse; represent young people who have been denied public benefits in the fair hearing process; help unhoused youth access education by advocating with secondary schools and post-secondary institutions; and challenge gender-, ability-, or income-based discrimination by houseless shelters and by landlords.

To learn more about Equal Justice Works Fellows and alums supporting the LGBTQ+ community, visit here.

Learn more about becoming an Equal Justice Works Fellow