Dana Raphael ‘20
As many of you know, Lambda Law Alliance is the Law School’s LGBTQ+ student organization; providing professional, social, and academic support for LGBTQ+ students. But Lambda is more than just a student organization—Lambda is a family for both LGBTQ+ people and straight allies.
Relocating for law school is a daunting process for many students, especially those who identify as LGBTQ+. Our goal is to ensure that there is a supportive group ready to welcome these students when they arrive. In fact, Lambda was one of the reasons I was so excited to come to UVA Law. I attended Lambda’s welcome party during Admitted Students Weekend and was blown away by welcoming and friendly community. I left knowing that I had an immediate group of friends and mentors to lean on when I started my first year.
Our 14-member Executive Board works tirelessly to allow us to host a wide range of activities—from social events to career panels to networking events—and I am incredibly honored to be a part of such a wonderful group. My role on the board is Vice President, a new position this year, and my primary role is to support the President and other Board members on their projects. One of my responsibilities is managing Executive Board elections, and I am excited to oversee our transition from a plurality voting system to instant runoff voting.
Eleanora Kaloyeropoulou is the President of Lambda this year. She is a fantastic leader and has made great strides to promote Lambda across the Law School community. She knew every 1L almost instantly, not only their names but also their interests and backgrounds.
Hanaa Khan and Taz Jones are tasked with alumni and law firm relations. Among their responsibilities are coordinating the mentorship program, which matches Lambda members with practicing attorneys to discuss their careers and what it means to be LGBTQ+ in the legal profession. Taz and Hanna also worked together to plan an incredibly successful Career Day, which allowed 1L Lambda members to network with attorneys from a number of law firms.
Alex Downie and Alyssa Daniels are our social coordinators. They are responsible for planning many of our great events, including the Welcome Back Barbeque mixer with other graduate schools, the Charlottesville Pride brunch, movie nights, last week’s HalloQueen party, and Lambda’s famous Taste the Rainbow FebClub party, one of the most popular events of the month.
Adele Stichel is our Inclusivity Chair, another new position this year. Adele was an integral part of the “What I Wish I Had Known as a 1L” panel where she, along with other Lambda members Hanaa, Taz, Robbie Pomeroy, David Goldman, and Emmaline Rees provided 1Ls with tips about how to survive and succeed in law school.
Alex Viner is our Allyship Chair, working to engage more students around the school. He was a competitive ballroom dancer before law school and taught a fantastic dance class for straight and LGBTQ+ students. Alex helped organize our “Bring an Ally” potluck and plans to host mixers with other student groups as the year progresses.
Chandler Walpole and Michael Denton are our Programming Chairs. Chandler is the representative of the LGBT Bar, both for our law school and the tristate area. She plans monthly events based off themes from the LGBT Bar. In September she led an event where students told stories of times they felt uncomfortable being LGBTQ+ at the Law School and discussed strategies to make the Law School more inclusive. This October, she and Michael are planning an event around the history and politics behind the concept of coming out. Michael organizes the student mentorship program, pairing 1Ls with 2Ls and 3Ls who have similar backgrounds for informal mentorship and friendship. He also leads our inaugural book club, where we most recently read “Covering” by Kenji Yoshino. Michael and Chandler also worked to table with the Domestic Violence Project to raise money for domestic violence shelters that support LGBTQ+ people.
Joe LoPresti is our Communications Chair. He is responsible for collecting and disseminating news about Lambda events and other event of interest within the Law School community. One of the most popular features of his emails (besides the lovely use of color and highlighting) is the “In the News” section, where he shares important news about LGBTQ+ rights worldwide—a great resource for learning about topics ranging from the role of tech companies in censoring LGBTQ+ content to U.S. policy on granting visas to same-sex couples.
Taylor Mitchell is our VP of Finance, managing a large budget provided by the Law School and our nearly 70 dues-paying members. Lambda usually hosts at least two events per week, and sometimes as many as four, meaning money changes hands often. Taylor is an integral part of Lambda, and our organization would not be able to function without him managing the budget, collecting receipts, and ensuring our bills are paid on time.
Jameil Brown and Jess Feinberg are our 1L Representatives. As new members of Lambda and the Executive Board, they keep us informed of what’s going on in the 1L class, share their perspectives, and suggest areas for improvement. They will be planning a canned food drive this November for the Law School.
Lambda continues to grow each year as more LGBTQ+ identifying students come to the Law School. Just a few short years ago the number of out LGBTQ+ students at the school was merely four; now LGBTQ+ students represent between eight and ten percent of each incoming class. As the student population continues to grow, so will Lambda.