Lambda Legal Chief Strategy Officer Sharon McGowan to Receive American Bar Association Stonewall Award

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October 19, 2018
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Lambda Legal Chief Strategy Officer Sharon McGowan
Lambda Legal Chief Strategy Officer Sharon McGowan

“We are very proud of Sharon for this well-deserved honor. She has truly distinguished herself as an outstanding legal advocate for the LGBT community."

The American Bar Association (ABA) announced today Lambda Legal Chief Strategy Officer Sharon McGowan will receive the 2019 Stonewall Award.

Named after the New York City Stonewall Inn rebellion of June 28, 1969, the award recognizes lawyers who have considerably advanced lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in the legal profession and successfully championed LGBT legal causes. To be awarded at a ceremony in Las Vegas, Nevada, on January 26, 2019, McGowan will receive the award along with Mary Eaton and Mark Agrast.

“We are very proud of Sharon for this well-deserved honor. She has truly distinguished herself as an outstanding legal advocate for the LGBT community. A great leader not only on our Lambda Legal team but also in the LGBT movement, we are excited that American Bar Association is recognizing her many years of hard work and dedication, said Richard Burns, Lambda Legal Interim CEO. “Whether it was working inside the Justice Department to ensure the rights of same-sex couples after the Windsor decision or overseeing Lambda Legal’s work to keep that same government from rolling back those protections, Sharon McGowan has been a fierce, unwavering champion of LGBT people.”

“I am very grateful to the American Bar Association for selecting me as one of this year’s Stonewall Award honorees, placing me in the company of so many mentors and friends in the LGBT movement,” said Sharon McGowan, Lambda Legal Chief Strategy Officer. “Throughout my career, I have had the great fortune of working with some of the most talented LGBT attorneys in the country, and have also had the honor of representing some of the bravest LGBT people I have ever known.  Without them, so much of what we have accomplished as a community would not have been possible.  While it has been difficult to watch the current administration attempt to undermine the progress that we have made, I feel extremely fortunate to be at Lambda Legal, where I can channel my energies and my passion for justice in service of the LGBT community.”

Sharon joined Lambda Legal in February 2017 as its Director of Strategy, and established Lambda Legal’s Washington, D.C. office. Prior to joining Lambda, McGowan served as the Principal Deputy Chief of the Appellate Section of the Civil Rights Division in Department of Justice.  In addition to supervising attorneys working on a broad range of civil rights appellate matters in the U.S. Supreme Court and federal courts of appeals, McGowan advised Department leadership on high-profile and sensitive litigation and policy matters relating to sexual orientation and gender identity, and served as co-chair of the Division’s Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Working Group.

Earlier in her career, McGowan was a Staff Attorney with the ACLU's Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project. While at the ACLU, McGowan was lead counsel in Schroer v. Billington (D.D.C.), which resulted in a landmark ruling that Title VII's prohibition on sex discrimination also protects individuals who are undertaking or have undertaken a gender transition. Prior to joining the ACLU, McGowan was an associate in the Washington, D.C., office of Jenner & Block, where she was part of the litigation team that worked with Lambda Legal on Lawrence v. Texas, which resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court striking down all remaining sodomy laws as unconstitutional.

McGowan served as a law clerk to the Honorable Norman H. Stahl, U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and as a law clerk to the Honorable Helen G. Berrigan, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. McGowan graduated with honors from Harvard Law School in 2000, and graduated with honors from the University of Virginia in 1995.