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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Outserve-SLDN expands Legal Services Department in anticipation of increasing calls
From a press release
2017-04-28

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( WASHINGTON ) April 28, 2017 — Today, OutServe-SLDN announced the hiring of a new staff member for the legal services department and the creation of a new staff attorney position that will vastly expand the ability and scope of work that OutServe-SLDN can accomplish.

SLDN was founded in 1993 to provide legal services for service members being discharged under Don't Ask Don't Tell. Since repeal in 2011 we have expanded and modified our work to include service members, veterans and their families," explained OutServe-SLDN executive director Matt Thorn. "Today we are expanding our capabilities to ensure we have the resources to respond to the growing threats to open service, the increase in discrimination and restoring the honor of service members discharged under DADT that we see every day — more than 80 cases this year alone. The addition of new staff and the expansion of our mandate through strategic collaborations are a signal that we will not retreat from our mission to protect and defend the LGBT servicemembers, veterans and their families who protect and defend our nation."

The new OutServe-SLDN staff member is Felipe Rendon. Felipe started this month as Legal & Policy Associate. Felipe joins Legal Director Peter Perkowski and Legal & Policy Manager Andy Blevins on the expanded Legal Services team. Felipe completed his bachelor's degree in Political Science and Government at New York University ( NYU ) in 2011. There, he was active in Latinos Unidos Con Honor y Amistad, a student organization that strives to unify, educate and empower Latinos within NYU as well as their communities. Felipe was accepted into Willamette University School of Law in 2015 where he spent his first year as a full-time Child Advocacy Paralegal for the Oregon Department of Justice. He previously clerked at the Public Defender's office in Dallas, Oregon.

Felipe is now a student at Willamette and has become one of the most active student leaders on campus. He is the founding Editor-in-Chief of the Willamette University Law Journal of Social Justice and Equity, which he established to "give a voice" to those Oregonians who are engaged in legal and academic work surrounding social justice issues. In addition to his work with the Journal, Felipe is also an active member of the Hispanic Law Association which advocates for higher education in the Latino community and will be President of the organization starting next fall. In April of 2017, Felipe became the first Daniel P. Santos Scholar at his law school, in recognition of his academic and extracurricular efforts surrounding public interest and social justice. ( Photo Available Below ).

With Felipe joining the team, OutServe-SLDN also announced an expansion of the legal services department to include the hiring of a new staff attorney before the end of 2017. The new position will be posted shortly at www.outserve-sldn.org and resumes will be accepted until the position is filled.

"Despite all of our remarkable progress, our work is not done," Thorn added. "We know that the current political climate means we must redouble our efforts to continue our role as the leading legal & advocacy organization for the LGBT military community. We're committed to building the resources required to ensure we can be there to advocate for any LGBT servicemember, veteran or family who needs our assistance."

In the coming months, OutServe-SLDN will also announce the addition of three new pro bono legal partners, an expansion that will allow the organization to provide counsel on a wider set of challenges that impact the LGBT military community now more than ever before.

OutServe-SLDN ( OS-SLDN ) is the largest legal, advocacy and policy non-profit organization dedicated to bringing about full LGBT equality to America's military and ending all forms of discrimination and harassment of military personnel on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. With more than fifty chapters and 60,000 subscribers around the world, OS-SLDN supports a professional network of LGBT military personnel and strives to create an environment of respect in the military with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity. OS-SLDN provides free and direct legal assistance to service members and veterans affected by the repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law and the prior regulatory ban on open service, as well as those currently serving who may experience harassment or discrimination. For more information, visit www.outserve-sldn.org .


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