After graduating with her A.A. in criminal justice and a B.A. in sociology from Minot State University (North Dakota), Evans went on to earn a M.A. in sociology from Southern Illinois University (Carbondale). From there she went to law school at Osgoode Hall Law School (Toronto) and graduated with her J.D. in 1997. In law school Evans specialized in Aboriginal/First Nations law and worked in her home province with the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) in implementing a treaty land entitlement agreement between the federal and provincial governments and seventy-two of the First Nations in her home province of Saskatchewan.
Her first job after her post-secondary education took her to Baton Rouge, Louisiana where she was the Director of Direct Services at the Battered Women’s Program. While in Louisiana, she served on the Executive Committee of the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence and was the Board President of the Lambda Community Center in Baton Rouge. Additionally, Evans served on the Board and was Co-Chair of the Louisiana Lesbian and Gay Political Action Caucus (LAGPAC). Evans moved to the Washington D.C. area in 2001 to work as the State Legislative Lawyer at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. From here she went to the Human Rights Campaign to serve as their state legislative lawyer. She was promoted to State Legislative Director in 2005.
Evans was recruited by Equality Maryland (the state’s LGBT rights organization) in 2007 to serve as the organization’s policy director. She occupied this position during the time the state’s high court issued its ruling that it did violate the equality provisions of the state constitution to deny same-sex couples a marriage license. She held this position until 2009. After taking some time off, Evans shifted gears and began work with Baltimore’s Housing Department as a policy analyst. Evans returned to Equality Maryland in December 2011 to lead the organization. In March 2012 the General Assembly passed The Civil Marriage Protection Act, making Maryland the 8th state to pass a marriage equality bill. Evans served on the Executive Committee of Marylanders for Marriage Equality, the campaign that successfully defended this law on the November 2012 ballot.
Vanessa comes to Equality Maryland after graduating from Morgan State University, in Baltimore, with her B.S. in Telecommunications; and is currently working towards her M.A. in Publications Design from the University of Baltimore. Vanessa served as the President of Morgan State’s gay straight alliance, Rainbow Soul, for three years, and in 2007, she had the pleasure of speaking at the formal introduction of the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act. Vanessa became an intern for Equality Maryland in the summer of 2008, and assisted with the outreach for the then newly established Maryland Black Family Alliance (MBFA). Vanessa has worked in LGBT advocacy for the last 6 years, and has over 12 years of customer service and administrative experience. One of Vanessa’s proudest accomplishments is her co-creation of the annual LGBT Awareness Week at Morgan State University. Pride and Soul Week was founded to raise awareness on the historically black campus of the struggles LGBT people face; and was designed to bridge the gap between LGBT and heterosexual students, faculty and staff at the University. Because of her work on campus, Vanessa was awarded the Resident Assistant of the year, Outstanding Junior Woman and the prestigious Rainbow Soul Outstanding Leadership Award.
Owen Smith comes to Equality Maryland after several years of experience organizing on issues of gender identity and expression. He has taught workshops on various sex and gender issues for the last five years at gatherings on the East Coast. Owen has been producing and performing in a gender performance troupe called the Charm City Boys for eight years. He is also one of the founding members of Baltimore's Team Trans, a grassroots group aimed at raising awareness and conducting trans-positive trainings. Owen is excited to bring a creative and innovative perspective to Equality Maryland. Owen is motivated to do social justice work because of the many ways in which oppression impacts various populations. His goal is to build strong programs and active, working coalitions in order to create real change and reach the goal of gender equality.
Join Equality Maryland as we celebrate the Capital Pride Street Festival on Pennsylvania Avenue between 3rd and 7th Streets. The Festival is DC’s largest annual one-day event with over 150,000 visitors, almost 300 sponsor & vendor exhibits, three stages, two beverage gardens, a family area, Taste AT Pride, Art in Pride and numerous food vendors offering a huge selection of various cuisines. We'll have a table set-up for all of your EQMD swag needs, make sure to stop by!
All are welcome at The Interfaith Fairness Coalition of Maryland's annual Pride Interfaith Service held at Metropolitan Community Church of Baltimore on Thursday June 13th at 7:30pm.