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.
Ben comes to Equality Maryland from the Johns Hopkins University. He is majoring in English, and minoring in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Graduating next spring, Ben hopes to continue his work in non-profit advocacy and public policy. He spent the past semester interning for Congressman Dan Kildee through the Victory Congressional Internship Program. In DC, Ben also worked briefly for Crossroads Campaigns, canvassing for the Supreme Court rally. As a co-president of Johns Hopkins' Diverse Sexuality and Gender Alliance (DSAGA), Ben has worked to develop a Safe Zone Training Program, writing the cirriculum and organizing the trainings with two other students, who were overseen by faculty including the Dean of Students. Ben also took part in the writing of a proposal for a Johns Hopkins LGBT Resource Center, which was recently approved by the President of the school and is in development now.
At Equality Maryland, Ben works to expand our website resources and their accessability by reseaching the legal transition process and by translating our material into Spanish (to come soon!). Last summer, Ben also worked with us, when he wrote a report on the Treatment of Trans and Gender Non-Conforming People by Baltimore City Police and the Department of Corrections. As he did last fall, Ben plans to stay at Equality Maryland as a part-time intern throughout his senior year. Ben enjoys rock climbing, painting, playing with his cats, Pabu and Naga, and watching James Bond movies.