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Your Voice Matters


It’s almost time to vote! Your voice matters in selecting the people who will lead BALIF as members of the Board.

Voting will be open  April 4, 2019  to elect the BALIF Board of Directors for 2019-2020! We have a fabulous and diverse group of candidates this year!

Elections will be online from April 4 until 4 pm on April 18. You can also vote in person at the BALIF Annual Meeting and Election Happy Hour on Thursday (April 18) at the Sausage Factory from 6 - 8:30 pm. In-person voting will end at 7 pm, and the election results will be announced at the end of the meeting.

Check your inbox (and spam folder) for your personalized e-ballot. If you don't receive your e-ballot on April 4, please email balif@balif.org.

BALIF is proud to present your candidates for the BALIF Board below.

* = Board Incumbent    

Women Candidates for 4 Open Positions:
  • Christine Capuyan
  • Mandy Chan
  • Amanda Hamilton
  • Christina Lee
  • Annick Persinger*
  • Ana Luz Vazquez
  • Adonica Wada
GNC/Non-Binary Candidates for 4 Open Positions (only 2 candidates running):
  • Ari Jones
  • Prerna Lal
Men Candidates for 4 Open Positions:
  • Stephan Ferris*
  • Mark Fickes
  • Daniel Galindo
  • Michael Nguyen
  • Ming Wong
Law Student Candidates for 1 Open Position (Woman):                      
  • Ava Agree
  • Najwa Alsheikh

Law Student Candidate for 1 Open Position (GNC/non-binary):    

  • Virginia Millacci
Law Student Candidates for 1 Open Position (Man): 
  • Dean Brower
  • Taylor Galusha
  • Josiah Pak


Women: 7 Candidates for 4 Positions

Name Statement

Christine Capuyan

Greetings BALIF Members! 

My name is Christine Capuyan and I’m a second-generation Filipina-American lesbian IP attorney that has been out and proud during all of my professional law firm life, which has spanned four different big firms (Gunderson Dettmer, WilmerHale, White & Case, and Wilson Sonsini) and the two main legal practice areas (litigation and transactions).  I have been an active member of various firm-internal and external Asian-American, women’s and LGBTQ+ legal professional committees and groups and have organized various panels and participated in various mentorship programs designed to promote diversity within the legal community.  Currently, I have been particularly focused on launching projects designed to celebrate and promote intersectional diversity and, if elected to the BALIF Board, will look to drive collaborations among BALIF and other diverse and inclusive professional groups to find new and creative ways to tap into and cultivate the extremely rich diversity of thought, opinion, and experiences upon which our society as a whole and our legal profession thrives. 

On a personal note, I am obsessed with unicorns, Lady Gaga, purple, lime green, and office toys.

Mandy Chan

Hello BALIF!  My name is Mandy Chan, and I am a white collar associate at DLA Piper.  I serve as a co-chair of the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA)’s LGBTQ Committee and on the Board of Directors of the Pride Law Fund.  In addition, I currently serve as vice-chair of the U.S. chapter of Iris, my firm’s LGBTQ Resource Group, as well as vice-chair of the San Francisco chapter of LAW, my firm’s Women’s Resource Group.

I have been an active BALIF member since returning to San Francisco after law school.  Through BALIF’s Mentorship Program, I gained an amazing mentor in former Board member, Jamie Dupree, whose experience and advice have been invaluable as I navigate my career.  Through BALIF networking events and the Annual Galas, I have met friends and colleagues who have enriched my personal life and practice.  In 2017, I worked with BALIF to organize the Law Student & Attorney Reception at Lavender Law, where I met many upcoming leaders of our community.  Suffice to say that BALIF has played an important role in my professional and personal development.

I am running for the BALIF Board because I want to ensure that BALIF remains the epicenter where LGBTQ+ lawyers of all stripes can come together to do the vital work of fostering relationships, reporting on legal trends, and advocating for legal reform.  If elected, my goal would be to ensure BALIF does so while remaining a collaborative, respectful, and supportive forum that is inclusive of transgender and queer people of color.  

It would be my honor to receive your vote.

Amanda Hamilton

I am running for the board because I want safeguard BALIF’s survival, as the nation's oldest and largest LGBTQ+ bar association. Now more than ever, we need a progressive and collaborative board who can navigate the complex race, class, gender, and sexuality politics that affect the organization’s ability to persist through criticism and divisions both within and outside BALIF.  I’m committed to improving and re-building BALIF, and I hope to do so as a member of your board.

Over the course of nearly a decade living in San Francisco as a law student and attorney, I have been actively involved in organizations that help and empower women, immigrants, people experiencing homelessness and chronic health conditions, elders, and the queer community.  Through direct client services and stakeholder research with ALRP, TLC, Open Door Legal, APILO, and the San Francisco Planning Department, among others, I have endeavored to be an advocate for our intersectional queer community.  

I hope these experiences, combined with my prior organizational leadership, would allow me to be a valuable addition to the board.  I appreciate your time and consideration.

Christina Lee

My name is Christina H. Lee, and I am one of the founding partners at Becker & Lee LLP.  My business partner (Camiel Becker) and I are both LGBT and we started our immigration firm in January 2013.  Our office is currently located in downtown Oakland.  My primary focus area is removal defense (detained and non-detained case), criminal immigration, asylum, humanitarian visas and working as appointed counsel by the DOJ to represent detained clients with mental health issues. I have also been a volunteer “of counsel” with NCLR (National Center of Lesbian Rights) for the last 7 years where I represent NCLR clients in asylum and removal proceedings.   

I am extremely active in AILA, American Immigration Lawyer’s Association, and am on the AILA Norcal’s advisory council as one of the co-liaisons to the San Francisco Immigration Court.  After 15 years in practice, I am now hoping to expand my professional network beyond the immigration bar and partner and collaborate with LGBT attorneys in the Bay Area.

I am Korean American and identify as a lesbian female and prefer “she/her” pronouns. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. Thank you.

Annick Persinger*

Hi BALIF! I am your current Co-chair and past Judiciary Chair, and with your vote, would like to continue to my commitment to BALIF—an organization that we all love.

For the last two years, I have used my breadth of experience as a queer-femme partner in a national plaintiff side law firm and a long-time LGTBQI advocate, to ensure that BALIF remains the powerful political voice that it is.  

Using that voice during my term, BALIF succeeded on many political battle grounds in resistance to the current administration by releasing regular statements in opposition to backlash against our community, sponsoring CCBA resolutions that later became law, programming, endorsing qualified judicial candidates, participating in community activism, and above all—backing up our commitment to anti-racism, anti-sexism, anti-transphobia, and intersex visibility and rights.

It would be my pleasure and privilege to continue serving on the BALIF board and I am glad to see people re-engaging with this important and impactful organization!

Ana Luz Vazquez

My name is Ana Luz Vazquez and I’m running for the BALIF board as a female candidate. I’ve been practicing law since 2011. I started my legal career in civil litigation and now I run my own firm doing immigration law with a focus on removal defense. I’ve worked at Positive Resource Center, API Legal Outreach, Bay Area Legal Aid, and some private firms. 

I’m passionate about my work. I believe no human is illegal. I believe in the total abolishment of borders, which are a construct created by European colonizers in indigenous land. If elected, I hope to not only have a seat at the table but have a voice. A voice that is heard, valued, and most importantly respected. I hope to be elected not just as a token of diversity. 

I believe BALIF has great potential. I believe the organization has done a lot of great work, but we must never forget to want and expect more.  If elected I hope to be part of a new identity for BALIF, one that is inclusive, diverse, welcoming, not just in writing but in actions.

Adonica Wada

Candidate Name: Adonica Wada
Present Position: VP, Regulatory Affairs & Compliance
Organization: Planet Labs

I am excited to run for the 2019 BALIF Board to bring my passion and interest in working with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTQI) persons in the field of law. Throughout my career, I have worked to strengthen, promote and advocate for the LGBTQI community. From starting the LGBTQI student law association in law school to serving as a commissioner with the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) commission with the American Bar Association, I am committed to raising awareness and visibility of our community, addressing the important issues that affect LGBTQI persons, partnering with our allies and helping BALIF to continue focusing on inclusiveness and intersectionality. It is important to continue and build upon the great work of BALIF and I would be honored to help drive that effort. I have served on a number of boards and will bring my years of experience, my extended network and a sense of humor to strengthen and promote the BALIF mission. Thank you for your consideration.


Name Statement
Ari Jones

My name is Ari Jones and I am running to join the BALIF Board. I am an out and proud nonbinary, transgender, queer, Bay Area native, immigration attorney and I would love to take a leading role in BALIF! I joined BALIF as a first-year student at UC Berkeley Law in 2015. I have attended the annual gala for three out of the last four years (sadly I was in D.C. in the spring of 2017). I have also participated as a mentee in the mentorship program for two years. In my free time, I perform drag and help to organize the Oaklash drag festival. For my day job, I work at Oasis Legal Services representing LGBTQ+ asylum-seekers and asylees applying for their green cards and social services. I work with some of the most disadvantaged and discriminated-against queer populations in the Bay Area. I hope to bring their voices, and my own experiences as a young trans lawyer, to the BALIF Board. If you have any questions about my candidacy or my work, please reach out at ari.jones@oasislegalservices.org. Thank you for your consideration!

Prerna Lal

I’m a queer, formerly undocumented immigrant hailing from the beautiful islands of Fiji, a home that we were forced to flee when I was an angsty teenager struggling with queer identity politics in a place that did not even understand the concept of queer, let alone gender non-conforming. In the past eighteen years, I have worked really hard to create a home for myself in a place that feels increasingly unwelcoming. Due to my own situation, I found myself advocating for immigrant, LGBT and broader civil rights throughout high school, college and law school, while fighting for my own right to live with my family (both my parents and my same-sex partner). I created a national undocumented youth organization, DreamActivist, in my early 20s, that led to widespread transformation in the lives of over a million people. As far as previous board experience goes, I most recently served on the board of national organizations such as Immigration Equality and Astraea Lesbian Foundation. I’m interested in focusing on things closer to home and serving on amicus and social justice related committees as BALIF Board Member.

I recently became a U.S. citizen after having to fight my own deportation. Having spent over 18 years here, I identify as a Bay Area local. In my spare time (essentially a joke when one is an immigration attorney), I’m working on an upcoming book on immigrant rights and LGBT activism, and I’m an avid (queer) comics collector. I’m happily married to a brilliant woman who fights Nazis for a living, and we’ve just adopted a poodle-mix, Rosie, whom we both love. Thank you in advance for your support.

MEn: 5 Candidates for 4 Positions

Name Statement
Stephan Ferris*


I am a queer, HIV-positive, and polyamorous Leatherman, who has been involved with BALIF for the past 3 years. As an incumbent BALIF board member, I look forward to continuing to work with BALIF on its broader programming as well as representing portions of our community who do not otherwise have representation on the BALIF board. I’m open about who I am because I know that active visibility combats stigma. 

During my past three years with BALIF, I led numerous efforts including producing events with Bay Area law schools and LGBTQI+ organizations, chairing the social committee, and serving as Community Ambassador. In 2017, BALIF recognized my contributions by nominating me for the National LGBT Bar Association Student Leadership Award. 

I also take part in serving our community through activities outside of BALIF. For example, I have worked on numerous publications and participated in many speaking engagements related to LGBTQI+ issues. My most recent project is set to be published in Edwards Elgar’s Law and Society 2019 series, and, at this year's California Conference of Bar Associations, I plan to use my research compiled for this publication to advocate for an affirmative defense of consent for BDSM practitioners. 

I previously served as the ambassador for Mr. Friendly, an international grassroots movement focused on reducing the stigma associated with HIV, encouraging testing, and improving the quality of life for those living with HIV in friendly ways. I used this platform to raise awareness around treatment issues regarding PrEP and Treatment as Prevention (“TasP”) in sex-positive and sex-affirming ways. 

Having had the opportunity to be a part of BALIF, I know what it takes to be an effective and fair board member. And while I recognize that BALIF has done so much for our community, I know that there are still many things BALIF can do to make our organization more inclusive, such as working on efforts to support all individual freedoms, including consensual sexual autonomy and expression.

I look forward to bringing my unique experience to the BALIF board and helping BALIF to continue pushing boundaries while also keeping BALIF an enjoyable and meaningful organization for its members to spark joy.

Mark Fickes

I am Mark Fickes. I am a partner at Cannata, O’Toole, Fickes & Olson LLP. I have been practicing law for more than 23 years with a focus on civil and criminal regulatory enforcement actions. My husband and I are the parents of twins who will be starting high school this fall.

I first joined BALIF in 1992 as a new law school student. Admittedly, my involvement in BALIF decreased after the birth of my children in 2004. When I recently learned of some of the challenges facing BALIF’s leadership, I took it as a call to action and an opportunity to bring my leadership skills to a wonderful organization that has meant so much to me and my friends over the years.

I have extensive experience serving on nonprofit boards. Over a ten year period, I served as a board member, Vice President, and then President of my synagogue in Oakland. In fact, I was one of the first, if not the first, openly gay men to serve as a synagogue President in the East Bay. I was involved the movement to endorse the Committee on Jewish Laws and Standards’ December 6, 2006 decision to allow the ordination of gays and lesbians in the rabbinate and to permit “Conservative” rabbis to perform commitment ceremonies before marriage equality became the law. Later, as President, I worked tirelessly to embrace the intersectionality in our community, spearheading efforts to make the synagogue a warm and welcoming place for members of the LGBTQIAAP community, for people of color, for interfaith families, and for all others. As President, I also learned to make board meetings a safe space where all could express a diversity of viewpoints in an open, honest and inclusive way, even when some viewpoints were not popular. Today, with the presidency behind me, my work continues with a focus on combatting anti-Semitism. Additionally, I served as a board member and Vice President of Contra Costa Jewish Day School for six years while my children were students there.

As a trial lawyer, small business owner and dad, I know how to juggle a variety of tasks and get things done, always with an eye toward making sure all voices are included and heard. I would sincerely enjoy the opportunity to serve BALIF and the LGBTQIAAP community by being a member of the BALIF Board, and appreciate your consideration. Together, we can address the challenges currently facing BALIF as it goes through this transitional time.

 Daniel Galindo

For all that BALIF has offered me, I would like to give back by serving on the Board.  As a person of color, I hope to continue inspiring other people of color (POC) to become more active in LGBT organizations, including BALIF and beginning with their respective law school organization. 

I also plan to work with law students and new attorneys to understand what is needed to give students and lawyers of color a sense of inclusion in this organization and the legal profession.  I also will endeavor to increase opportunities for collaboration, camaraderie, and growth between and among different legal fields within the organization.

As for who I am, I am a new employment lawyer with a civil rights background.  Prior to law school I organized community around LGBTQ and immigrants’ rights issues at the ACLU.  Before Dan Savage went viral for “It Gets Better,” I was organizing workshops in libraries and community centers throughout Northern and Central California, including as far north as Redding and as far south as Visalia, for students, teachers, administrators, and parents about the protections LGBTQ students have in schools and how to stand up for their rights.  I am committed to public service I would be delighted to serve our community through this organization.

Michael Nguyen

I have shaped boards and organizations as a servant leader for over two decades.  I am running for BALIF Board because I see a deep need for an intersectional approach to leading the country’s largest and oldest LGBTQI Bar Association.  I believe, as lawyers, we have a special responsibility to build and support our LGBTQI community. 

As chair of the Gay Asian Pacific Alliance (GAPA) since 2017, I have empowered LGBTQ Asian and Pacific Islanders to be seen and celebrated in the world.  As a board member with the Vietnamese American Bar Association of Northern California (VABANC), vice chair of the LGBTQ Sub Committee of the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA), and member of the membership committee of BALIF many moons ago, I feel well-qualified to take on the unique issues of leading BALIF through an intersectional and inclusive lens. 

Active in the SF Nightlife scene, I perform regularly as my drag persona, Juicy Liu (@juicyliurealness), and I sang Mariah Carey’s “Hero” at the 2018 BALIF Gala. I organized and created spaces for Queer and Trans liberation that are both powerful and fun! BALIF is uniquely situated to advocate for the LGBTQ community while also serving as a much-needed space to advance and cultivate our professional careers through networking and mentoring. I am committed to a more just and equitable world, and, with our collective and individual contributions, BALIF will continue to inspire attorneys and legal professionals to create that future.  Thank you for voting!

Ming Wong

I am running for a board position at BALIF because I believe we have a key role to play as LGBTQ lawyers defending the social and legal gains made by the LGBTQ and other movements. As a bar association in a place that has for a long time been a place LGBTQ people gathered and organized for rights and protections, BALIF has a long history of advocacy and experience to draw on both from its members and the community generally. I have worked at the National Center for Lesbian Rights for ten years, including on our asylum work for the last four years, and have seen the importance of building connections with other movements and organizations for our success. As a boardmember I hope to maintain and build these connections for BALIF to make it a more effective and accountable organization for the advancement of all in our community, especially those who are targeted by multiple forms of oppression, including racism, economic exploitation, ableism, anti-semitism, xenophobia, and sexism.

LAw Student Woman: 2 Candidates for 1 Position

Name Statement
Ava Agree

Ava Agree is a first-year law student at UC Hastings where she focuses on criminal defense and appellate advocacy.  As a queer and transgender woman, Ava was inspired to attend law school to pursue a career as an advocate for other LGBTQIA+ individuals. Before law school, Ava worked for seven years as a university admissions counselor focusing on international student admissions and issues of equity and access in the college admissions process. Ava’s accomplishments in her equity work include spearheading a capital campaign to endow a scholarship for undocumented students, creating pipelines to college for formerly incarcerated people, and serving as a staff advisor to multiple LGBTQIA+ student organizations.

Since beginning law school, Ava has continued her advocacy work with the mission of providing legal advocacy to marginalized communities. She works with the Prisoner Action Network as an advocate for incarcerated queer and trans people.  She also serves as a facilitator for the UC Hastings Immigration Court Observation Program.  For her 1L summer, in addition to her work as a research assistant focusing on appellate issues in criminal law at UC Hastings, Ava will be working as a Law Clerk at the Contra Costa Public Defender’s Office.  In her free time, Ava is an avid endurance athlete, competing in long course triathlon and ultra-marathon events and serving as an advocate for other transgender athletes.  As a BALIF board member, Ava plans to work on behalf of other trans and gender-nonconforming law students and lawyers. 

Najwa Alsheikh

My name is Najwa Alsheikh and I am a 2L at Berkeley Law School and I hope to serve BALIF as a law student board member. I am a Middle Eastern woman and a lesbian and I enjoy committee work and local volunteering. I was previously a legal clerk at the National Center for Lesbian Rights in San Francisco, and I have served for two years as a student director for the Berkeley Law Foundation, which allocates scholarships to students of color who have financial need. I would like to bring my experience with race and class-conscious committee work to my service for BALIF. 

As a member of Berkeley Law's Queer Caucus, I helped organize an event for lesbian and bisexual women, and I would enjoy helping to create more women-centered events within BALIF's organizing. I am particularly interested in creating events for low-income women within our community, as we can often feel sidelined by a lack of funds and a lack of time to attend events. This requires some creative organizing, and I am up for the challenge. 

I recognize BALIF has undergone some recent transformations within its Board structure, and I am hopeful I can add positive contributions to BALIF as the organization moves forward and continues to be an important part of our LGBTQ legal community.


Name Statement
Virginia Millacci

As a loud, brown, and proud queer non-binary Filpinx femme, I’ve struggled to see myself in the field of law. However, after attending a QTPOC networking brunch hosted by BALIF, I realized that I fit into this profession. I’m applying to be a 3L representative because I want to give back to community, just like BALIF gave to me.

At the brunch, I met a vivacious group of QTPOC lawyers who didn’t laugh at or judge me as I took hot sauce out of my bag, but instead enjoyed the heat with me. We spoke of difficult topics such of struggle and joy in the field of law with genuine, compassionate curiosity and love. It was a short time we’d spent together, but it was the moment I realized I can be an attorney and have community. As a student representative, I would like to keep these community-centered, career driven spaces going.

Prior to law school, I directed various projects, including voter persuasion and volunteer recruitment field plans implemented in all four same-sex marriage campaigns in 2012, resources and training with Riverside Rape Crisis Center to support LGBT sexual assault and rape survivors, the National LGBTQ Task Force Power Summit on Trans Justice in 2015, and campaigns focused on abortion access, vaccination education, and affordable housing. In BALIF, I hope to bring my project management skills to organize events centered on practical needs such as wage negotiation, sustainability, interviewing, and how to fit radical community organizing experience into law.


Name Statement
Dean Brower

I am a 2L at Berkeley Law. Originally from Washington, I moved to Berkeley for law school. After expressing my desire to develop roots in the Bay Area’s LGBTQ community, a friend suggested that I join BALIF. My experiences with BALIF during my first year helped me connect to the LGBTQ community and helped me navigate law school as a member of that community. Because of these positive experiences, I am interested in serving as a student representative on BALIF’s Board of Directors.

When I first joined BALIF, I enrolled in BALIF’s mentorship program. My mentor helped me throughout my first year of law school as well as during my job search. Most importantly, my mentor was kind and made me feel connected to the Bay Area’s LGBTQ community. During my job search, I again turned to BALIF for assistance and received a scholarship to attend Lavender Law. 

As a gay first-generation college student and professional, the assistance and mentorship I received through BALIF made an invaluably positive impact on my law school experience. I want to serve on BALIF’s Board of Directors to give back to the organization and to continue developing roots in the Bay Area’s LGBTQ community.

Taylor Galusha

As a law student representative my mission will be to protect and further the interests of the LGBTQIA+ community and strengthen the professional and social ties among LGBTQIA+ members of the legal profession, with a strong emphasis placed on engaging current law students. My leadership style is described as collaborative, mission-driven, and effective. Myfirst priority at BALIF will be to listen and learn from those around me. My second priority will be to instill and promote a sense of community among the board and BALIF members. Last but not least, I will seek effectively advocate for our community through effective and efficient communication.

I have a demonstrated track record of leadership and solidarity with my LGBTQIA+ community. From 2008-2010 I was a member of my high school GSA, serving as president in 2010. From 2010-2014 I was a member of my college GSA, serving as V.P. in 2013 and president in 2014. From 2014-2017 I served on the board of the Seattle Frontrunners (LGBTQIA+ running association). In 2013-2014 I successfully led a campaign in Lewiston, Idaho to enact a non-discrimination ordinance on the basis of gender and sexual orientation. From 2017-present I have been engaged with UC Hastings Outlaw, serving in the most recent 2018/2019 term as V.P. of Communications. I volunteer with ALRP and I am currently co-leading a campaign designed to convert all UC Hastings bathrooms to all-gender bathrooms.

Josiah Pak

My name is Josiah Pak. I’m currently a 1L at UC Hastings. Besides being thrilled to join the many of you who survived their first year of law school, I’m excited to hopefully work alongside the LGBTQI legal community as a member of BALIF’s Board of Directors.

Prior to law school, I was the Art Director for the Los Angeles LGBT Center.  For three years, I worked within the organization’s marketing and communications team to bring greater awareness of the many services they provided.  Additionally, I volunteered for several years as the co-chair for the Outreach, Recruitment, and Public Education committee with API Equality-LA, a grassroots civil rights organization for Los Angeles’ Asian and Pacific Islander LGBTQ community. There, I had the opportunity to sit on their Steering Committee to help direct the organization’s plans and goals to better fit their mission statement.  This summer, I will be working as a law clerk for AIDS Legal Referral Panel.

Now that the frenzy of being a 1L is soon to subside, I’m looking forward to getting back to a regular sleeping schedule, exploring the bay area, and, of course, stepping back into the greater LGBTQI community.  As a member of BALIF’s board, I hope to contribute to a diverse dialogue as both a law student and a queer person of color.  I’m also looking forward to work with law student representatives to further connect BALIF with the thriving law school community here in San Francisco.

Thank you!


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