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Austin B. Alexander will be the 2022-2023 president of the board of directors of Stonewall Bar Association (SBA). Austin joined SBA when he moved to Georgia from Mississippi and previously served on the Outreach Committee and chaired the Public Interest Committee. Austin is a Senior Managing Associate at Thompson Hine LLP, and his practice includes creditor’s rights and bankruptcy and business litigation.
Ben Torres was born in Atlanta and grew up in Alpharetta, Georgia. He is an associate litigation attorney in King & Spalding’s Trial & Global Disputes division. Ben devotes much of his practice to defending national and international pharmaceutical and agrochemical companies in mass tort litigation involving allegations of products liability. He primarily defends cases bringing claims for design defect, manufacturing defect, strict liability, negligence, punitive damages, and violation of consumer protection statutes.
Ben is committed to pro bono work. He serves the Trevor Project, a nonprofit organization with the goal the goal of ending suicide among LGBTQ+ youth, with various ongoing projects. He also assisted the Georgia Chamber of Commerce with preparing an amicus brief in a consequential case in the Supreme Court of Georgia. He has represented tenants involved in landlord-tenant disputes through the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation.
Ben graduated with honors from the University of Georgia School of Law in 2019, where he served as the Executive Online Editor of the Georgia Law Review, was an award-winning member of the moot court team, and he externed with the Georgia Office of the Attorney General. He was a first-generation law student and is a second-generation American, as his father came to the United States from Mexico. He lives in Johns Creek with his partner, Todd, their dog, Charlie, and their two cats, Nova and Zelda.
Simon Jenner joined Stonewall Bar in 2012, and began serving on the Board in 2018.
Before forming Baker Jenner LLLP with Rick Baker, Simon was Chief Legal Officer for leading regional generic and branded pharmaceutical companies. In that role, Simon developed a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of the many challenges confronting business, from startup through maturity.
Simon’s focus is on practical and useful advice, that takes into account not just the problem, but the larger organization and business objective. Simon is experienced in those areas critical to corporate clients, including intellectual property formation, preservation, and exercise; mergers and acquisitions; licensing, distribution, and other key agreements; trademarks, unfair competition, and false advertising; business and commercial litigation; and Food & Drug Law.
Simon received his Bachelor’s in History, Classics and Economics, and JD/MBA, from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. He moved to Atlanta in 2005, and has been grateful for the friends and opportunities the city has provided. Simon is a member of the Appellate Practice, Corporate Counsel, Health Law, and Intellectual Property Sections of the Georgia Bar. Simon is also a member of the British American Business Counsel, which fosters business relationships and opportunities between U.S. and U.K. companies.
Melissa L. Fox
Melissa has been a member of the Stonewall Bar Association since 2012, and joined the Board of Directors in 2019. She serves as Co-Chair of Stonewall’s Fundraising Committee as well as Co-Chair of the Public Interest Committee. As an Atlanta native, Melissa has years of experience working with and volunteering for non-profits and other public interest organizations in and around the city. Melissa also serves as Co-Chair of the Atlanta Leadership Committee for Lambda Legal and is a member of Atlanta Legal Aid’s Service Council.
Melissa is an associate in the litigation practice group at Eversheds Sutherland, where she counsels clients on a variety of business and commercial litigation matters. Melissa’s experience includes defending class action lawsuits, advising on regulatory matters and compliance issues, conducting internal investigations, and representing clients in a variety of proceedings in state and local courts. Melissa graduated with high honors from Emory Law School in 2015, where she served as Notes & Comments Editor of Emory Law Journal and President of OUTLaw. Prior to law school, Melissa worked as a technical writer for a major logistics company.
Nancy is an attorney specializing in estate administration, probate litigation, adult guardianships and conservatorships, and estate planning. She also represents clients on a wide variety of business matters including the formation of new corporations and limited liability companies, the revision of corporate governance documents, and the preparation and review of contracts and business succession planning. Nancy is the founder of Alliance Planning & Probate, PC, a boutique probate practice located in the heart of Midtown.
Nancy has been recognized as one of the most powerful leaders in Atlanta in the Atlanta 500 by Atlanta Magazine, and as a Top 50 estate planning practitioner by Charlotte Magazine.
Nancy received her B.A. from Emory University and her J.D. from the University of South Carolina. She has been a member of the Stonewall Bar since 2017, and is a current member of the Emory University Gift Planning Advisory Council, the National LGBTQ+ Bar Association, the Family Law Institute, and the Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina Bars.
Board of Directors
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Parsa joined the Stonewall Bar Association Board of Directors in 2017. Parsa serves as Commercial Contracts Counsel in the General Counsel’s Office at Ernst & Young LPP (EY). As an in-house attorney, his practice is focused on negotiating complex commercial contracts and technology agreements on behalf of EY and advising EY’s engagement teams and service line leaders of key legal risks and regulatory issues in proposed projects or contract. Prior to joining EY, Parsa spent several years working in private practice and specializing in corporate and commercial transactions. During law school, he served as a legal intern to the Federal Trade Commission Office of International Affairs Consumer Protection Group. He has also worked with and volunteered for several non-profit organizations dedicated to community building, civil rights, advocacy, education, and civic participation, especially among the Iranian American diaspora community.
Parsa received his J.D. in 2015 from the American University Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C. He also holds a Masters in International Politics and Economics from American University School of International Service and a Bachelor of Science with high honors in International Affairs and Minor in Economics from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Parsa is a member of the State Bar of Georgia and the State Bar of Maryland. In his past life, Parsa toured the country several times as a lead guitarist of a rock band. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking, playing guitar, watching Formula 1, and tracking down rare Japanese whiskies.
Mr. Goldberg focuses his career on professional liability, having experience practicing in both the private and public sector. After spending several years practicing in New Jersey, he returned to Atlanta, where he had studied law. He is involved in numerous community organizations, including alumni clubs, religious organizations, and professional associations.
Mr. Goldberg is a graduate of Cornell University and the Emory University School of Law. While at Cornell, he served as Vice President of his fraternity, Phi Delta Theta, and as Editor-in-Chief of The Research Paper, a publication focusing on the researchers behind the research. During his time at Emory, he held various positions in the Student Bar Association and other student groups and also served as Chief Justice of the university-wide student government.
Currey Hitchens is passionate about improving public education for every Georgia student. This means making the schools children are zoned for excellent schools. She worked at Georgia Legal Services and Atlanta Legal Aid fighting poverty in Georgia for over a decade, and she came to the conclusion that improving public education is the key to ending poverty. She had a great public education in Georgia through the Whitfield County School system herself.
Currey taught fourth and first grades in Atlanta area public schools and has a masters in children’s literature from UGA in addition to a law degree from Emory. In 2022 she ran for State School Superintendent to stand up for students and teachers against laws that would prevent students from learning about divisive topics and that would hurt transgender students as well as to fight for all public school students. Her campaign was not successful, but she took a stand and let LGBTQ youth and all marginalized youth know that someone loves them the way they are and will fight for them.
Currey opened a law firm, Hitchens Law, LLC, to fight for students and teachers. She believes all children can learn and that we must work against bigotry to make sure all children get what they need to stay in school and succeed no matter their background.
Currey takes special education, school discipline, and other education cases for students and cases for teachers terminated for discussing divisive but appropriate topics in schools. She would also love to take cases supporting librarians and teachers in the fight to keep books on shelves (the fight against book bans).
Some recommendations of banned books you should find and read to your children when age appropriate: Julian is a Mermaid, My Shadow is Purple, Flamer, GenderQueer, Right Where I Left You, Heartstopper, The Extraordinaries, All American Boys, The Color Purple, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, The Bluest Eye, Looking for Alaska, Monster, Sophie’s Choice and many more you can find on lists of the most challenged books.
Hon. Mike Jacobs
Judge Mike Jacobs has served as a judge on the State Court of DeKalb County since June 2015. Judge Jacobs is the first out bisexual judge (state or federal, trial or appellate) in the United States. He came out publicly at a Stonewall Bar Association event in April 2018.
Prior to his judicial service, Judge Jacobs served ten and a half years in the Georgia House of Representatives. He was chairman of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Oversight Committee (MARTOC), the joint House and Senate committee that oversees MARTA’s management, budget, and fiscal affairs. Judge Jacobs also served as chairman of one of the two subcommittees of the House Judiciary Committee. In 2010, he received the Allen Thornell Political Advancement Award from Georgia Equality for passing a stronger anti-bullying law for public schools.
Judge Jacobs received his law degree in 2003, magna cum laude, from the University of Georgia School of Law, where he was the executive articles editor of the Georgia Law Review. He received his bachelor’s degree in 1997 from Georgetown University.
Judge Jacobs is an active member of the International Association of LGBTQ+ Judges, National LGBT Bar Association, and DeKalb Bar Association. He serves on the board of directors of Leadership DeKalb and chairs Government Day for the program. He also serves as the Stonewall Bar Association’s representative on the Judicial Council of Georgia’s Committee on Access to Justice.
Judge Jacobs and his wife Evan are the proud parents of three children, Jonah, Eli, and Samantha.
Hon. Alexandra Manning
Alexandra Manning has served as a judge on the Magistrate Court of Fulton County since August 2016. She brings a wealth of experience to the bench being, among many other things, a law enforcement veteran of 15 years.
Most recently, before taking the bench, in 2009, Alex founded Hughes and Manning, LLP in Atlanta, Georgia with her widely respected and veteran attorney partner, Holly Hughes, who she worked closely with at the Office of the Fulton County District Attorney. Alex focuses her practice on criminal defense, juvenile court representation, family law, and estate planning. She has been recognized as a Super Lawyer since 2012.
Before co-founding Hughes and Manning, LLP, Alex had a myriad of legal experiences. She began her attorney career as the Staff Attorney to Judges Osborne and Vinson of the Superior Court of Paulding County. She then focused her career on criminal law matters at Lister and Holt, LLC. Joining Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor and then Ditchen & Associates she cemented her expertise in complex and contested criminal defense and family law matters.
In April 2016, the Cobb County Bar Association awarded Alex with the Cobb Justice Foundation Richard L. Moore Award, which is given to a Cobb County Bar member who has a strong and lengthy history of providing or promoting pro bono legal services to Cobb County Legal Aid through the course of their career.
In addition to her law career, Alex is also a highly sought after legal analyst and guest speaker, regularly appearing on major television news networks such as CNN and WSB-TV.
Alex is a Georgia native and attended and graduated from Mercer University magna cum laude with a BS in Criminal Justice. Alex proudly attended law school at Vermont Law School in South Royalton, Vermont. Among many accolades in law school, Alex is well-known for being a strong and unapologetic spokesperson for the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, until the policy itself was finally repealed in 2011.
After taking the bench, Alex remains active in her practice and a committed volunteer with the Atlanta Legal Aid Society and the Cobb Justice Foundation. She is a member of several voluntary bar associations to include, the Cobb Bar Association, the Georgia Association of Women Lawyers, the Stonewall Bar Association, and the Atlanta Bar Association. Alex lives in Midtown with her Fiancée, an Atlanta lawyer.
Teresa Pardiñas became a member of the Stonewall Bar Association in 2018 and joined the Board of Directors in 2020. She Co-Chairs the Law Student Outreach Committee and the Bar Relations Committee.
Before attending law school, Teresa served as a law enforcement officer in Metro Atlanta. There she realized her sense of advocacy for the community was not accomplished by placing handcuffs on people. She left a nearly 15 years career to return to school and develop her sense of Advocacy.
Teresa attended Mercer University School of Law and presided over Mercer OUTLaw, the school’s LGBTQ student organization for two consecutive years. Through community events and networking, she fostered connections between OUTLaw members, the Macon LGBTQ and legal communities, and the Stonewall Bar Association. After leaving Macon, Teresa returned to Atlanta where she practices plaintiff-side employment law at Worth Jarrell LLC in Sandy Springs. Her practice focuses on individuals who were wrongfully terminated, suffered retaliation, and/or discriminated against by employers. In addition, she advises corporate employers on employment-related matters.
Mike Rafter has been a member of Stonewall Bar since 2013 and joined the Board of Directors in 2015. He is partner at Kilpatrick Townsend, where his practice focusses on trademark and advertising law. He serves as principal trademark counsel for a number of companies with well-known brands and large brand portfolios and manages their trademark portfolios and trademark disputes throughout the world. Mike also devotes significant time to pro bono matters, serving as trademark counsel for several well-known non-profit organizations. Mike is a co-leader of KT PROUD, Kilpatrick Townsend’s LGBT employee resource group. He serves on the Board of Directors of Atlanta Legal Aid Society, and is a past president of Atlanta Legal Aid. He also serves on the Atlanta Leadership Committee of Lambda Legal.
Before joining Kilpatrick Townsend, Mike served on active duty as a Judge Advocate in the United States Army. He received his B.A. in history and philosophy from Mercer University in 1992 and received his J.D. from Mercer in 1995.
Lance Simon joined the Stonewall Board of Directors in 2020. He is an Assistant United States Attorney for the U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO), Middle District of Georgia, in Macon. The Middle District also covers Athens, Columbus, Albany, and Valdosta. In this role, Lance represents the United States in federal civil litigation, including in the areas of medical malpractice, torts, and employment law. Lance is also the USAO’s Civil Rights Coordinator.
Prior to joining the USAO in 2018, Lance worked for six years in two other components of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. First in the Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section, followed by ATF.
Lance is a graduate of the University of Georgia and Tulane Law School. After law school, he clerked for a Justice of the Supreme Court of Israel in Jerusalem.
Currently, Lance teaches as an adjunct law professor at Mercer Law School.
Kara Tucker brings over 9 years of cross-industry legal, ethics and compliance experience to her current role as First Vice President at SunTrust Banks, Inc., where she is responsible for ethics strategy and governance.
Ms. Tucker also serves as a Board Member for the Stonewall Bar Association of GA and as a Board member and faculty for the American Bankers Association Compliance Schools, frequently teaching, speaking and writing in industry on risk, ethics, and compliance.
Prior to her current role, Ms. Tucker served as the Head of Consumer Fair and Responsible Banking at SunTrust, led strategic development of the regulatory compliance program at BankUnited, N.A., and served as Associate Counsel at MDO Partners where she concentrated on corporate governance and global compliance and ethics with a focus on anti-bribery, anti-corruption, and the FCPA.
Hon. Phyllis R. Williams
Phyllis R. Williams is an Associate Judge in the Magistrate Court of DeKalb County.
Phyllis graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Music with a concentration in Piano Performance (yes, she is a classically trained musician). She worked in the insurance industry in Philadelphia, PA, before attending law school at Florida State University College of Law.
Phyllis began her legal career at Swift, Currie, McGhee & Hiers, practicing insurance defense in automobile and property litigation. After leaving insurance defense, Phyllis started her own firm and was a trial attorney for about 25 years. She has tried complex divorces, auto collisions, premises liability, products liability, contract disputes and criminal defense matters. “I believe that everyone is entitled to zealous representation, even if they cannot afford it.” To that end Phyllis was a court appointed attorney in Fulton superior and state courts, and DeKalb superior, state and juvenile courts for about 11 years representing clients in trial and on appeals, and she has argued before the Supreme Court of Georgia. In 2017, she merged her firm with Fox Legal, LLC where she serves as Of-Counsel”. In addition to her practice, Phyllis was an adjunct professor at Georgia State University School of Business, and
She is an Administrative Hearing Officer for the DeKalb Merit System presiding over administrative appeal hearings. She is active in the Magistrate Court Training Council, where she serves on the Curriculum Committee and trains new Judges around the State.
Phyllis is a member Stonewall Bar Association, International Association of LGBTQ+ Judges, Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys (GABWA), Georgia Association of Women Attorney’s (GAWL), Gate City Bar Association, Atlanta Bar Association, DeKalb Lawyers Association, and DeKalb Bar Association where she served on the Board of Directors for 6 years. Phyllis has also served on the Board of Directors for the South DeKalb YWCA and is a graduate of Leadership DeKalb (2003) and the Leadership DeKalb Beacon Society.
Phyllis loves to cook, play racquetball competitively, and travel the world. “I want to see as much of this planet as I can before I leave it!”
Sean J. Young
Sean J. Young is a Staff Attorney with the Federal Defender Program, Inc. for the Northern District of Georgia, which represents people accused of committing federal crimes but are unable to afford an attorney.
Previously, Young was the Legal Director of the ACLU of Georgia and an attorney with ACLU’s Voting Rights Project. Young has also served as a judicial law clerk at both the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, and was an associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. He is a 2006 graduate of Yale Law School and a 2002 graduate from Duke University.
Young was awarded 2019 Attorney of the Year by the Daily Report, Georgia’s leading legal newspaper, and received the Best LGBTQ+ Lawyers under 40 Award – Class of 2019 by the National LGBT Bar Association & Foundation.