David Brings It All Together for Clients

When ALRP Board Member David Tsai wrote his law school admissions essay describing a client he would be excited to help, he envisioned a transgender, HIV+ person from Mexico. “Just by chance,” he said, “when I became a lawyer the first pro bono case I took on happened to be an HIV+ transgender woman from Mexico.”

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Annual Office Holiday Party – 2013

Executive Director Bill Hirsh graciously opened his home to the ALRP Staff (plus family and friends) for 2013’s Annual Office Holiday Party.

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ALRP Hosts International HIV/AIDS Education and Prevention Delegation

2013 InternationalVisitors-finalOn Thursday, December 12, 2013 ALRP had the pleasure of hosting a group of international professionals touring the United States through the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program, an exchange program managed by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.  Hailing from over fifteen countries including Israel, Romania, and South Africa, San Francisco, CA was the delegation’s last stop on an HIV/AIDS Education and Prevention themed tour.  Executive Director Bill Hirsh, Managing Attorney Sara Malan, and Staff Attorney John Fasesky gave a presentation detailing ALRP’s work, the changing legal needs of our clients, and how ALRP is attempting to meet those needs by leveraging the resources of attorneys who work in the private sector.

ALRP Notary Thomas David Walsh Passes Away

2/14/1949 – 11/19/2013

Thomas David Walsh, 64, passed away on November 19, 2013 in San Francisco after a two week fight with pneumonia.  For over 20 years Tom donated his services as a Notary through the AIDS Legal Referral Panel, receiving ALRP’s Notary of the Year award in 2001. Tom was born in Joneboro, Arkansas, and came out to San Francisco in 1972 after attending University of Missouri and working for the “Frisco” Railroad in Kansas City.  He received his B.A. from UC Berkeley, an MBA from Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, and earned a Para-Legal certificate from San Francisco State University.  In the past Thomas had worked for the Fred Furth Law Firm, the California State Bar, Veteran’s Cab, and Zephyr Real Estate.  He was also an active member of the Unitarian Universalist Church in San Francisco.  Thomas is survived by his parents, Martin and Janice Wiederholt, five siblings, and numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews.

All of us at ALRP would like to offer our deep condolences to Thomas’s family and thank Thomas for his commitment to helping the HIV/AIDS community.  Tom never hesitated to rise to the challenge and assist our clients with his notary services, exhibiting a rare selflessness that we deeply appreciate.  He will always be remembered as a generous and dedicated member of the ALRP family.  Donations in his memory can be made to the AIDS Emergency Fund, Project Open Hand, or the AIDS Legal Referral Panel.

ALRP Staff Attorney Ana Montano Honored in El Salvador

ALRP Immigration Attorney Ana Montano recently received the 2013 Crisálida Award in El Salvador from that nation’s Attorney General for the Defense of Human Rights, LGBTI Division. This award is in recognition of her extensive pro bono work on behalf of the LGBTI population in El Salvador.

Although there have been some advances in public policy in El Salvador, LGBTI community members there experience extreme hardship and discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity. The award recognized Ana’s work defending and promoting the human rights of LGBTI El Salvadorans.

The Crisálida Award is given to human rights activists, public institutions and media that have promoted affirmative action and positive public opinion for the El Salvadoran LGBTI community. “We believe that despite the advances in inclusive public policy,” the award committee said, “that our country still suffers from programs and services that promote direct struggle against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and acceptance of human diversity as an element of democracy and peace.”

Ana Montano, front row right, meets in El Salvador with ASPIDH Arco Iris.

Ana Montano, front row right, meets in El Salvador with ASPIDH Arco Iris.

Ana has spent many years promoting the rights of the LGBTI population in her native El Salvador.  In September, she met with the nonprofit group  ASPIDH Arco Iris in El Salvador, which defends the rights of transgender people. She was joined by professor Allison Davenport of UC Berkeley Human Rights Clinic, and Shannon Minter, Legal Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights in San Francisco. They are working with ASPIDH Arco Iris to promote a new identity law in El Salvador that would secure transgender people the right to legally change their names to conform with their self-identified gender.  They are also working to have recent extra-judicial murders of trans women thoroughly investigated and for the perpetrators to be brought to trial.

Ana grew up in San Francisco’s Mission District, where her family was very active in community organizing. In addition to her full-time role at ALRP, she is working to establish a legal services program similar to ALRP for the LGBTI community in El Salvador. “The pro bono model is not well known in El Salvador,” she said, “but we have had attorneys approach us there and say they want to help. We’re raising money to fund a staff attorney.” Ana also had a hand in convincing UC Berkeley School of Law to produce a study on the condition of the El Salvadoran LGBTI community, and helped develop community events such as a human rights conference and a visual arts show.

“As an immigration attorney, when I hear the stories about why LGBTI people have left El Salvador I realize that the situation there is pretty extreme,” she said. “My clients have opened my eyes to how people are suffering.”

Making All the Difference (Fall 2013)

As I sat in my cluttered but comfortable office the other day, I overheard a client as he was expressing his deep appreciation for the work of one of our law clerks. The client shared that before reaching out to ALRP, he had been so distraught at the prospect of losing his housing that he had gathered enough pills to end it all.

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