Meet the Team
Kendra Weston she/her/they/them
Kendra received her bachelor of arts degree in Political Science and Spanish with Honors from Central College in 2012. She earned her juris doctor degree from the University of Nebraska College of Law in 2016.
Kendra has always been drawn to the nonprofit/public interest arena. She is an AmeriCorps alum. As a student attorney, she worked on family-based immigration law and post-graduation, she represented children in their parents’ custody and divorce cases. She is a member of the Linn County Bar Association, the Iowa State Bar Association, and the National LGBT Bar Association and its Family Law Institute subsection.
Kendra has been a supporter of the LGBTQ Youth Center (in Cedar Rapids), having involvement in both its formation and continuation. It was during this time that Kendra began to look for more ways to serve the LGBTQ community. 2020 was a tough year for all of us, so Lavender Legal Center was born out of necessity to provide hope and resilience for our beautiful community. In her spare time, Kendra enjoys spending time with her wife and daughter, working on her old home, and antiquing.
Founder | Executive Director | Attorney
Emma E. Walker she/her/hers
Emma E. Walker was born and raised in rural Iowa where she resides with her partner on a 3 acre vineyard along with their fur and feathered rescues. Emma works as a freelance Artist of photography, graphic and web design under Emma's Cellar Door and with a passion for nonprofits, has served on the local boards of Pflag Cedar Rapids and CRPrideFest. Known throughout the community as an animal activist and LGBTQ advocate, Emma spends her free time performing in a garage band with her brother and writing a number of unpublished works. She is incredibly enthusiastic to hold the position of board Chair for Lavender Legal Center and hopes to be an asset to their mission.
Courtney Thomas-Dusing is the Managing Attorney of the Intake Unit at Iowa Legal Aid. Iowa Legal Aid is a statewide nonprofit law firm that provides civil legal services to low income Iowans. Courtney went to law school at the University of Iowa in hopes of using her degree to help others. After graduating law school in 2014, she started at Iowa Legal Aid as a Staff Attorney. She feels her work at Iowa Legal Aid and now with the Lavender Legal Center is fulfilling that goal.Courtney and her wife Sarah became foster parents in 2015. They have fostered a number of kids between the ages of 9 and 18. They adopted two of the teens they fostered and both are successfully living on their own as adults. Courtney and Sarah live in Iowa City with their daughter, Maggie, two dogs, and two cats.
Lindsey is a licensed independent social worker and practicing psychotherapist. She is an Iowa native and a University of Iowa alumna. They are owner and therapist at Piper Psychotherapy, PLC in Iowa City. Her clinical work primarily focuses on individuals and couples. Her specializations include complex trauma, self-harm, and the LGBTQ+ community. She is passionate about advocacy for the LGBTQ+ population within the field of mental health and about education for clinicians regarding the strengths and unique challenges of this community. Lindsey has extensive experience working in the nonprofit sector. She has worked with several area nonprofits during her career including
Member at Large
Betsy Baertlein lives in Cedar Rapids with her husband, 2-year-old son, and backyard chickens. She is an assistant professor of English language acquisition at Kirkwood Community College, where she mainly teaches adult immigrant students from Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan. She enjoys getting outdoors in all seasons. Originally from Minnesota, she can be found enjoying winter sports, such as cross-country skiing, when the conditions are right here in Iowa. As an ally of the LGBTQ+ community, Betsy is enthusiastic about contributing her time and talents to Lavender Legal's mission as a board member and has been applying her English professor skills to editing the organization's fundraising letters so far.
Member at Large
“Hello, my name is Gavin Turner. I was born and raised in Huntsville Alabama and I turned 30 this year. I attended and graduated from the HBCU Tuskegee University with two B.S degrees in Biology and Nutritional Science respectively. My mother pushed both my brother and myself to go to college, because she never finished I chose to attend the same college that she did and earn a degree for her and myself. I was recruited by Cargill Incorporated as a chemist in my final year of college and shortly after graduation started working at the Corn Milling facility in Memphis Tennessee. Unfortunately the facility was closed 8 months later, but I was offered a chance to relocate and I chose Cedar Rapids. I am still happily employed five going on six years later and was recently promoted to a Food Safety position. I enjoy anime, reading, and spending time with the people I am close to.”
Member at Large
Chris Odinet is a Professor of Law and the Michael and Brenda Sandler Fellow in Corporate Law at the University of Iowa. His teaching and research specialize in commercial and consumer finance law and real estate transactions, with an emphasis on mortgage lending and financial regulation. He is a co-author on several widely-used casebooks on secured credit and real estate finance, and he is the author of Foreclosed: Mortgage Servicing and the Hidden Architecture of Homeownership in America (published in 2019 by Cambridge University Press). In addition to his faculty role, Chris has been active in numerous professional and public service organizations, including the Association of American Law Schools, the American Bar Association, the Uniform Law Commission, and the American Law Institute. Locally, he is a
Member at Large
Eric Gutschmidt is the founder of Gutschmidt Properties, a property management and real estate development company in Cedar Rapids, IA. Gutschmidt Properties prides itself on providing homes for a diverse group of tenants, and investing in improving Cedar Rapids and Marion. Eric enjoys traveling the world, good coffee, volunteering in his community.