Meet the Team
Kendra received their 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 public interest arena. Their desire to have a career in the nonprofit world was solidified when they served as an AmeriCorps VISTA after undergraduate studies. As a student attorney, she worked on family-based immigration law and post-graduation, she represented children in their parents’ custody and divorce cases. Kendra was a founding board member for the LGBTQ Youth Center (in Cedar Rapids, Iowa). It was during this time that Kendra began to look for more ways to serve the LGBTQ community. And thus, Lavender Legal Center was born to provide hope and resilience for LGBTQ Iowans. In their spare time, Kendra enjoys spending time with her wife and daughter, working on their old home, and antiquing.
Kendra Weston she/her/they/them
Founder | Executive Director | Attorney
Emma E. Walker she/her
Emma E. Walker was born and raised in Eastern Iowa, and works as a freelance Artist of photography, graphic and web design under Emma's Cellar Door. With a passion for nonprofits and community outreach, she has also served on the local boards of PFLAG Cedar Rapids and CR Pride. Known throughout the community as an animal activist and LGBTQ+ advocate, Emma spends her remaining free time in support of local performing artists, and writing a number of her own unpublished works.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 and two young children. She is an assistant professor of English language acquisition at Kirkwood Community College, where she mainly teaches adult immigrant students. 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 and grant applications.
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.
Member at Large
Samantha is a Lead Behavioral Health Clinician at Children & Families of Iowa in Des Moines. Sam is a Licensed Independent Social Worker with several years of experience working in various mental health settings including residential, inpatient, and outpatient. As a therapist, she focuses on adolescents and adults within the LGBTQ+ community, individuals who have experienced sexual abuse, domestic violence, and overall complex trauma.
Sam provides reflective group supervision to therapy interns and
newly hired therapists as they work to find their balance as a therapist, implementing self-care practices, and bringing their authentic selves to the workplace. In addition to supervising clinicians within CFI, she takes part in leading the charge to bring focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion to the agency by working with others to implement DEI conversations, policy change, and community relationships.
During her free time Sam and her spouse, Joanna, spend their time hiking, wandering thrift stores, and spoiling their dogs. She also focuses her time drawing, reading, drinking coffee, and taking care of her plants.
Sam is passionate about advocating for LGBTQ+ individuals regarding mental health, community needs, and other unique challenges they face in life. Sam is excited to bring her passion, experience, and skillset to Lavender Legal as a board member.