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Meet the Team

Staff

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Janice is a graduate of Grinnell College and the University of Iowa College of Law. She began her public service legal career as a legal aid attorney at AppalReD in eastern Kentucky. She returned to Iowa in 1996 and met her current spouse when they both worked at a housing nonprofit in Cedar Rapids. In 2007, Janice was given an Angel in Adoption award for her work with foster youth. Although she grew up in Chicago, she enjoys small town life in Martelle, Iowa. She enjoys visits from her children and grandkids and making odd craft projects out of recycled materials.

Janice Binder
she/her

Staff Attorney

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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 dazzling wife and two beautiful kids, working on their old home, and antiquing.

Kendra Weston she/her/they/them

Founder | Executive Director | Attorney

Board of Directors

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Emma E. Walker she/her/hers

Chair

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advocate, Emma spends her remaining free time in support of local performing artists, and writing a number of her own unpublished works.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. 

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Courtney Thomas-Dusing
she/her/hers

Treasurer

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.

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Lindsey Piper
they/them/theirs

Secretary

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

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Alison Gowans
she/her/hers

Member at Large

Alison Gowans is a writer who works in Community Relations at the Cedar Rapids Public Library. She previously worked as a journalist at The Gazette newspaper and at local news site Patch.com. A University of Iowa graduate and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer in eSwatini, she is passionate about building community. She lives in Cedar Rapids with her partner, two cats, and one small but fierce dog.

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Samantha Tratchel
she/her/hers

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.

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Troy Weier
he/they

Member at Large

Troy is a quality manager for a local aerospace company. He has lived in Cedar Rapids for over 20 years, and serves as a Civil Rights Commissioner. Troy is a proud father of two adopted children. His focus in community involvement and volunteerism has always been lifting up and supporting marginalized groups such as women, people of color, our LGBTQIA+ youth, our elders, and immigrants and refugees. Troy's volunteer work includes serving on a board for domestic violence, hospice care, as well as mentoring at Four Oaks and supporting those living with AIDs.

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James Jensen
he/him/his

Member at Large

James Jensen serves as the Director of Electronic Health Records (EHR) at Optimae LifeServices. As a graduate from Central College, with certifications from Ashworth College and Purdue, and over a decade of experience in the social services field, James is a dedicated advocate for social justice and equity. At work, James volunteers as a part of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) Team. He helps the company build trainings, supports positive changes to policies and participates in DEIB initiatives in communities across the state of Iowa. In his personal life, James finds joy in his family. He is married with four children, three of whom were fostered and then adopted, and shares his home with their two dogs. James resides in his hometown of Newton, Iowa, where he continues to try to make a positive impact. He is currently serving as a Leader in his children’s Cub Scout Pack and as board members for the Newton Iowa Youth Baseball League and Newton Area Soccer Association. He has spent many hours advocating for LGBTQ+ rights and creating safe spaces for marginalized communities, including leading the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) at Central College, introducing the private college’s first drag show, and speaking on LGBTQ+ Panels.

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Holly Stevenson
she/her

Member at Large

Dr. Holly Stevenson is the Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging for Optimae LifeServices. She earned her Ph.D. in Philosophy from The University of Iowa in 2021, focusing on marginalization, intersectionality and the ethics of who determines definitions of terms in our society. She also earned two graduate teaching certificates, a graduate certificate in Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies and an Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award while she was a Hawkeye. Before moving over to Iowa in 2016, Holly attended The University of Glasgow in her home country of Scotland where she earned her MA in Philosophy. Holly is passionate about and published on work relating to baseline comparisons, intersectionality and has been invited to numerous universities and conferences across the country to speak on subjects such as racism, marginalization, slurs and inclusion. She is passionate about providing everyone with a voice that is authentically listened to but also to be a voice for the voiceless or silenced. She is very excited to bring her passion and experience to Lavender Legal.

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