October 7, 2011
>Remembering Paula L. Ettelbrick, A Leading Voice in the Fight for LGBT Rights
Dear GLSEN friends,
This morning Paula L. Ettelbrick passed away after a battle with cancer. Sharing this news seems sadly appropriate in the midst of LGBT History Month, as Paula was a critical figure in the fight for LGBT rights and dignity in the US and abroad. When I was first named GLSEN’s Executive Director, I was particularly struck by the fact that I had reached a point in my life and career when I could sit across a room from Paula Ettelbrick as a peer, at least in terms of our titles.
Paula was lawyer, law professor, writer and speaker. For more than 25 years, she was a leading voice in the fight for legal rights for LGBT people. She served as the legal director at Lambda Legal Defense, policy director at National Center for Lesbian Rights, legislative counsel for the Empire State Pride Agenda, and family policy director at the Policy Institute of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
She then was the Executive Director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), a US-based nonprofit headquartered in New York with regional offices in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Cape Town, South Africa. In that role, Paula partnered with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) groups around the world to challenge human rights abuse and discrimination and advocate for global policies and laws that respect the rights of LGBT people everywhere.
Paula also wrote, lectured and taught about legal and constitutional issues, holding positions over the years at NYU, Columbia and Barnard, among other institutions. Paula had a wicked sense of humor and was so generous in welcoming this novice to the circle three years ago. She always made it clear that, whatever the trials and tribulations, she saw the opportunity to play a leadership role in the movement as a tremendous privilege. Paula cared deeply about everything she did, and she did it well. She will be missed.