Press Releases

Art Leonard Award Recognizing Compelling Commitment to LGBTQ Equality through the Law 2020

The City Bar’s LGBTQ Rights Committee presents the Art Leonard award recognizing compelling commitment to LGBTQ equality through the law. The award ceremony has been rescheduled for October 7th.

This year’s awardees are:

Chinyere Ezie, CCR

“I’m honored to be a recipient of the City Bar’s 2020 Art Leonard Award. As this moment reminds us, the struggle for racial justice, trans justice, and LGBTQI+ rights are interconnected and more urgent than ever. I urge lawyers to support the fight and make our future brighter than our past,” Ezie said.

Chinyere Ezie is a Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, where she advocates for racial and gender justice; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex (LGBTQI) rights; and challenges governmental abuses of power.

Prior to joining The Center for Constitutional Rights, Chinyere was a Staff Attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center, where she brought cases defending the rights of LGBTQI Southerners, including trans prisoners’ rights activist Ashley Diamond. She also served as a Trial Attorney at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission where she litigated employment discrimination cases and secured a $5.1 million jury verdict on behalf of workers who were subjected to religious harassment.

Chinyere is a William J. Fulbright Scholar and a graduate of Yale University and Columbia Law School, where she was an Alexander Hamilton Scholar and served as Editor in Chief of the Journal of Gender and Law.

Chinyere is a frequent speaker at law conferences and social justice convenings across the country. Her advocacy has also been reported on by the New York Times, Washington Post, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, and NPR, among others.

In 2016, Chinyere was recognized as one of the nation’s Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40.

Chase Strangio, ACLU

“I’m so honored and humbled to be recognized by the City Bar as a 2020 Art Leonard Award recipient alongside my friend and comrade, Chinyere Ezie. This June is a perfect time to remember that pride is and always has been about the legacy of resistance to state violence and oppression led by our Black and Brown trans siblings. I commit to building on that legacy in my work and look forward to collaborating with the LGBTQ legal community to fight against all forms of systemic discrimination and violence,” Strangio said.

Chase Strangio is Deputy Director for Transgender Justice with the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project and a nationally recognized expert on transgender rights. Chase’s work includes impact litigation, as well as legislative and administrative advocacy, on behalf of LGBTQ people and people living with HIV across the United States.

Prior to joining the ACLU, Chase was an Equal Justice Works fellow and the Director of Prisoner Justice Initiatives at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, where he represented transgender and gender non-conforming individuals in confinement settings. In 2012, Chase co-founded the Lorena Borjas Community Fund, an organization that provides direct bail/bond assistance to LGBTQ immigrants in criminal and immigration cases. Chase is a graduate of Northeastern University School of Law and Grinnell College.

Chase is counsel in the ACLU’s challenge to North Carolina’s notorious HB2, Carcaño, et al. v. Cooper, et al, the ACLU’s challenge to Trump’s trans military ban, Stone v. Trump, and the case of Aimee Stephens, R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v EEOC, which was heard by the Supreme Court in October 2019.