(Washington, D.C., July 9, 2015)—Today the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) announced that Julie Gonen has joined its staff as its new Policy Director, responsible for overseeing and advancing NCLR’s federal policy initiatives and managing the day-to-day operations of the Washington, D.C. office.

Gonen has extensive federal policy experience, most recently as director of federal policy and advocacy at the Center for Reproductive Rights, where she advocated before the United States Congress, executive branch agencies, and in the courts for public policies at the federal level that protect and advance reproductive health and rights. While there, she led the Center’s efforts to defend access to contraception under the Affordable Care Act, drafting regulatory comments advocating against allowing religious employers to deny coverage to their employees and amicus briefs in federal court litigation regarding such exemptions. Gonen also spearheaded efforts that led to the introduction in Congress of major legislation to safeguard abortion rights against politically motivated state laws designed to shut down reproductive health care providers.

Gonen replaces Maya Rupert, who left NCLR in June to join the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as the Chief of Staff for the Office of the General Counsel.

“We are delighted Julie has joined NCLR as our Policy Director,” said NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell. “Julie brings a wealth of policy experience and a commitment to excellence that will help us build on the already successful federal policy work we have been doing.”

“I am thrilled to be joining NCLR – an organization that I have admired for decades – at this critical juncture in the ongoing struggle for full LGBTQ civil rights,” said Gonen. “I have seen how the denial of basic rights such as access to reproductive health care harms individuals and communities, especially people of color and those with low incomes or in rural areas.  I look forward to building on the impressive body of work of NCLR’s policy team and working with our many organizational partners to advance federal laws and policies that are fair, inclusive, and just.”

Gonen received her B.A. from Cornell University, and then received a doctorate in political science from the American University and a law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center. She is the author of Litigation as Lobbying: Reproductive Hazards and Interest Aggregation, published by The Ohio State University Press; the book is a case study of United Auto Workers v. Johnson  Controls, a 1991 Supreme Court case in which corporate “fetal protection” policies were found to be unlawful sex discrimination.

She has taught undergraduate and graduate students in public health and political science as an adjunct professor in the School of Public Affairs at the American University in Washington, D.C. and at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. She has also taught public health law at Georgetown University Law Center.  Gonen also serves on the Board of Directors of the Abortion Care Network. She lives in Washington, DC with her wife and three dogs.