Michelle-Lael Norsworthy (Founder)
Michelle-Lael Norsworthy is an advocate for transgender men and women to identify as they choose and be treated with compassion. She made national and international news following her victory in the court case Norsworthy v. Beard, that set a precedent for the State of California being required to pay for gender reaffirming surgery for transgender inmates.
Michelle-Lael was inspired to create Joan’s House following her release from prison. She decided to name the home after Joan of Arc, who symbolizes strength and unity. Just as Joan believed God chose her for her mission, Michelle-Lael believes God is guiding her to help other marginalized trans individuals.
Michelle-Lael has always desired to help people, even while spending 30 years behind bars. Prior to her incarceration she was trained as a combat medic in the Army National Guard. While serving her sentence, she assisted fellow inmates by:
- Helping create and establish the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Peer Education Program
- Participating in and facilitating numerous self-help programs designed to improve the quality of life for the individual as well as the collective
- Being actively involved in the Paths to Recovery counseling program
- Providing educational workshops about sexual assault awareness and prevention; inmates’ rights, responsibilities and reporting options; and response protocols, standards and guidelines set forth by the Prison Rape Elimination Act
- Assisting disabled inmates with reading, writing and navigating the legal section of the library; helping them to appointments, medication distribution lines and the dining hall; and ensuring their personal body and living quarters were clean
Michelle-Lael continues to strive to help people in the trans community, with her current focus being Joan’s House. Read more about her in her electronic press kit.
Dr. Erica Anderson (Chairperson)
Erica E. Anderson, Ph.D. is an accomplished clinical psychologist, academic administrator, healthcare executive, professor, and consultant. During a career that spans 4 decades she has held academic appointments in health psychology, public health, clinical psychology, healthcare management and pediatrics.
At The University of California San Francisco she serves on the faculty and medical staff of UCSF Benioff in behavioral pediatrics with involvement in the Child and Adolescent Gender Clinic in Pediatric Endocrinology. There she consults with transgender and gender nonconforming children, adolescents, their families and other healthcare professionals and supports training of healthcare professional students and fellows in the rapidly advancing field of transgender healthcare.
At John F. Kennedy University Dr. Anderson serves as Professor of Clinical Psychology. At JFKU she previously served as Chair of the Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, Chair of Graduate Psychology, and Dean of the Graduate School. At her previous University she founded and Chaired the Department of Health Sciences and Services and served as Professor of Healthcare Management. At JFKU she teaches future psychologists and psychotherapists. Her special areas of interest include sexuality, gender issues, and trauma.
In her private consulting practice through Anderson Health Strategies, L.L.C., Dr. Anderson provides consultation to corporations on issues related to sexual and gender diversity and inclusion and success ( including gender transition) of transgender and gender nonconforming leaders. She provides clinical services to teenagers, adults, couples, and families focused upon Sexuality, Gender and Identity (read more about it at www.DrEricaAnderson.net).
Dr. Anderson has also performed in television on the popular TV show in Sweden, “Allt for Sverige.” She became the first openly transgender character in prime time television in Sweden and has been recognized there for her advocacy and example as a transgender woman and a professional.
She has been an executive in a number of businesses including subsidiaries of Merck/Medco, United Healthcare, Integra, Primary Mental Health Care, and College Health Enterprises. In those organizations she served as Executive Vice President, Senior Vice President, President, Chief Operating Officer, and Chief Executive Officer. She has served on numerous Boards of Directors and is sought out as an advisor, mentor, and executive coach.
Dr. Anderson holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and an M.A. in Theology. She has studied at the University of Minnesota, the University of Southern California, and Fuller Theological Seminary. She has published a number of articles in professional journals, chapters in scientific books, and has served as a consulting editor for several professional journals. She is currently writing a book on Transgender Sexuality. She lives in Berkeley, California.
Penny Godbold, Esq. (Vice Chairperson)
Penny Godbold, Of Counsel at Rosen, Bien, Galvan & Grunfeld, has over a decade of experience enforcing disability and civil rights judgments in class action cases involving prisoners. Her practice focus is on protecting the rights of people with disabilities in California prisons. However, she has long worked towards improving conditions for transgender people in prison. She participates in many advocacy groups involved with changing policies impacting transgender people in California prisons. She met Michelle-Lael while she was in prison and is thrilled to be working with her now that she is out.
Ms. Godbold earned her J.D. in 2003 from University of California Hastings College of Law where she graduated with honors and was a founding member of the Race and Poverty Law Journal, a participant in the Civil Justice Clinic and a graduate of the Public Interest Program. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with high honors from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina.
Kimberly Richman, Ph.D. (Secretary)
Kimberly Richman is a Dean’s Scholar and Professor of Sociology, Legal Studies, and Criminal Justice Studies at the University of San Francisco, where she teaches Criminology, Sociology of Law, Deviance and Social Control, Gender/Incarceration/Reentry, and Senior Capstone Seminar in Reentry. She received her B.A. in psychology and political science at Pitzer College in Claremont, California, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society at the University of California, Irvine. She is the author of two books with NYU Press and multiple articles on the intersection of gender, sexuality, family, and law. She has been running programs in San Quentin State Prison and working in reentry since 2003, and in 2008 co-founded the nonprofit Alliance for CHANGE.
Helen Bronston (Board Member)
Helen Bronston serves as Director of Architecture for the San Francisco office of SmithGroupJJR, where she is an associate. Over her 26-year career she has worked exclusively for non-profit educational, healthcare, and governmental organizations, for that is where she has felt she can do the most good for the greatest number of people. Raised in Wisconsin, she has called the Bay Area home since 1994. She holds a BA in Anthropology from Yale, a Master of Architecture from Harvard, and is a PhD candidate in History of Architecture at UC Berkeley. Her experience transitioning gender as an architect was profiled in the San Francisco Business Times on June 12, 2015.
Dr. Valerie Jenness (Board Member)
Valerie Jenness is a Professor in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society and in the Department of Sociology at the University of California, Irvine. She is the author of four books, including, most recently, Appealing to Justice: Prisoners, Grievances, and the Carceral Logic in the Post-Civil Rights Era (with Kitty Calavita, University of California Press, 2015) and many articles published in sociology, law, and criminology journals. Her studies of sexual assault in prisons, the management of prisoners with mental health concerns, transgender prisoners, and the inmate appeals system in prison have informed public policy. Most recently, she has worked with the Los Angeles Police Department and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to develop and implement innovative policy related to the care of transgender prisoners.
Tasha Hill, Esq. (Advisor to the Board)
Tasha Hill is an LGBTQ rights staff attorney at the ACLU of Southern California’s LGBTQ, Gender & Reproductive Justice Project.
Tasha conducts legal advocacy, public education, policy advocacy and litigation concerning problems LGBTQ people encounter in the criminal justice system. This includes work with California police and county sheriff’s departments to reduce discriminatory profiling of LGBTQ people, as well as discriminatory conditions of confinement for LGBTQ people in county jails and state prisons. Tasha also provides “Know Your Rights” information and trainings to at-risk LGBTQ people, including youth, transgender women, people of color and gay men.
Tasha brings substantial professional advocacy experience to her work with LGBTQ populations, having served for over a decade in deputy and executive director positions for LGBTQ organizations in Las Vegas, Colorado Springs and Washington, D.C.
Tasha is a 2014 graduate of the UCLA School of Law and holds a Masters of Education from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. While in law school she co-founded the Criminal Justice Society, which was instrumental in bringing a California prison parole curriculum to UCLA; won the Williams Institute Moot Court competition (including the award for Best Oral Advocate); and served as editor-in-chief of the Dukeminier Awards Journal.
During her law school summers, Tasha interned for Lambda Legal and the ACLU of Southern California’s LGBTQ Project, focusing on criminal justice issues and equal marriage.
Tasha’s publications include: Inmates’ Need for Federally Funded Lawyers: How the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Casey, and Iqbal Combine With Implicit Bias to Eviscerate Inmate Civil Rights, 62 UCLA L. Rev. 176 (2015); Transgender Military Inmates’ Legal and Constitutional Rights to Medical Care in Prisons: Serious Medical Need Versus Military Necessity, 39 Vermont L. Rev. 411 (2014); and, Sexual Abuse in California Prisons: How the California Rape Shield Fails the Most Vulnerable Populations, 21 UCLA Women’s L.J. 89 (2014).
Prior to her fellowship, Tasha clerked for the Honorable Douglas F. McCormick of the Central District of California.
Tasha’s pronouns are She/Her/Hers.