National Center for Lesbian Rights
Kate Kendell leads the National Center for Lesbian Rights, a national legal organization advancing the civil and human rights of LGBTQ people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. NCLR’s legal, policy, and legislative victories set important precedents that improve the lives of all LGBTQ people and their families across the country.
Kate grew up Mormon in Utah and received her J.D. degree from the University of Utah College of Law in 1988. After a few years as a corporate attorney she was named the first staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah. In this capacity, she oversaw the legal department of ACLU of Utah and directly litigated many high-profile cases focusing on all aspects of civil liberties, including reproductive rights, prisoners’ rights, church/state conflicts, free speech, and the rights of LGBTQ people.
In 1994 she accepted the position as Legal Director with the National Center for Lesbian Rights and made the move to San Francisco. In 1996 Kate was named as NCLR’s Executive Director. In that capacity, she assists in the development of litigation and strategy, and is responsible for all aspects of agency operation. Under Kate’s leadership, NCLR won the California marriage equality case in 2008 and was later part of the team of attorneys to secure national marriage equality in the 2015 case Obergefell v. Hodges. And together with GLAD, Kate led NCLR to file a federal lawsuit challenging Trump’s transgender military ban in August 2017, which secured a nationwide preliminary injunction stopping the ban from moving forward.
During Kate’s 24-year career, NCLR’s budget has grown from $500,000 to more than $5 million; the number of staff members has increased by five; and the organization now has both West Coast and East Coast offices in San Francisco and Washington, D.C.