Promoting a Dialogue

Posted February 8, 2008 at 3:51pm

The Gay, Lesbian and Allies Senate Staff Caucus, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization established to raise awareness of issues affecting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, has just elected a new board of directors.

[IMGCAP(1)]Kelsey Phipps was named as the board’s first female co-chair. She has been a board member for three years and previously served as secretary. When she’s not helping out GLASS, Phipps is a policy adviser on Sen. Edward Kennedy’s (D-Mass.) Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee staff. She has worked in various other capacities for the Senator for the past five years.

At 28, Phipps has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and politics from Scripps College in Claremont, Calif., and a master’s degree in women’s studies from University College Dublin in Ireland.

She moved around a lot growing up because both of her parents were in the military; as a result, she’s lived in Iowa, Oregon, Louisiana, Washington, California, Oklahoma, D.C. and Ireland.

In her spare time, Phipps volunteers with Homeward Trails Animal Rescue and Food and Friends, a group that makes and delivers meals to those with HIV/AIDS and other terminal illnesses.

“I feel incredibly lucky to work for Sen. Kennedy, who is the LGBT community’s greatest champion in the Senate,” Phipps said in an e-mail.

Phipps will work with Co-Chairman Derek Dorn to hold events that encourage

a dialogue on issues affecting the LGBT community and to ensure a positive environment for LGBT Hill staffers. Dorn works full time on Sen. Joe Lieberman’s (ID-Conn.) council for economic policy. He is a fifth-generation New Yorker and, along with his twin brother, is the first in his family to settle elsewhere. He earned a bachelor’s degree in labor economics from Cornell University in 1998 and a law degree from Yale in 2002.

Dorn was an income security policy fellow at AFL-CIO, practiced tax and private client law for four years with an international law firm in New York, and managed an investment research firm’s legal and regulatory affairs practice before he came to the Hill.

He enjoys traveling in Mexico and Central America and is “working towards ridding my Spanish of a gringo accent.”

Dan Wackerow also was elected to the board, as its secretary. He will assist the group by taking minutes during meetings and helping to organize events.

Wackerow also works for Kennedy, having survived a potentially embarrassing start to the job. During his first briefing with the Senator, Wackerow suddenly came down with a bad case of muscle spasms in his leg. So while he and the Senator chatted, Wackerow, clad in jeans, was shaking the entire time.

But he made it through and now is Kennedy’s legislative correspondent.

Wackerow is 27 and is from White Plains, N.Y. He has a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Boston University, which he earned in 2002. Before coming to work for Kennedy in Washington, he was an intern in the Senator’s Boston office. He also completed an internship in the district office of Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.).

In his spare time, he enjoys triathlon training and touch football.

Wackerow is joined by Josh Yearsley, GLASS’ new treasurer and webmaster. Yearsley can’t be accused of lacking a sense of humor. He likes to send “ironic spoof holiday cards” to his friends and co-workers and was once caught by one such co-worker while belting out a power ballad.

Yearsley is from Pittsburgh. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Carnegie Mellon University in 2005 and, when he is not working for GLASS, is the information systems and correspondence director for Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.).

Asked if he belonged to any clubs or organizations, Yearsley replied: “Scrantonicity Softball and Oh, That Queen Trivia.”

The 24-year-old’s goals include bringing “new and innovative technologies and business practices to government entities.”

Josh Karetny is the social chair for GLASS. He is a legislative assistant for Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) the rest of the time. The issues he works on in that job include budget, tax, appropriations, transportation, trade and housing. Karetny is from East Greenwich, R.I., and is 29. He has the diverse goals of helping to bring back budget surpluses and learning to play pool.

Matt Nosanchuk is an at-large member of the GLASS board. He works as legislative counsel for Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and is from Birmingham, Mich. He has undergraduate and law degrees from Stanford University.

Nosanchuk, 42, has experience as a minority special counsel on the House Judiciary Committee for Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and as a senior counsel for the Justice Department during the Clinton administration.

Nosanchuk’s most embarrassing moment on the Hill came as he was riding over to the Senate from the Hart Senate Office Building for a late-night vote with a conservative southern Senator whom he had never met. The Senator “confessed to a colleague that he hadn’t done any of those things in his youth that ‘young people’ — looking straight at me — ‘do today.’”

Speaking of young people, Nosanchuk has a 10-year-old son who plays basketball, baseball, soccer and the violin. He said his son decided “long before I began working for the senior Senator from Florida” that his favorite athlete is Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat.

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