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Founder and President: Tico Almeida launched Freedom to Work in 2011. He has extensive experience advocating for workplace fairness as a civil rights litigator and a legislative attorney in the U.S. Congress. While working on Capitol Hill, Almeida drafted fully inclusive legislation to ban LGBT workplace discrimination, and he helped organize the first-ever Congressional Committee hearing focused specifically on discrimination against transgender Americans. He later played a national leadership role in the 2013 campaign to pass federal LGBT workplace protections through the U.S. Senate by a vote of 64-32 with a historic 10 Republican Senators voting in favor of LGBT fairness.
As a litigator, Mr. Almeida was the legal strategist behind the landmark LGBT lawsuit, Freedom to Work vs. ExxonMobil, and he has been a leading proponent of LGBT advocates and organizations using matched-pair testing to uncover discrimination in jobs, housing, and credit. Almeida also teamed with LAMBDA LEGAL to bring a successful Title VII lawsuit on behalf of a transgender woman who suffered a hostile work environment in which she was regularly subjected to verbal and physical assaults. This case led to the first-ever “cause determination” letter by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission finding that the discriminatory employer had violated Title VII’s ban on sex discrimination by discriminating against a transgender employee. Freedom to Work and Lambda Legal successfully settled the case.
Mr. Almeida also led a successful national campaign to persuade President Obama to sign a historic executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT Americans. Freedom to Work’s online petition reached 200,000 signatures – more than that of any LGBT organization advocating for this executive order. Freedom to Work also presented the Obama Administration with compelling evidence of discrimination against LGBT contractors: A year-long matched-pair resume study by Freedom to Work and the Equal Rights Center found that LGBT job applicants were 23 percent less likely to be called back for interviews with federal contractors when compared with similar — but less qualified — non-LGBT applicants.
Mr. Almeida has provided media commentary on LGBT legal protections to publications including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, Huffington Post including Latino Voices, BuzzFeed, The Hill, Reuters, The Advocate, Washington Blade, TowleRoad, MetroWeekly, and the Michelangelo Signorile Show on Sirius XM Satellite Radio. He has also appeared on national television news networks including MSNBC, CBS News, CNN, and Fox News.
Mr. Almeida received his J.D. from Yale Law School and his B.A. from Duke University. He previously worked as an attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), and clerked for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. He has served as Chairman of the Employment and Labor Law Section of the Hispanic National Bar Association, and the National LGBT Bar Association has named him to its list of the Top 40 LGBT Lawyers Under the Age of 40.
Legislative Director: Christian Berle serves as Freedom to Work’s Legislative Director.
Christian Berle has had a lengthy career in the advocacy world with a focus on securing Republican support for pro-equality positions. Most recently, he served as Director of Communications and Coalitions for Richard Tisei for Congress Campaign in Massachusetts Sixth Congressional District, where he managed messaging for one of the top House races in the entire country. From 2009 through 2012, he served as Deputy Executive Director of the Log Cabin Republicans, overseeing the organization’s PAC, legislative and political operations, and all administrative matters. In 2008, he served on the McCain for President Campaign in the coalitions and online media departments. From 2006 through 2008, he worked in the Political Department of the National Federation of Independent Business, where he coordinated political communications to the organizations 400,000 members and in political support of the organization’s endorsed candidates. In 2005 and 2006, he served as a Professional Staff Assistant for the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, under Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME), focusing on budget, finance, tax, social security, healthcare and veterans’ issues. He currently serves on the Victory Fund Campaign Board and has served on numerous local, state and national committees for the Republican Party. He is a native of Portland, Maine and an alumnus of The George Washington University.
NATIONAL ADVISORY BOARD:
Dr. Dana Beyer, Executive Director of Gender Rights Maryland
Crosby Burns, Managing Editor of the LGBTQ Policy Journal at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government
Donna Cartwright, Co-President of Pride at Work, AFL-CIO
Jarrod Chlapowski, former Field and Development Director at Servicemembers United
Becky Dansky, civil rights lobbyist and former lead ENDA lobbyist for The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Edward Feighan, former Member of the U.S. House of Representatives (D-OH)
Bill Hendrix, DOW Chemical
Darren Hutchinson, Professor at American University’s Washington College of Law
Kevin Kish, Director of the Employment Rights Project at Bet Tzedek Legal Service
Ari Lipman, Industrial Areas Foundation
Seth Marnin, Co-Chair of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Committee of the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA)
Joe Racalto, Principal at Giesta Racalto Solutions
Skip Roberts, the Service Employees International Union
Renee Rosenfeld, President of Reverberate Media
Meghan Stabler, Business Executive, Transgender Advocate and National LGBT Activist