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Reproductive Rights, Sexuality and Public Policy

Nancy Polikoff

Professor of Law
American University Washington College of Law

Nancy D. Polikoff is Professor of Law at American University Washington College of Law, where she teaches in the areas of family law, civil procedure, and sexuality and the law. Previously, she supervised family law programs at the Women’s Legal Defense Fund (now National Partnership for Women and Families), and before that she practiced law as part of a feminist law collective. For 30 years, she has been writing about and litigating cases involving lesbian and gay families. Her articles have appeared in numerous law reviews, and her history of the development of the law affecting lesbian and gay parenting appears as a chapter in J. D’Emilio, W. Turner, and U. Vaid, eds., Creating Change: Sexuality, Public Policy, and Civil Rights (2000). She helped develop the legal theories in support of second-parent adoption and visitation rights for legally unrecognized parents, and she was successful counsel in In re M.M.D., the 1995 case that established joint adoption for lesbian and gay couples in the District of Columbia, and Boswell v. Boswell, the 1998 Maryland case overturning restrictions on a gay noncustodial father’s visitation rights.

Professor Polikoff is the author of the recently published book, Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage: Valuing All Families Under the Law (Beacon Press 2008).

Matt Nosanchuk

Senior Counselor to the Assistant Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice

Matt Nosanchuk joined the Civil Rights Division in July 2009 as Senior Counselor to the Assistant Attorney General. He brings extensive experience as a civil rights attorney from his time in Congress, as well as work in the non-profit and private sectors. Among his primary duties, Matt oversees the Division's Policy and Strategy Section and the pursuit of key policy priorities, including the implementation of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. He represents the Division in many capacities, including working with LGBT community and with Congress. He returns to the Justice Department after serving in the Office of Policy Development under Attorney General Janet Reno during the Clinton Administration, where he worked on a range of civil and criminal policy matters, as well as judicial nominations. Matt also has worked on the House Judiciary Committee’s Democratic Staff under then-Ranking Member John Conyers on legislative matters, including bankruptcy, cybersecurity, and civil rights, and on Justice Department oversight. He also worked at Third Way, where he established and directed the organization’s Gay Equality Initiative; and, most recently, in the Senate as Counsel to Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, where he advised the Senator on Judiciary Committee, civil rights, election law, immigration, homeland security, patent reform, and ethics matters. During the 2008 presidential election campaign, Matt was a leader of the LGBT policy committee on the Obama campaign and worked on the Obama for America campaign staff as State Research Director in Florida and Regional LGBT Outreach Director in South Florida. Matt received his undergraduate and law degrees from Stanford, where he was a Truman Scholar and Senior Note Editor of the Stanford Law Review. He clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago for Judge Walter J. Cummings and was a Skadden Fellow at the ACLU of Illinois, where Matt served as staff attorney on the organization’s AIDS and Civil Liberties Project and worked on First Amendment matters. Matt also serves as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center, where he is teaching a course on Sexual Orientation and the Law.

Tony Varona


Professor of Law
Associate Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs

American University Washington College of Law

Dean Tony Varona teaches Contracts, Administrative Law, Media Law, and Introduction to Public Law, in addition to serving as associate dean for faculty and academic affairs.  Before becoming associate dean, he was the director of the SJD Program.  Prior to joining the WCL faculty in 2005, he was an associate professor of law at Pace Law School in New York.  Before that, he served as general counsel and legal director for the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay civil rights organization.  He built HRC's legal department, directed its legislative and regulatory lawyering and appellate amicus work, launched national law fellow and pro bono attorney programs, and served as counsel to HRC's board of directors and the organization's corporate, educational, and media initiatives.

Dean Varona taught as an adjunct law professor for three years at Georgetown University, and served as a Wasserstein Fellow at Harvard Law School. He serves on the board of directors of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), and is a member of the Society of American Law Teachers and the Hispanic Bar Association of Washington. He has served on the boards of the Human Rights Campaign and the Alliance for Justice, was on the New York Advisory Board for the American Constitution Society, was founding chairperson of the AIDS Action Council's Legal Advisory Board, and served as a member of the Judicial Selection Steering Committee of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.

Dean Varona practiced communications law at the Washington offices of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP, and Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky & Popeo, PC. He began his legal career as an honors program attorney for the Federal Communications Commission.

Dean Varona's scholarship has included articles concerning media and communications law, civil rights, employment discrimination, and hate crimes, published in a variety of notable law journals. He has lectured widely on these topics, and has appeared as a legal commentator on CNN, Headline News, Fox News Network, Court TV, MSNBC, and in a variety of major daily newspapers and legal periodicals.

Dean Varona serves on the Faculty Review Board of the Administrative Law Review, and as faculty advisor to the Latino/a Law Students Association (LaLSA). He was honored with the 2009 Hugh A. Johnson, Jr., Memorial Award by the Washington Hispanic Bar Association, was named the 2007-08 Washington College of Law Professor of the Year, and was profiled by the National Law Journal in May 2000.

Jessica Waters

Assistant Professor
American University School of Public Affairs

Jessica Waters is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Justice, Law and Society teaching Introduction to Law, Justice, Law and the Constitution, and Reproduction and the Law. Her research focuses on reproductive rights law, exploring questions related to state control over reproductive health care and women’s access to such care. Her recent work has focused on the question of whether a woman’s medical decisions during pregnancy and labor can form the basis for later child welfare proceedings.

Prior to joining to joining the AU faculty full-time, Professor Waters was an adjunct professor at Washington College of Law and a litigator at WilmerHale, where she specialized in criminal defense and reproductive rights litigation and advocacy. She also clerked for the Honorable Emmet Sullivan on the D.C. District Court and worked for a reproductive rights non-profit organization.

Professor Waters also coaches the undergraduate Mock Trial Team.