September 23, 2016 at 4:32 pm EDT | by Peter Rosenstein
Comings & Goings
Comings & Goings, gay news, Washington Blade

The ‘Comings & Goings’ column chronicles important life changes of Blade readers.

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at

Congratulations to Melissa Sklarz who has been appointed director of development at the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund. TLDEF is committed to ending discrimination based on gender identity and expression and to achieving equality for transgender people through public education, test-case litigation, direct legal services and public policy efforts.

Sklarz is a respected political stalwart in New York who brings decades of transgender advocacy to the post. Her own personal story as an out and celebrated transgender activist in the state adds to the significance of the hire.

TLDEF Executive Director Jillian Weiss said, “We are thrilled and honored to welcome Melissa Sklarz as our new director of development. Melissa is a powerful voice in our community with a long and exemplary track record of fighting tirelessly for the rights of transgender New Yorkers.”

Sklarz became the first transgender person elected to office in New York in 1999 when she was elected Judicial Delegate from the 66th Assembly District. She was also the first transgender person from New York to be a delegate at the Democratic National Convention in 2016, after being appointed to the Credentials Committee in 2004 and 2012, and the Rules Committee in 2008.

Sklarz is a past board co-chair of the Empire State Pride Agenda and stood by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s side when he announced transgender legal and civil rights protections in New York in 2015.

“I am extremely grateful to take on this new role as TLDEF’s chief fundraiser,” Sklarz said. “I’ve spent a large part of my life standing up for my trans community so it seems fitting for me to take that advocacy to the next level by working with TLDEF, an organization I’ve long respected, supported and admired. I am looking forward to working closely with Jillian, the board of directors and my fellow staff members. … I am thrilled to be a trans person, raising funds for a trans-run organization, helping trans communities.”

Sklarz sat on the NYPD Commissioner’s LGBT Advisory Committee, assisted the Hetrick-Martin Institute with its new transgender program for young adults, and was on the SAGE Advisory Committee for LGBT seniors.

Melissa Sklarz, gay news, Washington Blade

Melissa Sklarz  (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Congratulations also to Paul Thaler who was appointed director of external affairs for the National LGBT Bar Association. In this role, Paul will foster relationships between the LGBT Bar and its members, leadership and outside constituencies, including law schools, law firms and corporations. He will also develop programming that the LGBT Bar puts on for the benefit of its members and the LGBT and ally legal community.

Thaler received his bachelor’s in History and Media & Communication from Muhlenberg College, and a J.D. from the University of Baltimore, School of Law. After law school, he worked as an attorney for two litigation firms in the Baltimore area. Most recently, he was the Assistant Director of the Law Career Development Office at the University of Baltimore, School of Law. Paul is an active member of the Maryland State Bar Association, where he is vice chair and secretary of the Legal Education & Admission to the Bar section. He is a 2016-2017 Fellow of the Maryland State Bar Association’s Leadership Academy.

Paul Thaler

Paul Thaler

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