Denise is the Chief Policy Officer for Family Equality Council, a national non-profit that serves and advocates for LGBTQ families. She works with federal, state and local LGBTQ organizations to reform laws and policies that negatively impact or constitute obstacles to full lived equality for those families. Prior to joining Family Equality Council, Denise served as Executive Director of Equality Michigan, a statewide LGBTQ advocacy organization. Previously, Denise served as Equality Michigan’s Board Chair while engaged in private law practice at Rainbow Law Center, a firm she co-founded with her wife Mary (’84) after graduating from the University of Michigan to serve the legal needs of Southeast Michigan’s LGBTQ community.
A U.S. Navy Submarine veteran, Denise was the first openly transgender person to attend Michigan Law, and later the first openly transgender law professor, teaching a seminar on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression and the Law. During her time in Ann Arbor, she was a board member of Outlaws, served on the Board of the Washtenaw Rainbow Action Center (now the Jim Toy Community Center), and along with other outspoken advocates, successfully lobbied the University of Michigan Board of Regents to add gender identity and expression to the University’s non-discrimination by-laws. Prior to attending law school, Denise had a 25-year career in business finance. She and her wife currently live in Florida, near her daughter and two grandchildren.