Project and Program Highlights/Archive

ABA Exhibit "100 Years After the 19th Amendment: Their Legacy, and Our Future”

The exhibit is co-sponsored by the Nathaniel R. Jones Center for Race, Gender and Social Justice, and the UC Law Library, and is part of the Jones Center’s programming to commemorate the 19th Amendment.

Access to the exhibit is restricted to Cincinnati Law faculty, staff, and students. View the exhibit.

The Bill Morelli Endowment Fund for the Nathaniel R. Jones Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice at the College of Law provided funding for this event.

CLE: 4.5hrs approved for Kentucky; approval pending in OH.

The Morelli Colloquium, hosted by the University of Cincinnati College of Law, presents three dynamic panels addressing critical issues facing the LGBTQ+ community.

Panel One: "This is Where We Are" delves into the landscape of LGBTQ+ rights in Ohio, contextualizing them within national trends and recent judicial decisions. Expert panelists will offer insights into the current legal framework and its implications for LGBTQ+ individuals.

Panel Two: "Healthcare Access" explores the challenges surrounding gender-affirming care, including common restrictions and their disproportionate impact on transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. The discussion will highlight the need for inclusive healthcare policies and address carve outs for cisgender and intersex individuals.

Panel Three: "Expanding the Family" examines the intersection of family law and LGBTQ+ rights, focusing on issues such as parentage, adoption, custody, and social services. Panelists will analyze how existing legal frameworks affect LGBTQ+ families and explore avenues for progress and inclusivity.

Join us for an engaging exploration of these crucial topics at the Morelli Colloquium, where legal experts and activists come together to drive positive change for the LGBTQ+ community.

8:30 – 9am – Welcome and Light Breakfast

9:00 – 10:30am This is Where We Are

10:45am – 12:15pm Healthcare Access

12:30 – 2:15pm Expanding the Family

2:15 – 2:30pm Closing Remarks 

Panel A: This is Where We Are

JACK HARRISON he/him (Northern Kentucky Salmon P. Chase College of Law, David and Nancy Wolf Chair in Ethics and Professional Identity, Professor of Law, and Director of the Center for Excellence in Advocacy)

Beginning with the 2023-24 academic year, Professor Jack Harrison became the first Northern Kentucky University Chase College of Law faculty member to hold the college’s first endowed academic chair in its 130-year history – the David and Nancy Wolf Chair in Ethics and Professional Identity. Professor Harrison is also the director of the Chase Center for Excellence in Advocacy, which offers students specialized opportunities to develop advocacy skills.

Professor Harrison currently teaches Civil Procedure, Torts, Professional Responsibility, and Sexuality, Identity and the Law. His research and scholarship focus on topics related to civil procedure, federal courts, and sexuality, identity and the law.

Prior to beginning his academic career with Chase in 2011, Professor Harrison spent almost twenty years as a practicing attorney, representing clients in litigation matters primarily in the areas of product liability defense and employment discrimination defense. Professor Harrison was a partner at a large Cincinnati law firm, becoming the first openly gay person elected partner at a large Cincinnati law firm. He continues to be Of Counsel in the firm Cors & Bassett.

In 2023, the Cincinnati Bar Association honored Professor Harrison with the Gerhardstein and Branch LGBTQ+ Legal Advocacy Award for the efforts he has made in furthering the cause of LGBTQ+ rights. Professor Harrison also recently served as Chair of the Section on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Issues of the American Association of Law Schools 

He holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Cincinnati College of Law, a Master of Arts and a Bachelor of Sacred Theology from St. Mary’s Seminary and University, and a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Carson Hartlage (they/he)

Carson Hartlage (they/he) is a proud Northwest Ohio native, current Cincinnati resident and TransOhio board member. They have been involved in LGBTQ+ and trans advocacy at the institutional, local, state, and national levels with a particular focus on health policy and education. Carson is an activist and a lifelong student with the ultimate goal of serving trans patients and fighting for a better healthcare system for al.

Sean McCann (he/him/his)

Sean is a policy strategist at the ACLU of Ohio in Columbus, passionately dedicated to advancing equal justice for all. With a background in legislative affairs, Sean collaborates across departments, with coalition partners, and elected officials to advance the ACLU's policy agenda, focusing on death penalty abolition and LGBTQ+ rights advocacy, issues close to his heart.

Prior to his role at the ACLU, Sean served in various capacities at the Ohio House of Representatives, contributing to legislative achievements including criminal justice reform. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from The Ohio State University. Outside of work, Sean enjoys reading, cheering for Cleveland sports teams, playing rec sports, indulging in fantasy/sci-fi entertainment, and exploring craft beer.

Panel B: Healthcare Access

Ryan Thoreson (he/him)

Ryan Thoreson is an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. Prior to joining the faculty, he was a researcher in the LGBT Rights Program at Human Rights Watch and a clinical lecturer in international human rights at Yale Law School. He is the author of Transnational LGBT Activism: Working for Sexual Rights Worldwide (University of Minnesota Press, 2014). Thoreson holds a law degree from Yale Law School, a doctorate in anthropology from the University of Oxford, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar, and a bachelor’s degree in government and studies of women, gender, and sexuality from Harvard University.

Nick Zingarelli, he/they 

Nick Zingarelli is employed by the University of Cincinnati College of Law as the Director and Chief Attorney of the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Help Center. The Help Center provides information and advice by appointment to unrepresented people with issues in the Hamilton County Municipal Court and the Hamilton County Juvenile Court. Nick was previously the founder of Zingarelli Law Office. For 12 years, Zingarelli Law Office focused on representation of people and small businesses in debt-related matters, including Chapter 7, Chapter 13, and Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Nick is an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ rights and has fought against harmful legislation like HB 68 through testimony in front of the Ohio House, Ohio Senate, Missouri House, and Missouri Senate. Nick has also been featured in the Cincinnati Enquirer, Columbus Dispatch, Ohio Capital Journal, Washington Post, WLWT, WKRC, and Cincinnati Edition in speaking out against HB 68. They have been happily married for 19 years to their wife. The two of them have an amazing child together.

Maria Bruno, Esq. she/her

Maria Bruno, Esq., is a lifelong Ohioan and has been a community advocate for more than a decade. She has worked on a variety of public policy and civic engagement initiatives related to civil rights, economic justice, criminal justice, housing access, and voting. Maria joined Equality Ohio, an education and advocacy organization dedicated to pursuing lived and legal equality for LGBTQ+ Ohioans, in August 2021. Maria directs Equality Ohio's legislative strategy and engagement for state, local, and federal public policy.

Panel C:  Expanding the Family

Scott Knox, he/him (Practicing Attorney)

Scott Knox has a Master’s Degree from the University of Cincinnati Medical College and a law degree from the University of Cincinnati College of Law. He practices mainly in the areas of LGBTQ+ legal issues, estate planning and administration, and Social Security Disability/SSI benefits. He is currently on the boards of Strategies to End Homelessness, the Holocaust and Humanity Center, Equality Cincinnati PAC, Ohio Lesbian Archives, and the Hamilton County Democratic Party Executive Committee. He opened the first estate in Ohio where a man was recognized as the spouse of his deceased husband and won two pro bono GLBTQ-rights cases before the Ohio Supreme Court. He has served as a lecturer at the Ohio Judicial College to educate Ohio’s probate court judges on gay marriage issues. Scott has been honored with several awards from the 1990’s to present, including the 1999 Stonewall Cincinnati Ron Adkins Leadership Award, and the 2018 Human Rights Campaign, Cincinnati Chapter David C. Crowley Leadership Award in recognition of legal work for the Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender communities, and the 2022 Nicholas J. Longworth, III, Alumni Achievement Award from the University of Cincinnati College of Law, He was especially touched to have been the Grand Marshall of the 2005 Cincinnati Pride Parade and to have received the 2014 Cincinnati Bar Association Potter Stewart Inn of Court Andrew B. Dennison Courageous Advocate Award for the attorney “who upholds the professional obligation to represent the poor, the unpopular, or the friendless”. 

Nicole Kersting, she/her (Practicing Attorney)

Ms. Kersting's journey began in Northern Kentucky before she pursued her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at the University of Louisville, later graduating from the Brandeis School of Law in 2011. Engaged in student organizations, especially those advocating for LGBTQ+ rights, she discovered her passion for legal protections before nationwide marriage recognition, serving as an executive board member of the Fairness Campaign.

Following the bar exam, Ms. Kersting co-founded Durrett & Kersting, PLLC, focusing on family law and LGBTQ+ issues. The firm has since grown significantly, employing a full-time associate and two staff members, with plans to expand further.

Specializing in family law, Ms. Kersting is particularly dedicated to LGBTQ+ related cases and second parent adoption. Personally, she resides in Bullitt County with her wife, their dog, four cats, 11 chickens, and their cherished horse.

Marc Spindelman, he/him

Marc Spindelman, Isadore and Ida Topper Professor of Law at Moritz, is a distinguished legal scholar known for his expertise in Constitutional Law, Family Law, and Critical Theory/Critical Lawyering. He has also taught innovative courses such as The Rule of Law in the Age of Legal Change. Professor Spindelman's teaching extends beyond Ohio State, with visiting professorships at Michigan Law School, Georgetown University Law Center, and Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law, and as a faculty associate at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.

His scholarship delves into the intersections of law, society, and culture, particularly focusing on sexuality, reproduction, death, and love. Widely published in prestigious law reviews, his work addresses LGBTQIA+ rights, reproductive justice, and critical theory. Additionally, he co-authored a leading family law casebook and is frequently cited in the media.

Before joining Ohio State, Professor Spindelman held positions as a Greenwall Fellow in Bioethics and Health Policy at Georgetown University and Johns Hopkins University, a research fellow at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, and a Reginald F. Lewis Fellow at Harvard Law School. He brings a wealth of experience from academia and legal practice to his role. Since 2021, Professor Spindelman has also served as co-editor of JOTWELL’s Equality Section.

Rachel Loftspring, she/her (Practicing Attorney)

Rachel is a Partner at the Family Law and Fertility Law Group, specializing in family building through surrogacy, egg, sperm, and embryo donation. She also facilitates same-sex family protections via step-parent adoptions and parentage actions.

As a Fertility Law attorney, Rachel advises clients worldwide on family building matters, including intended parents, gestational carriers, recipients, donors, adopting parents, and individuals/couples of all orientations and identities. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, she is licensed to practice in Ohio and Illinois.

Rachel is deeply involved in professional organizations, serving as an ART Fellow of the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys, and as a member of the American Bar Association’s ART Committee and the American Society of Reproductive Medicine.

Committed to community engagement, Rachel was the immediate Past Chair of the Board of Directors of the Jewish Fertility Foundation, earning the 2023 national PowerNET Lay Leadership award. She was also honored as Emory University’s Outstanding Alumnae of the Year in 2020 for her community contributions.

Beyond her legal and community work, Rachel is preparing to publish her debut children’s book, Mila the Maker and the 200-Piece Jigsaw Puzzle. Rachel, alongside her husband Dan, a Christ Hospital electrophysiologist, are Cincinnati natives raising their family in the city. They have two wonderful children – a creative 9-year-old daughter and a soccer-loving (go FCC!) 7-year-old son. Connect with Rachel on Instagram at @RachelLoftspring.

Collaborating for Safer Communities—summary


On October 26, 2018, a diverse group of community members gathered at the University of Cincinnati College of Law to attend and participate in a Hamilton County Domestic Violence Summit.  This Summit was collaboratively conceived of and organized by individuals at the Hamilton County Adult Probation Department, Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati, Ohio Justice and Policy Center, University of Cincinnati College of Law Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice, Women Helping Women, and YWCA Greater Cincinnati, out of their shared commitment to improving systemwide response to domestic violence locally.  Improving systemwide response requires systemwide participation, thus, the Summit organizers aimed to bring together people from various different local organizations and agencies whose work involves intimate partner abuse – and we succeeded.  Over 110 people attended, including: law enforcement, social workers, magistrates and judges, child welfare workers and advocates, victim advocates, probation and parole officers, criminal defense, prosecutors, and domestic relations lawyers, batterer intervention program staff, professors and law students, and mediators.  The below Summary briefly describes what happened at the Summit and also identifies specific issues and possible next steps.

Synopsis of Program

Training Session

Three training sessions were held in the morning: “Understanding Cases That Don’t Make Sense”; “Domestic Violence and Lethality”; and “Post-Conviction Considerations in Domestic Violence Cases.”  

Training topics included: 

  • Batterer manipulation, 
  • the systemic challenges and obstacles victims face, 
  • research on recantation, 
  • why victims stay in abusive relationships and/or don’t participate in prosecutions,
  • lethality factors and assessment, 
  • and post-conviction best practices.

Keynote Address

“No One Can Do It Alone: Building a Coordinated Community Response to End Gender-Based Abuse” by Kit Gruelle, Advocate, Survivor, featured in the HBO Documentary Private Violence

Ms. Gruelle presented models and best practices for systemwide responses to gender-based abuse based on her more than 30 years’ experience in the field and her extensive work on coordinating community responses.  

Small Group Workshops

After lunch, ten small groups met in break-out sessions to discuss two hypothetical situations.  The hypotheticals and the facilitator prompts are available online.  By design, these groups included participants who work in different areas of the system to facilitate discussions from varying perspectives and priorities, to identify potential gaps in the system, and to encourage brainstorming on how to develop collaborative, systemwide strategies for improvement.

Plenary Panel Discussion: “Best Practices, Goals, and Next Steps”

The Summit’s final session was a plenary panel discussion designed to build on the day’s earlier trainings and small group workshops, and to help pull things together.  Each of the five panelists spoke briefly about where his or her organization fit into Hamilton County's systems and structures for addressing and responding to domestic violence, and about that organization's existing best practices relating to collaborating with others in the system. The moderator opened up the panel for attendee/audience Q&A, with the goal of discussing how different actors in the system can foster a more integrated response to domestic violence in Hamilton County.  Following Q&A, the panel transitioned to a discussion of “next steps” that had begun to emerge from the day’s work and the panel’s and audience members’ insights.

Resources Available in Hamilton County

The planning committee for the Summit compiled a list of domestic-violence-related resources available in Hamilton County that was included in the packet of materials distributed to the participants.

Issues Identified and Possible Next Steps

Based on the discussion that took place during the final session of the Summit, a review of the notes taken in the break-out groups, and the evaluations, the following is a summary of key issues identified and possible next steps.

Issues and possible next steps for combatting domestic violence in Hamilton County.
Issues Identified (recurring) Possible Next Steps

Partnerships between law enforcement and victim advocacy agencies for early intervention (i.e., DVERT Program (CPD and Women Helping Women) and LAP Program (Colerain PD and YWCA))

Create more collaborations between law enforcement and DV advocates for early and comprehensive response

Cultural competency - Adequately addressing the needs of our most under-served, vulnerable, minority, and immigrant populations

Recruiting, hiring, and training officers who are multi-lingual
Translation services – improve and increase
More community liaisons to work with/for diverse populations

Need to move to evidence-based prosecution

  • Strangulation
  • Identifying primary aggressor

Training based on known best practices
Strangulations should be prosecuted as felonies (deadly force); police officers can serve as experts

Collect evidence so that DV cases can be prosecuted without victim participation

Need for greater understanding of victims’ circumstances, actions, and responses

Community education on the impact of batterer manipulation, why victims don’t leave abusive relationships and/or cooperate with prosecution
Remove barriers in the systems
Use trauma-informed practices with victims

Need for more systemwide understanding of protection orders, Amy’s Law, and lethality factors

Systemwide Training

Lack of Defendant Intervention Services

Looking at the possibility of implementing a high risk response team locally

Need for more coordination between criminal and civil systems

Community conversations to improve communication and collaboration
Identifying opportunities for cross-training

Services for children who are abused and exposed to violence, who are at risk of themselves becoming abusers and/or juvenile offenders

Identifying existing resources and gaps

Privacy issues related to the use of body worn cameras and video by the parties

Community education on what is happening, best practices, and the law

Pre-trial issues:  Bond, Bail, and Electronic Monitoring

Community education on what is happening, best practices, and the law

Everyone is a potential first responder

Training for first responders, broadly defined

The Next Step

The first post-Summit event, which will include training and opportunities for networking, will be held in January. We will be contacting you with the details soon.  If you are interested in being part of the planning committee for the January event, please contact Angela Inglis at  We hope you will join us for future events.  Let’s keep the momentum going!

With generous funding from:

Stephen H. Wilder and Cincinnati Bar Foundation logos

Co-sponsored by: