The National LGBT Bar Association named Wesley Bizzell and Jesse Loffler to new leadership positions. Bizzell, senior assistant general counsel for Altria Client Services Inc., is the new president of its board of directors; and Loffler, a complex commercial litigator at Cozen O’Connor in Pittsburgh, is president-elect of its foundation board of directors.
The LGBT Bar will celebrate their new roles with an inaugural event April 25 in Washington, D.C.
Bizzell oversees political law and ethics, and external affairs such as lobbying for Altria Group Inc. and its companies, which include Philip Morris USA Inc. Based in Washington, D.C., he has been with Altria since 2007.
“The LGBT Bar has been a long time thought leader on issues of concern to legal professionals and to all people interested in equality,” he said, ”and will continue to fight vigorously to ensure equality for all. I’m excited to lead this remarkable organization.”
Bizzell said he will lead a board of 18 individuals to “meet the needs of LGBTQ attorneys, law students, judges and legal professionals.” Its premier event is an annual Lavender Law Conference and career fair, which Bizzell said drew over 1,700 attendees last year on its 30th anniversary.
“We also engage extensively with law students, working with them on policy issues,” he said. “Two of those we’ve been focusing on involve prohibiting discriminatory exclusion of LGBTQ jurors, as well as ensuring there are statutes to prohibit what we call the ‘gay and trans panic defense.’ We worked on a resolution before the [American Bar Association] to ensure that the legal process both respects and protects LGBTQ parents with adoption and other laws.”
A longtime member of the bar’s board, Bizzell was a co-founder of, and serves on the leadership team for, Altria’s LGBTQ employee resource group. Prior to joining Altria, he worked six years as an associate at Winston & Strawn in D.C. He is a magna cum laude graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center.
The other new leader, Loffler, will serve as the bar’s president-elect for one year under president Nancy Halas and then will assume the presidency next year. He said the foundation is the oversight and strategic development arm of the organization.
Loffler said the foundation helps with strategic direction, managing finances, planning the annual Lavender Law event and corporate governance, while relying on the group’s executive staff to handle the daily work.
“I’ve been the treasurer of the foundation for the last two years,” he said, “and I am very excited to continue the wave of progress into the future in support of the LBGTQ community.”
He is a former board member who also maintains an extensive pro bono practice serving a range of clients, including on LBGTQ issues. He received the 2018 E. Nathaniel Gates Award, which honors the memory of a former professor at the Benjamin Cardozo School of Law who was dedicated to the ideals of equality and social justice.
Loffler also sits on the diversity committee and the LGBTQ attorney resource group at Cozen O’Connor.
D’Arcy Kemnitz, executive director of the LGBT Bar, issued a statement welcoming the two men to their new positions. “Both have demonstrated a clear passion and dedication to furthering diversity, inclusion, and equality through and within the legal profession,” her statement said. “I am confident the LGBT Bar will rise to new heights under their stewardship.”