Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 28

Transgender individuals face a host of
challenges. According to the American
Psychological Association, LGBTQ individuals
are more vulnerable to conditions of poverty
compared to heterosexuals, and homeless
LGBTQ youth are 62 percent more likely to
attempt suicide than heterosexual youth. At
times, members of the community resort to
working in the sex trade to survive. In addition,
the National Alliance to End Homelessness
notes that LGBTQ youth are more likely to
experience harassment or violence.
Eventually, Corado started to rebuild her life,
working as an outreach worker at WhitmanWalker Health and helping to establish the DC
Trans Coalition, which is "dedicated to fighting
for human rights, dignity, and liberation for transgender, transsexual, and gender-diverse" people
in the District. She also helped Washington
amend its Human Rights Act to include protections for gender identity or expression.
But the roller coaster hit a low point in 2008
when a man Corado had been dating beat her
so badly she went into a deep depression and
tried to commit suicide. "He tried to destroy
me," she recalls. After the suicide attempt, she
ended up hospitalized, and some of the young
people she had helped came to see her. "They
were like, 'How dare you! Do you know what's
going to happen to us if you're not here?' That
clicked in my head. The next day, I was thinking
to myself, I've got work to do."
She applied for Social Security disability status
and received a settlement of back payments
of $12,000.

world is about building relationships," she says.
"And I felt that nobody wanted to build a relationship with a homeless transgender woman
with HIV." Working with the Pro Bono Center,
"I felt I had won a prize."
Even though she had never been to college,
Corado says the Pro Bono Center's support
helped her think, "I am somebody, and I will
become somebody, and I will help people
everywhere to become somebody."
Corado, along with Casa Ruby Deputy Executive
Director Larry Villegas-Perez, attended a series
of training sessions offered by the Pro Bono
Center. Every year, the Center offers a four-part
series on employment law for nonprofits and an
eight-part training on their overall legal needs.

The Pro Bono Center
continues to
match Casa Ruby with
pro bono attorneys
to help with legal issues
that require more
in-depth support.

PROVIDING A SAFE HAVEN
Years earlier, Corado had had a dream of
opening a shelter for transgender people like
herself. With the money from the settlement,
she established Casa Ruby's first home, also on
Georgia Avenue. On the day it opened in 2012,
more than 200 people showed up, she says.
"It proved to me that this was what the community wanted."
But she also knew she needed help in making
sure the nonprofit was set up to succeed and
survive. Partnering both with Georgetown
University Law Center's Community Justice
Project and the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center,
Corado started learning what she needed to
do to make that happen.
"I love the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center because as
a transgender woman who comes from a marginalized background, I know that the nonprofit
28 WASHINGTON LAWYER

*

In addition, the Pro Bono Center holds nonprofit
brief advice legal clinics. These one-day clinics
focus on a specific topic such as corporate
governance or hiring employees, and pro bono
attorneys with transactional law expertise
provide one-on-one consultations.
In Casa Ruby's case, Larry Chattoo, associate
general counsel and senior vice president of
Bank of America, and Marissa Halligan, assistant
general counsel and senior vice president at the
bank, met with Corado and others to update
Casa Ruby's bylaws and conflict of interest
policy. Corado, says Chattoo, "was just fantastic.
I could tell she was very passionate about this
organization that she had created."
"She has a resilience in her that I have not
seen in many others," says Lauren Paley, a

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2019

program specialist at the Pro Bono Center.
"Local nonprofits sometimes forget the things
they need to do day to day to maintain their
tax status," she says. "There are many organizations that end up not doing it properly or
on time, and that can affect them in a bigger
way over time."
The Pro Bono Center continues to match
Casa Ruby with pro bono attorneys to help
with legal issues that require more in-depth
support. For example, Corado needed help to
understand the process for serving as a fiscal
sponsor for other organizations, smaller ones
that were not quite ready to claim their own
nonprofit status but wanted to accept donations as part of a larger nonprofit group like
Casa Ruby.
Darryl Maxwell, assistant director of the Pro
Bono Center's Nonprofit & Small Business Legal
Assistance Programs, says that Casa Ruby was
matched with attorneys at Dechert LLP to
become a fiscal sponsor and to smooth the
process of a name change.

'THEY WILL BE SOMEBODY'
Corado's passion has translated into an everexpanding bilingual, multicultural nonprofit
with a current operating budget of just over
$2 million. In addition to its main site on Georgia
Avenue, Casa Ruby operates two other group
homes and recently opened a drop-in center
in Anacostia because, says Corado, it's often
difficult for clients to make their way from
Southeast D.C. to the city's northern
neighborhoods.
There are 50 beds in Casa Ruby's respite care
center, 10 in emergency housing, and another
10 in a transitional living program, says
Consuella López, director of operations. The
housing is in such demand that there is almost
always a 100-person wait list, notes Holly
Goldmann, director of external affairs.
Casa Ruby also offers a separate wellness
center for mental health, a non-medical case
manager, help for victims of crimes, and an
active immigration center. Several large rooms
store donated clothing.
Those who come to Casa Ruby also have
fun. Each week, the shelter hosts Walk for
Me Wednesday, in which transgender clients
put on makeup and pretty outfits and
practice "voguing," or walking to music
like models on a catwalk. The afternoon can
include dancing and the occasional fashion
show. At the same time, clients can be tested



Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Practice Management
Calendar of Events
Going Above and Beyond feature
On Safer Ground feature
Casa Ruby Profile
Pro Bono Effect
Member Spotlight
Worth Reading
Media Bytes
Attorney Briefs
Ask the Ethics Experts
Disciplinary Summaries
Community & Connections
Last Word
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 1
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 2
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 3
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 7
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 9
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 11
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Going Above and Beyond feature
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 13
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 14
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 15
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 16
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 17
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - On Safer Ground feature
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 19
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 20
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 21
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 22
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 23
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 24
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 25
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Casa Ruby Profile
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 27
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 28
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 29
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 30
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 31
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 33
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 34
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 35
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 36
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Member Spotlight
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 38
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 39
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 41
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Media Bytes
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 46
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 47
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Last Word
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Cover4
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