In honor of Pride Month, Waller interviewed several of LGBTQ+ attorneys, staff, and allies to ask them about their experiences as LGBTQ+ professionals. We will be sharing interviews throughout the month of June in various formats on our website and social media platforms as a way to amplify the thoughts, voices, and experiences of our LGBTQ+ colleagues.
Today, we highlight Trial & Appellate Paralegal, Jeana Clark. Jeana has been part of the Waller team for 19 years. She is originally from Nederland, Texas and attended Trevecca Nazarene University where she earned her B.A. She then went on to earn her paralegal certificate from Southeastern Paralegal Institute.
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Describe your role, position, and responsibilities at Waller.
Paralegal with primary focus on complex Healthcare litigation; manage large volumes of data using cutting edge eDiscovery solutions
What made you choose your profession? Any specific person or experiences that impacted or influenced that decision/your path?
The late Fyke Farmer, a Nashville attorney, who obtained a brief stay of execution for Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. I interviewed Mr. Farmer in late 1990, for a school paper, and he was still as passionate about the work he did for the Rosenbergs as he had been the day that he filed their appeal in 1953. In addition, I was influenced by the late George Barrett a/k/a “the Citizen”, a longtime Nashville attorney. Mr. Barrett was very involved in the Civil Rights movement and workers’ rights. He was always on the side of the underdog and that resonated with me.
What does Pride mean to you?
The ability to be who you are without shame, fear or social stigma.
Why do you think it’s important that we celebrate Pride?
To remember those who have fought diligently for LGBTQ+ rights, to encourage others to continue to fight for equality and to celebrate the progress we’ve made. To show those who would prefer that we hide in the shadows that we are here and we will not be erased.
Are there any influential gay people (could be family, colleague, historical figure, celebrity, etc) that have inspired you? If so, who? Do you feel comfortable sharing the how/why?
Judy Dlugacz, one of the founders of Olivia Records in 1973 and the founder of Olivia Cruise Line in 1990. I met and worked with Judy and several of the other founders of Olivia Records in 1980. Olivia Records was established to promote music that validated women’s and lesbian’s experiences. One of their visions was for women to gain social power and focus on employing women, promoting women, and investing women’s money in women. In 1990, Olivia Travel offered its first all-woman cruise and today Olivia Travel is the leading travel company for lesbians and LGBTQ+ women. It remains the only company in the world offering cruises catering just to lesbians.
What advice do you have to young gay professionals (or young professionals in general) embarking upon (or navigating through) their professional journey? What do you wish you had known?
Do not try to hide who you are or who you love. Be your authentic self because you have something valuable to bring to the table that no one else has - your thoughts and experiences.
Do you remember where you were when you heard about the Supreme Court ruling that made gay marriage legal across the US?
Sherry and I were listening to the breaking news coverage. We were legally married 19 days later. We’ve known each other for 38 years. We’ll be celebrating 20 years of partnership and our 7th wedding anniversary next month.
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