Lambda Legal




Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2020):

Revenue: $25,492,804
Expenses: $18,172,341
Assets: $29,437,377


LGBT Advocacy Group


Kevin Jennings

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Lambda Legal Defense and Educational Fund, better known as Lambda Legal, is a left-leaning, social justice-oriented LGBT advocacy organization based in New York City. Lambda Legal advocates against gender and sexual orientation discrimination, HIV discrimination in the workplace, and immigration issues that concern LGBT or HIV-positive immigrants and refugees. The organization is highly critical of the Trump administration, Republican judicial appointees, and religious freedom for privately held businesses, and has created multiple projects and campaigns surrounding those issues.


Neomi Rao Opposition

Lambda Legal signed a letter with 18 other left-wing organizations in February 2019 urging the Senate not to confirm Trump judicial nominee Neomi Rao to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The letter alleged that Rao holds “essential contempt for those seeking full LGBT equality” and “disdain for the legal needs of LGBT people.” The letter was released amid a campaign against Rao, a critic of liberal administrative law, from left-leaning organizations. 1

Out At Work (Outat.Work)

Out at Work (or is a project of Lambda Legal that aims to provide legal assistance to people that claim harassment or foul treatment in the work place due to their being LGBT or HIV-positive. The project also aims to serve immigrants and “religious minorities” who require civil rights legal assistance. 2

We Object

We Object is a project of Lambda Legal attacking the the Trump administration and its policy agenda created in reaction to the 2016 presidential election. The We Object page on the Lambda Legal website shows news stories regarding President Trump’s supposed discrimination against the LGBT community. The page links to a page requesting donations to help “fund the resistance.” 3

Wilkins v. Austin

On November 10, 2022, Lambada Legal filed a legal complaint against United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III and United States Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth over a policy within the U.S Department of Defense which “requires that applicants for appointment and enlistment, as well as individuals being inducted into the military Services, be screened for HIV and denied entry if they test positive.” 4 Representing plaintiffs that allege they were discriminated against when they tested HIV-positive during the U.S Military recruitment process, including discharged National Guard recruit Isaiah Wilkins, Lambda Legal argues that such policy “violates the plaintiffs’ Equal Protection Rights under the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause” 5 as well as the Administrative Procedure Act as the Department “failed to update Department of Defense policies regarding HIV medical science and enlistment and enlisted HIV-positive individuals.” 6 7  According to Lambda Legal senior attorney Kara Ingelhart, “This policy undermines efforts to build and maintain a strong, vibrant military, and there’s no scientific support for it. We will keep fighting until it ends.” 8



Kevin Jennings is the CEO of Lambda Legal, having been appointed to the position in December 2019. He previously served as Assistant Secretary of Education during the Obama Administration and later the Executive Director of LGBTQ grantmaking organization the Arcus Foundation. 9 10 11

Richard Burns was the interim CEO of Lambda Legal following the October 2018 retirement of CEO Rachel Tiven and before Jennings’ appointment to the position in December 2019. Burns previously served in executive positions at multiple left-leaning giving organizations including the Stonewall Community Foundation, Arcus Foundation, and the LGBT Community Center. 12 Burns currently serves on the board of directors of Proteus Fund, a left-leaning philanthropy organization that funds liberal advocacy for issues such as internet regulation.

Rachel B. Tiven served as the CEO of Lambda Legal until her resignation in August of 2018 to work for the Democratic Party of Georgia. She previously worked as executive director for Immigration Equality, a LGBTQ and immigration advocacy organization. 13 14


Jon Davidson served as the legal director for Lambda Legal until 2018. He previously worked as a director of lesbian and gay rights at ACLU of Southern California, an affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a major social-liberal advocacy and litigation organization funded in part by George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, Tides Foundation, and Ford Foundation. 15

Sharon McGowan serves as the director of strategy for Lambda Legal. She previously served as a staff attorney for ACLU. McGowan is a member of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, an organization funded by the Open Society Foundations and the Human Rights Campaign, one of the largest LGBTQ rights advocacy organizations in the Unites States. 16

Dorothee Benz is the chief communications officer for Lambda Legal. She previously worked as the director of public affairs for the Brennan Center for Justice, a left-leaning think tank associated with the NYU School of Law. Benz also served as the deputy director of member communications for the United Federation of Teachers, the government worker union for New York City public schoolteachers. 17

Hayley Gorenberg serves as the deputy legal director for Lambda Legal. She previously worked as co-chair of the civil rights litigation committee of the American Bar Association and as a law clerk at the Sierra Club, one of the largest environmentalist organizations in the United Sates. 18


According to its 2017 IRS filing, Lambda Legal reported revenues of $5,014,876 in 2017, more than $10 million less than it did in 2016 when its total revenue was listed as more than $16 million. 19

The Open Society Foundations made two donations to Lambda Legal totaling almost $500,000 in 2016. 20

Ford Foundation, a center-left foundation that funds left-wing issues and organizations, has given $1.5 million to Lambda Legal since 2006.

The Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund, a grantmaking organization that primarily funds social justice-oriented entities, has donated $792,000 to Lambda Legal since 2010. 21

Overbrook Foundation, a left-leaning foundation, gave $60,000 to Lambda Legal in 2017 and 2018 as part of a three-year grant. 22


  1. “National, State and Local LGBT Organizations Oppose Confirmation of Neomi Rao to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.” Lambda Legal. February 4, 2019. Accessed March 12, 2019.
  2. “Out At Work.” Lambda Legal. Accessed March 13, 2019.
  3. “We Object.” Lambda Legal. Accessed March 12, 2019.
  4. “Wilkins v. Austin.” Lambda Legal, November 10, 2022.
  5. Cassell, Heather. “Lambda Legal Sues Military for Discrimination of HIV-Positive Recruits.” Gay City News, November 22, 2022.
  6. Cassell, Heather. “Lambda Legal Sues Military for Discrimination of HIV-Positive Recruits.” Gay City News, November 22, 2022.
  7. “Wilkins v. Austin.” Lambda Legal, November 10, 2022.
  8.  Cassell, Heather. “Lambda Legal Sues Military for Discrimination of HIV-Positive Recruits.” Gay City News, November 22, 2022.
  9. “Kevin Jennings.” Lambda Legal, Accessed December 5, 2022.
  10. Ocamb, Karen. “Kevin Jennings: new leadership at Lambda Legal.” The Washington Blade, December 3, 2019.
  11. “Contributor: Kevin Jennings.” The Huffington Post, Accessed December 5, 2022.
  12. “Richard Burns.” LinkedIn. Accessed March 13, 2019.
  13. “Lambda Legal CEO Rachel Tiven Resigns.” Lambda Legal. Accessed March 12, 2019.
  14. “Rachel B. Tiven.” LinkedIn. Accessed March 12, 2019.
  15. “Jon Davidson” LinkedIn. Accessed March 12, 2019.
  16. “Sharon McGowan” LinkedIn. Accessed March 12, 2019.
  17. “Dorothee Benz” LinkedIn. Accessed March 12, 2019.
  18. “Hayley Gorenberg” LinkedIn. Accessed March 12, 2019.
  19. IRS Return of Nonprofit Organization, 2016. “Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund.” Part 1, Line 12.
  20. “Grants Database – Lambda Legal.” Open Society Foundations. Accessed March 13, 2019.
  21. “Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund.” Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund. August 02, 2015. Accessed March 13, 2019.
  22. “Gender Rights – 2018.” The Overbrook Foundation. Accessed March 13, 2019.

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Richard Burns
    Interim CEO
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: July 1, 1974

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2020 Dec Form 990 $25,492,804 $18,172,341 $29,437,377 $6,027,571 N $24,661,820 $240,385 $237,256 $1,147,023
    2019 Dec Form 990 $16,798,445 $18,882,620 $18,124,614 $3,564,189 Y $15,187,411 $393,991 $384,397 $1,119,805 PDF
    2018 Dec Form 990 $17,351,939 $18,753,306 $18,566,771 $3,082,957 Y $16,771,050 $94,517 $457,906 $887,001 PDF
    2017 Dec Form 990 $5,014,876 $3,373,779 $21,665,093 $3,061,117 N $4,893,667 $0 $162,150 $59,570 PDF
    2017 Oct Form 990 $16,861,051 $20,258,344 $19,865,270 $3,069,080 N $15,751,957 $565,783 $404,571 $1,827,968 PDF
    2016 Oct Form 990 $19,722,436 $17,985,886 $22,530,139 $3,168,463 N $17,554,748 $636,048 $286,800 $2,132,315
    2015 Oct Form 990 $18,064,537 $17,533,244 $21,900,582 $3,048,792 N $16,186,205 $1,595,936 $218,297 $1,542,293 PDF
    2014 Oct Form 990 $15,176,226 $16,207,862 $21,314,327 $2,817,970 N $14,799,531 $23,461 $220,591 $1,515,982 PDF
    2013 Oct Form 990 $14,425,910 $14,363,398 $21,902,360 $2,766,933 N $14,174,147 $47,883 $162,157 $1,448,539 PDF
    2012 Oct Form 990 $16,653,685 $13,109,746 $20,660,026 $2,565,687 N $16,008,476 $436,699 $58,993 $1,373,999 PDF
    2011 Oct Form 990 $11,939,618 $12,320,456 $16,463,942 $2,019,040 N $11,662,210 $255,605 $49,764 $1,085,362 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Lambda Legal

    NEW YORK, NY 10005-3919