SheShinesOn…Janson Wu, GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders


Has served as GLAD's Executive Director since December 2014

Has a dog, Oreo, plus a growing circle of nieces, nephews, and godchildren who all currently love legos

Favorite go-to comfort meal is roasted chicken with thyme and lemon (Oreo loves the scraps!)

Describe your job in one sentence. 

I lead an organization that has been at the forefront of LGBT legal rights for almost four decades.

What did you do before working at GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders?

I worked at an anti-poverty organization outside Boston, specifically with survivors of domestic violence. I came to GLAD in 2006 and am coming on my 10 year anniversary.

What has been the hardest part about your job (or what would make your job easier)?

It’s sometimes difficult to explain the breadth of our work. Many people associate GLAD as having only worked on marriage equality, and that’s not true. We have worked on a whole breadth of issues affecting the LGBTQ community for our entire history: including HIV rights and all matters related to LGBTQ civil rights (like protecting families, and ensuring the rights of youth and elders). When I started at GLAD, I was originally focused on bringing down DOMA and on transgender rights. I’m still incredibly passionate about transgender rights, and proud that it is a big part of our work.

It can also be challenging to explain the way the law works to folks who are not lawyers. I spend a lot of time explaining to our supporters the difference between our impact litigation – which  makes strategic changes to the law through select cases that have a big effect – and direct services, which is about providing legal representation to folks who can’t afford it. And while we don’t provide direct services, we do run a great legal info line, GLAD Answers, which helps people find those resources.

What has surprised you most since starting your work with GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders?

When I first started working here, I was really impressed with the enormous experience and knowledge that the attorneys bring. Collectively, the lawyers at GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders have over 100 years of experience advocating for LGBT people, and are nationally known for their areas of expertise. I think that’s amazing and inspiring.

What advice would you give people who are interested in the type of work done by GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders?

 There are so many ways to be a part of the movement as a professional: from communications, to fundraising, to direct service, to community organizing. The most important thing is to hold on to your passion for the mission – the work can be challenging but also incredibly rewarding.

I also want people to know how incredibly important each and every person involved in this work really is – regardless of whether they are doing this work professionally. Each donor who supports the work financially and each volunteer who gives their time is changing lives and creating a better future for all of us.

Posted in SheShinesOn.