Team & Mission
The ERA Project at Columbia Law School’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Law is a law and policy think tank established in January 2021 to develop academically rigorous research, policy papers, expert guidance, and strategic leadership on the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the U.S. Constitution, and on the role of the ERA in advancing the larger cause of gender-based justice.
The ERA Project does not engage in lobbying, but instead develops academic, legal and policy expertise to support efforts to expand protections for gender-based equality and justice.
Ting Ting Cheng, Director of the ERA Project
Ting Ting is a civil rights attorney and activist. Before joining the ERA Project, she litigated gender discrimination cases at Legal Momentum, the Women's Legal Defense and Education Fund. Earlier, she was an attorney at the New York City Commission for Human Rights and a public defender and immigrant defense attorney at Brooklyn Defender Services.
Ting Ting was the Legal Director of the 2017 Women’s March on Washington and served on the National Organizing Committee. She was a foreign law clerk to Justices Albie Sachs and Edwin Cameron of the Constitutional Court of South Africa. In addition, Ting Ting was a Fulbright Scholar to South Africa where she received the Amy Biehl Award.
As a youth she was a concert oboist and performed with various orchestras in the United States, including the American Symphony. She is a graduate of the City University of New York School of Law and Bard College.
Katherine Franke, Director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law and James L. Dohr Professor of Law, is the ERA Project’s Faculty Director. Full bio available here.
Lilia Hadjiivanova, the Assistant Director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, is the ERA Project’s Administrative Director. Full bio available here.
The ERA Project's Advisory Board is made up of leaders from law, business, politics, and social justice sectors with enormous expertise and long-time work on the effort to achieve gender based-equality and finalize the ERA.
Their bios are available below.
Susan Bevan is a philanthropist and non-profit volunteer. A former corporate attorney, she has served on many boards, both locally near her home in Connecticut, as well as internationally. Susan sits on the board of the University of Washington Foundation and serves on the Advisory Board of the University of Washington Foster School of Business. As a board member of the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich, Susan served as Vice President and also co-chair of its capital campaign that rebuilt the pool and clubhouse and added a hockey rink. Susan is a member of the board of the Equal Rights Amendment Project working to pass an amendment to the United States Constitution that will guarantee equal rights regardless of sex. A former member of the Executive Board of Alpha Phi International Fraternity, based in Evanston, IL, she still serves as liaison to and board member of the Fraternity and Sorority Political Action Committee and the Fraternity and Sorority Action Fund in Washington, D.C. She is the recent past-national Co-Chair of the Republican Majority for Choice having served on its board for 17 years. Susan has been published in the Huffington Post and the New York Times and has appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered and MSNBC’s Up with Steve Kornacki discussing issues regarding reproductive choice and the Republican Party. Susan has co-produced two independent films with strong female protagonists, Equity and An Acceptable Loss.
Nia J.C. Castelly
Nia Castelly, a graduate of Spelman College and Columbia Law School ‘00, currently serves as senior counsel at Google where she is the co-founder and legal and privacy lead for a product in the company's in-house incubator. Throughout her distinguished career, Nia has founded, led, and been an ardent supporter of civic, non-profit, and employer-sponsored programs that advocate for the rights and protections of children, women, and people of color. She is passionate about technology and entrepreneurship, and particularly the opportunities these areas provide to narrow the gap for underrepresented and disenfranchised groups. Nia continues to serve the women of Spelman College as a member of the 25@25 Sister Circle, an organization which promotes and supports the school's technology and innovation initiatives.
Wade Leak is Deputy General Counsel for Sony Music Entertainment. Wade is a graduate of Columbia University Law School where he is a regular guest lecturer and Vice President of the law school’s Alumni Association. After graduating from Columbia, he was a judicial clerk for Justice Christine M. Durham, Utah Supreme Court and then worked at the law firms Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and Bodian & Eames. He began his career in the music business in 1999 at the Zomba Group of Companies, the largest independent music company in the world at that time. In addition to serving as the company’s Chief Compliance, Ethics and Privacy Officer, Wade manages U.S. litigation and provides day-to-day legal advice to the label groups at Sony Music on a wide range of matters, including copyright, trademark, online marketing and data privacy issues. Wade credits Columbia Law School with awakening his commitment to pursuing equality for all.
Marianne Stack is a former Communications Director for the ERA Coalition. She is a political activist who has helped elect women candidates running for national, state, and local office. Marianne worked for ABC News for 16 years where she won two national news Emmy awards and produced many stories on women’s issues.
Marcy is founding Trustee and President of the Sy Syms Foundation and, since 2012, President of TPD Group LLC., a multi-generational succession planning company. She is the former Chair and CEO of SYMS, one of the first companies to offer designer and brand-name clothing at “off-price” rather than “regular price”. In 1983, when taking SYMS public, Marcy became the youngest female president of a New York Stock Exchange company. In 2009, SYMS acquired Filene's Basement and operated 50 stores under both names. Marcy is a member of the Women's Leadership Board of the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard Kennedy School. She has chaired the ERA Coalition and The Fund for Women’s Equality. She is an author and independent board member, and has been recognized for her work in the area of women’s rights with honors of distinction.
Liz Young is currently a visiting Fellow at the Oxford University Centre for Corporate Reputation at Saïd Business School.
She is the former Executive Vice President and Global Head of Communications at Sony Music Entertainment (SME). As Executive Vice President, Liz Young was responsible for press relations and managing media strategies for the CEO, the head of Digital, the Legal department, and for strategic partnerships and agreements with third-party companies and investor relations. She worked on Sony Music financial reports to Sony Corporation for their quarterly reporting to shareholders and media. She was responsible for Sony Music quarterly financial reporting to media globally. Reporting directly to the CEO, she also managed external and internal communications for SME. She was also responsible for corporate giving and major events.
Previously, Young held the position of Executive Vice President of Corporate Communications for Bertelsmann, Inc, where she worked in the Office of the Chairman and reported to the Bertelsmann Board in Germany. She also represented the Bertelsmann Foundation in the United States.
Prior to that, she was a Vice President of Mazda North America, where she worked in corporate research and development in Washington, D.C. She was a registered lobbyist for Mazda working on U.S.-Japan trade issues. She also started and managed the Mazda Foundation and was a member of the Board.
Young is co-founder of the ERA Coalition/Fund for Women’s Equality. She is a founding member of the ERA Project’s Advisory Board at Columbia Law School’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Law.
In memoriam: Candace Straight
Candace Straight was a private investor and independent director. Throughout her career she worked for numerous corporations including, Merck & Co. Inc. and Bankers Trust Company. Straight also served as a principal in a private equity firm and as an Advisory Director of Securitas Capital, L.L.C., a global private equity investment firm specializing in insurance.
Straight was a director of Neuberger and Berman’s mutual funds and the Executive Producer of EQUITY, an independent film starring two-time Emmy winner Anna Gunn. EQUITY is the first female-driven Wall Street film which premiered at the Sundance film festival in 2016 and was purchased by Sony Pictures Classics. Straight was also an Executive Producer of AN ACCEPTABLE LOSS, political thriller starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Tika Sumpter. AN ACCEPTABLE LOSS was released in theaters in 2019.
Straight was also on the board of Rebelle Media, a film and TV production company dedicated to providing outstanding roles for women in front of and behind the cameras. She was a co-producer of a documentary about the ERA which is currently in post-production.
Straight served on the Board of Governors of Rutgers University from 2011 through December 2016 and on the Board of Trustees of Wilson College. Until her passing, Straight served as a Visiting Associate of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University. Governor Christine Todd Whitman appointed her to the NJ Sports and Exposition Authority Board where Straight served as Vice Chairman from 1996 to 2003.
Straight was a graduate of Bloomfield High School. She received her B.A. from Wilson College and her M.B.A. from New York University. In June 1994, Wilson College awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters to Straight.
Straight passed away on June 13, 2021. As a tireless champion for the ERA and women's rights, she left a legacy that the ERA Project will carry on proudly.
Academic Advisory Council
Melissa Murray, Frederick I. and Grace Stokes Professor of Law, New York University
Faculty Director, Birnbaum Women’s Leadership Network
David Pozen, Vice Dean for Intellectual Life and Charles Keller Beekman Professor of Law
Columbia Law School
Meredith Rosenthal, C. Boyden Gray Professor of Health Economics and Policy
Faculty Chair, Harvard University Advanced Leadership Initiative
Kate Shaw, Professor of Law, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University
Co-Director, Floersheimer Center for Constitutional Democracy
Julie C. Suk, Florence Rogatz Visiting Professor of Law (fall term) & Senior Research Scholar, Yale Law School
Professor of Sociology & Political Science, The Graduate Center, CUNY