Sharon M. McGowan, a partner at Katz Banks Kumin, joined the firm in September 2022.

Ms. McGowan has led a long and distinguished career as one of the nation’s leading civil rights attorneys. Prior to joining KBK, she was the Chief Strategy Officer and Legal Director for Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, the nation’s oldest and largest LGBTQ+ legal organization.  During her five years with Lambda Legal, she developed and implemented the organization’s strategic priorities, led its litigation and policy advocacy teams, and built partnerships with national civil rights groups on intersecting issues.

Previously, Ms. McGowan held several senior positions within the Obama administration.  Most recently, she was Principal Deputy Chief of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, where she supervised attorneys and advised the U.S. Solicitor General and federal agencies on a broad range of civil rights issues related to the enforcement of federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment, housing, education, credit, voting, and policing in the U.S. Supreme Court and lower federal courts.  Under President Obama, Ms. McGowan also served as Acting General Counsel and Deputy General Counsel for Policy at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, where she led the implementation of key administration priorities including nationwide marriage equality and the Affordable Care Act.

Earlier in her career, Ms. McGowan was a Staff Attorney with the LGBT & AIDS Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, where she served as lead attorney in a landmark Title VII case, Schroer v. Billington, which established new protections for transgender individuals against employment discrimination based on their gender identity and gender transition.

Ms. McGowan earned her J.D. with honors from Harvard Law School in 2000 and her B.A. with honors from the University of Virginia in 1995. She is licensed to practice in the District of Columbia, New York, and Massachuetts. 

Honors & Awards
  • American Bar Association’s Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Stonewall Award, 2019
  • U.S. Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award, 2016
  • U.S. Attorney General’s John Marshall Award for Legal Advice, 2015
  • DOJ Pride James R. Douglass Award, 2015
  • U.S. Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award, 2013
  • Special Commendation for Outstanding Service in the Civil Rights Division , 2011
Publications & Speaking Engagements
Education
  • B.A., University of Virginia, 1995
  • J.D., Harvard Law School, 2000
Bar Admissions
  • New York
  • District of Columbia
  • Massachusetts