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Shepherd Legal Scholar Winner: Alyssa Sappenfield

July 28, 2014

Alyssa Sappenfield ’15 has been selected as one of the 2014 Shepherd Legal Scholars.  Shepherd Scholars are required to demonstrate a healthy balance of academic success and activist commitment to the gay, lesbian, bisexual transgender civil rights movement. They are law student-activists heading into their last year of law school, dedicated to donating some aspect of their legal expertise to fighting bigotry and discrimination, with an emphasis on the rights of sexual minorities.

Sappenfield has geared all of her extracurricular law school activities toward advocating for the marginalized.  She has served as vice president and president of OutLaw.  She was a founding member and co-coordinator of the school’s revival of Law Students for Reproductive Justice (LSRJ) chapter and currently she is serving her second year on the board of Oregon’s LGBT bar association, OGALLA.

“I am deeply concerned for the vulnerable in society, which has lead me to find fulfillment in advocacy for a range of marginalized groups. My concern comes from my own identity, which is an intersection of identifying as queer woman and first generation Asian American from a low-income background. I have a hard time focusing on just one facet, but certainly feel an immense duty to fight for substantive equality for the LGBTQ,” said Sappenfield.

Sappenfield says she is humbled to be among the many esteemed honorees of the Shepard Scholarship, “It has been a breath of fresh air to be part of such a supportive and vibrant community, here at Lewis & Clark and the greater Portland LGBTQ community. I come from places where such support was rare or drowned out by more virulent voices. I am truly thankful to have had a range of experiences in order to appreciate where I am now - and be a lifelong advocate for the marginalized.”

This summer, Sappenfield is in Seattle working at Legal Voice, a legal nonprofit that does impact litigation and policy work for issues affecting women, girls, and the LGBTQ. 

The scholarship is named after the late Bill and Ann Shepherd, who in the mid-1970s co-founded what would become the Portland chapter of the International Federation of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, PFLAG. Bill practiced law in Oregon for over 56 years, up until ten days before his death in 1995, donating countless hours of pro bono work to the fledgling BLGTQ civil rights movement.  


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