This July, it is our honor to highlight Major Donor, Kevin Minoli.
Kevin is a leading environmental lawyer, currently leading Alston & Bird’s Environment, Land Use & Natural Resources Group. Prior to joining Alston & Bird, Kevin spent 18 years with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), most recently serving as acting general counsel and principal deputy general counsel—the highest-ranking career attorney position in the EPA.
What brought you to SMYAL?
I’ve lived in Washington for 20 years and always admired what SMYAL does for LGBTQ+ youth from afar, but never found a way to connect with the organization. I’m a huge Nationals fan, and when I saw that Eireann Dolan and Sean Doolittle were hosting an event close to my office last year I decided it was finally my time to get involved.
What inspired you to get involved with the organization as a major donor?
I am inspired by the way SMYAL sees possibility in every youth that they come in contact with, helps youth see that possibility in themselves, and then teaches them the skills they will need to nurture and grow their own possibility over the course of their lifetime.
You have spent your professional career in environmental law, what drew you to this field?
I have wanted to be a lawyer since I was a little kid, but it was in college when the school clear cut nearly 500 trees over the course of a long weekend to make room for a new development that I knew I wanted to be an environmental lawyer.
You worked for the Environmental Protection Agency for 18 years including service as General Counsel, the top career attorney. What was it like working for such an important agency?
There is absolutely no better place in the world to practice environmental law than EPA. The people you work with are the national and international experts on every environmental legal issue imaginable and you have the opportunity to do incredibly meaningful work from very early in your career. There is also something special about working in public service and representing the United States.
You have an extensive legal background, are there any Supreme Court cases that you are closely monitoring, especially those that impact the LGBTQ community or the environment?
Beginning with Lawerence v Texas, which found that laws criminalizing consensual sex between two people of the same sex were unconstitutional in 2002, I have been outside the Supreme Court every time they have heard a case involving LGBTQ+ equality. It is inspiring and terrifying to know 9 people will vote on whether the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution actually applies to you. Reading the recent decision that you cannot be fired or denied a job because you are LGBTQ+, I cried the entire way through it and then again when I read it two days later. These cases are historic victories, but we cannot fully enjoy the rights they provide until all of our community — in particular the members of our community who are people of color, transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming — can take full advantage of those rights, too.
We know that you are a huge Nats fan. What was it like for you when they won the World Series?
When I walk into the ballpark, I leave every piece of stress and demand at the center field gate. I can be happy there regardless of the score. My favorite memory though is being able to honor my good friend Mona Alcazar as part of Team DC’s Night Out at the Nationals. Mona has passed away earlier that year and we had raised money to fund a Scholarship for an LGBTQ+ athlete, and had to opportunity to celebrate Mona on the field before the game.
How are you staying connected to your community and the causes that matter to you during these difficult times?
It’s not easy to stay connected to people or causes right now because it is so different from our old routines. But staying connected takes work even in the best of times, and if things are important, you will find a way to not let physical separation keep you from engaging with people and issues you are passionate about.
Last year I took my parents to Italy to see where the Minoli family was from. We found the house that my great grandfather Candido Minoli was born in and I instantly felt at home.