The Dallas LGBT Bar Association’s Board of Directors for 2022 is comprised of attorneys from a range of backgrounds and practice areas:

President: Callie Butcher

Callie is an associate in both the IP Litigation group and the Technology and IP Transactions group in the Dallas office of Sidley Austin LLP. Her practice focuses on complex patent litigation involving a variety of technologies, such as wireless communications, semiconductor manufacturing, and consumer electronics. Callie also has expertise assisting clients in connection with IP acquisitions, patent cross-licensing investigation and negotiation, and IP due diligence, as well as trademark, trade secret, and unfair completion claims.

When not practicing law, Callie enjoys spending time with her partner and children. Callie is also passionate about cycling, and you are likely to see her putting in a few laps or leading a group ride on the weekends.

Secretary and VP of Membership: Elissa Wev

Elissa Wev is a Public Integrity Prosecutor at the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office.  She began her career as a public defender, helping indigent clients overcome poverty-biased procedures and punishments.  Elissa previously prosecuted strangulations, aggravated assaults, and murders that occur in intimate partner relationships.  In her current role she investigates police shootings and prosecutes public service misconduct offenses.  

As a passion project, Elissa is the host and creator of “Chisme – a Virtual Call to Action,” a live-streaming Zoom show created to raise awareness of sexual assault in the military and encourage greater civic engagement in the LatinX community.  On the weekends you can find her enjoying her home in Oak Cliff with her partner and their dog, Bear.

Treasurer: Sean Buckley

Sean is a partner with Dykema and counsels innovators primarily in marketing, media, and advertising. Sean represents prominent clients in technology and new media industries, and regularly drafts and negotiates agreements with ad servers, data suppliers and data management companies, measurement and analytics companies, and other ad and technology platforms and providers in connection with a variety of commercial relationships with local, regional and Fortune 500 brands, agencies, and marketing companies.

Sean and his husband live downtown in the Farmers Market, and you’re likely to find him on the weekend meandering the stalls and sheds of produce and locally-made goods with his dog.

VP of Professional Development: Karri Bertrand

VP of Community Partnerships: Rachael Nelson Gearing

Rachael is a healthcare attorney at Weaver Johnston & Nelson where she advises medical practices, hospitals, surgery centers, freestanding emergency rooms, and other health care providers regarding operational, transactional, and compliance issues, as well as various employment law issues. Rachael’s clients rely on her to advise them on establishing and implementing comprehensive health care compliance programs, negotiating and preparing agreements in connection with health care transactional matters, and effecting mergers and acquisitions, as well as creating new health care entities, developing business and marketing strategies to cope with changing federal regulatory schemes, and providing guidance on operational and administrative issues.

Rachael is also on the Board of Directors of the Dallas Women Lawyers Association. When not practicing law, Rachael and her husband are active in the community and enjoy volunteering with local non-profits. Rachael lives in East Dallas with her husband and their three rescue pets, including a 150 pound deaf great dane and an 86 pound senior doberman.

Immediate Past President:
Nadia Haghighatian

Nadia practices intellectual-property litigation at Holland & Knight. Her expertise ranges from patent disputes covering various technologies (software, telecommunications, electrical, mechanical, semiconductor, and more) to disputes involving trademarks, trade secrets, and unfair competition. She earned her B.S. in Electrical Engineering from University of Texas at Austin and graduated summa cum laude from Texas Tech University School of Law.

Nadia is a member of the Dallas Hispanic Bar Association, Iranian American Bar Association, and Young Professionals Advisory Council for Dallas’s LGBTQ Resource Center. She is also a former Associate member of The Honorable Barbara M. G. Lynn American Inn of Court, was named to Texas Rising Stars® by Thomson Reuters in 2018–2020, included in the inaugural edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch for Litigation—Intellectual Property, and selected for the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity Pathfinder Program in 2019.

Whether she is drawing portraits, dabbling in the kitchen, or crafting legal arguments, Nadia seeks out opportunities to be creative. She enjoys spending time with her partner and their two dogs (Edison and Tesla) and cats (Galileo and Archimedes), competing in bar trivia, and watching true-crime documentaries.

Additional Directors

Derek Mergele-Rust

Derek is a founding partner of DebnamRust, P.C., where he practices corporate law, estate planning & probate, and LGBT law. He spends a majority of his time protecting and representing small- and medium-sized Texas businesses. For small and new businesses, Derek drafts formation documents, advises set-up and structuring of companies, sets up 501(c)(3)s, protects companies and board members from liability, advises companies with future business planning, and helps new companies use best practices to avoid potential litigation. For existing small- and medium-sized Texas businesses, Derek helps companies prepare for litigation, navigate city council meetings, plan for future business, and face the legal complexities involved in everyday business. 

Before law, Derek worked in property management, high-tech, non-profit, and accounting. Derek graduated summa cum laude from Texas State University with a Bachelor of Science in Geography and a Bachelor of Public Administration. He earned his law degree from Texas Tech University.