Vice President for the Social Policy & Politics Program
Lanae Erickson Hatalsky
In the fifth grade, Lanae Erickson Hatalsky voted for Ross Perot in the mock election held by her class. Since then, she has continued to look beyond conventional political views in order to understand diverse perspectives and bridge divides.
A true believer in listening to all sides of an argument, Lanae draws on her extensive background in Constitutional and civil rights law to promote a moderate approach to social issues at Third Way. Lanae loves working on the hardest and most divisive subjects, and as Vice President for Social Policy & Politics, she does just that, tackling hot-button issues like marriage for gay couples, immigration, abortion, religious liberty, and guns. Lanae spearheaded Third Way's Commitment Campaign, which mobilized moderate Americans to support marriage for gay couples by changing the conversation from legal rights and benefits to the importance of making a lifetime commitment in front of family and friends. This is an issue particularly close to Lanae's heart—she married her wife in April 2012, and just four days after their honeymoon, President Obama became the first president to voice his support for marriage, saying he didn't want to deny committed couples the ability to make that promise to take care of one another for a lifetime.
Lanae serves as a member of President Obama's third Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Before coming to Third Way, she was Legislative Counsel at Alliance for Justice, where she investigated the backgrounds of federal judicial nominees on civil and human rights and advocated for progressive policies on issues from detention and interrogation policy to equal pay. Before that, she was a “real" lawyer at the Legal Rights Center and the Center for Victims of Torture.
Lanae's commentary has been featured in a variety of news outlets, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, USA Today, Politico, The New Yorker, and PBS News Hour. She has also appeared on NPR, Fox News, CSPAN's Washington Journal, CNN, Bloomberg Television, Air America, and Minnesota Public Radio.
She earned her J.D. magna cum laude from the University of Minnesota, and her Bachelor's degree from Mount Holyoke College. Originally from the beautiful Land of 10,000 Lakes (which actually has significantly more than 10,000 lakes), Lanae now lives in Washington, D.C., with her wife. She has played violin since the first grade and is the principal second violinist in Washington's Capital City Symphony.
Follow Lanae on Twitter @LanaeErickson