About Lisa

Lisa has been a civil rights lawyer since 1995. After running her own firm for 16 years, she joined Disability Rights North Carolina, a non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of people with disabilities.

Lisa speaking at a podiumAt Disability Rights, she litigates cases to enforce the rights of people with disabilities to live and work free from discrimination. She has represented people facing employment discrimination, voting rights violations, disability discrimination by public agencies, denial of access to public accommodations, and constitutional rights violations.

Lisa finishing a marathonLisa has lived in Raleigh since 1990. She has a longtime partner, an adult son, and an 11-year-old, 75-pound “pandemic puppy” named Rosie. She is a slow runner but somehow completed the City of Oaks Marathon twice. For several years, she organized the Feminist 5k, the proceeds of which benefited the Women’s Center of Wake County. When not involved in any of the above, Lisa is out in the garden pulling weeds.

Selected Civic Engagement

North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys
    President, 2000 – 2001
    Board of Directors, 1998 – 2002
    Chair, Judicial Endorsements Committee, 2004

At the NC Justice Center Defenders of Justice Awards

North Carolina Justice Center
    Board of Directors, 2012 – 2019
    Board Co-chair, 2015 – 2016

Suzanne Reynolds for NC Supreme Court, Campaign Manager, 2008

Committee to Keep Judge Linda Stephens, Campaign Manager, 2008

Robin Hudson for NC Supreme Court, Campaign Manager, 2006

Democratic Party Precinct 01-09, Co-chair, ~ 2002

North Carolina Advocates for Justice, 1995 – present
Civil Rights Section Executive Committee, 2016 – 2018
Continuing Legal Education Executive Committee, Co-chair, 2007 – 2009

North Carolina Gay & Lesbian Attorneys, Board of Directors, ~ 2000

Why I’m Running

North Carolina has been my home for over 31 years. When I moved here in 1990, I volunteered for the campaign of Harvey Gantt, the first African-American mayor of Charlotte, in his effort to unseat U.S. Senator Jesse Helms. While I didn’t have much money, or experience in politics, I wanted to help.

Mainly, I went door to door with flyers during my hours off from work. I did it because I thought Harvey Gantt had a vision for North Carolina and the country that was grounded in the equality and dignity of all people. This resonated with me as a member of the LGBTQ community. I was sure he was going to win—and was devastated when he didn’t. I felt powerless in the face of something that I, frankly, did not understand. But what I took away from that experience was a deep need to find a way to have an impact.

Lisa in a graduation gownI decided to go to law school, believing this was a way to get the tools I needed to make change. After I graduated, I took on workers’ rights issues like discrimination and wage violations. I also managed several statewide campaigns for Democratic judges, and I volunteered in other races because I believed those efforts were valuable in making positive change in North Carolina. Now I work at a non-profit law firm that advocates for the civil rights of people with disabilities, which gives me a direct route to challenging unjust policies that hurt people who have been marginalized and undervalued in our society. 

A constant through these experiences is that systems of power do not yield easily. I have spent decades fighting against the harms caused by bad policies. As Desmond Tutu said, “There comes a point where we have to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.” Even as we work to counter the harmful effects of bad policies, we need to go to the source.

These policies come through the North Carolina Senate. I decided to run for the NC Senate because there is so much good we can do—and bad we can stop—if we take back the power that belongs to the people and use that power for the good of the people. It is really that simple. I hope you will join me in this effort.

Professional Experience

Disability Rights North Carolina, 2011 – present

North Carolina State Personnel Commission, 2010 – 2013

Law Office of Lisa Grafstein, PLLC (formerly Grafstein & Walczyk, PLLC), 1995 – 2011

Professional Honors

Gwyneth B. Davis Award, North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys, 2012

Legal Elite, Business North Carolina Magazine, 2007-present
    Legal Elite Hall of Fame, 2011

North Carolina Super Lawyers magazine inclusions:
    Top 50 Women Lawyers, 2011
    Employment Law, 2009-present

Best Lawyers in America, 2007-present