Donna Lieberman has been executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union since December 2001. She has also served as the associate director (1988 - 1993) and founder/director of the NYCLU Reproductive Rights Project (1990 - 2000).
Under Lieberman's leadership the NYCLU has expanded the scope and depth of its work, supplementing and strengthening the pursuit of litigation with an aggressive legislative advocacy and a field organizing program that works on behalf of civil liberties and civil rights. As a result, the organization is widely recognized as the state's leading voice for freedom, justice and equality, advocating for those whose rights and liberties have been denied, especially for those most marginalized by society. Its accomplishments have included the following:
- Reforming the Rockefeller Drug Laws through an aggressive, statewide campaign that educated the public and help persuade legislators to end more than three decades of injustice by substantially revising New York State’s notoriously harsh and ineffective mandatory minimum drug sentencing scheme; and by publishing a report, The Rockefeller Drug Laws: Unjust, Irrational, Ineffective, which synthesized the legal, social and economic arguments and research supporting the call for comprehensive reform.
- Protecting protest by publishing two major reports on police tactics at demonstrations (Arresting Protest, which documented unlawful police interference with protesters at the February 15, 2002 anti-war demonstration on the eve of the Iraq war, and Rights & Wrongs at the RNC, which covered the 2004 Republican National Convention); deploying hundreds of protest monitors out of the “Protecting Protest” storefront office near the convention center; prevailing in major post-convention litigation challenging the NYPD’s “command and control” tactics, which interfered with the right to protest, and challenging the unlawful arrest, detention and fingerprinting of demonstrators at the convention; and uncovering the NYPD’s massive and unlawful political surveillance operation.
- Fighting for families by prevailing in a landmark lawsuit in which a state appellate court unanimously ruled that New York State must recognize the marriages of gay and lesbian couples who were lawfully married in other states or countries (Martinez v. County of Monroe);
- Challenging the government’s misuse of the national security interest as a pretext for violations of individual rights, including the Bush administration’s use of torture, the detention at the U.S.-Canada border of American citizens who attend Islamic conferences (Tabbaa v. Chertoff), the FBI’s use of secret National Security Letters and corresponding gag orders (Doe v. Holder), and the federal law giving government agents virtually unchecked power to intercept Americans’ international e-mails and telephone calls (Amnesty v. McConnell).
- Protecting students’ rights in the context of aggressive military recruitment by prevailing in a lawsuit on behalf of high school students challenging illegality in the Department of Defense military recruitment data mining operations (Hanson v. Rumsfeld); by publishing a report, We Want You(th)!, documenting the New York City Department of Education’s failure to protect students’ privacy and prevent aggressive military recruiting in the public schools; and leading a nationwide campaign to help students protect their right to withhold personal contact information from military recruiters and to put an end to excessive and abusive military recruiting tactics in the schools.
- Reframing the debate on surveillance of lawful activity in New York by pursuing the decades old Handschu lawsuit, which limits political surveillance by the NYPD; publishing a major report, Who’s Watching?, that examines the scope and impact of unregulated public and private video camera surveillance on the rights of privacy, speech and association; and challenging the NYPD and U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s refusal to disclose their plans to create a massive surveillance system in lower Manhattan (NYCLU v. NYPD, NYCLU v. U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security).
- Defending pregnant and parenting women from discrimination by prevailing in a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit on behalf of six Suffolk County police officers forced to take unpaid leave after the department denied them light duty assignments (Lochren v. Suffolk County); and successfully representing women who have been discriminated against for breastfeeding in public (King v. Fossil).
- Exposing and challenging racial profiling and other misconduct by law enforcement obtaining access to the NYPD’s electronic database of more than 2 million stop-and-frisk encounters, the vast majority of which involved people of color who had committed no crime; and by publishing a report, Mission Failure: Civilian Review of Policing in New York City 1994-2006, which raised awareness among the public and lawmakers about the need to strengthen the city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board.
- Confronting aggressive policing in public schools by publishing Criminalizing the Classroom: the Over-policing of the NYC Schools, which stirred major public debate over the aggressive and counterproductive over-policing that has plagued New York City schools and cheated students out of nurturing educational environments since the NYPD took control of school safety in 1998; by publishing Safety With Dignity: Alternatives to the Over-Policing of Schools, which documenting the successes of six New York City public high schools in maintaining safe, nurturing educational environments without using metal detectors, aggressive policing and harsh disciplinary policies; and by leading a campaign to bring transparency and accountability to the unchecked police presence in New York City’s public schools.
- Fighting for due process for indigent defendants by filing a lawsuit against New York State on behalf of 20 defendants in Onondaga, Ontario, Schuyler, Suffolk and Washington counties challenging the state’s failure to provide them constitutionally adequate public defense services (Hurrell-Harring, et al. v. State of New York).
Lieberman began her public interest legal career as a criminal defense lawyer in the South Bronx office of the Legal Aid Society, and she later acted as executive director of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, UAW. She served on the faculty of the Urban Legal Studies Program at City College for nearly a decade.
She appears regularly in local and national news coverage and on op-ed pages throughout the state. She also speaks frequently at local and national events on reproductive rights, police practices, freedom of speech, and other civil liberties and civil rights issues.
Lieberman graduated magna cum laude from Harvard in 1970 and earned her J.D. from Rutgers University School of Law in 1973.
- “The Danger of Remaining Silent.” It’s a Free Country. Eds. Goldberg, Danny, Victor Goldberg and Robert Greenwald. New York: RDV Books/Akashic Books, 2002. 143-148.
- Diller, Rebekah, Donna Lieberman, Tiffany Miller. “Legal Issues in Healthcare of Adolescents.” Adolescent Sexual Development and Sexuality. Eds., Gaffney & Roye. Kingston, NJ: Civic Research Institute, 2003.
- Chu, Yueh-ru, Rebekah Diller, Jessica Feierman, Jaemin Kim, Donna Lieberman, Anna Schissel. Teenagers, Healthcare and the Law. New York: NYCLU, 2002.
- Benjamin, Elisabeth Ryden, Annie Keating, Donna Lieberman, Jana Lipman, Anna Schissel, Miriam Spiro, Cassandra Stubbs. The Rights of Pregnant and Parenting Teens. New York: NYCLU, 2002.
- “Legal Issues in the Reproductive Health Care of Adolescents.” Journal of the American Medical Women’s Association volume 54, Number 3. (Summer 1999). Written with Jessica Feierman.
- “Physician-Only and Physician Assistant Statutes: A Case of Perceived, but Unfounded Conflict.” Journal of the American Medical Women’s Association volume 49, Number 5. (September/October 1994) Written with Anita Lalwani.
- Numerous op-ed pieces and NYCLU reports.
- The New York State Bar, the Association’s Civil Rights Committee, and Committee on Minorities in the Profession Haywood Burns Memorial Award, 2008.
- Honored by the New York State Senate and recipient of Senate Proclamation and Legislative Resolution, 2009.
Arthur Eisenberg is the legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union where he has worked for more than 35 years. During that time he has been involved in more than 20 cases that were presented to the United States Supreme Court. He has litigated extensively around issues of free speech and voting rights. In recent years, Eisenberg has been increasingly involved in litigation concerning national security and civil liberties. He is currently involved in a challenge to the National Security Agency surveillance practices; the use of National Security letters by the FBI; the CIA’s destruction of videotapes relating to interrogation practices; and the video surveillance of political activity by the NYPD. Among the Supreme Court cases that he has litigated are those involving questions of whether a state violates the First Amendment and the constitutional right to vote when it denies voters the right to cast write-in ballots (Burdick v. Takushi, 1992); whether a school board violated the First Amendment in removing 10 books from its high school library (Island Trees Union Free School District v. Pico, 1982); and whether the Indiana legislature engaged in unconstitutional political gerrymandering when it drew congressional district lines (Davis v. Bandemer, 1986).
Eisenberg is the co-author, with Burt Neuborne, of the Rights of Candidates and Voters (2nd ed. 1980). He has published law review articles on a range of topics including essays on Lani Guinier (Review Essay: The Millian Thoughts of Lani Guinier, 21 New York University Review of Law and Social Change 617 (1995)); on Robert Bork (Repaid In The Coin Of A Controversialist: The Bork Nomination Process, 58 University of Cincinnati Law Review 1319 (1990)); and on campaign finance reform (Civic Discourse, Campaign Finance Reform, and the Virtues of Moderation, 12 Cardozo Studies in Law and Literature 141 (2000)). He contributed an essay on issues of faith and conscience, "Accommodation and Coherence: In Search of a General Theory for Adjudicating Claims of Faith, Conscience and Culture," to the volume Engaging Cultural Differences (Russell Sage Foundation, 2002).
He has recently lectured on academic freedom at Columbia University and on civil liberties and national security at the University of Colorado, the University of Minnesota and the Cardozo Law School.
Eisenberg has served as chair of the New York State Task Force on Voter Registration and as a member of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York's Committee on Civil Rights, its Special Committee on Election Law, and its Task Force on the New York State Constitutional Convention.
Eisenberg earned his B.A. degree from The Johns Hopkins University and his J.D. from Cornell Law School. He has taught courses in constitutional litigation, civil rights law and constitutional law at Cardozo Law School and the University of Minnesota Law School.
Associate Legal Director
Christopher Dunn has worked as an ACLU lawyer since 1987 and has been at the New York Civil Liberties Union since 1996. He also is an adjunct professor at the NYU School of Law, where he teaches in the Civil Rights Clinic. In addition, he authors the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties column in the New York Law Journal.
At the NYCLU Dunn has litigated a long series of cases involving the First Amendment rights of protesters and public employees, including challenges to NYPD tactics at the Republican National Convention. He also has led challenges to New York State's death penalty statute, to racially discriminatory education practices, to the NYPD's subway search program, to NYPD racial profiling, to selective enforcement of the law against the homeless, and to various post-9/11 law-enforcement measures. In addition to litigation, Dunn regularly represents groups and individuals in their dealings with the NYPD and other city agencies around protests and demonstrations.
Dunn has written and spoken extensively in a wide variety of forums and has appeared on CNN, Fox National News and Court TV. His op-ed pieces have appeared frequently in the Daily News, Newsday and The New York Times.
Prior to joining the NYCLU in 1996, Dunn served as senior staff attorney with the national office of the American Civil Liberties Union. During his tenure at the ACLU he was responsible for all phases of litigation in class-action, foster-care reform cases and for federal legislative matters related to child welfare. Dunn graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Virginia with a B.A. degree in 1979 and from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1985. Following law school, he clerked for the Honorable John J. Gibbons of the United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit.
Senior Staff Attorney
Beth Haroules has extensive experience as a civil rights litigator, having tried cases involving numerous First Amendment issues, including the right of dissident groups to engage in anonymous political speech. Haroules also has extensive experience in the areas of age and gender discrimination; mandatory drug testing of workfare/welfare recipients; disability rights – specifically, as related to the Willowbrook class action litigation – and mental health law, including "Kendra's Law," involuntary admission and retention of the mentally ill in psychiatric wards; and the involuntary administration of psychotropic medication.
Post- 9/11, Haroules' work has included review and analysis of the USA PATRIOT Act, Homeland Security Act, the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act (Border Security Act) of 2002, the Attorney General's revised Guidelines on General Crimes, Racketeering and Terrorism, the SEVIS, CHIMERA and Operation TIPS programs as well as DARPA's IAO programs, including Genoa I and II, Total Information Awareness programs, the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act, the federal Smallpox Vaccination Plan, and other similar New York State and New York City legislative initiatives.
Haroules has been involved in the preparation and dissemination of information packages to New York State institutions of higher education and ACLU affiliates concerning foreign student information collection issues, and to New York elementary and secondary school districts and ACLU affiliates concerning the military recruitment provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Her public speaking has taken her to Inns of Court, bar association panels, universities and colleges. She earned her B.A. from Harvard University in 1980 and her J.D. from Boston University School of Law in 1986.
Senior Staff Attorney
Erin Beth Harrist is a senior staff attorney at the New York Civil Liberties Union, where she focuses on statewide civil rights and civil liberties impact litigation.
Prior to joining the NYCLU, Harrist was a litigation associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, where she litigated a wide range of commercial matters including multi-week trials in federal and state court. She has worked extensively with the National Organization for Women – New York City Chapter advocating for the rights of women and the protection of reproductive rights. During law school, she helped secure asylum status for recent refugees on the basis of sexual orientation at Immigration Equality. She also served as production editor for the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law.
Harrist graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude from Columbia University in 2002 and from Columbia Law School in 2007, where she was a Harlan Fiske Stone and James Kent Scholar.
Senior Staff Attorney
Mariko Hirose is a senior staff attorney at the New York Civil Liberties Union, where she focuses on statewide civil rights and civil liberties impact litigation. At the NYCLU, she has worked on cases involving free speech, privacy, government transparency, criminal justice, and gender and sexual orientation discrimination. Hirose is also an adjunct professor at the Fordham University School of Law, where she teaches a class on privacy in the digital age.
Prior to joining the NYCLU, Hirose was an associate at Outten & Golden LLP, where she represented employees in class action sex discrimination and wage-and-hour cases. She was also the William J. Brennan fellow at the American Civil Liberties Union, where she litigated cases raising free speech and privacy issues.
Hirose graduated magna cum laude from Yale University in 2003 and with Order of the Coif from Stanford Law School in 2008, where she was an articles editor for the Stanford Law Review. After law school, she clerked for the Honorable Stephen Reinhardt of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Philip Desgranges is a staff attorney at the New York Civil Liberties Union, where he focuses on statewide civil rights and civil liberties impact litigation. Desgranges is also the Chair of the Civil Rights Committee of the New York City Bar Association, and is a member of the City Bar’s Task Force on Mass Incarceration.
Prior to joining the NYCLU, Desgranges was an associate at Goodwin Procter LLP, where he litigated commercial matters and a wide range of pro bono matters, including a death penalty appeal. He previously worked as a public defender at The Bronx Defenders, where he represented indigent clients at all stages of criminal proceedings, including trying cases to verdict.
Desgranges graduated cum laude from Boston University in 2006, and he graduated from New York University School of Law in 2009.
Bobby Hodgson is a staff attorney at the New York Civil Liberties Union, where he works on statewide civil rights and civil liberties impact litigation. He first joined the NYCLU as a Skadden Fellow focusing on LGBTQ youth issues, and he has worked extensively on advocacy related to LGBTQ students in schools.
Prior to working at the NYCLU, Hodgson was a law clerk to Judge David O. Carter of the United States District Court for the Central District of California. During law school, he represented low-income clients in family and housing court with the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, advocated on behalf of public housing tenants with the Tenant Advocacy Project, and served on the general board of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review.
Hodgson graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 2005, and he graduated from Harvard Law School in 2012 with a pro bono service distinction.
Lisa Laplace came to the New York Civil Liberties Union in 2004 with a broad-based litigation background in complex civil litigations. As a lawyer at Sullivan & Cromwell and Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker, she litigated several securities and intellectual property law cases. Her work at the NYCLU focuses on disability rights and mental health law -- specifically, as related to the Willowbrook class action litigation.
In addition to litigation, Laplace successfully advocated with New York's Taxi and Limousine Commission to open its courts to the public and regularly advocates on behalf of taxi drivers to protect their constitutional rights.
Laplace is a graduate of Duke University (B.A. 1987) and Brooklyn Law School (J.D. 1990), where she was an articles editor of the Brooklyn Law Review. Laplace is the author of "The Legality of Integration Maintenance Quotas: Fair Housing or Forced Housing?," 55 Brooklyn Law Review 197 (1989), which addresses the constitutionality of racial quotas in housing.
Laplace is admitted to the New York Bar and is admitted to practice law before the U.S. District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York. She is a member of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York and served on the Bar Association's Committee on Copyright and Intellectual Property for several years.
Jordan Wells is a staff attorney at the New York Civil Liberties Union, where he works on statewide civil rights and civil liberties impact litigation. At the NYCLU, he has worked on cases and advocacy involving free speech, immigrants’ rights, government transparency, police reform, privacy and technology, and alienage discrimination.
During law school, Wells co-wrote two amicus briefs cited by the Supreme Court in majority opinions and earned the Semifinal Advocacy Award in NYU’s moot court competition. Prior to law school, he coordinated a campaign to obtain labor rights for farmworkers and successfully lobbied for “sweatshop-free” public purchasing policies in Albany.
Wells graduated from Cornell University in 2007 and from NYU School of Law in 2013, where he was a McKay Scholar, a Latino Rights Scholar and an article editor for the Annual Survey of American Law. He speaks Spanish.
Aimee Krause is a Stanford Law School Public Interest Fellow at the New York Civil Liberties Union, where she focuses on enhancing the reproductive rights of women across New York state, and supports the New York Civil Liberties Union's other civil rights and civil liberties litigation.
Prior to joining the NYCLU, Krause clerked for the Honorable Margo K. Brodie of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, and prior to that was an associate at Sidley Austin LLP. During law school, she represented immigrant clients and participated in larger-scale advocacy projects as part of the Stanford Immigrants' Rights Clinic, and served as articles editor for the Stanford Law and Policy Review.
Krause graduated from Cornell University in 2010 as a Merrill Presidential Scholar, with a B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations. She received her J.D. from Stanford Law School in 2013, where she was a public interest law fellow.
Aadhithi Padmanabhan is a Skadden Fellow at the New York Civil Liberties Union, where she focuses on enforcing and expanding the labor rights of New York’s farmworkers and also supports the organization’s other civil rights and civil liberties litigation and advocacy.
During law school, she represented Iraqi refugees seeking resettlement in the United States, and provided direct legal representation and advocacy through the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic.
Padmanabhan graduated Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude from Harvard College in 2008 with an A.B. in the comparative study of religion and a minor in government. She received her J.D. from Yale Law School in 2014, where she earned the Charles G. Albom prize for excellence in appellate advocacy in connection with a law school clinical program.
Sam Thypin-Bermeo is a Yale Public Interest Fellow at the New York Civil Liberties Union.
During law school, he co-chaired both the Latino/a Law Students Association and the Alliance for Diversity. He provided direct legal representation and advocacy through the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic.
He has published articles on gender (“Comment: The S.E.C. and the Damsel in Distress: A Contextual Analysis of the Duty of Best Execution” in the Yale Journal of Law & Feminism) and American Indian Law (“Political Cooperation and Procedural (In)Justice: A Study of the Indian Reorganization Act” in the American Indian Law Journal). He has coauthored articles on legislation (“Overrides: Response to Professor Hasen” with Matthew Christiansen and William N. Eskridge in the Texas Law Review See Also) and economic development (“Envisioning Amazonian Frontiers: Place-making in a Brazilian Boomtown” with Brian J. Godfrey in Cultural Geography).
He graduated from Vassar College in 2011 with a B.A. in Geography and minors in Political Science and Asian Studies. He received his J.D. from Yale Law School in 2015, where he earned the Charles G. Albom Prize for excellence in appellate advocacy in connection with a law school clinical program.
Robert Perry has worked with the NYCLU as legislative director and is the NYCLU's principal lobbyist. In this capacity he advocates on behalf of proposed legislation implicating civil rights and civil liberties; and he has testified on these issues frequently at hearings conducted by state and city legislative committees.
Perry has been either in a staff position or a consulting attorney with the NYCLU since 1991. In that year, Perry earned a Revson Foundation grant to undertake a national study for the NYCLU that analyzed civilian agencies charged with oversight of policing. He was involved in the NYCLU's efforts to create an independent Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) by amendment to the New York City Charter, and he has written extensively on the CCRB's performance since the all-civilian agency came into existence in 1993.
As a litigation associate with Michael Shen & Associates in the years 2000-2003, Perry practiced in the areas of police misconduct and employment discrimination. Before joining Shen & Associates, Perry was public policy counsel with the Alliance for Consumer Rights, a project of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, where he drafted and advocated on behalf of legislative proposals to ensure access to the civil justice system. Prior to becoming a lawyer, he was a free-lance writer and editor, whose assignments included reproductive rights, juvenile justice and child poverty.
Perry was the Stanford University Law School's Mills Fellow in 2000. The fellowship program invites lawyers to mentor students interested in public interest legal careers. He is a graduate of the City University of New York Law School and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He also attended the graduate program at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.
Deputy Legislative Director
Bernadette Brown joined the NYCLU in January 2016 as its deputy legislative director. In this role she works with the legislative director in planning and implementing the NYCLU’s legislative agenda.
Bernadette comes to the NYCLU from Duke University, where she was director of the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity. She began her legal career as a public defender with the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem; much of her work since then has been devoted to criminal and juvenile justice, and corrections reform. As a senior program specialist with the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, she co-managed the Improving Permanency for LGBT Youth Project, an initiative that sought to keep LGBTQ and gender nonconforming youth out of the child welfare and juvenile justice systems in California, with a specific focus on youth of color. She has provided presentations, trainings and technical assistance for numerous agencies and organizations across the United States, including the National Institute of Corrections, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Naval Consolidated Brig, Miramar and the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives. Additionally, Bernadette serves as faculty for The National Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Resource Center, where she developed the LGBTI training curriculum for those seeking to become certified PREA auditors by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Bernadette is an alumnus of the Pipeline Project’s 21st Century Fellows Program, a national program for LGBT leaders of color. She received her A.B. in anthropology from Columbia University and her J.D. from Boston University.
Katharine ES Bodde
Katharine Bodde specializes in gender equality and reproductive rights issues. Prior to joining the NYCLU in 2009, Bodde worked as a legal educator in Cambodia for communities in provincial areas focusing on the legal and extralegal remedies for violations of women’s rights and citizens’ land rights. This work combined her background as a New York City teacher and her commitment to fighting violence and poverty by empowering women.
Bodde has also worked at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and, as a volunteer immigration attorney, has assisted in securing asylum status for recent refugees. She currently teaches a course at Cardozo Law School on Reproductive Rights Law and Justice and is the Chair of the Sex and Law Committee at the New York City Bar Association. Bodde graduated magna cum laude from Brooklyn Law School with special recognition for her work in international law and women’s rights and her strong commitment to public service. Bodde received a B.A. from Boston College in 2003 and an M.S. in Education from Mercy College in 2005.
Erika Lorshbough monitors and analyzes legislative activity and agency action implicating civil rights and civil liberties, and works with coalition partners to promote community-driven law reform based upon constitutional principles.
Prior to working at the NYCLU, Lorshbough worked at the Criminal Appeals Bureau of Legal Aid Society, where she specialized in parole advocacy proceedings and criminal justice law reform. In addition to more than a decade of volunteer organizing and political activism, she has advanced LGBT civil rights as a litigation fellow with Lambda Legal, presided over landlord-tenant conciliation as a judicial clerk in New York City Housing Court, and fought to remedy discrimination and due process violations as a fellow with Legal Services-NYC. During law school, Lorshbough established her school's first economic justice pro bono project, empowering students and community members to provide legal services to public assistance recipients. Now known as the Economic Justice Coalition, this organization spawned several other economic justice projects as well as an in-house clinic, and Lorshbough remains involved with the project in an advisory capacity.
In 2006, Lorshbough graduated from UCLA and the Luskin School of Public Affairs with a B.A. in psychology and a minor in public policy. She received her J.D. from Brooklyn Law School in 2012, and has been honored with numerous public interest awards and legal fellowships, including the Professor John A. Ronayne Memorial Prize for Exceptional Commitment to Service in the Public Interest, her law school's Platinum Public Service and Pro Bono leadership Awards, the Edward V. Sparer Public Interest Law Fellowship, and the Brooklyn Law Students for the Public Interest and Equal Justice Works/Americorps Summer Fellowships.
Rashida Richardson researches and analyzes state and local legislation, rules and regulations that implicate civil rights and civil liberties.
Prior to working at the NYCLU, Richardson was a staff attorney at the Center for HIV Law and Policy, where she worked on a wide-range of HIV-related legal and policy issues, and she previously worked at Facebook Inc. and HIP Investor in San Francisco. During law school, Richardson was also selected as a research assistant for Professor Margaret Burnham in Northeastern University's Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project, where she participated in a landmark civil rights action against a county in Mississippi for a kidnapping and murder which took place in 1964. This suit was the first of its kind.
Richardson graduated with honors from Wesleyan University in 2008, and she graduated from Northeastern University School of Law in 2011.
Sophia Smart joined the NYCLU in 2015. She is a 2012 graduate of the University at Albany with a degree in sociology. After graduation she served as an AmeriCorps volunteer in New York City and Dallas. Smart is also a community organizer in the Capital Region focused on anti-mass incarceration and improving marginalized communities’ quality of life.
Johanna Miller is a nationally recognized public policy expert on issues including police reform, education, and privacy and technology. She has co-authored groundbreaking civil rights legislation in New York City, including the Community Safety Act, which set up oversight of racially discriminatory policing by the NYPD, and the Student Safety Act, which disclosed how black and Latino children are pushed out of New York City schools by discriminatory discipline policies.
An authority on the effect of technology on the safety and privacy of all Americans, Miller recently testified before President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing on the issue of police-worn body cameras. Miller is also a leading advisor to public schools on anti-discrimination policies, serving on both Mayor de Blasio’s citywide school climate task force and the New York Education Department’s statewide Dignity for All Students task force.
A frequent public speaker and media contributor, Miller’s appearances include the New York and American Bar Associations, Celebration of Teaching and Learning Conference, Practicing Law Institute, and others. She has appeared in The New York Times, Daily News, New York Post, Village Voice, NPR and The Huffington Post, and has had op-eds published in The Albany Times-Union, Newsday, and The Buffalo News.
Miller graduated with honors from New York Law School where she currently teaches the Legislative Advocacy Clinic. Originally from Florida, she is a proud alumnus of the University of Florida and studied at La Sorbonne. She joined the NYCLU staff in 2008.
Deputy Advocacy Director
Ruthie Epstein is deputy advocacy director at the New York Civil Liberties Union. Prior to joining NYCLU, she was the legislative policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington Legislative Office, where she lobbied for reforms to the criminal justice and immigration systems, as well as coordinating the organization’s response to the 2014 Central American refugee crisis at the southern border. From 2005 to 2013, she worked at Human Rights First in New York City, advocating for protections in the U.S. refugee and asylum systems. While at Human Rights First, she convened the five-part public event series “Dialogues on Detention: Applying Lessons from Criminal Justice Reform to Immigration Detention,” in partnership with universities in Austin, Irvine (CA), Tempe (AZ) and New Orleans. She has also authored reports on the U.S. immigration detention system and the Iraqi refugee crisis. Ms. Epstein has been widely quoted in national and regional news outlets. She holds a Master’s in International Affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and an A.B. from Washington University in St. Louis.
Director of Organizing Campaigns
Lauren Frederico is the Director of Organizing Campaigns at the NYCLU, where she manages a statewide team of organizers and designs and implements organizing campaigns to advance and defend civil liberties and civil rights.
In 2015, Frederico co-authored the NYCLU report Dignity for All? Discrimination against Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students in New York State, which received national attention and secured support for statewide reforms. In collaboration with students and advocates across the state, Frederico worked with the State Education Department to improve school climate for transgender and gender nonconforming students.
As a member of the Student Safety Coalition, Frederico co-authored amendments to the Student Safety Act and led a legislative advocacy campaign to strengthen New York City’s reporting on police activity and disciplinary practices in schools. The Student Safety Act amendments passed in 2015 and require, for the first time, reporting by both the NYPD and the Department of Education on the use of metal detectors, handcuffs and restraints in schools.
Frederico graduated from Smith College, and earned an M.S.W. from Hunter College School of Social Work where she studied Community Organization, Planning and Development. In 2014, Frederico completed a Seminar in Field Instruction at Columbia University, and currently serves as an Adjunct Lecturer for Silberman and Columbia School of Social Work.
Frederico first joined the NYCLU in 2010, and became a full-time staff member in 2011.
Susan Gottehrer is the chapter coordinator for the Advocacy Department. Gottehrer works on criminal justice reform campaigns while also providing outreach and general support to chapter offices around the state. She is a lifelong civil libertarian, activist, former board member of the NYCLU’s Nassau County Chapter and mother of two.
Gottehrer began her work at SUNY Oneonta as a student delegate to the Statewide Student Association, where she trained and lead students on lobby trips against the 21-year-old drinking age and tuition hikes, organized voter registration and get-out-the-vote campaigns, authored a weekly newspaper column and appeared weekly on local radio talk-shows. She served as a public relations executive for eight years at Burson-Marsteller before becoming director of the after school program at P.S. 101.
She served as a coach for The Odyssey of the Mind for four years in Rockville Centre, New York before returning to her first love as an activist by joining the NYCLU’s Nassau County Chapter Board in 2006. Gottehrer worked on overturning the Rockefeller Drug Laws, acted as legal observer at the Democratic debates at Hofstra University, and lobbied locally and in Washington D.C. against the Patriot Act, Surveillance/FISA court abuses and fusion centers.
Gottehrer also conducted know-your-rights trainings in high schools throughout Nassau County, developed know-your-rights curriculums and facilitated youth workshops on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Prior to joining the NYCLU full time in 2014, Gottehrer was employed as an adjunct professor of Political Science at Long Island University, where she taught graduate and undergraduate courses on radical social movements and the U.S. Government, and also served as internship coordinator and graduate thesis advisor.
Gottehrer holds an M.P.A. from New York University, a Master’s Degree in Political Science from The New School for Social Research and a Master’s Degree in Social Studies Education from Columbia University.
Advocacy & Legislative Program Assistant
Before joining the NYCLU, Monique Houston taught computer science in the New York City Public Schools. She enjoyed developing relationships with students and working in a field that gave her a greater purpose. These same values brought Houston to the NYCLU, where she works as the program assistant for both the Advocacy and Legislative departments. Houston provides administrative support and works with external organizations and community members to coordinate distribution of NYCLU publications.
Houston was raised in Connecticut and joined the NYCLU in 2010.
Michael Sisitzky is a policy counsel in the Advocacy Department. He leads the department’s police transparency and accountability campaign, and his portfolio also includes work in the area of privacy and technology.
Before joining the NYCLU, Sisitzky served as a staff attorney with Immigration Equality, where he provided direct representation as well as administrative and legislative advocacy for LGBT binational couples, who had few options for being together in the U.S. until the Defense of Marriage Act was declared unconstitutional. He was a frequent speaker on LGBT immigration issues, having trained several hundred attorneys and activists on best practices for working with LGBT immigrants, and he has contributed to reports by CNN, MSNBC, and a publication by the American Immigration Lawyers Association. While in law school, Sisitzky interned with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, where he helped partner organizations to draft municipal nondiscrimination legislation. As an intern with the New York State Division of Human Rights, he investigated complaints of housing and employment discrimination throughout the New York metro area.
Sisitzky graduated magna cum laude from New York University with a B.A. in politics, and he received his law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center in 2012. In 2014, he was recognized by the National LGBT Bar Association as one of the 40 Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40.
Jalise R. Burt is an Equal Justice Works Fellow, sponsored by Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP. She focuses on the School to Prison Pipeline as it relates to LGBT and gender nonconforming students in New York City public schools.
During law school Burt provided individual representation to youth charged with criminal offenses in Washington, D.C., served as the managing editor of the Georgetown Journal of Law and Modern Critical Race Perspectives, and organized a symposium on the intersection of race, sexuality, gender and the law. Burt is the recipient of Georgetown Law’s Lorri L. Jean Student Award for Excellence in LGBTQIA Leadership and Advocacy.
Burt graduated cum laude from the University of Florida in 2011, and Georgetown University Law Center in 2014 with a pro bono service distinction.
Director of Communications
Ujala Sehgal joined the NYCLU in 2014.
She was formerly the director of communications at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund. She received her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School with awards in critical race theory and legal writing, and her B.A. from Carnegie Mellon University, where she researched racial disparities in higher education.
She has worked as a news writer for The Atlantic’s news website The Wire, reported on the media industry for Mediabistro and Business Insider, and worked as an editor for the cultural magazine The Millions. Prior to that, she was a regulatory attorney at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP. During law school, she interned at the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights in New York.
Deputy Director of Communications
Prior to joining the NYCLU in 2016, Sebastian Krueger was a communications officer for the Open Society Foundations, where he promoted the human rights and public health work of the global organization and its grantees through media outreach, multimedia storytelling, publications and online engagement.
Krueger has been a freelance public radio producer and reporter, focusing on civil liberties in pieces featured on National Public Radio and WNYC Radio. He previously worked in development at the American Civil Liberties Union, and as a grant writer for free arts programming in New York City. He received a B.A. in history from New York University.
Director of Communications Campaigns
Alberto Morales joined the NYCLU in 2007. He was born in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, raised in Crown Heights, Brooklyn and earned his B.A. in literature from Brown University in 2002.
Morales has helped lead a campaign to raise the NYCLU's profile in non-traditional media. Over the years, he has cultivated the NYCLU's social media properties on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube into influential activist forces that bolster the NYCLU's mission of defending the constitutional rights of all New Yorkers. He also directs the NYCLU's TV show Project Liberty, which airs on public access channels around New York State, and curates the NYCLU's yearly art exhibit “Faces of Liberty.” Morales enjoys creative initiatives, so don't be surprised to see the occasional NYCLU Buzzfeed article, or to find the organization in places yet to be seen.
In 2012, Morales was chosen as a “40 Under 40 Latino Rising Star” by the Hispanic Coalition of New York.
Digital Media Strategist
The Communications Department includes a full-time staff digital media strategist who is an experienced graphic designer and web developer, with a portfolio focused around designing for social justice causes.
Simon McCormack joined the NYCLU in 2015. For the last four years, he was an editor at The Huffington Post where he covered criminal justice issues including prison reform, solitary confinement and police brutality.
He received a B.A. in criminology from the University of New Mexico in 2007 and a M.A. in journalism from New York University in 2010.
Prior to moving to New York, McCormack worked for two years at the Weekly Alibi, an alt-weekly in Albuquerque covering news, local politics and music.
McCormack’s writing has also appeared in The New York Times, Village Voice, Brooklyn Paper and other publications.
Abigail Nutter joined the NYCLU in 2014.
She graduated from Rutgers University with a B.A. in journalism and media studies and women’s and gender studies in 2014. As an undergrad, she served as marketing director for Cabaret Theatre, an on-campus theatre company, lived in a Women in Leadership living-learning community, was a member of the women’s college Douglass Residential College, and worked on a grassroots documentary with Iranian women’s rights activist Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh. Nutter also held internships at BUST Magazine, the National Organization for Women, and the Rutgers Institute for Women’s Leadership.
Nutter’s writing has been featured in BUST Magazine, Ms., and several Rutgers publications. In 2014, she won an essay contest and as a result had the honor of meeting Gloria Steinem, which was one of the greatest moments of her short life.
Director of Philanthropy
Wendy Sealey is a native New Yorker, proud working mom, Brown and Stanford University Alumna, and passionate fundraiser. She loves raising money for social justice organizations and projects. Before joining the NYCLU last year as the Director of Leadership Gifts, she worked for various nonprofit organizations, including Bank Street College of Education and the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, raising funds for general operations, educational scholarships, endowments and, most recently, a capital campaign.
She lives in Washington Heights with her wife of 15 years, Ines, and their young soccer superstar, Javier.
Deputy Director of Philanthropy
Caroline Cotter joined the NYCLU in September 2015. Previously she was Senior Development Officer at the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC), which promotes the sexual and reproductive rights and health of women and girls globally, and Program Coordinator at CREA, a feminist women’s human rights organization, based in New Delhi. Cotter serves as trustee at the Manhattan Country School (MCS), chairs the Board Development Committee, and participates actively on the Comprehensive Campaign Council.
Cotter taught in progressive New York City schools for six years after earning a B.S. with honors from Harvard University in Social Anthropology and a Masters in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Bank Street College. She lives on the Upper West Side and in Sullivan County with her wife, Laurie, and their little dog, Lars.
Development Database Manager
Keith Kole joined the NYCLU in 2006. He hails from Chicago where he managed the Raiser's Edge database for Council for Jewish Elderly and the prestigious Newberry Library. Previous to that, he owned and operated a network game-playing and DVD rental/sales retail store (the first in the northern Chicago area). He studied at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and RADA in London. Kole is an Oxfordian and would be happy to explain to anyone who is interested exactly what an Oxfordian is.
Donor Relations Officer
Toni Smith-Thompson joined the NYCLU in January 2011. Previously she worked for seven years at New York Youth at Risk, Inc., a non-profit youth mentoring organization, as the executive assistant, development associate and grant writer. During her time in the non-profit sector, Smith-Thompson gained significant experience in youth development, administration and human resources, and development. She graduated from Manhattanville College with a degree in sociology and a passion for social justice and equality.
Annual Fund and Foundation Relations Officer
Jessica Griffin joined the NYCLU staff in 2014. She is responsible for the NYCLU’s foundation relations, donor communications and special events. She has more than eight years of experience working in nonprofit fundraising, partnership and development at organizations such as the American Red Cross, the International Rescue Committee, the Capital Area Food Bank and BoardSource and held a variety of roles focused on foundation and corporate relations, campaign giving, special events, sponsorship and donor communications. She served as the board chair of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network in Washington, D.C. and is an active member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
Griffin graduated summa cum laude from both Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, GA and The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications & Rhetoric Studies and in Sociology as well as a Masters of Public Administration. In her free time, Griffin loves cooking and exploring the many ethnic restaurants and markets near her home in Queens.
Simone Carvalho joined the NYCLU in July 2015. Prior to the NYCLU, she explored a variety of careers to find her passion including a term as an AmeriCorps Volunteer Coordinator where she led thousands of volunteers in service. She is a first generation Brazilian dual citizen, born and raised in New Jersey. She attended a culinary arts high school and graduated with honors from Rutgers University in 2011.
Leadership Gifts Officer
Pamela Zimmerman re-joined the NYCLU in 2015 after having been a legal intern in the Reproductive Rights Project back in 2006. In between, she was a financial planning specialist at Morgan Stanley, a contract staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, and a litigation and intellectual property associate at Golenbock Eiseman Assor Bell & Peskoe LLP. Zimmerman also chaired the Sex and Law Committee at the New York City Bar Association from 2011-2014. She earned her J.D. at Cardozo School of Law where she received a Post-Graduate Public Interest Fellowship award. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with Honors and with Distinction in the Major (English) and a concentration in Women’s Studies.
Melissa Calderone joined the NYCLU as the executive assistant in May of 2012. Born and raised in New Jersey -- and don't you forget it -- Calderone ensures the smooth operations of the NYCLU and supports the executive director with her scheduling prowess, keen eye for detail and striking/stupendous/unsettling ability to multitask. Her passion and energy for grassroots activism stem from a background in campaign field organizing. In 2011, Calderone served as paid canvass director for the Suffolk County Coordinated Campaign, managing a massive effort that knocked over 100,000 doors in support of dozens of Democratic candidates. Prior to that, she worked as regional field director for Congressman Tim Bishop's successful 2010 re-election campaign. Calderone graduated summa cum laude from Hofstra University, where she studied political science and fine arts.
Helen Paillé joined the NYCLU in 2015. Prior to joining the NYCLU team, Paillé spent five years in Minnesota pursuing her J.D., and assisting survivors of gender-based violence as both an attorney and legal advocate. Paillé also served on the boards of directors of Teenwise Minnesota and the 20% Theatre Company, and was a volunteer Racial Justice Facilitator for the YWCA of Minneapolis.
A passionate queer activist, Paillé was named one of OutFront Minnesota’s “25 Under 25” for her successful campaign to add “gender identity and presentation” to William Mitchell College of Law’s nondiscrimination policy. Her article “Black Female Inmates’ Reproductive Rights: Cutting the Chains of Colorblind Constitutionalism,” which examines the shackling of prisoners during childbirth through the lens of the Equal Protection Clause, was published in William Mitchell’s Law Raza Journal in 2012.
Paillé graduated cum laude from William Mitchell College of Law in 2012, and completed her B.A. in women and gender studies at Bates College in 2009. Paillé first joined the ACLU family as an intern at the Maine Civil Liberties Union in her dearly beloved home state.
Richard Bryant, a founding partner at Eight Square Inc., brings 20 years of experience in not-for-profit management to the NYCLU. He has worked closely with senior management and board directors of organizations including The Osborne Association, The Correctional Association of New York, The New York Asian Women’s Center, The Fund for Social Change and The New York Women’s Foundation, providing fiscal and human resource management, as well as other advisory services.
Amanda Li, a founding partner at Eight Square Inc., has 16 years of experience in all aspects of not-for-profit fiscal and contract management; including audit, financial statements, payroll, government, foundation and corporation contract management, fund accounting systems and database management. Prior to Eight Square Inc., Li spent more than 10 years in both business and fiscal management at both The Osborne Association and New York Asian Women’s Center. She received the Thomas Mott Award for her dedication and excellence of work at the Osborne Association. Li received a BA in accounting from Queens College at the City University of New York. Prior to coming to the U.S., she attended law school in China and worked as legal advocate at a major corporation, working on behalf of over 20,000 workers.
Albert Birzh joined the NYCLU as a senior accountant in 2008.
Born and raised in Moldova, Birzh graduated from Pace University in 2000 with a major in accounting and minor in finance. He passed all four parts of the CPA examination. He now has more than 12 years experience in accounting and finance, including experience in all aspects of financial forecasting, resource allocation, fund management and control. Prior to joining the NYCLU, Birzh was a senior accountant for Overseas Media Production.
Full Charge Bookkeeper
Born in Puerto Rico and raised in the Bronx since the age of three, Marangeli Merced spent many years in the neurological field working as a medical secretary at the New York Presbyterian Hospital. The first in her family to attend and graduate from college, Merced earned her B.A. in accounting from Monroe College in the Bronx. While at Monroe, she began an internship at the New York Civil Liberties Union, and soon after, joined the NYCLU full time as the controller’s assistant and full charge bookkeeper. She handles a wide range of the finance department’s responsibilities, including payroll, accounts payable and cash flow.
Merced joined the NYCLU staff in 2008.
CHAPTERS AND REGIONAL OFFICES
John A. Curr III
Western Regional Office Director (Serving Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chatauqua, Erie, Niagara, Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties)
John A. Curr III was named the director in April 2006 for the NYCLU in the Western New York area, after joining the NYCLU as assistant director of the Western Regional Office in December 2000. Active in social justice causes for many years, Curr is a former member of the steering committee for the Erie County Green Party, served as a local coordinator and media liaison for Ralph Nader's "Democracy Rising" and "Stop the War" tours and was a recent organizer with "Peace Has No Borders."
Curr is the host and creator of the NYCLU's "Radio Civil Liberties" program, a weekly broadcast that the WRO began in 2003. Featuring news, interviews and music, Radio Civil Liberties provides insight and information in a creative format that attracts listeners from all over the world.
A charter member of Western New York's Veterans for Peace chapter, Curr is a disabled combat veteran of the first Gulf War, with more than 14 years service in the U.S. Army, Army National Guard and Air Force Reserves. A graduate of the Community College of the Air Force, Curr has also completed undergraduate work at the United States Academy of Health Sciences (Fort Sam Houston, Texas), the University of Maryland, Hawaii Pacific College and Chaminade University (Hawaii).
Jason E. Starr
Interim Suffolk County Chapter Director
Jason E. Starr joined the New York Civil Liberties Union in May 2012 as the Nassau County chapter director. A native of South Carolina, Starr received his B.A. in economics from the University of Miami and J.D./LL.M. from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, where he concentrated on constitutional law.
Prior to joining the NYCLU, Starr was the Dean’s Fellow at Cardozo where he focused on enhancing the law school’s diversity program through pipeline initiatives, targeted student support and alumni relations. He also served as a research assistant to Professor Michelle Adams, writing in the areas of racial segregation, affirmative action and public education. Starr remains involved in the Cardozo community as a member of the Alumni Association Executive Committee.
Starr has a special interest in educational equality. Before law school, he taught middle school mathematics and music in the Liberty City neighborhood of Miami and is currently the vice chair of the Board of Trustees of the Fahari Academy in Brooklyn.
Genesee Valley Chapter Director (Serving Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Steuben, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates counties)
KaeLyn Rich joined the NYCLU family as a Genesee Valley Chapter board member in 2008 and became chapter director in 2011. With community organizing experience that dates back to stuffing folders for her parents’ union meetings, Rich specializes in direct action organizing, nonprofit administration and young adult engagement.
Formerly, Rich was the community affairs coordinator at Planned Parenthood of the Rochester/Syracuse Region, where she was responsible for legislative advocacy, government relations, coalition building and the regional campus organizing program. Rich has also worked at Services to Aid Families, a rape crisis/domestic violence program in Oswego and as the director of the SUNY Oswego Women’s Center.
Rich serves on the founding board of Connect & Breathe, a taboo-breaking nonjudgmental after-abortion talkline based out of upstate New York. She is also a member of the Family Planning Advocates Young Leaders Advisory Board, a former board member of ImageOut: the Rochester Lesbian & Gay Film and Video Festival, and a former membership chair of Greater Rochester NOW.
Rich holds B.A. degrees in women’s studies and English from SUNY Oswego and a graduate certificate in nonprofit management from SUNY Brockport. She is a 2011 National Council for Research on Women young professional fellow in their “Building the Next Generation of Women in the Nonprofit Sector” fellowship program.
Genesee Valley Chapter Administrative Assistant
Marisol Martinez is a native of Chile who immigrated to the United States in 1980 and became a citizen in 1990. Before joining the NYCLU, she was a Spanish language teacher, and later became a director of Rochester's Berlitz Language School. At the NYCLU’s Genesee Valley Chapter, she is responsible for administrative coordination and supporting the legal intake process. Her favorite part about working with the chapter is being involved in lobby days and rally events, where she works side-by-side with the chapter director, our members and NYCLU partners to bring positive change to the community.
Capital Region Chapter Director (Serving Albany, Rensselaer, Schenectady, Saratoga, Warren, Columbia and Washington counties)
Melanie Trimble joined the New York Civil Liberties Union in March 2003. Previously she served as president and vice president of Action of the League of Women Voters of Albany County.
Trimble moved to the Albany area from Chicago in 1990 and has been actively involved in community life in the Capital District since that time. She has participated in changing the charter of Albany County to a county executive form of government, led an internship for Russian and Ukrainian women learning about participation in government, represented the Albany County League at state and national conventions and monitored county government activities.
Trimble taught mathematics for 11 years before leaving to pursue a career in public service. She has an undergraduate degree in psychology and philosophy from Simmons College in Boston, and a master's degree in teaching from Montclair State University in Upper Montclair, NJ.