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.
Nanette Francia Cotter
Nanette Francia Cotter became deputy director of the NYCLU in June 2005. Before joining the NYCLU, Francia Cotter was Director of Community Programs at the Food Bank for New York City where she was responsible for maintaining a strong connection between the Food Bank and its member agencies, ensuring the needs of the emergency feeding network were readily met. Prior to this, she was director of administration & personnel at the Food Bank. In this capacity, Francia Cotter provided administrative oversight on all personnel and office issues, and project management on organizational expansion and technology upgrades. She also served in a number of capacities at the Soros Foundation's Open Society Institute, including deputy director of the Central Eurasia Project, overseeing all program administration of five Soros national foundations in Central Eurasia. Francia Cotter also was a volunteer with the pioneer group of the U.S. Peace Corps in Kazakhstan (former Soviet Union).
Francia Cotter currently serves on the Advisory Board (formerly as a founding board member) of the Common Language Project whose mission is to develop and implement innovative multimedia approaches to international and local journalism while focusing on positive, inclusive and humane reporting of stories ignored or underreported by the mainstream media. She earned a B.A. in political science from Rutgers University with a double-minor in Spanish and philosophy, and completed the core curriculum of the Masters of Public Administration Graduate Program from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. Francia Cotter also is fluent in Spanish and Russian.
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 and Upstate Litigation Coordinator
Corey Stoughton is senior staff attorney and upstate litigation coordinator at the New York Civil Liberties Union, where she focuses on statewide civil rights and civil liberties impact litigation. She has litigated cases involving racial and economic justice, national security and civil liberties, student’s rights and religious freedom. She is currently lead counsel in Hurrell-Harring v. State of New York, a statewide indigent criminal defense reform case. Stoughton is also an adjunct clinical professor at NYU School of Law, where she teaches a civil rights clinic.
Prior to joining the NYCLU, she was the Karpatkin Fellow at the American Civil Liberties Union, where she litigated a major racial profiling case against the Maryland State Police and worked on various matters related to race discrimination, education reform and national security. She also served as the Civil Rights Fellow at Relman & Associates, in Washington, D.C., where she litigated race, gender and disability discrimination cases in employment, lending and the provision of public accommodations. Stoughton recently completed a Fulbright research grant where she studied indigent criminal defense reform measures in Turkey.
Stoughton graduated with high honors from the University of Michigan in 1998 and magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 2002. After law school, she clerked for the Honorable Cornelia Kennedy on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
Senior Staff Attorney
Alexis Karteron is a senior staff attorney at the New York Civil Liberties Union, where she focuses on civil rights, civil liberties and reproductive rights impact litigation.
Prior to joining the NYCLU, Karteron served as the White House associate staff secretary. During the summer of 2009, she was a member of the White House team dedicated to winning Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation to the Supreme Court. Karteron has also completed the Fried Frank/NAACP Legal Defense Fund Fellowship, through which she spent two years as a litigation associate at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP. While at Fried Frank, she worked on commercial and pro bono matters concerning a wide range of subjects, including securities and accounting fraud, and First Amendment, immigration and contract law. She later served as a member of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s Political Participation Group, where she litigated complex cases, including constitutional challenges to electoral practices throughout the country.
Karteron graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 2001 with an A.B. in history and science, and she received her J.D. with distinction from Stanford Law School in 2004, where she was a public interest scholar and member of the Stanford Law Review. After law school, she clerked for the Honorable Marsha S. Berzon on 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.
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.
Erin Beth Harrist is a 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.
Mariko Hirose is a staff attorney at the New York Civil Liberties Union, where she focuses on statewide civil rights and civil liberties impact litigation, especially in the LGBT and reproductive rights issue areas.
Prior to joining the NYCLU, Hirose was an associate at Outten & Golden LLP, where she represented employees in litigation, including in class action sex discrimination and wage-and-hour cases. She also served as a fellow at the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project.
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.
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.
Bobby Hodgson is a Skadden Fellow at the New York Civil Liberties Union, where he focuses on LGBTQ youth issues and other civil rights and civil liberties litigation and advocacy.
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.
Jordan Wells is a Bickel & Brewer Latino Institute for Human Rights Fellow at the New York Civil Liberties Union, where he focuses on civil rights and civil liberties issues, including litigation on behalf of noncitizens and perceived noncitizens.
During law school, Wells authored and co-authored several briefs in federal court, including two that were cited by the Supreme Court in majority opinions. Prior to law school, he coordinated a campaign to obtain labor rights for farm workers and successfully lobbied for “sweatshop-free” public purchasing policies in Albany.
Wells graduated from Cornell University in 2007 with a B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations, and he graduated cum laude from NYU School of Law in 2013, where he was a McKay Scholar and a Bickel & Brewer Latino Institute for Human Rights Scholar. He speaks Spanish.
Dana B. Wolfe is a Soros Justice Fellow at the New York Civil Liberties Union, where she focuses on re-entry issues faced by people registered for sex offenses, and other criminal justice and civil liberties issues.
During law school, Wolfe provided individual representation to street vendors challenging tickets and people seeking unemployment benefits, and interned for a federal judge. Prior to law school, Wolfe designed and managed philanthropic giving programs, and was an AmeriCorps member at a Harlem-based microcredit organization.
Wolfe graduated in 2002 with a B.A. in political science from Trinity College, where she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and received her J.D. cum laude from Brooklyn Law School in 2012, where she was a Sparer Public Interest Law Fellow and member of the Moot Court Honor Society.
Jessica (JP) Perry
Jessica Perry joined the NYCLU staff as a paralegal in 2013 where she assists on a number of cases that address issues ranging from Youth and Student Justice, Racial Justice, LGBT Rights, and Criminal Justice Reform.
Prior to working at the NYCLU, Perry was an administrative assistant and project coordinator at High Rocks—an education and rural-justice non-profit organization in West Virginia. Previously she served as an AmeriCorps member at a public middle school in Philadelphia, where she tutored and mentored students, as well as ran a conflict resolution and peer mediation program. She has worked extensively in a direct service capacity teaching children and young people with disabilities. While Perry initially became interested in criminal justice work after taking a course in college on conflict resolution and restorative justice practices with individuals who were incarcerated, her various educational and work experiences have also inspired her to pursue a career in social justice and civil rights.
Perry graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 2009 with a B.A. in religious studies. She is originally from Little Rock, Ark.
Carmen D. Santiago
Senior Legal Assistant
Carmen D. Santiago has been the legal assistant of the New York Civil Liberties Union since July 1988. Her responsibilities at the NYCLU are extensive, including reviewing requests for legal assistance and performing all Spanish-language legal intakes. Prior to coming to the NYCLU, she worked as the assistant supervisor at the Legal Aid Society, Criminal Appeals Bureau and prior to that she lived overseas for numerous years while serving in the United States Navy. While in the Navy, she served as the security manager for various commanding officers and as the Legal Yeoman at various commands. A highly decorated sailor, Santiago retired from the U.S. Navy as a First Class Officer in June 2004. She now serves as the shop steward, a union under the umbrella of UAW, Technical Office Professionals, Local 2110.
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.
Assistant Legislative Director
Prior to joining the NYCLU, Corinne Carey was a researcher with the U.S. Program at Human Rights Watch, where she produced reports and engaged in advocacy on domestic human rights issues including the rights of people with criminal records, sex offender registration and community notification laws, and the evacuation of correctional facilities during Hurricane Katrina.
Carey graduated summa cum laude from the State University of New York at Buffalo School of Law. She began her legal career with a fellowship from the Open Society Institute as the founder and director of the Harm Reduction Law Project, based in the Lower East Side Harm Reduction Program in New York City. She provided direct legal services to drug users in harm reduction programs throughout the city.
A longtime drug law reform and harm reduction advocate, Carey was a founding member of Prevention Point Philadelphia, that city's first needle exchange program. She serves on the board of directors of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, and has spoken about the rights of drug users to local, national and international audiences. She has also taught courses in law and urban problems and civil rights and civil liberties at New York University and Brooklyn College.
Katharine ES Bodde
Katharine Bodde specializes in reproductive rights and LGBTQ issues. She joined the NYCLU in 2009, after graduating 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.
Prior to working at the NYCLU, 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 both her background as a New York City teacher and her commitment to fighting violence and poverty by empowering women. She 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.
Bodde received a B.A. from Boston College in 2003 and a M.S. in education from Mercy College in 2005. She resides in South Slope, Brooklyn.
Peggy Ramin joined the NYCLU in 2013. She is a graduate of Cornell University, where she double majored in government and anthropology. After graduation, Ramin spent a year working in development in New York City for University Settlement and its affiliate organizations, The Door and Broome Street Academy. She is originally from Maryland.
As advocacy director, Johanna Miller leads the Advocacy Department’s four major issue campaigns: police reform, education reform, women’s rights, and comprehensive immigration reform. Her primary areas of expertise are the school to prison pipeline, race-based policing, students’ rights, and gender and LGBTQ issues in education. She is author of the NYCLU’s report Education Interrupted: The Growing Use of Suspensions in New York City’s Public Schools (2011) and co-author of Birds, Bees and Bias: How Absent Sex Ed Standards Fail New York’s Students (2012).
Miller was a founding member of the New York State Dignity for All Students Task Force and is a current member of the New York City Bar Association Committee on Education and the Law. She is co-litigating BH v. City of New York, a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of school safety policies and practices in the nation’s largest school district. She had a leading role in the campaign to pass the Student Safety Act, signed into law by Mayor Bloomberg in 2011.
A frequent public speaker and media contributor, Miller’s appearances include the New York State Bar Association Annual Meeting, the Celebration of Teaching and Learning Conference, and the ACLU Nationwide Staff Conference. She has appeared in the Village Voice, WNYC, Capital Tonight with Liz Benjamin, and The Huffington Post, among others, and has had op-eds published in the Albany Times-Union, Long Island Newsday, and the Buffalo News.
Miller graduated with honors from New York Law School where she received the Alexander Forger Award for Distinguished Service to the Legal Profession. She has now returned to the school as an adjunct clinical professor of law. Originally from Florida, Miller is a proud alumnus of the University of Florida and studied at La Sorbonne. She joined the NYCLU staff in 2008.
Assistant Advocacy Director for Organizing
As assistant advocacy director for organizing, Candis Tolliver oversees the NYCLU’s organizing efforts in New York City and manages the NYCLU’s statewide organizing portfolio, which includes supporting the work and professional development of the NYCLU’s organizers. Tolliver also is responsible for assisting the advocacy director in department management.
Tolliver has advanced skills in coordinating, strategizing and leading public policy and advocacy campaigns that mobilize NYCLU members and supporters to uphold and defend civil liberties and civil rights. With a special focus on racial justice and police reform campaigns, she helps to build and maintain coalitions with grassroots groups and advocacy organizations around civil liberties and civil rights issues. Tolliver leads the NYCLU’s police reform organizing efforts and is heavily involved in all public education and advocacy activities related to building support in New York City for a more just and humane policing paradigm. She also leads the NYCLU’s work with the Communities United for Police Reform campaign where she co-chairs both the policy working group and the executive committee. Tolliver is also the primary presenter of the NYCLU’s Know Your Rights with Police workshops.
Tolliver graduated from Norfolk State University in 2006, earning a B.A. in political science. Shortly after graduation she worked as the grassroots organizer for Planned Parenthood of Nassau County, and later as the public affairs coordinator. In 2010, Tolliver earned an M.S. in urban policy analysis from Milano the New School for Management and Urban Policy. She joined the NYCLU staff in 2010.
Rebecca Engel is an attorney who works in both the advocacy and legal departments, focusing on issues of immigration and criminal justice reform.
Prior to working at the NYCLU, Engel was an Arthur Liman Public Interest fellow at the Bronx Defenders, where she provided direct representation to adolescents suffering the civil consequences -- such as loss of housing, suspension or expulsion from school, and loss of public benefits and employment -- of being charged as adults in criminal proceedings. Prior to law school, Engel worked as a civil rights researcher at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project, a journalist at the Community Newspaper Company, and a union organizer at the Service Employees International Union.
Engel graduated summa cum laude from Pomona College with a B.A. in political science, and she received her J.D. from Yale Law School in 2009. She is also a Ph.D candidate in American Religious History at Princeton University, where she received her M.A. in 2006, where she is writing her dissertation on the role of religion in the welfare rights movement in the 1960s and 1970s.
Lauren Frederico is an organizer in the NYCLU’s Advocacy Department with a specialization in youth empowerment and student rights. From 2011 to the spring of 2013, Frederico worked as the Teen Activist Project Coordinator and supported youth-led projects including a photo essay about police in schools, a video about the rights of LGBTQ students and a survey project about the implementation of the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA). Most recently, she served as the lead NYCLU organizer on the Women’s Equality Coalition and now works primarily on student-safety issues. In addition, Frederico advocates for the rights of transgender students by providing direct guidance to school districts across the state.
Frederico was a contributor to the NYCLU’s publication of Birds, Bees and Bias: How Absent Sex Ed Standards Fail New York’s Students (2012) and has been published in the National Association of Social Worker’s publication Currents. She is a presenter of the NYCLU’s Minor’s Rights to Confidential Healthcare and LGBTQ Youth in Schools workshops.
Frederico first started organizing around reproductive justice issues as a peer educator with Planned Parenthood. A graduate of Smith College, she earned a B.A. in the study of women and gender with a concentration in queer studies. In 2011, Frederico earned an M.S.W. from Hunter College School of Social Work where she studied community organization, planning and development.
Frederico first joined the NYCLU in 2010 as a graduate student and became a full-time staff member in 2011.
Organizer, Teen Activist Project
Deandra Khan is an Organizer at the Teen Activist Project. A proud City University of New York (CUNY) alumna, she graduated with her B.A. from Hunter College, majoring in political science and English, and later her M.S.W. from the Hunter College School of Social Work, concentrating in community organization, planning and development. As a graduate intern at the Restaurant Opportunities Center and Cornell University's Worker Institute, she worked on the New York City paid sick days campaign, political education workshops, and gender equity in the workplace. Khan is the 2013 recipient of the Jacob Goldfein Award for Scholarly Work for her paper on education theories, academic tracking, and social work. She is thrilled to be working with youth on education issues at the NYCLU. Khan was born in Trinidad to Guyanese parents and raised in Queens since age four. She joined the NYCLU in 2013.
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. His portfolio includes work on the department’s education reform campaign, and his primary areas of expertise are LGBT rights and immigration law and policy.
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 at the New York Civil Liberties Union, where 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
Jennifer Carnig joined the NYCLU as communications director in 2007.
She began her career as a religion reporter for The Oakland Tribune and a chain of other Bay Area papers, and has directed communications and media relations at Teach For America and the University of Chicago. She earned her B.A. in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her master's degree in religious studies from the University of Chicago, where she researched and wrote about the role of the religious backgrounds of top Bush administration officials.
From courtrooms to kitchen tables, school houses to church pews, Carnig has spent her career chronicling the struggles and joys of the social justice movement. She is originally from Pittsburgh.
Deputy 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, Mediabistro and Business Insider, and as an editor at 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.
Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic.com, The Wire, The Millions, Newsday, National Journal, The Rumpus, Gawker, Business Insider, FishbowlNY, among various other publications.
Media Relations Officer
Lauren Alexander joined the NYCLU in 2012. She is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. During her time there, she co- founded Race Alliance at Northwestern (RAN), geared toward bringing together a diverse student body under common issues of human rights and social justice. Upon graduation, Alexander spent a year working for ABC News.
Digital Media Strategist
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.
Helen Zelon joined the NYCLU in 2011. As a journalist, Zelon’s articles have won prizes for investigative reporting and urban education coverage from the New York Independent Press Association, the Education Writers Association, the National Council on Crime and Delinquency and the Casey Foundation for Meritorious Journalism. She has written for New York magazine, City Limits, InsideSchools.org and other local and national publications, and has contributed to education policy reports by the Campaign for Fiscal Equity and the Center for New York City Affairs at the New School. Zelon has also taught writing at two New York City public schools and, for two years, at Sing-Sing Prison in Ossining, New York.
Keith Kole 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.
Toni Smith-Thompson joined the NYCLU in January 2011. She comes to the NYCLU from New York Youth at Risk, Inc., a non-profit youth mentoring organization, where she worked for seven years as the executive assistant, development associate and finally grant writer. During her time in the non-profit sector, Smith-Thompson gained significant experience in youth development, administration and human resources, and special event production before finding her niche in grant writing. She graduated from Manhattanville College with a degree in sociology and a passion for social justice and equality.
Executive Assistant to the Executive Director
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.
Archives & Records Manager
Erin Matson joined the staff in April of 2012 and has the pleasure of being the NYCLU’s first archives and records coordinator. She got her M.S. in December 2011 in library and information science from Pratt Institute, where she concentrated in archives and special collections. While in grad school she worked as an archives assistant at the ACLU and held various volunteer and internship positions including the archives of the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Brooklyn Museum Library. She is excited to be working on preserving the rich 60 year history of the NYCLU and helping to make this material available to researchers for the first time at SUNY Albany.
Matson received her B.A. in 2005 in sociology and women’s studies from Simmons College. She currently resides in Brooklyn but has mainly lived throughout New England and in Portland, OR.
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
Daniel E. Berger
Lower Hudson Valley Chapter Director (Serving Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester counties)
Daniel E. Berger is director of the Lower Hudson Valley Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union. Born and raised in New York City, he received a B.A. in political science from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie. Following a brief stint as an educator post-graduation, Berger joined the staff of the American Civil Liberties Union, where he served as a media liaison for several years. Berger then moved on to the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project, based in Santa Cruz. There, he worked as a paralegal and then, for five years, an advocacy associate, specializing in issues from marijuana decriminalization to racially biased application of drug laws throughout the U.S.
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
Nassau 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.
Central New York Chapter Director (Serving Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Oneida, Onondauga, Oswego and Seneca counties)
Barrie Gewanter has been actively involved with the NYCLU for 10 years. She first served as the director of the CNY Chapter from 1996 to 1999, and then joined the Chapter Board. After three years as the executive director of the Central NY Council for Occupational Safety and Health, she returned to the position of NYCLU chapter director in December 2002. She has also served as a NY State Delegate to three ACLU biennial conferences.
In addition to her work with the NYCLU, Gewanter has been an activist and advocate for women's rights, gay and lesbian rights, workplace health and safety, solidarity with workers and unions, and economic justice. She played key roles in the passage of a Living Wage Law in the City of Syracuse as well as the implementation of domestic partner benefits at Syracuse University. She has served on the board of the Central NY Labor-Religion Coalition, the National COSH Council, a New York State AFL-CIO Health & Safety Committee, and the Syracuse Mayor's Commission on the Living Wage. In 2003 and 2004, Gewanter was honored for her civil liberties and social justice work with awards from the Human Rights Commission of Syracuse and Onondaga County and Peace Action of Central New York.
Gewanter holds a B.F.A. in theatrical stage management from Webster University in St. Louis, Mo. and has worked professionally as a stage manager, carpenter and electrician. She also earned a master's degree in sociology from Washington University in St. Louis and spent several years teaching college level courses in sociology and women's studies in both St. Louis and Syracuse.
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.
Suffolk County Chapter Director
Amol Sinha joined the NYCLU in September 2010 as the director of the Suffolk County Chapter.
Haling from New Jersey, Sinha earned a B.A. in journalism and economics from New York University and a J.D. from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, where he concentrated on constitutional rights and litigation. While in college, Sinha worked at various not-for-profit organizations including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. He also taught journalism skills to inner-city high school students at NYU’s Urban Journalism Workshop.
During law school, Sinha spent much of his time writing for and editing The Cardozo Jurist newspaper, of which he was a founding member. He also published a Note in the Cardozo Journal of Law and Gender on sex offender residency restrictions and their burdens on the free exercise of religion. After his second year, Sinha interned at the ACLU’s National Legal Department, focusing on national security and First Amendment litigation. Sinha serves as the vice president of public interest for the South Asian Bar Association of New York.
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.