Donna Lieberman

Donna Lieberman

Donna Lieberman has been the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union since December 2001. She also founded the NYCLU’s Reproductive Rights Project. During her tenure, the NYCLU has grown to over 185,000 members, with 8 offices around the state, and become the state’s leading voice for freedom, justice and equality, especially for those whose rights are most at risk: people of color, young people, and low-income New Yorkers.

Under her leadership the NYCLU has developed an integrated strategy that combines litigation, public education, advocacy, and lobbying to promote and protect civil rights and civil liberties.

Among the NYCLU’s accomplishments during her tenure are:

  • Reforming stop and frisk and broken windows policing
  • Reforming police and education practices  that fuel the school to prison pipeline
  • Securing passage of the New York City Student Safety Act, Community Safety Act and Right to Know Act
  • Reforming solitary confinement in state prisons and local jails
  • Ensuring the right to counsel statewide
  • Protecting protest at the 2004 Republican National Convention
  • Serving as co-counsel to Edie Windsor in the lawsuit that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in the Edie Windsor case
  • Securing passage of the Women’s Equality Act and Paid Family Leave
  • Defending farmworkers’ right to organize;
  • Resisting the Trump regime’s attack on immigrant children and refugees
  • Reaching a landmark settlement in Broadway Triangle to promote racial fairness in creation of affordable housing in New York City; and
  • Founding NYCLU’s annual concert, Broadway Stands Up for Freedom
  • Establishing NYCLU’s youth organizing and leadership development program

Ms. Lieberman also speaks frequently at local and national events on reproductive rights, police practices, education, freedom of speech, and other human rights.

Publications include:

  • Class to Cuffs: Reforming New York City’s Harsh School Disciplinary Practices (ImpactJournal, NY LAW School 2017)
  • The Degradation of Civil Society and Hyper-Aggressive Policing in Communities of Color in New York City (Cardozo Law Review, 2016)
  • Teenagers, Healthcare & the Law (NYCLU, 2002 & 2018)
  • Physician-Only and Physician Assistant Statutes: A Case of Perceived but Unfounded Conflict (Journal of the American Medical Women’s Association, 1994)

Honors and awards include:

  • New York Women’s Foundation Honoree (2017)
  • The Fannie Bear Besser Award for Public Service (Rutgers Law School of Newark Alumni Association, 2015)
  • Arthur Kinoy Award (National Lawyers Guild, Rutgers, 2015)
  • Edith Spivack Award (New York County Lawyers’ Association, 2012)
  • Haywood Burns Memorial Award (New York State Bar Association, 2008)
  • Margaret Sanger Award (Planned Parenthood of New York City, 2005)


  • Harvard University, B.A. magna cum laude (1970)
  • Rutgers University School of Law-Newark, J.D. (1973)


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