Back to All Press Release

NYCLU Names Donna Lieberman Executive Director

The New York Civil Liberties Union today announced the appointment of Donna Lieberman as executive director of the NYCLU following a year-long, nationwide search. She is the founder and director of the NYCLU’s Reproductive Rights Project and served as the organization’s interim director since Norman Siegel left in January 2001 to run for public office.

“Having watched Donna develop the Reproductive Rights Project into a vital component of New York State’s pro-choice movement, we are extremely pleased she will step up to the position of executive director and serve as the principal guardian of all New Yorkers’ constitutional protections, especially at a time when the federal and state governments are trying to roll back our civil liberties. She will build on the extraordinary legacy of Norman Siegel who was an indefatigable fighter for civil liberties,” said NYCLU Board President Steven Hyman.

Lieberman said: “It is a great honor, and an even greater challenge, to undertake the leadership of the state’s leading champion of civil liberties. For 50 years the NYCLU has been a voice for freedom, justice and equality – and the advocate for those whose rights and liberties have been denied. In the new era that began on September 11, our mission has become all the more important. The liberties we assumed were inviolable – the right to counsel, to face one’s accusers, to a presumption of innocence until proven guilty, even free speech – are in jeopardy. The entire NYCLU membership – board members, staff and 25,000 members statewide – will redouble its efforts to secure the fundamental liberties promised in our Constitution.”

Lieberman graduated magna cum laude from Harvard in 1970 and received her J.D. from Rutgers University School of Law in 1973. She began her public interest legal career as a criminal defense lawyer in the South Bronx office of the Legal Aid Society, and then as the Executive Director of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, UAW. Lieberman was on the faculty of the Urban Legal Studies Program at City College for eight years before she joining the NYCLU in 1988 as associate director.

That year, she founded the Reproductive Rights Project as the legal arm of the pro-choice movement in New York. The Project addresses issues relating to sex education, HIV/AIDS, family planning, pregnancy, including pregnancy discrimination, abortion, breastfeeding, managed care, and reproductive technology. In addition, the Project’s Teen Health Initiative does public education and advocacy to protect minors’ reproductive rights.

Since Lieberman assumed the role of Interim Director, the NYCLU has pursued an aggressive litigation agenda — in April, filing a major class action seeking to uphold the promise under the state constitution of a sound, basic education for all children; as well as a lawsuit on behalf of Terence Hunter, who was arrested and held overnight for writing a controversial letter to the Staten Island Borough President. In May, the NYCLU filed a suit that led the city to rescind its “demonstrator detention policy” under which individuals accused of minor offenses during political demonstrations were held for arraignment rather than being issued a summons to appear in court. Also in May, the NYCLU won a permanent injunction that ended Nassau County’s adoption of a de facto religious exception to the criminal trespass law, which had given anti-choice trespassers license to enter upon the private property of an abortion clinic.

The NYCLU is the New York State affiliate of the ACLU. It is dedicated to protecting and enhancing New Yorkers constitutional rights through litigation, lobbying, public education, and community organizing. The NYCLU’s principal office is in lower Manhattan. It also maintains staffed offices in Nassau, Westchester, Albany, Buffalo, Syracuse, Suffolk and Rochester and a volunteer chapter in Ithaca. The NYCLU has approximately 25,000 active members in New York State.

As bold as the spirit of New York, we are the NYCLU.
© 2024 New York
Civil Liberties Union