Meet five driving forces of the American Civil Liberties Union whose mission to defend constitutional rights affects the lives of millions.
You could call them superheroes hiding in plain sight. They’re needed wherever justice is not being served, whether it’s to defend women’s reproductive rights or hunker down at an airport to assist green card holders trying to make it home. The current political climate has drawn more attention to the legal advocacy group—the ACLU has received approximately $80 million in online donations since the election—but its mission has been the same since its founding in 1920: to make sure the U.S. Constitution is upheld for everyone.
We spoke with five of the ACLU’s heavy hitters about their trials, their triumphs, and how to rise above the noise.
Ria Tabacco Mar, Staff Attorney with the National LGBT and HIV Project
Role: I represent LGBT people in cases involving discrimination.
Biggest challenge: Being part of a national organization based in New York. I’ve had cases in Kentucky, Colorado, West Virginia, Nevada, Arkansas. Fortunately, we have affiliate staff in all 50 states.
BrigItte Amiri, Senior Staff Attorney for the Reproductive Freedom Project
Role: I bring court challenges to laws that restrict access to abortion and contraception.
Biggest challenge: Watching politicians pass law after law denying critical health care to women. These laws have no medical justification and are designed to make it harder, if not impossible, for women to obtain care.
Jaweer Brown, Communications Manager for Reproductive Rights
Role: I work with the media to keep the public informed about reproductive rights, health, and justice.
Why I love my job: I work with brilliant and inspiring people on issues that are deeply important to me. As a queer, biracial woman of color, I have the ACLU’s work woven into my DNA.
VIDEO: See How Your Favorite Stars Celebrated International Women’s Day
Eunice Rho, Advocacy and Policy Counsel
Role: I give our state-based lobbyists legal and strategic advice on LGBT and religious freedom issues.
How to get involved: Participating in the democratic process is critical. Find out who represents you in Congress, your state legislature, city council, and school board. If they are promoting or supporting policies that you agree or disagree with, call or visit them to let them know.
Neema Singh Guliani, Legislative Counsel
Role: I work with legislators to draft and make changes to laws. Biggest challenge: Building consensus. Unlike court cases, in policy you don’t just have to convince a judge that your solution is the right one. You have to convince hundreds of lawmakers, interest groups, and ultimately the public.
Greatest accomplishment: Knowing I have contributed to changes that make it possible for people to live happier and freer lives.