ACLU Taps Veteran ACLU Leader as National Deputy Executive Director

July 31, 2006 12:00 am

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Dorothy M. Ehrlich, Head of the ACLU of Northern California,
Moves to National Office

Dorothy M. Ehrlich, Deputy Executive Director of the national ACLU

NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union today announced the appointment of Dorothy M. Ehrlich as Deputy Executive Director of the national organization. Ehrlich has served as Executive Director of the ACLU of Northern California, the largest ACLU affiliate in the nation, for 28 years.

“Dorothy Ehrlich is a superb leader who is highly respected among her peers and colleagues and has demonstrated a strong and unwavering commitment to the mission and goals of the ACLU,” said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. “Dorothy’s name is synonymous with civil liberties in Northern California. We are delighted to bring her expertise to the national ACLU during this critical time for civil liberties in America’s history.”

In her role as Deputy Executive Director — a newly created position — Ehrlich will work closely with Romero to coordinate the organization’s legal, legislative and public education work. The Deputy will also serve as a member of the ACLU’s senior management team, participating in setting program priorities and overall direction for the ACLU, and will provide day-to-day leadership and management.

The need for the position, the ACLU said, arose from the organization’s phenomenal growth over the past five years. Since 2001, when Romero took the helm, the ranks of members and supporters has swelled by 85 percent to over 550,000, the budget has doubled, and the full-time staff of the National Office has doubled to almost 380 employees, including 49 new attorneys.

“I am deeply honored to take on this challenging new position with the national ACLU, and to have the opportunity to work with Anthony Romero and his superb staff. I am very fortunate that I will continue to be a part of the ACLU family, and to know that I leave the ACLU of Northern California in the hands of a remarkably talented staff, and a dedicated and effective board of directors,” said Ehrlich.

Ehrlich has directed the 72-year-old Northern California affiliate during a similar period of extraordinary growth, overseeing the work of 50 staff members, including nine attorneys and three lobbyists in Sacramento. Before becoming the Executive Director of the ACLU of Northern California, she served as its Development Director, was the editor of the ACLU News, and served as the liaison to 15 local ACLU chapters and helped establish the Lesbian and Gay Rights Chapter. Prior to that she worked for the ACLU of Southern California.

Ehrlich has led civil liberties campaigns around reproductive rights, opposition to the death penalty, censorship, and civil rights, launched projects focused on youth, racial justice and reproductive rights. She is the driving force behind the affiliate’s vigorous response to the federal erosion of civil liberties since September 11, 2001.

Ehrlich also plays a leadership role in the national ACLU, recently ending a six-year term as chair of its Executive Directors’ Council.

An accomplished spokesperson and writer, Ehrlich has been a frequent contributor to KQED Radio’s Perspectives Series, the Daily Journal’s “Taking Liberties” column, the San Francisco Chronicle’s “Open Forum,” and other publications. Ehrlich has received civil rights leadership awards from the Asian Law Caucus and Equal Rights Advocates and was also honored with the Mario Cuomo Acts of Courage Award from Death Penalty Focus. She was awarded a Gerbode Fellowship in 1992.

The ACLU of Northern California is launching a search for a new executive director. The ACLU has two other affiliates in the state: the ACLU of Southern California and the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties.

Headquartered in New York City, the ACLU has 51 staffed affiliates and more than 300 chapters nationwide, and a legislative office in Washington, D.C. The combined annual budget of the ACLU and the ACLU Foundation is approximately $93 million.

Founded in 1920 by Roger Baldwin, Crystal Eastman, Albert DeSilver, Jane Addams, Felix Frankfurter, Helen Keller and Arthur Garfield Hayes, and others, the ACLU celebrates its 86th anniversary this year.

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