Kary L. Moss joined the ACLU’s leadership team as the Director Affiliate Support and Nationwide Initiatives in 2018 after serving for twenty years as the Executive Director of the ACLU of Michigan. Her department focuses on building state capacity and strengthening and maintaining the connections between the ACLU and its network of 54 state affiliates and the 1500 staff who work out of the state offices. Their work constitutes an unparalleled bulwark in the defending and advancing of civil liberties and civil rights.
Moss leads a department whose staff help the affiliates to advance the ACLU’s state and federal litigation and advocacy work, build their capacity, and help ensure the organization’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion across the country. She leads efforts to share knowledge, talent, and skill across the organization, building the next generation of civil rights leaders and positioning the organization for future challenges. She oversees all national office grant making to affiliates – including the Strategic Affiliate Investment (SAI) initiative which will spend close to $30 million in building the political capacity of key affiliates.
Under her leadership, Moss built the ACLU of Michigan into one of the strongest and most impactful ACLU affiliates. Among other achievements, Moss and her team helped to uncover the Flint water crisis and continues to advocate for those affected by it, and played an anchor role in Promote the Vote, a ballot measure campaign to expand the right to vote. The Michigan affiliate has also distinguished leadership role on issues affecting African American, Latino, LGBTQ, immigrant and Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian (AMEMSA) communities.
Moss, a Michigan native, received a B.A. from Michigan State University’s James Madison College and received a Masters in International Affairs from Columbia University and a Juris Doctor from CUNY Law School at Queen’s College. She clerked at the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and then served as staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Women’s Rights Project. She also taught as an adjunct lecturer at the University of Michigan’s Ford School for Public Policy Ford from 2015-2017 earning a place on the teaching honor roll each year.
During her time as Executive Director of the ACLU of Michigan, Moss served as the chair of the ACLU’s Executive Directors’ Council, a leadership body of all state offices. Moss also received numerous awards including Michiganian of the Year from the Detroit News in 2017; Ida Thurtell award from the NAACP Detroit Branch; Crain’s 100 Most Influential Women; State Bar’s Champion of Justice, and she was inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame in 2011. The organization and its staff received recognition from dozens of institutions during Moss’ tenure.
Moss has written extensively about a wide range of civil rights and liberties issues and appeared as a commentator of national television and radio shows. Her publications include: Man Made Medicine: Women’s Health, Public Policy and Reform (Duke University Press), The Right to Read; and co-author for the ACLU Guide to Women’s Rights. She also authored Building Leadership Agility at the ACLU in the Stanford SOCIAL INNOVATION Review.
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