ACLU of Northern California Appoints New Executive Director to Lead Largest ACLU Affiliate in the Country

October 23, 2006 12:00 am

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Maya Harris

Maya Harris, Executive Director, ACLU of Northern California

SAN FRANCISCO – The Board of Directors of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California is proud to announce its unanimous decision to appoint Maya Harris as the new Executive Director to lead the largest ACLU affiliate in the nation. Harris, the former ACLU of Northern California Associate Director, assumes her new position today.

“We are thrilled to have Maya Harris assume the leadership of the ACLU of Northern California,” said Quinn Delaney, Chair of the ACLU of Northern California’s Board of Directors. “With a staff of 50 and a membership of nearly 55,000, we know that Maya will set a high standard of leadership. She has the full backing of the Board and the staff. Her unique experience as a civil litigator, law school professor and dean, and policy analyst made her the obvious choice to provide the dynamic leadership our affiliate needs at this important time in our nation.”

Harris succeeds Dorothy M. Ehrlich, who was the executive director of the ACLU of Northern California for more than 25 years. Ehrlich has been appointed the Deputy Executive Director of the national ACLU.

“I am honored to take on the leadership of this organization at a time when the strength and steadfastness of the ACLU is more important than ever,” said Maya Harris. “I have had the great fortune to work alongside Dorothy, who has built an extraordinary affiliate and been a great role model to follow. I look forward to collaborating with our dedicated Board, staff, and chapters as we take our affiliate to new heights.”

Harris joined the staff of the ACLU of Northern California in 2003 as Director of the affiliate’s Racial Justice Project, working on educational equity and criminal justice issues and leading affiliate campaign efforts to oppose Propositions 54 (“racial privacy”) and 69 (DNA) and pass Proposition 66 (Three Strikes reform). In 2005, she became the Associate Director, developing and implementing the ACLU’s priority campaigns and overseeing the Policy Department, including work in the areas of racial justice, police practices, and the death penalty. Harris is the first African American to lead the ACLU of Northern California and the first South Asian executive director of an ACLU affiliate.

“Maya Harris is an extraordinary leader with a deep commitment to the critical work of the ACLU,” said Dorothy Ehrlich, the ACLU of Northern California’s former Executive Director. “I cannot imagine a more capable advocate to lead the ACLU of Northern California at a time when we are confronting the most serious assault on civil liberties of our generation.”

Harris is a contributing author to the recently published book, The Covenant with Black America, a collection of essays by leading African American intellectuals that climbed to #1 on the New York Times Book Review.

Before joining the ACLU, Harris was a Senior Associate at PolicyLink, where she specialized in policing issues. While at PolicyLink, she authored the national publications “Community-Centered Policing: A Force for Change” and “Organized for Change: The Activist’s Guide to Police Reform.”

Prior to her work at PolicyLink, Harris served as Dean of Lincoln Law School of San Jose. Her work in academia was preceded by her work as a civil litigator at the San Francisco law firm of Jackson Tufts Cole & Black, LLP.

A graduate of Stanford Law School, Harris has also taught as an adjunct law professor at several Bay Area law schools. She is the recipient of the Junius W. Williams Young Lawyer of the Year Award from the National Bar Association, and was named one of California’s Top 20 under 40 lawyers by California’s leading legal newspaper, the Daily Journal.

Harris grew up in Oakland, California.

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