Jay Diaz, Staff Attorney

Jay Diaz has been an ACLU of Vermont Staff Attorney since 2015. Previously, Jay was a staff attorney with the Disability Law Project of Vermont Legal Aid, representing low-income Vermonters with disabilities through direct representation and legislative advocacy. He was also the 2012-2014 Poverty Law Fellow, defending the rights of Vermont’s students and youth. In addition to his work at ACLU of Vermont, Jay is Health Law and Policy Faculty with the Vermont-LEND program and the University of Vermont College of Medicine, and serves on the boards of Voices for Vermont’s Children and the Conservation Law Foundation. Jay is a 2012 graduate of Boston College Law School and received his undergraduate degree from New York University in 2006. 

Lia Ernst, Staff Attorney

Lia Ernst joined the ACLU of Vermont as a Staff Attorney in 2015. She previously served as a judicial law clerk for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, a legal intern at the ACLU of Michigan, a legal fellow at the ACLU of Massachusetts, and an associate attorney for a small Michigan firm focused on criminal defense and attorney ethics. Lia graduated from the University of Michigan Law School.  She received her undergraduate degree in biology from Swarthmore College and a Master’s degree in anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Stephanie Hunt, Development Associate

Stephanie joined the ACLU in May 2018. As Development Associate, she helps to cultivate and maintain relationships with supporters who make our work possible. Prior to joining the ACLU, Stephanie served as development associate at Rocky Mountain Institute, providing operational support and connecting donors to RMI’s mission of advancing a more secure, low-carbon energy future. Stephanie has a background in marketing and over 10 years of experience in non-profit fundraising and administration both in Colorado and Vermont. She received her B.S. in Psychology from the University of Vermont. 

James Lyall, Executive Director

James Lyall joined the ACLU of Vermont in 2016, becoming the 12th director in the organization’s history. From 2011-2016, James was a staff attorney for the ACLU of Arizona, where he opened the first ACLU satellite office in Tucson, Arizona to investigate and litigate civil rights issues related to the U.S.-Mexico border. Prior to joining the ACLU, James was a law fellow at the Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project in Los Angeles, where he provided legal representation to detained and unaccompanied immigrant children in deportation proceedings. A New England native, James is a graduate of Middlebury College and has a law degree from Georgetown University. 

Ashley Messier, Smart Justice Organizer

Ashley joined the ACLU of Vermont as its Smart Justice Organizer in May 2019. Prior to that, she consulted on the Smart Justice Campaign and helped to bring in the voices of communities impacted by incarceration in Vermont. Ashley currently works on several related projects from re-entry to domestic and sexual violence, has served as a member of a legislative working group, and was a participant in the film Downstream which addresses parental incarceration in Vermont. Ashley is a passionate advocate and public speaker. She is a mom, wife, and lifelong Vermonter.

Maroni Minter, Campaign Director

Maroni joined ACLU of Vermont as its first Campaign Director in October 2019. Born and raised in Gabon, a small francophone country on the west coast of Africa, Maroni moved to Vermont in 2004 and graduated from Northern Vermont University  with a degree in political science. After graduating from college he worked as an organizer and canvasser for  Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG) – raising the most money for VPIRG in the organization’s history and ranking among the nation’s top canvassers. Prior to joining ACLU Maroni spent almost five years with Let’s Grow Kids as Field Manger and State House Organizer. His primary role included engaging advocates and legislators across the state on behalf of young children by recruiting and training volunteers to participate in advocacy opportunities behalf of Let’s Grow Kids. Maroni also collaborated with partners to plan, create, and conduct public outreach events such as community forums, public speaking opportunities, door-to-door conversations, and online activities. 

Shabnam Beth Nolan, Communications Director

Shabnam Beth Nolan joined the ACLU of Vermont staff in February 2019. Beth is returning to Vermont, where she coordinated a successful statewide campaign to increase access to dental care for children for Voices for Vermont’s Children until 2015. Beth comes to the ACLU after serving as director of the KIDS COUNT initiative for Voices for Virginia’s Children. Beth’s experience spans nearly a decade in nonprofit policy advocacy and its intersection with strategic communications. Beth has a BA in political science from James Madison University and a master’s in public administration from UVM.

Falko Schilling, Advocacy Director

Falko joined the ACLU of Vermont as its first advocacy director in July 2019. He has been working to promote positive social change in Vermont since 2009. A native of Vermont, Falko received his law degree from Vermont Law School after attending Skidmore College. Prior to joining the ACLU, Falko spent five years leading winning legislative and grassroots campaigns at VPIRG. Major victories included helping pass the nation’s first mandatory genetically engineered food labeling law and allowing dental therapists to practice in Vermont. Falko then joined Amy Shollenberger and the team at Action Circles as an Associate, where he worked with clients to develop campaign plans, create effective messaging, provide advocacy trainings, and lobby on their behalf. 

Andrea Warnke, Associate Director

Andrea Warnke is associate director of the ACLU of Vermont, where she has worked since 1981. During that time, she has seen the ACLU of Vermont take on a broad spectrum of issues, and her work at the organization has likewise been wide-ranging. Andrea was the ACLU of Vermont's pioneer of computing in the days when the organization used cutting-edge 8-inch floppies and shared one computer between five non-profit organizations, and has overseen the many technological changes since, along with all of the civil liberties efforts they have supported. Andrea is a graduate of Manchester University with degrees in political science and environmental studies.

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