Backed by 70% Growth in Vermont Supporters, State’s Premier Civil Liberties Organization Is Doubling Down in 2021

 MONTPELIER, Vt. – The ACLU of Vermont is announcing six new staff positions in its legal, advocacy, and communications programs, including four new hires as well as the promotion of the organization’s two Senior Staff Attorneys, Lia Ernst and Jay Diaz, to the roles of Legal Director and General Counsel, respectively. The recent staff expansion is backed by a 70% increase in Vermont-based supporters over the past year, and will bring the number of full-time ACLU of Vermont staff to thirteen people, up from five in 2017.

In the wake of the 2020 election and in the midst of concerted, nationwide efforts to undermine American democracy, the state’s premier civil liberties organization is committed to doubling down in the fight for democratic values, government accountability, and the rights and liberties of all Vermont residents.

ACLU of Vermont President William Boyd: “Now is not the time to hold back. Our democracy is under assault, from racist voter suppression laws to attacks on reproductive liberty, the dignity of trans youth, and the right to an equitable education. These are nationwide problems from which Vermont is not immune, and many are the direct result of unaddressed systemic racism and economic injustice that run through every aspect of our society. Our supporters understand that, just as they recognize the ACLU's transformational impact in advancing a better vision for our state and our country.”

As the ACLU of Vermont’s first-ever Legal Director, Ernst will manage the organization’s growing legal program, including supervision of new attorneys as well as continued cooperation with the ACLU’s partner law firms. As General Counsel, Diaz will work across programs to further integrate the organization’s litigation, policy, communications, and organizing strategies, in collaboration with community partners and national allies. Both Diaz and Ernst will continue to litigate civil liberties and civil rights cases.

Additionally, the ACLU of Vermont has welcomed Digital Communications Strategist Emily Hagan-Howe, who comes to the ACLU after three years as a Marketing Manager at UVM’s Career Center. Hagan-Howe will work to increase awareness of the ACLU’s mission and expand opportunities for people to engage with the organization’s work to advance civil rights and civil liberties in their communities.

The ACLU of Vermont is now advertising for three more positions, a Senior Staff Attorney, a Legal Fellow, and an Advocacy Fellow. Both fellowships are 2-year positions designed to increase the ACLU’s litigation and policy advocacy while providing frontline experience for the next generation of civil rights leaders.

ACLU of Vermont Executive Director James Lyall: “Vermonters want accountable government, racial and economic justice, and healthy, vibrant communities, and thanks to their strong support, we will continue to deliver on all these fronts. For more than a century, the ACLU has played a leading role in supporting struggles for justice locally and nationally, and we are deeply grateful to all those who are investing in this work today. The ACLU and our supporters recognize the historic threats facing our democracy and the urgent need for bold action. With this significant expansion of our programs, the ACLU of Vermont will continue advancing justice in our communities with creative, collaborative, high-impact solutions.”

With new legal, advocacy, and communications staff, the ACLU of Vermont will accelerate and expand advocacy initiatives across a range of civil rights and civil liberties priorities. That includes advancing the ACLU’s Smart Justice campaign to cut Vermont’s prison population in half and combat systemic racism in the criminal legal system; working to reimagine public safety and reduce the footprint of law enforcement in Vermont communities; defending Vermonters’ privacy and safety from the presence of U.S. Border Patrol; helping pass Proposition 5 to explicitly enshrine reproductive freedom in the state constitution; and winning racial and economic justice in schools, housing, and places of employment, among other priorities.