Deborah Archer Named 1st Black President of ACLU in Organization's 101-Year History

Deborah Archer, Newly Elected President of the ACLU
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Deborah Archer replaces Susan Herman, who stepped down after serving 12 years leading the organization’s board through watershed moments.

Deborah Archer has been elected president of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), becoming the first Black person to lead the organization in its 101-year history. Archer was elected unanimously in a virtual meeting by the organization’s 69-member board of directors, and announced on Feb. 1, the Associated Press reported. 

She will be the ACLU’s eight president since the nonprofit was founded in 1920 "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States,” according to the ACLU website

The ACLU called Archer is an “established civil rights lawyer, scholar, and teacher.”

“In this new role, she brings with her a wealth of experience on racial justice and constitutional matters,” the ACLU said in a statement. “The election of Deborah Archer marks the first time a Black person will lead the ACLU’s board

 Archer replaces Susan Herman, who stepped down after serving 12 years leading the organization’s board through watershed moments, including during the organization's challenges to moves the Trump administration made, as well as during the emergence of civil liberties and privacy concerns in the digital age, the ACLU said in a statement .

A graduate from Yale Law School, Archer began her work with the ACLU in 1997 when she served as a legal fellow, the AP reported. She has been a member of the ACLU's board since 2009, and a general counsel and member of the board's executive committee since 2017. 

"This organization has been part of every important battle for civil liberties during our first century, and we are committed to continuing that legacy as we enter our second. I could not be more excited to get to work,” Archer said in a statement, CNN reported.

Archer, who specializes in civil rights and racial injustice, was also chair of the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board, which investigates alleged police misconduct. She was also the assistant counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, People reported

Archer is a professor of clinical law and director of its Civil rights Clinic at New York University School of Law, and co-faculty director of the Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law at NYU Law. She previously served as the inaugural dean of diversity and inclusion and as associate dean for academic affairs and student engagement at New York Law School, the ACLU wrote. 

"After beginning my career as an ACLU fellow, it is an honor to come full circle and now lead the organization as board president," Archer said in a statement, People Magazine reported. "The ACLU has proven itself as an invaluable voice in the fight for civil rights in the last four years of the Trump era, and we are better positioned than ever to face the work ahead.”