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Nichole Cassidy, Director of Philanthropy
Nichole is Director of Philanthropy for the ACLU of Arizona, joining the staff in November 2015. She has over ten years of experience in establishing and directing fundraising opportunities for Arizona nonprofits. She assists in planning and execution of major gifts strategies. Previously she was Director of Development at Phoenix nonprofit Chrysalis and prior to then she helped successfully lead a $4 million dollar campaign at west valley nonprofit Benevilla. Nichole is a graduate of Washington State University with a bachelor’s in Zoology and a minor in Psychology.
Brenda Muñoz Furnish, Staff Attorney
Brenda joined the ACLU of Arizona staff in April 2016. She is primarily responsible for continuing work on Ortega Melendres v. Arpaio, a class-action lawsuit filed against the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) for racial discrimination against Latinos. Brenda received a degree in Anthropology from the University of Arizona in 2005 and her law degree from the University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law in 2009. After graduating from law school, Brenda worked as a Deputy County Public Defender for Maricopa County, and later as an Assistant Federal Public Defender for the Southern District of Texas. Brenda continued her legal career in New York City as a staff attorney with the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG). While at NYLAG, Brenda worked on a variety of civil legal issues, including work related to disaster recovery in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. She is a native of Arizona.
Will Gaona, Policy Director
Will Gaona joined ACLU of Arizona as Policy Director in June 2015. He is responsible for lobbying the Arizona Legislature on a broad range of civil liberties issues and leading key policy and education activities at the local level, especially in the areas of immigrants’ rights and police accountability. Prior to joining the ACLU, Will worked with the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, serving first as a public policy advocate, lobbying on a broad range of policy issues ranging from sexual and domestic violence to reproductive rights, LGBT rights and poverty issues, and most recently served as the organization’s staff attorney, where he continued to promote the organization’s domestic relations agenda down at the Arizona Capitol. He was a graduate fellow at the Arizona Center for Disability Law, where he lobbied on issues impacting the disability community, including access to Medicaid and service animals, while also working on issues of public accommodation and healthcare for inmates with mental illness. Will is a graduate of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, where he was a Pedrick Scholar, and received his undergraduate degree in business economics from the University of Arizona.
Darrell Hill, Staff Attorney
Darrell Hill is a Staff Attorney with the ACLU of Arizona. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School in May 2009 and began volunteering with our legal department shortly thereafter. Darrell's work includes legal and non-legal advocacy in the areas of police practices, prisoner rights, LGBT rights, First Amendment, student rights’ and public records. Darrell manages all incoming requests for legal assistance to the ACLU of Arizona. His casework includes a lawsuit challenging the City of Tucson and the Tucson Police Department's failure to disclose information related to sophisticated surveillance systems known as StingRays.
Dulce Juarez, Advocacy & Outreach Coordinator
Dulce Juarez joined the ACLU of Arizona on Monday, June 25th, 2012 the day the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the “show me your papers” provision of SB 1070, Arizona’s racial profiling law. Her start date is significant because she is responsible for documenting civil rights abuses stemming from racial profiling laws like SB 1070 through community outreach, communications and non-litigation advocacy. Dulce came to the ACLU of Arizona after having worked as a campaign organizer for the ACLU of Northern California’s Estamos Unidos campaign to raise awareness about immigrants’ rights and petition in different states to end discriminatory laws like SB 1070 that encourage racial profiling. For more than 10 years she has been very actively involved in migrant rights and the DREAMers movement, which has advocated for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented children, brought to the U.S. by their parents. Dulce, who is an actress and performer, was recently awarded the Phoenix New Times’ 2012 Big Brain Award. Fluent in English and Spanish, Dulce is a graduate of Arizona State University with a bachelor’s in Human Communication with an emphasis on Family and Human Development, and a master’s in Education.
Steve Kilar, Communications Director
Steve is responsible for the ACLU of Arizona's communications with members and the media. Before joining the ACLU, Steve was a reporter at The Baltimore Sun. He studied English at Brown University, received a law degree from the University of Michigan Law School and then earned a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park. Reporters and editors can reach Steve at email@example.com.
James Duff Lyall, Border Litigation Attorney (Tucson)
Based in Tucson, James conducts litigation and advocacy related to civil and human rights violations in the U.S.-Mexico border region. Since joining the ACLU as staff attorney in September 2011, he has been involved in much of our civil rights litigation, including our immigrant rights and prisoner rights docket. James is a former Georgetown Law Fellow at Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project in Los Angeles, where he provided pro bono legal representation to detained immigrants in removal proceedings. Subsequently, as Kids In Need of Defense (KIND) Law Fellow, he specialized in representing unaccompanied immigrant children in state and federal court proceedings, including Asylum and Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) cases. Prior to joining the ACLU, James was a volunteer with No More Deaths in Tucson, where he co-authored Culture of Cruelty, a report documenting widespread Border Patrol abuse along the US-Mexico border. A native of Massachusetts, James is a 2007 graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center, where he completed a certificate program in Refugees and Humanitarian Emergencies.
Dan Pochoda, Senior Counsel
Dan Pochoda has been with the ACLU of Arizona since 2007. During this period he primarily served as Legal Director and litigated numerous cases against unconstitutional practices by governmental actors and agencies including challenges to SB 1070 and racial profiling by Sheriff Arpaio and the MCSO. The ACLU successfully advocated for persons and groups targeted on the basis of race, sex, and sexual orientation, and for persons seeking to exercise rights of speech including to protest governmental policies, and to practice their religion without retaliation. After graduation from Harvard Law School, Dan began his career with the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. He has litigated numerous constitutional cases at trial and appellate levels including before the U.S. Supreme Court. Dan was the legal coordinator for the Attica Brothers after the rebellion in 1971. He has served on the law faculties of the City University of New York, New York University and Santa Clara University.
Deanna Robinson, Finance Director
Deanna Robinson joined the ACLU of Arizona in July 2011 as the part-time Finance Director. Deanna holds an Arizona CPA license and comes from Big 4 public accounting in addition to many years of private industry experience with US and International GAAP.
Alessandra Soler, Executive Director
Alessandra Soler came to the ACLU of Arizona as Executive Director in February 2006. She brings over 13 years of ACLU experience to Arizona, and is the first Latina to head the statewide civil liberties organization. She served as Communications Director of the ACLU’s fifth largest affiliate in Florida, where she was responsible for spearheading statewide public education campaigns on the USA Patriot Act and racial profiling post 9-11. Prior to her work in Florida, Alessandra worked at the ACLU of Louisiana, coordinating advocacy efforts in New Orleans to combat police misconduct, improve prison conditions and keep school-sponsored prayer out of public schools. Before joining the ACLU, Alessandra worked as a reporter for The Miami Herald, where she covered local government, business, crime and education. She also worked for a brief period at the Roanoke Times in Virginia. Alessandra, who is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism, and a minor in Latin American Studies.
Lizabeth (Beth) Thomson-Gorman, Office Manager/Board Affairs Coordinator
Beth is responsible for managing the daily functions of the ACLU of Arizona office in addition to providing support to the Board of Directors. She has been working in the field of non-profit management for over 30 years. Prior to joining the ACLU staff in July 2011, Beth worked for Valley Leadership as the Business/Program Manager and with the Valley of the Sun YMCA, (West Valley and Chris-Town Branches) as Business Manager. Beth is an alumna of the University of Minnesota-Duluth where she studied Business Administration.
Gloria A. Torres, Paralegal
Gloria is responsible for providing primary administrative support for all cases and assisting with other activities of the ACLU-AZ’s legal department, including CLEs, workshops and trainings geared toward attorneys and community advocates. She also works with Senior Counsel to coordinate efforts to build relationships with new cooperating attorneys through targeted, pro-active outreach with law firms throughout the state. Gloria has over 25 years of legal experience providing litigation support for various law firms in the Valley. Gloria received her paralegal certification and degree in Business Administration and Management from Arizona State University. Gloria is a native of Phoenix.