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Alessandra Soler, Executive Director
Alessandra Soler came to the ACLU of Arizona as Executive Director in February 2006. She brings over 12 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.
Dan Pochoda, Legal Director
Dan Pochoda has been the Legal Director of the ACLU of Arizona since 2007. During this period the ACLU 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.
James Duff Lyall, Border Litigation Staff 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.
Joanna Foote, Border Litigation Project Coordinator (Tucson)
Joanna coordinates the non-litigation activities of the Border Litigation Project from the Tucson office. Before joining the ACLU, she conducted a year of research on the reintegration of deported and return migrants while on a Fulbright grant in Mexico. Her previous experience with immigration includes work in migrant shelters in Tierra Blanca, Veracruz; Guadalajara, Jalisco; and Nogales, Sonora, where she provided direct aid and documented abuses. A native of Colorado, Joanna is a 2013 graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, where she studied International Culture and Politics with a focus on migration studies. While at Georgetown, she conducted research on resource access for undocumented immigrants and migration in situations of crisis with the Institute for the Study of International Migration. She also coordinated a program to teach basic English and labor rights to day laborers in Washington, DC.
Darrell Hill, Intake Attorney
Darrell joined the ACLU of Arizona in May 2010. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School in May 2009 and began volunteering with our legal department shortly thereafter, drafting legal memos and assisting with public education and advocacy efforts related to our Voting Rights Restoration Project. While in law school, Darrell worked as a law clerk for the Kasieta Legal Group LLC and also interned at the ACLU of Wisconsin. Before attending law school, Darrell worked as a project manager for a marketing research company in Chicago.
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 Legal Director Dan Pochoda 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.
Victoria López, Policy & Advocacy Director
Victoria López is Policy & Advocacy Director for the ACLU of Arizona overseeing non-litigation advocacy efforts in defending civil rights and liberties in Arizona. She joined the ACLU of Arizona in 2009 as the Immigrants’ Rights Advocate to lead a documentation project on immigration detention. She is the primary researcher and author of In Their Own Words: Enduring Abuse in Arizona Immigration Detention Centers, a report based on over one hundred in-person interviews with people detained in Arizona. Victoria is a former Equal Justice Works Fellow, staff attorney and executive director of the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project. She holds a B.A. from the University of Illinois-Champaign and a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.
Courtney Spellacy, Director of Philanthropy
Courtney has over nine years of diverse development experience working with individuals, foundations, and corporations. She joined the ACLU of Arizona after having worked as Development Director of New Global Citizens. Prior to that position, she spent a decade in Washington, D.C. working for several non-profits including International Women’s Democracy Center, American Near East Refugee Aid, and ActionAid USA. Courtney was named Fundraising Success’ 2009 Fundraising Rising Star of the Year. A Minnesota native, she attended Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon studying International Affairs before she headed east to attend American University in Washington, D.C. where she earned her M.A. in International Peace and Conflict Resolution, while playing point guard for AU’s women’s basketball team.
Dulce Juarez, Immigrants' Rights Project 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.
Lizabeth (Beth) Thomson-Gorman, Office Manager
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.
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.