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Marcela Taracena | 480-685-6277 | 

February 17, 2021

Phoenix, AZ – After 15 years as the Executive Director for the ACLU of Arizona, Alessandra Navidad announced her departure from the civil rights organization. Navidad was the first Latina to serve as executive director for the organization.

“Alessandra joined the ACLU Arizona 15 years ago. In that time, she has transformed the organization from just a local affiliate to a national powerhouse,” said Dale Baich, president of the ACLU of Arizona’s Board of Directors. “Through her leadership, the ACLU has taken on the powerful and given a voice to the powerless.”

Navidad will depart on March 1st. An interim director will be appointed by the ACLU of Arizona’s Board of Directors as they embark on a nationwide search for a new permanent Executive Director.

Under Navidad’s leadership, the ACLU of Arizona staff increased fivefold to a staff of 21, and the organizational budget has had an exponential growth to $3.9 million, while the affiliate’s membership has grown from 5,000 in 2016 to over 15,000 today.

Navidad has led the organization through times of enormous challenge by working with partner organizations to fight back against laws and policies that scapegoat immigrants, communities of color, and other disenfranchised groups. She has overseen the expansion of the organization’s pro-active litigation work and the development of issue-based campaigns intended to amplify public engagement around priority education and criminal justice reform issues.  

“From Joe Arpaio and Russell Pearce to Obama and Trump, we’ve adapted to an ever-changing political landscape by remaining persistent and steadfast in defending all people from government abuse and overreach no matter who is in power,” said Navidad, who will transition to become the new CEO and President of the Arizona Animal Welfare League on March 22.

“The ACLU of Arizona hasn’t shied away from fighting back against hate, prejudice, and dehumanization of our most vulnerable, marginalized community members,” she said. “I am most proud of our clients over the years – immigrants in detention, incarcerated people placed in solitary, and women and transgender people denied health care – who stood up in the face of remarkable odds to vindicate their rights and restore their dignity in profound ways. They are the true heroes of the ACLU in Arizona.” 

During Navidad’s tenure with the ACLU of Arizona, some of the organization’s many other notable accomplishments include:

  • Embarking on the Smart Justice campaign, an unprecedented, multi-year effort to reduce Arizona’s jail and prison populations by 50 percent and to challenge racism in the criminal legal system;
  • Recruiting and training directly impacted volunteers, including parents, students, and formerly incarcerated individuals, to become policy advocates for the ACLU of Arizona who testify at the Legislature, share their stories with reporters, and meet with elected officials to push for changes in laws;
  • Ending unconstitutional worksite raids and discriminatory racial profiling practices by former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio through the filing of a class-action lawsuit that resulted in important policing reforms within MCSO;
  • Securing driver’s licenses for Dreamer’s following Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s 2012 executive order targeting young immigrants; and
  • Ending discriminatory enrollment practices at charter schools working in partnership with three local grassroots groups (Black Mother’s Forum, Morningstar Leaders, and Rising Youth Theater) who received the highly-competitive 2018 Innovation Grant from the Vitalyst Health Foundation and Arizona Community Foundation.

“I’m confident that under new leadership, the ACLU of Arizona will be strongly positioned to grow and have an even greater impact on the civil liberties landscape in Arizona for decades to come,” Navidad added.  

Navidad came to the ACLU of Arizona as Executive Director in February 2006. She previously worked at the ACLU of Florida and the ACLU of Louisiana. Before joining the ACLU, she worked as a reporter for The Miami Herald and Roanoke Times.

The ACLU is our nation's guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures, and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone.