Brenda Jones retiring from ACLU
Brenda Jones, who has been executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri since 2008, will retire at the end of the year.
During her tenure, the staff of the ACLU chapter has more than doubled, to nine full-time members, and its operating budget has tripled. She also led efforts to raise the chapter’s public profile, increase public education and expand its legal work to programs on issues such as Muslim rights and police and prison accountability.
While she was executive director, the chapter became involved in many high-profile legal disputes, including alleged abuse at City Jail, restrictions on immigrants in Valley Park, free speech rights vs. leafleting on cars, racial disparities in traffic stops, mandatory student drug testing and crowd control measures in the U. City Loop. During her tenure, the chapter also became embroiled in controversy over bylaw changes that some members complained undermined basic democratic principles.
“I wanted our programs to work more closely together,” she said in a statement released by the organization, “because the need is enormous. We can litigate only so many cases each year, but we can service many more through our education projects, community-based initiatives and legislative work. The key is a clear strategy and top-shelf staff -- lawyers and organizers who run with the ball, allowing me to focus on the infrastructure resources and the future.”
Said Sheila Greenbaum, president of the group’s board:
“Brenda has accomplished a lot of positive changes over the years. A case in point is helping put the ACLU of Eastern Missouri and its counterpart in western Missouri on the path of merging into one statewide ACLU of Missouri. We hate to lose her, but she has brought the ACLU of Eastern Missouri to the point where it’s organizationally strong and ready to handle this westward expansion.”
Prior to joining the ACLU, Jones worked with the St. Louis Symphony and the Missouri Botanical Garden.
“Suffice it to say,” she said, “that I’m retiring from the ACLU but not from my commitment to working for positive change.”
A committee has begun a nationwide search for Jones’ successor.