Christine Link – Executive Director from 1990 to 2017
After over 27 years, Christine Link, one of the most experienced directors among 53 ACLU affiliates, has retired.
Prior to the ACLU, Chris worked at Planned Parenthood to expand reproductive rights and health care services, an objective that correlated with her academic background in health care policy and public health.
During her tenure at the ACLU of Ohio, Chris has overseen the expansion of the organization in all program areas. Growing it from a small grassroots agency to an influential, highly regarded defender of the Bill of Rights. Her achievements as director reflect an unwavering dedication to promoting freedom:
- In the 1990s, Chris fought efforts to censor art, books, films, CDs, and t-shirts spearheaded at the time by Tipper Gore.
- She led the organization through the hysterical response to the first massive school shootings at Columbine High School, resulting in children as young as five being suspended by over-zealous authorities.
- After 9/11, Chris persuaded the Cleveland Bar Association president to step forward and serve on a panel to discuss civil liberties while the country was in a state of fear. She also led the challenge to Ohio’s own version of the Patriot Act.
- She faced efforts to inject religion in the classroom, force children to pledge allegiance to the flag or otherwise conform to state doctrines of patriotism.
- The ACLU of Ohio has dealt with constant attacks on reproductive rights throughout Chris’ association with the organization.
- The ACLU of Ohio, during Chris’ tenure, fought sweeping drug testing policies subjecting children, teachers, employees to random drug testing.
- Under Chris’ watch, Cincinnati reached a collaborative agreement to reform police practices and rein in profiling.
- She has dealt with police misconduct over and over and over again, as well as violations of the Fourth Amendment and rights to privacy and equal protection. In addition, Chris and the Ohio affiliate identified early on the school to prison pipeline.
- As soon as Cleveland was selected as the site for the 2016 Republican National Convention, Chris rallied the organization to offer workshops and prepare materials to educate activists on their protest rights, and to inform reporters about the civil liberties implications of security, policing and speech concerns surrounding large-scale events.
Under Chris’ leadership the ACLU of Ohio has been widely successful in creating cutting-edge programs that a number of groups now use to promote civil liberties nationwide. In addition, she created the organization’s internship program, which provides a venue for scores of young people to learn about democracy.
To support the organization’s litigation and education programs, Chris led the agency in the purchase and renovation of the building in Cleveland, which is today the Max Wohl Civil Liberties Center. In addition to housing the ACLU, the building has become a community center where activists can gather and network.
On December 13, 2017, Chris was awarded Equality Ohio’s 2017 Cleveland Ally of the Year for her unwavering commitment to the LGBTQ community in Cleveland and throughout Ohio.
Women’s Equality Fund – Honoring Chris Link
In today’s political climate, women’s voices make news, move people to march, and lead our country toward positive change. The ACLU of Ohio promises to continue speaking out to protect the rights of women.
In honor of Chris Link, we are dedicating all of the funds we raise in her name to securing women’s fair treatment in the legal, healthcare, and prison systems.
Together, we will work to safeguard women’s rights as they pertain to gender bias, mass incarceration, prison privatization and voting rights.
For 27 years, Chris Link has served as a vibrant, vocal leader of the ACLU of Ohio. She has shown us what it takes to safeguard and secure our civil liberties. To fight for fairness. To defy prejudice and censorship. Now it is our turn to show our gratitude for all she has done—and to show that we will never back down and never stop working until freedom belongs to all us.
Photo Stream from our Cleveland and Columbus events honoring Chris Link
On May 18, 2017 in Cleveland, and June 6, 2017 in Columbus, friends, family and supporters of Chris Link gathered to celebrate her career of activism as the Executive Director of the ACLU of Ohio.
Photos courtesy of Steve Wagner and Terry Gilliam.