Staff Profiles

Executive Director

 

Ben Guess

J. Bennett Guess
executive director
pronouns: he/him/his

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Ben Guess is a prominent civil liberties activist and minister and comes to the ACLU of Ohio with outstanding civil liberties and non-profit management credentials. During the past 17 years, he has held a number of high-level positions with the United Church of Christ’s (UCC) national headquarters, based in Cleveland. Formerly the vice president of the UCC’s Council for Health and Human Service Ministries, Guess previously served on the UCC’s Collegium of Officers as one of the denomination’s top elected executives. He also served for many years as the UCC’s director of communications and news director.

Guess is a board member of the National LGBTQ Task Force in Washington, D.C., and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Cleveland.

Most importantly, Guess brings a life-long commitment to civil liberties and social justice. Early in his career, he served as a pastor to a progressive congregation in Henderson, Kentucky, that established an on-site Planned Parenthood clinic and founded Matthew 25 AIDS Services, which remains one of Kentucky’s largest health providers for low-income HIV-infected patients. Guess is a founding co-chair of the Kentucky Fairness Alliance, that state’s leading LGBTQ rights organization which continues today as the Kentucky Fairness Campaign, and he served on the board of directors of the ACLU of Kentucky. More recently, Guess was significantly involved in UCC v. Cooper, the federal lawsuit that helped bring marriage equality to North Carolina.

Guess is a graduate of the University of Kentucky with a B.A. in journalism. He completed graduate studies in public administration at Murray State University, and earned a Master of Divinity at Vanderbilt University and a Doctor of Ministry at Chicago Theological Seminary.

“I am tremendously excited to be joining the ACLU of Ohio,” Guess said. “The ACLU’s mission has been urgently relevant in each generation and that urgency, today, is as clear and compelling as ever. The ACLU of Ohio is a courageous defender of civil liberties, a relentless advocate for racial, social and economic justice, and a fierce defender of the Bill of Rights. This represents, for me, the essence of what it means to safeguard and advance our democratic society.”

12 Things to Know About Ben Guess.

 

Administrative

 

Ann Rowlett

Ann Rowlett
deputy director
pronouns: she/her/hers

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“By the book” could be the guiding principle of Ann Rowlett’s life. In her youth, Ann developed a strong sense of fairness – rules and rights should apply to everyone, no exceptions.

Working at the ACLU of Ohio has provided Ann the opportunity to advance the Bill of Rights in her day-to-day work. As Deputy Director, Ann manages internal operations by the book, ensuring sound financial practices and reporting, supporting the board of directors in their oversight duties, providing a safe, supportive environment for employees, and maintaining compliance with state and federal laws. She also oversees the organization’s records management and archives program.

Ann’s educational path may at first seem an unlikely grounding for this career. She has a Master’s degree in English from The Ohio State University. In focusing her coursework on women’s issues and literature, however, her passion for equality was ignited, and the communications, critical thinking and analytical skills she developed in pursuit of the degree have served her well in supporting civil liberties. She admires Gloria Steinem as a captivating storyteller and a courageous pivotal leader in the fight for women’s equality.

After some years on the ACLU staff, Ann earned a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from Kent State University. She applied her new skills when she spent a month at Yale University organizing the ACLU of Ohio Kent State Project Records. These litigation files were amassed in the aftermath of the Kent State shootings in 1970.

Before joining the ACLU, Ann worked for organizations focused on individuals’ rights in welfare, labor, and law. She also spent two years managing communications for a political campaign. She has volunteered her time to enhance opportunities for women, for disabled people, and for artists. She served on the board of directors of Greater Cleveland Community Shares and Cleveland Public Theatre.

Ann is a member of three book groups, and appreciates the stimulating, challenging conversations that grow out of a shared reading experience. She also tends her neighborhood Little Free Library.

Raphael Davis-Williams

Raphael Davis-Williams
director of equity and inclusion
pronouns: he/him/his

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In 1988, as a high school senior, Raphael Davis-Williams and several of his fellow African American classmates joined forces to create a new student club at his predominately white Houston, Texas high school. The purpose of the Student Alliance Club was two-fold: encourage minority students who felt overlooked, left out, and marginalized to join and actively engage in extracurricular school activities; and also to provide a space for their white classmates to learn more about black culture. Even at the young age of 18, Raphael had already learned that achieving genuine racial equity and inclusion never happens organically or naturally, but requires focused, thoughtful, intentional action.

The spark of Raphael’s high school activism ignited his lifelong mission to level society’s playing field for the marginalized, the oppressed, those discriminated against for no other reason than their race, gender, orientation, economic status, or religion. As a television news reporter in the 1990s and early 2000s, Raphael routinely fought against perpetuating racial and economic stereotypes in on-air news reports. Instead, he insisted on sharing the stories of forgotten communities while also demanding the predominately white and male levers of power in television news act affirmatively to improve the quality of these valuable and valued lives.

Raphael earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1992 in Radio/Television/Film from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. He was the first ever African American to win the Dan Rather Scholarship, established by Sam Houston’s most famous alumnus, journalist Dan Rather. Between 2004 and 2006 Raphael completed all required course work, absent a final thesis, for a Master of Liberal Arts degree with a concentration in Government from Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

In 2010, Raphael earned his J.D. from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. During law school Raphael served as Executive Editor of The Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, was a member of the Black Law Students Association, OUTLaws, and was a Federal Bar Association/Columbus Chapter Scholarship winner which provided him the opportunity to complete a judicial externship in the chambers of the Honorable Algenon L. Marbley, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio. Raphael also interned for the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s office as well as for the House Majority Caucus Counsel in the128th Ohio General Assembly.

Right out of law school, Raphael began working as an associate attorney in the civil rights litigation practice of Spater Law Office. In 2012, Raphael and his law partner, Sandy Spater, founded The Law Office of Spater & Davis-Williams, LLC. For nearly a decade following Mr. Spater’s untimely passing, Raphael worked as a solo-practitioner. As a plaintiff’s civil rights attorney, Raphael litigated federal court cases on behalf of women sexually harassed on the job, people of color denied housing or employment because of their race, folks mistreated while in the care and custody of law enforcement, and people burdened with physical or mental injuries who simply wanted full access to world in which they live.

Prior to joining the staff as Director of Equity and Inclusion, Raphael served nine years on the Board of Directors for the ACLU of Ohio. As an ACLU of Ohio board member, Raphael served eight years as Associate General Counsel and also served on the Executive and Nominating Committees. He was also a founding Board Member and served as Cooperating Attorney for the Central Ohio Fair Housing Association. Raphael also served on the Board of Directors, including one term as Board President, for the Kaleidoscope Youth Center, the only organization in Ohio dedicated to providing a safe, welcoming, and affirming space for LGBTQ+ youth ages 12-20.

Jeff Miller

Jeff Miller
technology director
pronouns: he/him/his

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Jeff follows in the footsteps of his great-great grandfather, “General” Jacob S. Coxey, who led what is considered to be the first march on Washington in 1894, advocating for public investment to ease the plight of the nation’s unemployed, with the conviction that citizens had the right to voice their demands in the nation’s capital. As a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War, advocator for animal rights, participant in the sanctuary movement and supporter of Central American refugees, Jeff has been involved in social justice issues for most of his life. He draws inspiration from the activism of Gandhi, Jesus, and Martin Luther King.

Jeff considers freedom of speech one of the most important civil liberties, as this allows a person to advocate not only for themselves, but also for others. He is also passionate about inequities in the criminal justice system; because of race, many people are harmed before they enter it, while they are in it, and after they leave it. This harm begins with disparities in arrest rates, and continues with selective prosecution, inadequate representation, racial and economic disparities in sentencing, imprisonment for the inability to pay fines, and collateral sanctions after a person has served their sentence, thus hindering their ability to reenter society.

Jeff is the technology director of the ACLU of Ohio. He provides support and training for staff and volunteers in the Cleveland and Columbus offices on matters of computers, software, security, and online presence. He also assists the development department in the use of our database, providing analysis and reporting. Jeff worked on the development of the ACLU of Ohio’s strategic plan, has led meetings with legislators, and has crafted web and other messaging for volunteer advocates. He was vital in the shepherding of the ACLU’s web design, which enhanced our site as an information and activist resource for members, supporters, the media, students, and everyone interested in civil liberties.

Before joining the ACLU in 2006, Jeff operated a small furniture making and restoration business in Wooster, Ohio for 20 years. After closing his business in 2002, he decided to devote his career to social justice issues. He enrolled at the University of Akron, where he received a degree in Philosophy/Political Science/Economics in 2005. He also made a living as a professional drummer for many years.

In his free time, Jeff has served on the board and as president of the Wayne Center for the Arts. He has also been a member of the WKSU-FM Community Advisory Council, and served on the board of the National Sanctuary Defense Fund. Jeff enjoys being with his family, listening to music and working with others to make this world a better place.

James Kosmatka

James Kosmatka
operations manager
pronouns: he/him/his

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James Kosmatka came to the ACLU of Ohio by way of nonprofit management. His background is in theatre and he continues to work as an audio artist. He previously served as Assistant General Manager at Cleveland Public Theatre, Assistant to the Director of the Cleveland State University Department of Theatre, and Assistant to the Chair of the CSU School of Social Work.

He believes that the ACLU is an insurance policy for America’s future, working hard today to create a better tomorrow.

 

Advocacy

 

Jocelyn Rosnick

Jocelyn Rosnick
advocacy director
pronouns: she/her/hers

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When Jocelyn was 9, she petitioned her own local city council to refrain from changing the trick-or-treat hours, and by age 13, she was attending anti-war demonstrations with her family. She became most passionate about the 1st Amendment/Free Speech rights after listening to her mother’s experiences as an activist in high school, wearing a black armband in protest of the Vietnam War. When Jocelyn learned about the ACLU from her sister in middle school, she knew that if she wanted to make a positive impact on people’s lives, she had to work at the ACLU. William Kunstler, a lawyer known for his defense of the “Chicago Seven,” American Indian Movement and Martin Luther King, reminds Jocelyn to never give up, to think outside the box, and to not shy away from hard issues or causes.

Jocelyn Rosnick is the Policy Director for the ACLU of Ohio. She joined the ACLU of Ohio staff in 2012, where she has used her legal, communications, and organizing skills to move between departments and work on a variety of high-level projects.

Jocelyn currently oversees the ACLU of Ohio’s administrative, legislative, and public education advocacy efforts.

Jocelyn develops and executes a variety of policy campaigns. During her time, she has collaborated on a number of criminal justice programs, including those related to debtors’ prison, solitary confinement, prison privatization, and collateral sanctions. She co-authored the 2013 report, “The Outskirts of Hope,” which details unconstitutional debtors’ prison practices across Ohio. She also co-authored the essay, The Ohio Model for Combatting Debtors’ Prisons, which has been published in the Michigan Journal of Race and Law at the University of Michigan Law School.

Jocelyn has stewarded a variety of volunteer-based projects, including the ACLU of Ohio’s “SLAPPed: A Tool for Activists” and weekly membership mailings. Additionally, she previously coordinated membership and donor events, and handled the day-to-day operations of development department.

Before joining staff, Jocelyn was a law clerk for Towards Employment Ohio and a Summer Associate at The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland. Through these efforts, Jocelyn worked to remove the legal barriers faced by individuals re-entering society from the criminal justice system. Jocelyn received the 2011 Equal Justice Works Summer Corps Standout award related to this work.

A true activist, Jocelyn is passionate about protecting protestor’s rights. In addition to her work with the ACLU, she coordinates the Ohio Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild which trains individuals to be legal observers at demonstrations in order to safeguard protestor’s constitutional rights.

Jocelyn received her B.A. in sociology with an emphasis on social inequality from West Virginia University. Although a Mountaineer at heart, Jocelyn moved to Cleveland to attend Case Western Reserve University School of Law, where she received her Juris Doctor in 2012. Jocelyn is a vegan baker, couponer, Steelers fan and traveler.

Gary Daniels

Gary Daniels
chief lobbyist
pronouns: he/him/his

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Gary Daniels is the chief lobbyist of the ACLU of Ohio and works in the ACLU of Ohio regional office in Columbus, where he has lived since February 2008. Gary has worked for the ACLU of Ohio for nearly 20 years, from 1995-2000 and 2003-present. Before becoming chief lobbyist, he worked for the ACLU of Ohio in the positions of associate director, litigation coordinator, and legal assistant.

Gary works with local and statewide elected and government officials to further the ACLU’s mission. He is a frequent commentator on civil liberties issues in local, statewide and national media.

During the time he lived in New York City, Gary was the Cuba Travel Project coordinator for the Center for Constitutional Rights and later the media affairs coordinator for the National Coalition Against Censorship. He currently serves on the boards of the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education. Gary is also a two-time past board member for the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless.

A 1994 graduate of Kent State University, Gary graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He is originally from Youngstown, Ohio.

Listen to an oral history interview with Gary conducted in 2012.

Sri Thakkilapati

Sri Thakkilapati, PhD
senior policy researcher
pronouns: she/her/hers

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Sri Devi Thakkilapati is a sociologist and policy researcher at the ACLU of Ohio. Sri strives to advance social policies that support the vulnerable among us and dismantle those that enrich the powerful. Her research at the ACLU focuses on analyzing how racial and economic inequities are perpetuated by Ohio’s mayor’s court system. Sri approaches her work at the ACLU with the conviction that thoughtful and meticulous research is fundamental to the goals of achieving justice.

Before coming to the ACLU, Sri completed a doctorate in sociology at the Ohio State University. This work taught her that something can be simultaneously grueling and fun. In addition to her academic work, Sri has developed policy with non-profit organizations in the US and in India that promote gender, race, and class equity. Sri’s academic training and sociological perspective inform her research and advocacy efforts.

Claire Chevrier

Claire Chevrier
advocacy counsel
pronouns: she/her/hers

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Claire Chevrier decided to go to law school when an administrator at the high school at which she was teaching told her to stop trying to get her students special education services, because it wasn’t “like any of their parents know a lawyer.” Determined to become the kind of lawyer her administrator did not believe exists—one who fights for people’s rights regardless of whether they are indigent—Claire graduated cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center, where she focused on education, criminal justice, and civil rights law.

While at Georgetown, Claire interned for the Children’s Law Center’s Special Education Project, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division’s Educational Opportunities Section, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights’ Educational Opportunities Project. Claire also represented low-income tenants in the Landlord and Tenant Branch of D.C. Superior Court through the D.C. Law Students in Court Clinic, for which she won the Nathan A. Neal Award for Outstanding Advocacy. In her last year of law school, Claire had the privilege of interning for Professor Brian Wolfman, which put her on the petitioner’s team for the landmark Supreme Court case, Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District. Claire received the Dean’s Certificate from Georgetown University Law Center recognizing her special and outstanding service to the Law Center community.

After law school, Claire was an Equal Justice Works Fellow sponsored by Arnold & Porter at School Justice Project, a nonprofit that provides free special education legal advocacy for court-involved young people. In this role, Claire represented clients, engaged in systemic advocacy, and established free education legal clinics in Washington, D.C. to expand access to free education legal advice and brief services. Unfortunately, she saw first-hand the ways in which our criminal justice system criminalizes poverty. Claire serves as Advocacy Counsel for the ACLU of Ohio, where she manages the local and statewide, legislative and judicial pretrial advocacy efforts, working to create the changes her previous clients deserve.

Emma Keeshin

Emma Keeshin
advocacy associate
pronouns: she/her/hers

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Emma is based in the Cleveland office where she does policy research and outreach in the areas of police practices, bail reform, LGBT rights, and voting rights. In this role she closely monitors the policy reforms of Cleveland’s consent decree and provides policy recommendations to stakeholders. She also conducts policy research about the crossroads of police reform and bail reform, analyzing police department policies that improve community safety and reduce racial disparities by diverting individuals from jails and the legal system. Emma is a trained restorative justice and mediation practitioner and graduate of Oberlin College.

 

Campaigns

 

Mark Gavin

Mark Gavin Sr.
campaigns director
pronouns: he/him/his

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Mark Gavin, Sr.’s first touch of organizing was when he was just eight years old and his hometown closed the park where he played baseball in the city’s only majority black baseball league. His father organized an action at a city council meeting. This is where Mark got his first chance to talk to lawmakers and when he learned how accessible they are. He has spent the past decade working in, and leading campaigns across every level of government and has also spent a significant portion of his career in community organizing around energy, the environment, and criminal justice reform to liberate people of color. In 2016 his work was even recognized in a speech delivered by President Obama.

In his role as Campaigns Director, Mark works closely with the Advocacy Department to build and mobilize the ACLU of Ohio’s people power base for their bail reform campaign.

Mark is an avid television fan who is always ready to watch Jeopardy or talk about The West Wing. He is currently on a mission to visit every Ohio brewery. Mark is also an amateur playwright, podcast enthusiast, and proud family man. He enjoys volunteering at his son’s school, brewing beer at home with his better half, and cooking for those he loves. Though a proud native of Warren, OH, Mark resides in his beloved Columbus with his significant other Hope, 9-year old Mark Jr., and their Yellow Lab Ella-Barker.

Melekte Melaku

Melekte Melaku
campaigns manager
pronouns: she/her/hers

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We do not live in isolation. The health of one community interacts with the pulse of another, an interdependent web of relationships fostered between the people and the public sphere. When structures exist, perpetuating and enforcing exclusion of marginalized identities, we are obligated to subvert them. ACLU’s historic legacy blossomed from the community to the nation, catering to the democratic health at the pulse of America’s future.

She believes any pursuit of justice begins by cultivating deep connections to the people directly impacted, coupled to advocacy and potential for policy change. After graduating from Case Western Reserve in Cleveland, Melekte devoted a year serving with the educational non-profit CityYear. There she provided individual and group coursework interventions, socio-emotional coaching, and coordinated programming for a multidisciplinary arts after-school curriculum. She developed a school-wide attendance awareness initiative with school administration contributing to the rise of average daily attendance by over 10% by end of year. She also has extensive experience canvassing and organizing on behalf of issues related to environmental justice, mass incarceration, voter rights, and access to quality education.

 

Communications

 

Celina Coming

Celina Coming
communications manager
pronouns: she/her/hers

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Celina Coming believes that defending civil liberties is humanistic, not partisan; inclusive, not selective; and consistent, not convenient. She believes that the ACLU is the most dedicated non-profit organization when it comes to protecting the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The ACLU’s mission can be understood through one of Celina’s favorite political theorists, Thomas Paine: “He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression, for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.”

In her capacity of Communications Manager, Celina manages the social media platforms for the ACLU of Ohio, coordinates the communications calendar, and serves as a liaison to local, state, and national media outlets. Additionally, Celina crafts messaging on behalf of the affiliate for press releases, emails, blogs, petitions, and more.

In 2015, Celina graduated magna cum laude from John Carroll University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and an emphasis on political philosophy. Outside of her work at the ACLU, Celina loves to travel and is an avid trivia enthusiast. Celina has an undying love for Northeast Ohio and is devoted to making Cleveland great again.

Dan Rogan

Dan Rogan
communications associate
pronouns: he/him/his

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In high school Dan marched in an anti-war protest on the mall in Washington D.C. It is here, with his grandmother, mother, aunts, uncles and cousins, that Dan first understood the importance of activism. With a constant eye on the mistreatment of the marginalized, Dan is always quick to call-out injustice when he sees it.

An alumnus of Cleveland State University’s College of Urban Affairs, Dan earned a B.A. in Non-profit Administration, graduating summa cum laude. While interning in the ACLU of Ohio’s development department in 2015, he earned the George S. Dively Prize from CSU for outstanding performance as a community intern. Dan has worn many hats at the ACLU of Ohio, working on print and digital media, web design, messaging, storytelling, and donor relations.

He is dedicated to the mission of the ACLU, and feels that defending civil liberties has no place for partisan politics. One of Dan’s favorite quotes is from activist and revolutionary Fred Hampton. “You can kill a revolutionary, but you cannot kill a revolution.”

 

Development

 

Mary A. Paxton

Mary A. Paxton
director of development
pronouns: she/her/hers

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Mary Paxton has always possessed a heart for those whose voices have been silenced, devalued, choked out by the environment around them and the noise in the world. From protesting to have her college divest from South Africa to spending her career in nonprofit organizations throughout Cleveland, Mary has championed the cause to help others fulfill their missions and be catalysts for meaningful, lasting change.

As director of development at the ACLU of Ohio, Mary has found a place where she can be instrumental in lifting up those silenced voices and ensuring that all fundamental human rights are appropriately restored and remain in place.

Mary has 20+ years’ experience in the nonprofit sector working with at-risk youth, food insecurity, homelessness, substance abuse and workforce development. Mary is a high school graduate of Laurel School in Shaker Heights, she received her B.A. in Economics from Allegheny College and her master’s in Non-Profit Administration from John Carroll University.

Keely Buckley

Keely Buckley
development officer
pronouns: she/her/hers

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Beginning with her sorority’s efforts to raise money for a local Domestic Violence shelter, Keely saw the need and benefits there were to supporting local nonprofits. From there, she sparked a passion for community involvement and developed a desire to work in the non-profit sector. Keely is an eternal optimist and believes that through education and dedication, the ACLU of Ohio’s work can be accomplished.

In her role as Program Associate, Keely coordinates the front desk in our Columbus office, assists the development team, and helps organize our programming events. Keely also manages the Speakers’ Bureau, a program designed to send our team of staff and volunteers to give presentations, lead discussions and sit on panels across the state to educate and uplift civil liberties issues.

Keely graduated with a B.A. in Psychology and minors in Non-Profit Studies and History from The Ohio State University. She is also an ambassador for Organ Donation through Lifeline of Ohio. In her free time, Keely can be found listening to podcasts and knitting, watching Jeopardy, or attempting to rollerblade down the Olentangy Bike Trail.

Emily Korona-Luscher

Emily Korona-Luscher
devlopment officer
pronouns: she/her/hers

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As a graduate of a public Montessori school, the ideals of equality and social justice were instilled in Emily Korona-Luscher from an early age. Those ideals became a passion through her education as a Cultural Anthropologist. Emily is thrilled to have found her place as Development Officer at the ACLU where she can spend every day working with ACLU supporters to protect and expand civil liberties in Ohio.

Emily received her B.A. from State University of New York, New Paltz in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies, and a M.A. from State University of New York, University at Buffalo in Cultural Anthropology. Prior to joining the ACLU, Emily worked at a refugee resettlement agency in Buffalo, NY, and at University Hospitals in Cleveland, OH. She is a current member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

When not at the ACLU, Emily enjoys reading and spending time with her daughter.

Alice Hirsh

Alice Hirsh
development associate
pronouns: she/her/hers

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Alice discovered her passion for halting injustice through doing social actions and organizing fundraisers with her high-school youth group. She believes that together we can create a society where everyone is treated with dignity. Alice is thrilled to be a part of making wide-reaching strides towards equality and justice with the ACLU of Ohio. At local Columbus organizations Alice has written and reported on grants, planned events, and overseen donor stewardship. She loves talking with supporters at every level and sharing the impact they are having on their neighbors. At the ACLU of Ohio Alice manages our donor database and keeps the Development Department running smoothly.

Before Alice fell in love with development work she graduated from The Ohio State University. She majored in International Studies and Economics because she is fascinated by other cultures and the way government policy can impact the economy and subsequently, a family’s quality of life.

While not at work Alice uses her development experience in volunteering at the Worthington Resource Pantry and has taught U.S. government and history to immigrants going through the naturalization process. She is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and spends far too much of her free time binge-watching Netflix.

 

Legal

 

Freda J. Levenson

Freda J. Levenson
legal director
pronouns: she/her/hers

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Freda Levenson is the legal director for the ACLU of Ohio. Her major responsibilities include litigation, management of the legal team, and legal analysis of pending legislation and other emerging civil liberties issues.

Freda has litigated several major cases for the ACLU of Ohio, including: in the area of voting rights, APRI, et al. v. Husted, challenging Ohio’s practice of purging infrequent voters; NAACP, et al. v Husted et al., restoring early voting opportunities; and Libertarian Party of Ohio, et al., v. Husted, protecting ballot access. She also litigates to uphold expressive rights under the First Amendment, including Citizens for Trump, et al. v. Cleveland et al., successfully challenging restrictions on public expression at Cleveland’s Republican National Convention. In Maudlin v. Inside Out, Inc, and other cases, Freda has fought against sex discrimination in the workplace. She also litigates and develops strategies to defend the civil rights of transgender individuals, people who have disabilities, and people in the criminal justice system, including children.

A graduate of Wellesley College in Massachusetts and the University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor, Mich., Freda was a litigation partner at a large commercial law firm in Chicago until moving back to her hometown of Shaker Heights, Ohio. There, she served on the Shaker Heights Board of Education for 16 years, including four years as its president.

A long-time adjunct law professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland, Freda taught in both the master of laws (LL.M.) and in the juris doctor (J.D.) programs. She is also an avid yoga practitioner and a certified instructor.

David Carey

David J. Carey
senior staff attorney
pronouns: he/him/his

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David’s first role with the ACLU of Ohio was as a volunteer attorney. While practicing in the business litigation group of a major commercial law firm, he performed pro bono work defending early voting access in NAACP v. Husted, writing amicus briefs in defense of free political expression in Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus and public trial rights in State v. Sowell, and assisting on a host of other matters. Incurably bitten by the civil rights litigation bug, he was thrilled to join the ACLU of Ohio team in Columbus in 2018. As Senior Staff Attorney, he now develops, coordinates, and litigates a wide range of cases in defense of voting rights, challenging the criminalization of poverty, protecting the rights of transgender individuals, and advocating for fairness in the parole process.

David graduated magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and with High Honors in History from the College of William and Mary in 2006. He received his J.D. in 2009 from New York University School of Law, where he was a Robert McKay Scholar and served as a Staff Editor and Articles Editor for the Annual Survey of American Law. Before joining the ACLU, he practiced with firms in New York and Columbus, on matters ranging from complex trade secret litigation to a pro bono representation of a client challenging a capital murder conviction in Alabama. Outside of his legal work, David is a proud advocate for historic preservation in Columbus, serving as the Planning and Development Chair for the Harrison West Society. He is also an enthusiastic traveler, an avid cook, and a devotee of Columbus-area craft brews.

Elizabeth Bonham

Elizabeth Bonham
staff attorney
pronouns: she/her/hers

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Elizabeth loves civil rights litigation. As Staff Attorney, she plans and litigates impact cases, manages our student law clerk program, and works with our policy and legislative teams on long-term advocacy campaigns. Since joining the ACLU of Ohio she has been involved in litigating major cases including defending voting rights in APRI v. Husted and protestor rights in Abdur-Rahim v. Columbus. Her current work focuses on ending mass incarceration and the criminalization of poverty and working to abolish the prison industrial complex.

Elizabeth received her B.A. from Warren Wilson College in 2011. She graduated magna cum laude from Cleveland Marshall College of Law in 2015 as the Dean’s Learn Law, Live Justice scholar. She was selected as her class’s commencement speaker because of her contributions to improving access to justice in the community.

Outside of her work at the ACLU, Elizabeth is an urban farmer in Cleveland. She serves on the boards of the New Agrarian Center, The Fair Housing Center, and LegalWorks Clinic, and is a proud member of the National Lawyers Guild. She is part-time faculty at Cleveland State University.

In June 2017, Elizabeth was selected to be in Crain’s Cleveland Business’ Top Twenty In Their 20’s — an annual article about up and coming Clevelanders! Read her feature article.

Publications:

Our moment in history: Protesting and Censorship, Columbus Bar Lawyers Quarterly Winter 2018 (page 20)

Who is a Nuisance? Criminal Activity Nuisances Ordinances in Ohio, November 2017

Tess Sabo

Tess Sabo
paralegal
pronouns: she/her/hers

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Tess Sabo has always been adamant that the work she does must put good into the world. She graduated from The Ohio State University, where she lead an activist feminist organization and successfully advocated for improvements to the Student Code of Conduct. Following a lifelong interest in law, Tess also obtained a certificate in paralegal studies at Columbus State Community College. She comes to the ACLU of Ohio from a local firm representing disability claimants through the benefits appeals process. Tess is proud and energized to belong to a team vigorously defending and advancing crucial civil liberties.

When she is not in the office, Tess loves playing with her dog, Bowzer, supporting her girlfriend’s band, and hiking the hills of Ohio.