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Executive Director Newark, NJ

S6-051

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (ACLU-NJ) has selected Amol Sinha to be its next Executive Director, effective September 1, 2017.

Sinha comes to the ACLU-NJ from the Innocence Project, where he served as State Policy Advocate and led campaigns to address wrongful convictions nationwide.

For Sinha, who grew up in Lawrenceville, NJ, taking the helm is a homecoming, not just to his home state, but to an organization that has always anchored him. Sinha’s first role as a newly minted lawyer – after interning for the national ACLU while a student at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law – was as director of the Suffolk County Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Approaching the responsibility with great pride, he transformed the Suffolk County Chapter into an advocacy powerhouse, making inroads with unexpected allies like the Suffolk County Police Department and Sheriff’s Office. Under Sinha’s leadership, the chapter successfully defeated unconstitutional policing and surveillance schemes and investigated public schools that prohibited immigrant students from enrolling. The ACLU-NJ has done similar investigations of public schools and taken legal action as a result.

Sinha takes the helm at a time of significant growth for the ACLU-NJ, which recently added an immigrants’ rights attorney, staff attorney, and several legal fellows. The ACLU-NJ plans to fill the role of public policy director soon after Sinha starts as executive director This growth coincides with new challenges in today’s social and political climate that call for greater vigilance.

“One quality of the ACLU I most admire is its inexhaustible capacity to remain principled, yet evolve to confront the ever-changing threats to our liberties, as we have seen this year,” Sinha said. “Crucially, the struggles for racial justice and the principles of free speech – both so fundamental to New Jersey communities – can be reconciled, and in this climate, they must. It may be complicated, but the ACLU does not shy away from complexity. We're in it for the long haul.”

The ACLU-NJ role merges what Sinha described as his two passions: advocating for constitutional rights and New Jersey.

Sinha’s childhood in the Garden State was integral to his passion for civil rights. The son of Indian immigrants who came to America in the early 1970s, Sinha vividly recalls a persistent feeling that he couldn’t quite articulate. He has always been proud of his roots, but he witnessed interactions growing up that indicated people viewed him and his family differently. Such incidents often rolled off his parents’ backs. But for him, it was an introduction to larger injustices faced by many groups.

Sinha is the first person of color to lead the ACLU-NJ and one of the first South Asian executive directors of an ACLU affiliate. Maya Harris, who led the ACLU of Northern California from 2006 to 2009, was the first person of South Asian descent to lead a state ACLU affiliate.

“Working for the ACLU never actually feels like work,” Sinha said. “It is truly a privilege to defend the rights of the people, and it aligns perfectly with my own principles and moral compass. I’m excited to come back home and have people across the state fall in love with the ACLU, just like I did.”

Sinha earned his BA in Journalism and Economics from Columbia University, and his JD from the Benjamin Cardozo School of Law, both in New York.

Tim McFeeley led this search with Marc St. Hilaire.


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