Deborah Archer to serve as president of ACLU board of directors

The American Civil Liberties Union has announced that Deborah Archer, Jacob K. Javits Professor at New York University and professor of clinical law at NYU Law, will be the organization’s new president, leading its board of directors. Susan Herman ’74 is stepping down after 12 years in the role of president.

Deborah Archer portrait
Deborah Archer

“This organization has been part of every important battle for civil liberties during our first century, and we are committed to continuing that legacy as we enter our second,” Archer said in a statement. “I could not be more excited to get to work.”

Archer will remain in her position on the NYU Law faculty, where she serves as co-faculty director of NYU Law’s Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law (CRIL) and as director of the Civil Rights Clinic. A nationally recognized expert in civil rights and racial justice, she teaches and writes in the areas of racial justice, civil rights, and community equity.

“Deborah’s election to this role at the ACLU—together with her leadership of CRIL and her civil rights clinic—underscores the unique leadership position NYU Law is now in, for work at the intersection of civil liberties and civil rights,” said Dean Trevor Morrison.

Archer previously worked as an attorney with the ACLU, where she was a Marvin M. Karpatkin Legal Fellow, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., where she litigated in the areas of voting rights, employment discrimination, and school desegregation. She was also a member of the faculty at New York Law School for 15 years and an associate at the firm Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett.

Archer has served on the ACLU’s board since 2009 and as a general counsel and member of the board’s executive committee since 2017. The 69-member ACLU National Board sets matters of organizational policy and substantive civil liberties policies, as well as overseeing issues related to general financial management and the relationship between the national ACLU and its affiliates.

“As the country enters the post-Trump era, it is essential that those in leadership intimately understand the history that brought us to this inflection point, and the work ahead,” Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the ACLU, said in a statement. “There is no one better equipped, who best personifies or is more capable to helm the future battles for civil rights, civil liberties and systemic equality than Deborah Archer.”

Archer has also been a member of the board of directors of the New York Civil Liberties Union. A former chair of the American Association of Law School's Section on Civil Rights and Section on Minority Groups, she previously served on the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board, the nation’s oldest and largest police oversight agency, and the 2018 New York City Charter Revision Commission. Archer received the Otto L. Walter Distinguished Writing Award and the 2014 Haywood Burns/Shanara Guilbert Award from the Northeast People of Color Legal Scholarship Conference. In 2016, Archer was recognized by the New York Law Journal as one of New York’s Top Women in the Law.

Posted February 1, 2021