New ACLU leader Gastañaga seeks to expand footprint in Virginia

Posted at 11:12 AM, Mar 27, 2012
and last updated 2012-03-27 11:12:16-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia has hired Claire Guthrie Gastañaga as its new executive director. Gastañaga, who will start in June, has recently been a lobbyist for Equality Virginia, the Virginia Coalition for Latino Organizations and the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Alliance, according to a press release from the ACLU.

“Claire brings to the ACLU a huge network of people throughout Virginia who share our commitment to equality and civil liberties,” said Jayne Barnard, President of the ACLU of Virginia Board of Directors, in a statement. “What’s more, her talents are endless — she’s been a lawyer, lobbyist, administrator, writer, and fundraiser.   And, though she has not yet stepped through the door, she’s already thinking of ways to expand the ACLU’s footprint in Virginia.”

Gastañaga will replace Kent Willis who recently announced he was leaving the executive director post after 25 years with the ACLU.

“I am honored and humbled to be chosen by the Board of Directors to lead the ACLU of Virginia at this important time in the history of the Commonwealth,” said Gastañaga in a statement. “Kent Willis and his team have established a remarkable record of securing and protecting the civil liberties of all Virginians over the last 25 years. Recent events have made clear that the need for the ACLU to play this signal role has not abated,” Gastañaga continued. “I am fortunate that, when I take over as Executive Director in June, I will be standing on the very strong foundation for advocacy that Kent and the Board built during his tenure. I look forward to building on that foundation and ensuring that the ACLU of Virginia is positioned to carry on its important work for as long as it is needed.”

Gastañaga, who lived in Richmond, graduated from the University of Virginia Law School in 1974.


‘Freedom fighter’ leaving post at ACLU