Anthony D. Romero
Anthony Romero took the helm of the ACLU, the nation's premier defender of liberty and individual freedom, just seven days before the September 11, 2001 attacks. Shortly afterward, the ACLU launched its national “Keep America Safe and Free” campaign to protect basic freedoms during a time of crisis. The initiative achieved court victories on the Patriot Act, uncovered thousands of pages of documents detailing the torture and abuse of detainees in United States custody, and successfully challenged the George W. Bush administration's illegal National Security Agency spying program.
Romero also has led the ACLU in its unique legal challenge to the patents held by a private company on the human genes associated with breast and ovarian cancer; in its landmark lawsuit challenging Arizona’s anti-immigrant law that invites law enforcement to engage in racial profiling; in its high-profile litigation and lobbying efforts to win the freedom to marry for same-sex couples; and in its nationwide campaign to end mass incarceration, which aims to achieve a 50 percent reduction in the number of Americans behind bars.
An attorney with a history of public-interest activism, Romero has presided over the most successful membership growth in the ACLU's history and a large increase in national and affiliate staff. This extraordinary growth has allowed the ACLU to expand its nationwide litigation, lobbying, advocacy, and public education programs. Romero is the ACLU's sixth executive director, and the first Latino and openly gay man to serve in that capacity. Born in New York City to parents who hailed from Puerto Rico, Romero was the first in his family to graduate from high school. He is a graduate of Stanford University Law School and Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy and International Affairs.