From Joshua A. Decker, ACLU of Alaska <[email protected]>
Subject Executive Director announces departure from ACLU
Date August 11, 2021 6:02 PM
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The organization's Board of Directors names local advocate, lawyer as interim executive director.

Friend –

At the ACLU, we offer this sentiment often: the Constitution is a declaration of promises. More than 200 years after the original thirteen states ratified the document that established our American experiment, that's still all it is for many – a list of promises. While some are afforded the privileges outlined in the Constitution, too many are still fighting for their opportunity to enjoy those sacred guarantees.

I've been with the ACLU of Alaska for a decade. I started as a staff attorney, spent a year as the interim executive director, and was then given the privilege of dropping the "interim" from my title. Now, I write to say that I'll be stepping down as the ACLU of Alaska's executive director on Friday, September 3. I'm going to pursue a Ph.D. in political science, a decision inspired by the work the ACLU does with you to create, in the Constitution's words, a "more perfect union."

I marvel at the last decade. In solidarity with incredible people like you, the ACLU of Alaska successfully defended the panoply of the Bill of Rights, from religious freedom to free speech, to the right of a person to choose whether they want to be a parent. With your help, we were able to make it easier and safer for Alaskans to vote, we reformed the criminal legal system, and we successfully defeated attacks on our very democracy. We stood up for Alaskans. With you, we helped to make Anchorage and Juneau into cities where gay and transgender Alaskans can live their authentic lives without losing their jobs or homes, and together, we partnered to make Anchorage the first community in the country to defeat an anti-transgender ballot measure.

Goodbye is bittersweet, but rest assured the ACLU of Alaska is in good hands.

The work will ceaselessly continue because there is nothing that can stop the ACLU of Alaska staff's dedication to the people of this state. I am elated to share that they'll be working arm-in-arm with a longtime ally, advocate, and Anchorage-based attorney, Susan Orlansky, whom the board has selected as the part-time interim executive director, effective August 14.

Here's a little bit about her:

Susan's lived in Alaska since 1980 and has been volunteer senior counsel for the ACLU of Alaska since 2014. She also spent 12 years with the Alaska Public Defender Agency – where she supervised appellate litigation – and nearly 20 years as a partner at Feldman, Orlansky & Sanders.

Susan's spent thousands of hours donating her expertise to pro bono work, including 10 years representing an individual on death row in Texas. She's also served on the Alaska Judicial Council, the Alaska Bar Association's ethics and area discipline committees, and the Alaska Supreme Court's Appellate Rules Advisory and Criminal Rules Advisory Committees.

As she prepares for her first official day in her new position, "I'm honored to have been asked by the Board to lead the ACLU of Alaska on an interim basis," Orlansky said. "ACLU cases from the 1960s and '70s helped inspire me to go to law school, and I am delighted for this opportunity to help the Alaska organization continue to be a voice in support of civil liberties." I'll be sticking around to support the transition until my last day, September 3. Our board of directors will be conducting a comprehensive, nationwide search to select the next permanent executive director.

While I won't be the executive director much longer, I'll still be an ACLU member and supporter, working in solidarity with you – because "we the people" are still working to realize the promises of the Alaska and U.S. Constitutions, and fulfilling those promises is the job of every person in this state and country.

It has been a pleasure to fight arm-in-arm with you. I'll keep fighting the good fight, and I hope you will too.

Joshua Decker
Pronouns: He, him, his
Executive Director, ACLU of Alaska

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