Board and Staff Information

ACLU STAFF BIOGRAPHIES

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Executive/Administration

Norma Chavez-Peterson, Executive Director

NormaSmallColorChávez-Peterson has long been an integral part of San Diego’s organizing community with nearly two decades of experience in community leadership and nonprofit management, advocating for affordable housing, neighborhood revitalization, and immigrant rights. Since starting with the San Diego ACLU in 2012 as organizing director, Chávez-Peterson was promoted to associate director to oversee legal, communications, policy, and organizing programs later that year. In Chávez-Peterson’s short time in leadership, she has been instrumental in creating integrated advocacy campaigns advancing priority issue areas, such as criminal justice, immigrant rights, and voting rights. Before coming to the San Diego ACLU, Chávez-Peterson was the co-founder and executive director of Justice Overcoming Boundaries, a network of faith, community, education, business and labor partners working together to advance social justice in San Diego. She has a Bachelor’s degree from SDSU in political science and Chicano/a studies. Twitter @normachavezp.

Jeffrey Wergeles, Deputy Director

JeffSmallcolorWergeles joined the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties in February 2011 as the development director, and in November 2013 was appointed deputy director. In this position he leads our development work, and oversees the organization’s finances and operations. Prior to joining the ACLU, Wergeles was the director of development at the San Diego LGBT Community Center and before at KPBS, public radio and television for San Diego. He has an extensive resume of community involvement, serving as president on the boards of Mama’s Kitchen and the Greater San Diego Business Association. Prior to working at KPBS he was a member of their community advisory board, and also served as vice president of the Diversionary Theater and on the boards of the June Burnett Institute and the Association of Fundraising Professionals. He holds a degree in economics from UCLA. Twitter @jeff_wergeles.

Laurie Levine, Business Manager

LaurieSmallColorLevine has worked in the accounting field for 30 years. Her experience as the office manager for a training and consulting professional prepared her for the multi-faceted responsibilities of managing the business functions of the San Diego ACLU. For five years she was the sole proprietor of a bookkeeping consulting service. Levine’s belief in the dignity and equality of every human being fuels her passion and dedication to helping the ACLU fight for individual rights and fundamental freedoms.

Mayra Lopez, Special Projects Assistant

Full page photoLopez joined the ACLU after receiving her masters in history at San Diego State University with a focus on the U.S. Labor Movement, U.S.-Mexico Borderlands, and Mexican History. While completing her undergraduate career at the University of California, Riverside, Lopez became inspired by the labor and civil rights movement, leading her to work as a student organizer for AFSCME 3299, SEI-ULTCW, OUR Walmart, and UAW 4123. Lopez also coordinated an intensive summer program to give students organizing training through education, skills building, and hands-on-in-the-field experience working on a variety of campaigns for economic and social justice.

Kathleen Sanchez, Executive Assistant

statue crown-BWSanchez comes to the ACLU after  more than nineteen years specializing in human resources with one of the biggest public relations and advertising agencies in San Diego. She attended the University of Arizona where she studied early childhood education and special education. She says she loves being surrounded by everyone’s drive and passion, and is lucky to have a very fun family. Twitter @kats9_sanchez.

Advocacy

The Advocacy Team created a mission statement to guide their work.
The Advocacy Department executes the mission  and values of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties in the community through the building of strategic relationships, and by engaging and developing community leaders in order to create sustainable social change.”

Gloria Cruz, Organizer

GloriaSmallcolorCruz is a local activist and a lifelong advocate for LGBT and immigrant rights, being a member of both communities. She has been a community organizer, in San Diego and Los Angeles, for the past 18 years. Cruz worked with San Diego LGBT Pride, where she focused on structuring the festival to be welcoming to all people. She was recently elected to the board of directors of The LGBT Center of San Diego. As one of the founding members of the San Diego Dream Team and still an active member, she works closely with students and community members to improve access to legal counsel for immigrants in remote detention and to promote its Undocuqueer project. Her advocacy work with the ACLU focuses on education equity, immigrant rights, LGBT rights and police accountability. Cruz continues to bridge the issues of those affected by injustice with her strong dedication to the legal and advocacy vision of the ACLU. Twitter @gloriacruzisso.

Esmeralda Flores, Binational Relations Associate

EsmeraldaSmallcolorFlores conducts extensive outreach in Mexico for the San Diego ACLU’s Lopez-Venegas v. Johnson settlement that challenged government policy on voluntary returns. For the past four years before joining the ACLU, Flores worked as a staff attorney with the Binational Defense and Advocacy Program, housed at the Casa del Migrante in Tijuana, Mexico. Her focus was on the documentation of human and civil rights violations and family separation issues due to deportations. In 2013, Flores presented a friend-of-the-court brief before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. She is a graduate of the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California School of Law. She also completed a post-graduate International Migration program at the prestigious Colegio de la Frontera Norte (COLEF) in Tijuana. Twitter @_esme9_.

Gerrlyn Gacao, Organizer

gerrlyn-smGacao joined the ACLU San Diego to continue and deepen advocacy work throughout communities in the southern portion of San Diego County. As a previous council representative for Councilmember David Alvarez’s office, she dedicated her role to organizing and outreaching to constituents across San Diego’s South Bay communities and increased community access and equity of city services. Passionate about cultural awareness and socioeconomic justice, Gacao has also held leadership roles in various electoral campaigns, community organizing opportunities, and political or AAPI community organizations. Gacao was born and raised in Stockton, CA and earned a Bachelor of Arts in urban planning with an economics minor from the University of California, San Diego.

Andrea Gaspar, Youth Organizer

AndreaSmallcolorGaspar develops an organizing and leadership program for high school students in San Diego and Imperial counties, implementing a year-round curriculum to introduce youth to critical thinking, civil rights and liberties issues, and the value of integrated advocacy. She has a bachelor’s degree from UC Irvine in International Studies and Chicano/a-Latino/a Studies and a double minor in African-American studies and Latin American literature. As a queer Mexican womxn born in San Diego and raised in Tijuana, she believes that youth organizing is one of the most powerful tools to bring transformative justice and challenge both macro and micro levels of systemic oppression that are affecting and killing communities on a daily basis. Twitter @agaspar126.

Christie Hill, Senior Policy Strategist

christie-smHill is a San Diego native and has worked in California, Washington, DC and New York advocating for the rights of women, children, and low-income communities. She has focused her work on issues that impact the lives of people of color including education equity, homelessness and economic justice. Hill earned her bachelor’s degree from the School of Social Welfare at Berkeley, and a juris doctorate from Columbia Law School, where she served for two years as an adjunct faculty member.  Prior to joining the San Diego ACLU, she served as the program and policy director at the Center on Policy Initiatives and helped to launch a campaign focused on promoting equity and transparency in the City of San Diego’s budget as well as fighting for a higher minimum wage. Twitter @CLoveHill.

Amanda Le, Special Projects Associate

AmandaSmallColor Le graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a degree in international studies-political science/sociology and a minor in business. At UCSD, Le was an active member of the student council, International Center, and the Education Abroad Program, through which she studied political science in Spain. Le previously worked for a Buddhist foundation managing media outreach and had an earlier stint with the San Diego ACLU as a communications intern. Twitter @aallz25.

David Trujillo, Advocacy Director

statue crown-BWTrujillo has spent his career working on issues of social justice and has years of experience in community organizing, political campaigns and the legislative process.  Prior to joining the San Diego ACLU, Trujillo served as Planned Parenthood Northern California’s public affairs director.  There he was part of the campaign teams that defeated a Parental Notification Initiative in California and so-called Fetal Personhood Amendments in Montana and Mississippi.  Trujillo also helped pass legislation that made California the only state in the country in the last five years to expand access to birth control and abortion services.  Trujillo grew up in San Diego and has a degree in Political Science from the University of California, San Diego.

Communications

Anna Castro, Communications Strategist

AnnaSmallColorCastro graduated from Amherst College in 2012 with a Bachelor’s degree in Black Studies.  She volunteered with the Texas Civil Rights Project and Austin’s Self-Help and Advocacy Center, learning first-hand about the intersections between the criminal justice system and immigration policy in a border state. At Amherst, she served as Senior Chair of La Causa of Amherst College, and worked towards fostering stronger relationships between the college and the local community. Twitter @apcastro16 .

Ferchil Ramos, New Media Strategist

ferch-smRamos, born in the Phillippines, has long lived in San Diego, and seeks to make an impact on the city and the communities where he serves and lives in. With a diverse professional and volunteer background, a broad range of skills led him to his role as new media strategist for the San Diego ACLU. Ramos helps highlight civil liberties in new and exciting ways. In 2015, he was recruited to be a RISE Fellow for RISE San Diego. In his spare time, he volunteers as director for the Filipino American Arts & Culture Festival, where he adopted a sense of civic duty and culture. Twitter @WHATtheFERCH.

Rebecca Rauber, Communications Director

RebeccaSmallcolor2Rauber has devoted her professional and personal life to community organizing and community development. She is the former San Diego director of an international hunger relief organization, and program director for the Central American Refugee Organizing Project of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, helping to create the Sanctuary Movement of the 1980s. While with the archdiocese, she led delegations of North Americans to see and live the reality of the region’s civil wars. She was a reporter and news anchor for KPFA and has written for numerous publications, including The Daily Cal, San Diego Lawyer, and Boston Phoenix. Rauber has a degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley and a certificate in Marketing and Media from San Diego State University. Twitter @rebeccarauber.

Criminal Justice & Drug Policy Project

Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, Criminal Justice and Drug Policy Director, ACLU of California

MargaretSuitSmallColorBased in San Diego, Dooley-Sammuli leads the ACLU’s statewide many criminal justice and drug policy campaigns in California – including protecting the significant reforms embedded in Proposition 47 and leveraging the Affordable Care Act to advance a public health approach to drug policy. She has a decade of experience working on criminal justice and drug policy reform in California, including spearheading historic campaigns to revise the state’s drug possession penalties (SB 1506 & SB 649). Before joining the ACLU, Dooley-Sammuli was deputy state director with the Drug Policy Alliance, where she led the organization’s criminal justice advocacy in California. In her previous career, she was an editor based in Shanghai, China with The Economist Intelligence Unit. Twitter @MDS_cj.

Kellen Russoniello, Staff Attorney — Health & Drug Policy

KellenSmallColorRussoniello earned his JD and MPH from The George Washington University in Washington, DC. While in graduate school, he drafted Good Samaritan overdose prevention legislation for the District of Columbia, which became law in March of 2013. He also volunteered by drafting motions to seal criminal records, providing outreach to sex workers and homeless people, and teaching middle-school children about the Constitution and Bill of Rights. He has interned with the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), the Drug Policy Alliance, and the ACLU of Washington State. Kellen currently serves on the board of directors of Students for Sensible Drug Policy. Twitter @krussoniello.

Development

Jeremy Bloom, Donor Relations Manager

jeremy-smBloom has worked in the nonprofit fundraising and political organizing fields for more than seven years. Prior to coming to the ACLU, Bloom lived in Santa Barbara and served on the boards of a community-based foundation and faith group. He is an active member of Young Professionals Council, a project of the San Diego LGBT Community Center, currently sitting on the executive committee as the secretary/treasurer. Bloom is a graduate of the University of Mary Washington, in Fredericksburg, VA, with a degree in international affairs and Middle Eastern Studies.

Voting Rights

Lori Shellenberger, Voting Rights Director, ACLU of California

LoriSmallcolorShellenberger, Director of the California Voting Rights Project, advocates for statewide and local election reform to reduce barriers to voter participation. Since joining the ACLU in 2011, she advocated for the mapping of the first majority-minority supervisor district in San Diego County; worked to increase compliance with the National Voter Registration Act and Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act; and provided technical assistance to San Diego nonprofits to build capacity for civic engagement work. Shellenberger brings a breadth of legal, nonprofit and community organizing experience to the ACLU. She began her legal career at the Alameda County Public Defender and was associate and capital appellate counsel at the Legal Aid Society of New York where she litigated cases before New York’s Court of Appeals, the 2nd Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court. She graduated from New York University School of Law.

ACLU OF SAN DIEGO & IMPERIAL COUNTIES BOARD OF DIRECTORS – 2016 Term

Mark Adams, Board President*

Octavio Aguilar
Nasser Barghouti
Warner Broaddus
Leticia Cazares
Jeff Chinn
Carl Crider
Deborah Fritsch
David Gangsei
Robert Goldstein
Beth Herman
Bob Isaacson
Rimah Khouri
Udoka Nwanna
Kwofi Reed
Madison Shockley
Pedro Silva
Andrea Skorepa
Luz Villafana
Pat Wilson
Andy Zlotnik

* Board President, Mark Adams

Mark Adams is a San Diego criminal defense lawyer who has been in private practice since 1981. He focuses solely on the defense of serious felony cases in the District Court, earning the highest peer-review rating available from Martindale-Hubbell. He has represented people charged in various classes of cases, with many of his clients being citizens of Mexico with language and cultural barriers; many impaired by mental illness, drug addiction and substance abuse issues or other personality disorders and medical conditions.  Adams attended the University of San Diego School of Law.

You can contact the Board President or any board member by sending a letter to:
ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties
P.O. Box 87131
San Diego, CA 92138-7131

 

 

 

The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties fights for individual rights and fundamental freedoms for all through education, litigation, & policy advocacy.