From Cassandra Welchlin, Chair, Board of Directors, ACLU of Mississippi
 
It is with a mix of sadness and excitement for Mississippi that the Board of Directors announces Jennifer Riley Collins’ departure as Executive Director of American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi, Inc. and the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi Foundation, Inc. effective June 28, 2019. Since 2013, Jennifer has played a critical role in the development and success of the organization,. We will miss her and her inspiring leadership. We want to thank her for the 6 years of tireless hours, dedicated service, and visionary leadership which has resulted in many significant accomplishments, including:
  • Resetting, rebuilding and rebranding the ACLU of MS such that our capacity for impact increased exponentially;
  • Growing membership from roughly 700 to almost three thousand;
  • Normalizing relationships which resulted in increased foundational funding for vital projects;
  • Building coalitions which included diverse stakeholder to support the program work of the ACLU of MS in the areas of criminal justice reform, gender justice, and voting;
  • Leading the charge on important advocacy initiatives including the “We Are All Mississippi” Campaign, the “Keep Our Children Safe” Campaign which led to the establishment of statewide policy to reduce and regulate the use of restraint and seclusion in public schools, the Transgender Education Advocacy Project, which has elevated the voices of Mississippi’s transgender community through the “ID-Me” project and the “I Too Am Mississippi” Storytelling Project, and our “Let People Vote” initiative to increase access to the polls;
As the senior attorney in the ACLU of MS, Jennifer has been an advisor and when necessary attorney of record, on ground breaking litigation to ensure LGBT rights were defended and police targeting of minority communities is a thing of the past.
 
As a lead lobbyists and policy strategist, Jennifer has drafted and proposed legislation and ensured that legislation and policy are implemented so that the rights and freedoms of Mississippians are protected.
 
Over the next few months, we will be conducting a search to find the new ACLU of MS Executive Director. During this transition period, it is our priority to find the best individual to lead, while still maintaining a stable and effective organization. We will share the job announcement soon and ask for your help in identifying candidates who can help ACLU of MS continue along the impactful trajectory Jennifer has set us on.
 
We cannot thank Jennifer enough for the dedication, passion, enthusiasm and motivation she has given the ACLU of MS. While the ACLU of MS does not endorse or oppose candidates, our loss is potentially Mississippi’s gain as Jennifer has made the decision to resign so that she can direct all her energy on the goal she has set before her. She will be greatly missed by the staff, Board, members and partners alike.
 
We look forward to following the success of her career and are hopeful and excited for the next chapter of the ACLU of MS as we continue to ensure justice, fairness and opportunity for all Mississippians. Joshua Tom will assume the position of Interim Executive Director and Tabuthia Bell has been named the Interim Assistant Director. For further information please contact me directly at cowelchlin@gmail.com.
 
Sincerely,
Cassandra Welchlin, Chair, Board of Directors, ACLU of Mississippi
 
From Jennifer Riley Collins, Executive Director, ACLU of Mississippi
When I came back to Mississippi after military duty one thing was clear to me – “there was work yet to be done”. I have been honored to do a part of that work as the Executive Director of the ACLU of MS. However, I still think there is more work for me to do. Therefore, after earnest and prayerful consideration, I recently submitted my resignation to the Board in order to focus solely on doing that work. While I have a mix of emotions as I move into this next chapter of my career, I am confident that I have done what I was meant to do at the ACLU of MS and believe that I have built upon the foundation that the board and my predecessor laid. The decision for my transition did not come easily as I am extremely proud and fond of all that ACLU of MS staff, board and members have accomplished during the past six years and hold dear to my heart the relationships I’ve built during my time as Executive Director.
 
With a grateful heart, I offer my sincerest thanks to all who have been so supportive of the organization and of me personally over the years: staff, board members, and, of course, our partners and ACLU of MS members. Without you, the organization would not be as strong, relevant and impactful as it is. I am so honored to have been the leader and co-conspirator for positive change in Mississippi. I will watch with much excitement and anticipation as it continues to promote, defend and extend civil liberties to all Mississippians.
 
All my best,
Jennifer Riley Collins, Executive Director, ACLU of MS

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