2016 Board Candidate Biographies

Running for First Term:

John Carlson

John Carlson is an appellate lawyer with the Federal Public Defender, in Denver. Primarily, he represents defendants on Oklahoma’s death row. He also handles non-capital appeals arising from federal courts throughout the Tenth Circuit. Whatever its source, John’s work immerses him in the rights protected by the Constitution, from free-exercise-of-religion cases under the First Amendment to search-and-seizure cases under the Fourth Amendment to cruel-and-unusual-punishment cases under the Eighth. Before moving to Colorado, John was a lawyer on the Navajo Indian Reservation in the Four Corners region, where he represented both the Navajo Nation and individual tribal members in state, federal, and tribal courts. He lives in Boulder and is married to a professor at the University of Colorado. They have a teenage daughter.

Laurie Steuri

Laurie Steuri is a retired corporate communications executive who recently (4 years ago) returned to live in the state of her birth. She has been active supporter of several non-profits with overlapping priorities with ACLU, including Human Rights Campaign, Southern Colorado AIDS project and Planned Parenthood. She served for six years on the board of Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio (PPSWO), the final two years as Chair. The PPSWO work was particular challenging as this affiliate operated in one of the most conservative regions in the network and was frequently a target of harassment lawsuits by anti-abortion groups. As the mother of a gay daughter and sister of a gay brother she also brings some understanding of the challenges faced by the LGBT community. Laurie earned her BSc (Chemical Engineer) and MBA from the University of Colorado. She is delighted to be living in Colorado again after a 30 year absence. Having lived in the Midwest, east coast and Europe during her professional life, she gained a new appreciation for what our State offers and is motivated to improve it through working with the ACLU.

Running for Second Term:

Basit Mustafa

Basit Mustafa has combined his passion for protecting civil liberties and serving the non-profit community during his service on the ACLU of Colorado board for the last 3 years as Affirmative Action Officer. He has also worked closely with ACLU of Colorado staff on organizational and financial development. In addition to a vigorous commitment to carrying out the ACLU’s mission he brings extensive non-profit, entrepreneurial, and private industry management experience from his own startups as well as 10 years at IBM in various leadership roles. He currently is the Founder & CEO of Voltaire, Inc, a legal technology software company he founded in 2014. When not engaged in these pursuits, Basit enjoys trail running around the trails from his home in Telluride, CO, including racing 100 mile ultramarathons.

Dan Recht

Dan Recht is an experienced trial lawyer who has been successfully defending the criminally accused and Constitutional Rights in Colorado for over 25 years. Dan began his career as a Colorado State Public Defender and is a nationally recognized expert on criminal law, the First Amendment and Constitutional Law in general. Dan has tried over 100 jury trials in federal and state courts, including successfully defending assaults, sexual assaults, homicides, drug cases, white collar crimes, domestic violence, frauds, DUI’s, and disciplinary matters for professionals and students. He has successfully taken on many 1st Amendment cases pro bono on behalf of the ACLU of Colorado. Dan is also chair of the ACLU of Colorado’s legal panel and a past chair of the ACLU of Colorado Board of Directors, as well as past president of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, past chair of the Second Judicial District Judicial Performance Commission and an otherwise active participant in the Colorado legal community.

Nominated to complete last year of vacant Board term:

Ben Hand-Bender

Ben Hand-Bender was born and raised in Denver. He has had a life-long passion for the defense of civil rights and liberties. He believes fiercely in the mission of the ACLU, and is honored to be nominated to complete the term of Bruce Sattler. Ben hopes to continue the dedication and passion that Bruce brought to the ACLU of Colorado Board of Directors. Ben’s professional experiences include working as an educator, fundraiser, and organizer. He currently serves as the ACLU-CU Law representative to the Board–where he has been an active and thoughtful participant. As a first year law student, it has been his pleasure to connect students with the ACLU of Colorado, and he hopes to continue to build upon this relationship and provide the Board with a millennial perspective. He is proud to have already successfully lobbied the CU Law administration to begin offering their Civil Rights and Remedies course in the Spring of 2017. Ben also has experience in the nonprofit world, working with organizations like the Denver Foundation, Colorado Nonprofit Association, and the Open Media Foundation, which he hopes can aid him in being an asset to the ACLU of Colorado. Once again, Ben is honored to have been nominated for this position on the Board. He will work tirelessly to ensure that the ACLU of Colorado has continued success in the present, and a secure future.