Colorado Rights Blog


  • One year ago, thousands of Coloradans marched in a historic display of resistance. At the ACLU of Colorado we carried that spirit throughout the year, fighting on many fronts for civil liberties. We won’t stop now.

  • By canceling DACA, Trump has put 800,000 young people at risk of losing their jobs and being deported from the only country they know as home. Passing the bipartisan Dream Act would protect them. We asked four Dreamers why the Dream Act is important to them and their future.

  • James Fisher spoke at the ACLU of Colorado Bill of Rights Dinner about how he and the ACLU are working together to stop the criminalization of poverty for the thousands of Coloradans who are trapped in debtors’ prisons.

  • Our membership has quadrupled in the last six months, making it possible to do more than ever to protect civil rights and civil liberties in Colorado. Thank you to all our new members, supporters, and donors, and the ones who’ve been with us for years.


Nathan Woodliff-Stanley, Executive Director

NathanNathan Woodliff-Stanley became Executive Director of the ACLU of Colorado in October, 2012. Nathan is an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister who served for eight years in social justice ministry at Jefferson Unitarian Church in Golden, CO prior to being hired at the ACLU. Before moving to Colorado in 2002, Nathan served for 10 years as the founding Executive Director of the Mississippi Center for Nonprofits in Jackson, MS, a statewide association providing management support for charitable organizations. He has served on more than a dozen nonprofit boards over the past thirty-five years, including nine years as a Board member of The Interfaith Alliance of Colorado and Chair of its Public Policy Commission. Originally from Iowa, Nathan earned a BA from Swarthmore College and Masters degrees from Yale Divinity School and the Yale School of Management. His wife Ruth serves as Canon to the Ordinary for the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado, and Nathan and Ruth have two college-age adult sons.

Stephen Meswarb, Deputy Director

StephenColorado native Stephen Meswarb returned home to work for the ACLU of Colorado in June 2010, bringing with him nearly 20 years of non-profit fundraising experience, including more than eight years working for the national ACLU. He spent three years managing the ACLU’s $335 million Leading Freedom Forward campaign, the largest campaign on behalf of civil rights and civil liberties in the country’s history. He is now responsible for managing all aspects of operations, finance and administration.  

John Krieger, Director of Communications and Advocacy

JohnJohn Krieger is the Director of Communications and Advocacy for the ACLU of Colorado. Previously, he was a staff attorney, lobbyist, and Communications Director for the United States Public Interest Research Group in Washington D.C., where he led successful media and grassroots organizing campaigns on issues ranging from public health and product safety to eliminating waste and fraud in federal contracting. He has secured quotes and placed media in several national and local outlets, including the New York Times, Associated Press, Denver Post, and the Wall Street Journal. He directed a national field campaign to create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which The Hill recognized as one of the top 10 lobbying victories of 2010. He earned his law degree from the University of Richmond and a Master’s of Law specialized in International Protection of Human Rights from American University. He has served on the Alumni Board of Directors for Flagler College, where he earned an undergraduate degree in journalism and public relations, and he was awarded the Young Alumni Achievement Award in 2010.

Denise Maes, Public Policy Director


Denise Maes is the Public Policy Director of the ACLU of Colorado. In that role, she oversees all legislative work that effects civil liberties at the State and local level. She is the primary person overseeing all legislative initiatives at the state Capitol during the legislative session. Denise also sits on various municipal boards and commissions that review police and jail-related matters. She is a frequent panelist on civil liberties-related matters.

Before joining the ACLU, Denise was Director of Operations for Vice President Joe Biden. In that role, she managed, the Vice President’s budget, travel, and personnel. She also served as General Counsel for the Office of Administration under President Barack Obama, where she managed White House contracts and personnel issues.

Mark Silverstein, Legal Director

MarkMark Silverstein is a 1989 graduate of the Illinois College of Law. He served for a year as law clerk to Judge James Moran of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and another year as law clerk for Judge Harry Pregerson of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In 1991, he began working as a staff attorney for the ACLU of Southern California in Los Angeles. Since 1996, he has worked as Legal Director of the ACLU of Colorado, where he oversees the ACLU’s litigation in a wide variety of cases raising issues of civil liberties and constitutional rights.

Becca Curry, Research and Policy Associate

bcurryBecca Curry began at the ACLU of Colorado in November 2015. She previously served as the Director of Policy and Advocacy at the ACLU of Mississippi, focusing on police bodycams, LGBT student rights and Medicaid expansion. Becca graduated from Loyola University New Orleans College of Law. A recipient of Loyola’s Gillis Long Public Service Award, she volunteered with the ACLU of Louisiana, the Jefferson Parish Public Defender’s Office, and Loyola’s Stuart H. Smith Law Clinic. She also served as an overseas intern with International Bridges to Justice in Cambodia, focusing on the systemic issues of mass incarceration and torture of criminal detainees in rural prisons. Originally from Houston, TX, Becca received an undergraduate degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Colorado. She enjoys teaching yoga and spending time with her dog Cleo.

Patricia DeLuna-Zickefoose, Accountant

TrishPatricia is the staff accountant for the ACLU since 2006. She has had her own accounting practice since 1984 and other non-profit clients include the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association, The Denver Justice Council, the Cherry Creek Arts Festival, and Wedontwaste, as well as for-profit corporations, partnerships and individuals. A California Bay Area native, she has resided in Colorado since 1983.


Alejandra Garza, Field Director

Alejandra Garza is the Field Director for the ACLU of Colorado. Her main focus is developing and implementing strategic advocacy, education and mobilization campaigns while working with diverse organizations and individuals to further the ACLU mission. Before joining the ACLU, Alejandra served as Communications Director for Denver Public Schools under Superintendent Michael Bennet and Communications Director for the Colorado Senate Majority. In addition, Alejandra is a former television news reporter and producer for NBC KOAA 5 in Southern Colorado and Telemundo KVDA 60 in San Antonio, Texas.

Jill Higham, Director of Philanthropy

Jill Higham is a 2006 graduate of the University of Wyoming College of Law. Her experience in creating impact through philanthropy includes directing multi-million dollar fundraising campaigns at public universities. In addition to Jill’s fundraising expertise, her background includes managing her own criminal defense law firm, serving as an adjunct law and criminal justice professor, and teaching at-risk high school students. Jill is currently chair-elect of the NextFifty Initiative’s board of directors and is a former board member of Crossroads Safehouse in Fort Collins and the Laramie County Community College Advisory Board in Wyoming. In her free time, she volunteers with various social justice causes and loves spending time with her two grown sons, Marcco and Matteo, and her sweet pets.

Jessica Howard, Legal Assistant

Jessica Howard is the Legal Assistant for the ACLU of Colorado. Prior to working with the ACLU, Jessica worked as the Legislative Intern for Colorado State Senator Gail Schwartz in 2003. She also worked as the Legal Intern for Colorado Legal Services in 2009. Jessica received her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Colorado and is currently pursuing her Certificate in Paralegal Studies. A Colorado native, Jessica is excited to work for the ACLU of Colorado because of their “continued dedication to protect the civil liberties of all citizens in Colorado.”

 Arash Jahanian, Staff Attorney

Arash Jahanian joined the ACLU of Colorado as a staff attorney in May 2017. He previously worked at the civil rights firm Rathod | Mohamedbhai LLC, where he represented victims of police brutality, prison abuse, and employment discrimination. Arash was one of the attorneys in the Wyoming marriage equality cases and is currently president of the Colorado LGBT Bar Association and Vice Chair of the Denver LGBTQ Commission. He was recognized as the Colorado Bar Association’s Outstanding Young Lawyer in 2015, and was part of three different teams winning the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association’s Case of the Year Award. A graduate of Georgetown Law, Arash has also worked as an associate in Crowell & Moring LLP’s Washington, DC office, a judicial clerk for the Honorable Wiley Y. Daniel of the United States District Court for the District of Colorado, and a middle school teacher in Chicago through Teach For America.

Delana Maynes, Reproductive Rights Campaign Coordinator

Delana Maynes is the Field Organizer for the ACLU of Colorado working to implement strategies to build wider public support for abortion rights in Colorado. Before joining the ACLU, Delana was the co-founder of a community group that led the fight to stop a voucher program in Douglas County schools. Delana holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Colorado, Denver. She lives in Highlands Ranch with her husband, two wonderful children, and a crazy dog.

Vanessa Michel, New Media Strategist

Vanessa Michel joined the ACLU of Colorado in April 2017 as the New Media Strategist. She previously worked for Artforum Magazine in New York. Vanessa graduated from the University of North Texas with a Bachelor of Fine Art and also received a fellowship to Yale University’s Norfolk Residency. She has exhibited her artwork in Santa Fe, San Diego, and New York and had her work featured on the cover of Pasatiempo magazine. She currently lives in Denver with her husband Pablo, and their two dogs Deedee and Osito.

Sara R. Neel, Staff Attorney

SaraNIn October 2011, Sara Neel was hired as staff attorney at the ACLU of Colorado, for the first time in our history bringing our cadre of legal eagles to three. Sara was an Associate Attorney at KILLMER, LANE & NEWMAN, LLP, where she represented clients in civil rights cases involving constitutional law, federal civil rights statues and Colorado State law. A graduate of Indiana University at Indianapolis where she received her Juris Doctorate, Neel is well-known for her defense of detainees at Guantanomo Bay, Cuba. That work earned her the Southern Center for Human Rights Frederick Douglass Human Rights Award. She was also a co-recipient of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association Access to Justice Award. A former President of the Colorado Plantiff Employment Lawyers Association and a former Vice-Chair of the Civil Rights Committee of the Colorado Bar Association, Neel also was once restaurant general manager at a Keystone, Colorado ski resort.

Caryn Osterman, Operations Manager

Caryn joined the ACLU of Colorado Development team in January of 2007. As Operations Manager since April 2010, she oversees the Legal Intake Department, coordinates the Education, Volunteer, IT and Human Resources programs and manages overall office operations. Caryn received her Bachelor’s degree in Nursing from the University of Massachusetts and an M.B.A. in Finance from the University of Colorado, Denver. A New York native, Caryn enjoys working on a variety of projects that support the ACLU’s mission and is honored to have the opportunity to work with the many wonderful and committed individuals who volunteer and support the organization. Caryn is a Child Care Health Consultant and the owner of CO2 Designs.

 Rachel Pryor-Lease, Associate Director of Philanthropy

RachelRachel Pryor-Lease is the Stewardship and Events Manager for the ACLU. She is responsible for supporting all fundraising efforts and organizing the annual Whitehead dinner. Prior to joining the Colorado office, she has worked for the ACLU of Washington, the LGBT Community Center of New York, and Nativity House, a daytime, drop-in homeless shelter in Tacoma, WA. She also had a second career as an NYC pastry chef. Rachel holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She grew up in Colorado but has lived on both the West and East coasts and is thrilled to be back home. She married her wife, Leah, in 2010 in Massachusetts, and they currently live in Denver with their twins Ari and Asher and their dog, Bubba.

Rebecca T. Wallace, Staff Attorney

RebeccaRebecca T. Wallace was hired as staff attorney at the ACLU of Colorado in August 2010. Rebecca had previously served on the organization’s Board of Directors and was a member of the Legal Panel. Prior to accepting her position at the ACLU, Rebecca was an attorney at the civil rights law firm of KILLMER, LANE & NEWMAN, LLP, where she devoted her practice to vindicating the rights of the underdog. Rebecca’s work at the firm was twice recognized by the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association, most recently as co-recipient of the Case of the Year Award for Hall v. Zavaras, holding a prison guard and the Colorado Department of Corrections responsible for the sexual assault of a female prisoner. In September 2010, LAW WEEK recognized Rebecca as one of Colorado’s Up and Coming Lawyers.

Emilia Delgado Heinz, Public Policy Fellow

Emilia Delgado Heinz joined the ACLU of Colorado as the public policy fellow in July 2017. She is responsible for research on current and emerging civil liberties issues within Colorado and supporting the public policy team. Previously, she has interned for Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement in Mysore, India, working to create a safe workplace for the organization’s women employees. She has also conducted original research on situational factors that determine perceptions of rape as well as the relationship between hegemonic masculinity and emotional vulnerability. Originally from Los Angeles, California, she received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Colorado College in 2017.