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.  

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. 

John Krieger, Director of Campaigns

JohnJohn Krieger is the Director of Campaigns 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. 

Vanessa Michel, Director of Communications

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

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. 

Julian Camera, Administrative Assistant

Julian Camera joined the ACLU as an Administrative Assistant in March 2018. In that position, he assists the Deputy Director, Legal Assistant, the Directors of Philanthropy, as well as other various departments. Julian received a degree in Communications and Anthropology at the University of Colorado Denver and was a part of the Denver Foundations Non-profit Internship program. Being a Denver native and a strong advocate of civil rights, Julian is proud to be a part of the ACLU of Colorado.

Becca Curry, Criminal Justice Research & Policy Counsel

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.

Helen Griffiths, Public Policy Fellow

Helen graduated from Colorado College with a degree in Political Science.





Elizabeth P. Hinkley, Esq., Reproductive Rights Policy Counsel

Lizzy joins the ACLU of Colorado from her native Massachusetts, where she practiced as a legal services attorney for four years, representing indigent clients in state and federal court with a variety of civil legal issues, including housing, foreclosure, consumer protection, and immigration. A 2012 graduate of University of Virginia School of Law, Lizzy clerked for Hon. Frederick H. Weisberg of the D.C. Superior Court. In law school, Lizzy was selected to be a Dillard Fellow, serving as a teaching assistant for the Legal Research and Writing program. A two-time Public Interest Law Association grant recipient, Lizzy volunteered at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Department of Justice, and did clinical work at the Legal Aid Justice Center in Charlottesville, VA. She graduated summa cum laude from the George Washington University with a B.A. in International Affairs, and worked as a paralegal at the Department of Justice for two years prior to law school. Lizzy holds a certificate in investigative research, is conversationally fluent in Spanish, and is an enthusiastic follower of local and national politics. Lizzy is thrilled to join her partner and bulldog in the Denver area, and is looking forward to taking advantage of the many outdoor opportunities sunny Colorado has to offer.

Jessica Howard, Paralegal

Jessica Howard is the Paralegal for the ACLU of Colorado.  Prior to working with the ACLU, Jessica interned for Colorado State Senator Gail Schwartz in 2003 and interned for Colorado Legal Services in 2009. She received her degree in Political Science at the University of Colorado and her Paralegal Certificate at the Community College of Aurora. She is passionate about improving the lives of individuals with disabilities and currently serves on the governor-appointed Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council and Disability Law Colorado’s Protection and Advocacy System for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI). Jessica is a Colorado native and currently lives in Denver with her husband and son.

 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 Chair of the Denver LGBTQ Commission and past president of the Colorado LGBT Bar Association. 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, Field Director

Delana Maynes is the Field Director 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.

Sara R. Neel, Staff Attorney


Sara Neel was hired as staff attorney at the ACLU of Colorado in October 2011. A 2005 graduate of the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, Sara began her legal career at KILLMER, LANE & NEWMAN, LLP. At the firm, she represented clients in civil rights cases involving constitutional law, federal civil rights statutes and Colorado State law. The Colorado Trial Lawyers Association twice recognized Sara’s work at the firm, including as a co-recipient of the Access to Justice Award for her work defending detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Sara is a former President of the Colorado Plaintiff Employment Lawyers Association and a former Vice-Chair of the Civil Rights Committee of the Colorado Bar Association. Sara enjoys spending time in the mountains skiing and rock climbing with her husband and son.

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.

Jennifer Samano, Campaign Coordinator

Jennifer Samano is a community organizer and civil rights advocate living in Denver, CO. Prior to working with the ACLU, Jennifer worked as a campaign organizer for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains to develop an accountability campaign, which worked in coalition with community partners to mobilize Coloradans in defense of the Affordable Care Act. She also organized for the 2016 election cycle in the Sixth Congressional District. Jennifer previously worked as an intern with SEIU Local 105, where she helped in the fight for fair wages. She is relentlessly dedicated to Coloradans’ voting rights, women’s access to health care, and independent journalism. 

Hanna St. Marie, Legal Fellow

Hanna joined the ACLU of Colorado in October 2018 for a year-long legal fellowship. Hanna graduated from Columbia Law School, where she served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Columbia Human Rights Law Review. Prior to law school, Hanna taught 6th grade English in Oakland, California as a Teach for America corps member and worked for Union Square Hospitality Group in New York City. Hanna received her B.A. in English and French from Amherst College.

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.

Justo Yanez, Major Gifts Officer

Justo Yanez

Justo Yanez is the Major Gifts Officer at the ACLU of Colorado. Before joining this organization, Justo was a public school teacher for Denver Public Schools. Finding his true passion for social justice and fundraising in the classroom, he decided to leave the education field and work in the field of development. Though he is out of the classroom, his interests in storytelling fuel his dedication to developing authentic relationships with whomever he meets. Outside of work, Justo is often entertaining his 9-year-old Border Collie Izzy or he is found in his kitchen practicing his baking skills inspired by baking competition shows on Netflix.