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 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. She previously worked for Artforum International Magazine in New York City. Vanessa received a Bachelor of Fine Art from the University of North Texas and was a Norfolk Residency Fellow at Yale University. She currently lives in Denver with her husband Pablo, and their two dogs Deedee and Osito.

 Rachel Pryor-Lease, Director of Philanthropy

RachelRachel Pryor-Lease is the Director of Philanthropy 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.

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.

Deirdre Brooks, Communications Associate 

Deirdre began working in nonprofits in 2008 as an asset based community development trainee. They’ve worked in education, community development, policy and design over the years always focusing on social justice in the larger community. After working with a youth justice non-profit around policy education, Deirdre joined the ACLU as a communications associate. They’ve lived and worked in Denver for over 11 years.

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.

Jason Chavez, Major Gifts Officer 

Jason Chavez is the Major Gifts Officer for the ACLU of Colorado. Before joining the ACLU team, Jason worked as Director of Artist, Venue & Festival Relations for the Love Hope Strength Foundation coordinating bone marrow donor registration drives in an attempt to identify life-saving marrow donors for blood disorder patients in need of transplants. Prior to this role, he booked and promoted concerts at music venues along Colorado’s Front Range as Talent Buyer for Soda Jerk Presents – Colorado’s leading independent concert promoter. In 2010, Jason received a Bachelor of Science in Music with emphasis in business from the University of Colorado at Denver, where he moved in 2006 from the Pacific Northwest. Outside of work, you’ll find him backpacking, snowboarding, rock climbing or playing bass with his band at a gig or rehearsal.

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 Associate

Helen had a peripatetic childhood, attending seven schools in six countries on four continents. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Colorado College where she received the Fred Sondermann Award for excellence in political science as well as four grants to fund independent research on immigration and political ideology in France and the US. Her work experience spans academics, international affairs and American politics. At the American Embassy in Mozambique, Helen interned in Public Affairs and in Public Health Communications, as well as for Congresswoman DeGette and Senator Bennet in Denver. Helen was a research assistant at the Marshall Center for European Security Studies in Germany and the Political Science department at Colorado College, where she was also a staff writer for The Catalyst newspaper. Helen founded the Democratic Dialogue Project, which fosters open dialogue between the Air Force Academy and Colorado College. In her free time, she loves to read, write fiction, travel, and explore beautiful Colorado.

Justine Gutierrez, Legal Assistant

Justine Gutierrez joined the ACLU as the Legal Assistant in July of 2019. In her position, she assists the Legal Director and Staff Attorneys with various Legal Department projects. Originally from Washington State, Justine earned her Paralegal Certificate there in 2011 and moved to Colorado Springs shortly thereafter. She has experience in personal injury, medical and legal malpractice, and Social Security Disability. In her free time, Justine enjoys the outdoors, rooting for the Seahawks, and spending time with her partner and their dog, Shandy.

Lizzy Hinkley, Reproductive Rights Policy Counsel 

Lizzy joined the ACLU of Colorado in December 2017. Lizzy previously practiced as a legal services attorney years, representing indigent clients with legal issues involving eviction, foreclosure, consumer protection, and immigration. She clerked for Hon. Frederick H. Weisberg of the D.C. Superior Court after graduating from University of Virginia School of Law in 2012. In law school, Lizzy served as a Dillard Fellow for the Legal Research and Writing program, was a Public Interest Law Association grant recipient, and interned at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Department of Justice, and the Legal Aid Justice Center in Charlottesville. Originally from the Boston suburbs, Lizzy 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. She holds a certificate in investigative research and is a lover of all things repro rights.

Deanna Hirsch, Media Strategist 

 Deanna Hirsch is the Media Strategist at the ACLU of Colorado. Deanna graduated from with a Master of Science degree from Columbia Journalism School and was awarded honors in reporting, media law and the master’s project. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Metropolitan State University of Denver where she graduated Cum Laude and was the recipient of The Denver Foundation Colorado Press Association Scholarship. Prior to joining the organization, Deanna was the editor-in-chief of Metrosphere magazine and co-host and producer of Daytime Duo. She has reported and published articles for Evergreen Newspapers; Canyon Courier, Columbine Courier and High Timber Times, Recovering Yogi, and The Uptowner. Deanna also wrote and helped publish, Not Who I Pictured, a collection of non-fiction short stories that became a number one new release on Amazon. A New York native, she now lives in Denver with her husband, daughter and Yorkie

Jessica Howard, Community Education Manager

Jessica Howard is the Community Education Manager for the ACLU of Colorado. Prior to her new role, she worked as the affiliate’s paralegal for six years. In her role as Education Manager, she oversees the development and implementation of public education programs, including “Know Your Rights” training workshops.  In addition to her work at the ACLU,  she is a passionate disability rights advocate, having served on the Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council, Denver Public School’s Special Education Advisory Council (SEAC), and Disability Law Colorado’s Protection and Advocacy System for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI). Jessica holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Colorado and a Paralegal Certificate from the Community College of Aurora. Her other interests include photography, hiking, and trying new foods.

 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 has served as chair of the Denver LGBTQ Commission and president of the Colorado LGBT Bar Association. He is currently on the board of the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado. Arash 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 and the University of North Carolina, 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.


Kassandra Rendón-Morales, Reproductive Rights Campaign Coordinator 

Kassandra Rendón-Morale is the Reproductive Rights Campaign Coordinator. She fights every day to make sure Coloradan’s reproductive freedom is protected. Before joining ACLU of Colorado, she worked with COLOR, a reproductive justice Latina led, Latina serving grassroots organization. Her worked revolved around teaching comprehensive sexual education to ages 9-21, organized and managed year-round issue-based campaigns in the Westminster area and worked directly with Latina youth around leadership development and advocacy. She holds a bachelor’s in Women’s Studies and Spanish from the University of Nevada, Reno. She is passionate about mobilizing young people and disrupting the school to prison pipeline. She truly believes young queer womxn of color are the future and believes providing them with tools and access will aid to their success. When she’s not working, Kassandra loves to cook, host and spend time with people that make her feel whole. She loves listening to music, reading about conspiracy theories and learning. 

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.

Ana Temu, Immigration Campaign Coordinator

Ana Temu is a community activist, political strategist, and coffee maniac. She is a first-generation citizen with roots from Sinaloa, Mexico and Guastetoya, Guatemala. Ana was raised knowing the hardship immigrants face in this country, which is why she started becoming politically engaged through immigrant rights activism helping pass countless pro-immigrant bills in the state, founded a scholarship fund for undocumented students in Boulder County, and worked on immigration reform at the national level with United We Dream. Ana knows that one of the best ways to change policy is to have someone in office that will champion the issues of marginalized folks, so shifted her unapologetic activism to campaigning–running successful campaigns at all levels including gubernatorial and presidential. On her spare time, Ana helps to train others to run for office, support and advise people starting their campaigns. Ana and her family still live in fear of being separated by the harsh immigrant sentiments of today, so she passionately works to ensure immigrants have a community to thrive in through policy and coalition work.

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.

Arielle Herzberg, Legal Fellow

Arielle Herzberg started a year-long legal fellowship at the ACLU of Colorado in April 2019.  Arielle previously interned at the ACLU of Colorado, where she worked on cases challenging bail fees, and she found her way back to the ACLU after receiving a public interest fellowship award from Simpson Thacher & Barlett LLP.  As a former associate at Simpson Thacher, Arielle worked on teams that investigated the handling of sexual harassment allegations, represented criminal defendants, and challenged non-compliant public schools to provide equal athletic opportunities for girls in accordance with Title IX.  Prior to working at Simpson Thacher, Arielle served as a law clerk to Judge Stanley Chesler in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.  Arielle graduated from University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she served as a client advocate helping indigent individuals with child custody, child support, and protection from abuse cases.  Arielle is excited and proud to be part of the ACLU of Colorado team.