Colorado Rights Blog

Nathan Woodliff-Stanley By: Nathan Woodliff-Stanley 6.9.2015

ACLU of Colorado Remembers Martha Sattler

It is with a very heavy heart that we at the ACLU of Colorado mark the passing on Sunday, June 7, of Martha Sattler, a lifelong champion of civil rights and civil liberties whose selfless dedication to justice, in large measure, made our work possible.

Martha Sattler croppedMartha’s contributions to the ACLU of Colorado were immense and indispensable. She served multiple terms on the Board of Directors, worked as both Intake Director and Associate Director, organized volunteer and fundraising events, and represented Cuban refugees before INS panels on behalf of the ACLU.  As chair of the Amicus fundraising campaign, Martha helped to raise more charitable contributions for the ACLU of Colorado than any other volunteer in the history of our organization.

In addition to her work for the ACLU, Martha volunteered for many other organizations.  Among them was Project Safeguard, where she advocated for battered women in restraining order hearings, and Community Shares, a grassroots organization that supports local investment in a variety of Colorado non-profits.  She also served on the Board of Directors for Summer Scholars, a literacy program for at-risk children, and she worked on special education issues at the Legal Center, which assists people with disabilities.

In 2000, Martha received the Martha Radetsky Award in recognition of decades of service to the ACLU of Colorado and the cause of civil liberties.  In receiving the award, she said, “The ACLU’s mission of defending and expanding the rights that the Constitution guarantees citizens is the driving force in devoting my time and energy to the ACLU.”  Not only did the ACLU benefit immensely from Martha’s time and energy, but all who met and worked with her were forever changed by her drive, her commitment, and her wry sense of humor.

We send our heartfelt condolences to Martha’s husband Bruce, himself an essential part of the ACLU of Colorado family as a long-time board member, contributor, leader, and volunteer. While we are all saddened by Martha’s passing, we know that her legacy will live on in the hearts of all who were touched by her extraordinary life.

At Martha’s insistence, there will be no memorial service. The Sattler family has generously requested that contributions in memory of Martha be made to the ACLU of Colorado.  Memorial contributions can be made at:



  • Anthony Martinez is 84-years-old and suffering from renal failure, as well as other serious medical conditions including dementia. He is currently incarcerated in the Sterling Correctional Facility, site of one of Colorado’s largest COVID-19 outbreaks with almost 600 active COVID-19 cases. He and his family are understandably terrified that he will catch the virus and die.

    In the midst of this public health crisis, incarcerated people as vulnerable as Anthony, could and should be immediately released to safely live out their remaining years with family.

    Read more about Anthony Martinez and other at-risk incarcerated people. 

  • Ronald Johnson is pre-diabetic, suffers from asthma and high blood pressure, and regularly uses an inhaler to breathe. His age and respiratory ailments put him at risk of serious illness and death if he contracts COVID-19. With over hundreds of active cases in Colorado’s prisons, his family fears he will not make it out alive. His daughter, Amber, says, “In prison, he can’t protect himself and he can’t social distance. My deep fear is that my dad will die in prison. That is an awful, traumatic reality to consider. My chest is tight just thinking about how quickly it spreads and how vulnerable he is.”

    Governor Hickenlooper shortened his sentence following testimony from family, friends and correctional officers advocating for his early release. Yet, he is still eight years away from parole. While he remains in prison, COVID-19 continues to spread. Ronald’s three siblings, four children and four grandchildren are desperate for his release.

    Read more about Ronald Johnson and other at-risk incarcerated people.

  • Tuesday Olson knew her pregnancy was in trouble and tried to access hospital care as soon as possible. But there was a problem: she was in jail. This is her story.
  • It’s time to end the death penalty in Colorado. Family members who lost loved ones to murder speak out against an unjust and broken system.