Nov. 4—The American Civil Liberties Union of Maine has hired a new executive director.
Arthur Padilla will lead the organization beginning Monday. Padilla has worked in Arizona, Alaska and Washington, D.C., on a variety of civil liberties issues. He's worked to improve the conditions of incarcerated people, led efforts for emergency preparedness during the COVID-19 pandemic and advised the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and the Alaska Humanities Forum, the ACLU said in announcing Padilla's hiring.
These experiences will prove helpful as Padilla takes over one of Maine's most vocal organizations for civil liberties, board President Jodi Nofsinger said in a written statement from the ACLU of Maine on Friday.
"Arthur's advocacy and hard work have made countless lives better," Nofsinger said. "We're excited to have him on board and believe that he is the best person to lead our organization in our work on criminal legal reform, racial justice, voting rights and protecting the rights of marginalized people."
The ACLU of Maine is active at the State House, where members have advocated for legal reform for currently and formerly incarcerated Mainers. The organization also is behind several lawsuits on behalf of incarcerated Mainers, including one against the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services alleging the agency is not providing constitutionally mandated counsel to low-income defendants. The organization also has partnered with other groups to advocate for the rights of tribal Mainers, asylum seekers and other marginalized residents.
Padilla says he's excited to build upon the ACLU's work.
"Maine and our country face serious challenges, not the least of which is the ongoing threat to democracy," Padilla said in a statement Friday. "I'm proud to be a part of this important work."
According to his profile on the Association of Consultants to Nonprofits, Padilla's community impact work began in southern Arizona, where he led an effort to reduce HIV infections in Pima County. He led other collaborative projects supporting LGBTQ youth in Washington, D.C., and people addicted to methamphetamines in Seattle, and helped open community therapy for first-time mental health patients in northern New Mexico. For the last decade, Padilla has consulted nonprofits on ways to oppose racism and oppression.
Alison Beyea left the post in March after leading the organization for more than eight years. A statement at the time noted Beyea had doubled the organization's staffing and led "one of the most diverse teams in Maine through some of the most pressing civil rights and civil liberties challenges the state and nation have faced."
Beyea supported efforts to close the state's only youth prison, ban Native mascots in Maine schools, end the automatic suspension of drivers with non-driving related offenses, bail reform and campaigns to inform Mainers of the disproportionate impact COVID-19 had on marginalized residents.