In every era of American history, the government has tried to expand its authority at the expense of individual rights. The ACLU-WV exists to make sure that doesn’t happen, and fight back when it does. The ACLU-WV is devoted exclusively to protecting the basic civil liberties of all in the state of West Virginia, and extending them to groups that have traditionally been denied them. In its more than five decades of existence, the ACLU-WV has become widely recognized as the state’s foremost advocate of individual rights.
The American Civil Liberties Union has had a presence in West Virginia since 1920, its first year as an organization, when miners were attempting to organize for the purpose of collective bargaining with coal mine owners and operators. The state tried to thwart that initiative by jailing the miners and any other sympathizers, and the ACLU sent lawyers to West Virginia to represent them. In 1943, at the height of nationalism during World War II, the ACLU represented several West Virginia school children in the U.S. Supreme Court to prevent the school board from requiring them to dispute the teachings of their church by pledging allegiance to the American flag. We won in both those instances and in many others.Today the ACLU-WV confronts both traditional and new threats to civil liberties on many fronts. Advanced technologies presage new systems that have the capacity to either diminish or expand rights. Meanwhile, our society’s most intractable problems remain age-old ones: racism, sexism, homophobia, and religious intolerance. During periods of national crisis and war, First Amendment rights, privacy and due process are typically among the first casualties. The ACLU-WV’s mission remains realizing the promise of the Bill of Rights for all and expanding the reach of its guarantees to new areas.
President: Jeff Martin
Vice President Membership: Sonya Armstrong
Secretary: Anna Osborne
Vice President Development: Naomi Cohen
Treasurer: Chuck E. Smith
National Board Rep: Frank Calabrese
Others: Sue Barazi, Barbara Bayes, Marybeth Beller, Melissa Ellsworth, Rosemary Ketchum, Karen Kunz, Jack Magan, Jamal Mustafa, Jennifer Oliva, Cassie Nicholas-Patterson, Tina Russell, Lida Shepherd, Dominique Villasenor
Prior to joining the ACLU, Joseph was the General Counsel of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE), where he coordinated the union’s legal activities nationwide and advised the union’s leadership and staff on organizing, negotiation and representation strategy. Before working for UE, Joseph represented public housing tenants associations and individuals facing housing crises as an Equal Justice Works Fellow and Staff Attorney at Florida Rural Legal Services. Joseph graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and summa cum laude from Washington and Jefferson College, where he was valedictorian. Joseph lives in Charleston with his wife, two young sons and a moody cat.
Policy Director: Eli Baumwell
Eli is originally from Pittsburgh, PA. He graduated from Cornell University in 2006 with a BA in Government. He received his J.D. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 2010, and simultaneously earned Master’s in Public and International Affairs. While in law school, Eli interned with the Citizen’s Police Review Board in Pittsburgh. He has spent the past 5 years representing disabled individuals in claims for Social Security Disability benefits with firms in Washington, D.C. and then in Charleston, WV. He currently lives in Charleston with his wife, a Charleston native, and triplet sons.
Communications Director: Tim Ward
Tim is a West Virginia native hailing from the great city of Huntington. He graduated from from Marshall University with a B.A. in both Political Science and Spanish. He received his M.A. from Marshall University in Political Science with an emphasis in Public Administration. In addition to his work at the ACLU, he is the founder and director of the Appalachian Queer Film Festival, the only LGBTQ film festival in West Virginia. He lives with his partner, three cats and a dog in Morgantown, WV.
Community Outreach Coordinator: Mollie Kennedy
Mollie graduated from West Virginia University with a B.M. in Music Education and received her M.A. in World Languages, Literatures and Linguistics with a focus on Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). She has worked in a variety of roles in the education field, instructing and training groups ranging from kindergarteners to senior citizens. Mollie lives in Morgantown with her husband, cat and dog.
Office Manager: Monica Neal
Monica has been with the ACLU of WV for over 15 years. Monica’s natural organization, attention to detail, and encycolpedic knowledge of affiliate history ensure our organization runs smoothly. Monica is the proud mother of two and grandmother of three.
Our chapters are volunteer-led and act as local watchdogs for civil liberties that address civil rights and civil liberties issues affecting local communities, represent the ACLU in local matters, and maintain our presence in communities across the state. The ACLU of West Virginia is also represented on college and university campuses through campus chapters. Get involved in a chapter by attending a meeting, helping with an event, or volunteering at one of our many tabling opportunities. For information on how to start a chapter in your area, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
WVU Law School Student Association of ACLU-WV