DENVER – ACLU of Colorado proudly announces Taylor Pendergrass as its new Director of Advocacy and Strategic Alliances. The veteran strategist and civil rights attorney joins ACLU of Colorado after more than 15 years fighting for transformative social change, racial justice and equality, and leading teams to policy success at the local, state, and federal level. A nationally recognized thought leader and speaker on embracing a new vision for community safety and dismantling mass incarceration, Pendergrass spent half a decade working across the country with ACLU’s national Campaign for Smart Justice and launched innovative initiatives to upend the historical dynamic of local prosecutor elections and to transform policing.
“Taylor’s expertise in developing advocacy campaigns have helped shrink the footprint of the criminal legal system, and repair harms done by decades of mass incarceration and generations of racial injustice,” said Anthony Romero, ACLU Executive Director.
As Deputy Director of Campaigns, Pendergrass was a key architect of the ACLU’s nationwide multi-year political strategy on criminal legal system reform. He helped launch the ACLU’s first-ever electoral strategy in local candidate races. As Senior Attorney for the New York Civil Liberties Union, Pendergrass filed, litigated and won ground-breaking class action judgments and settlements in housing discrimination, stop-and-frisk, protest, and prisoners’ rights cases.
“In over 15 years of advocacy, my proudest moments have not come from big policy victories,” Pendergrass said. “They have come from witnessing the durable power we have built while winning those fights — creating powerful coalitions and relationships, empowering community-based advocates, centering the leadership of directly impacted people that transform culture and far outlast any single policy goal. These are the formative experiences I will harness to build upon the innovative advocacy program that came before me.”
Pendergrass began his career as a staff attorney at the ACLU of Colorado where he created and led the ACLU's protest defense project in partnership with law school legal clinics and criminal defense bar. His writing has been featured in Slate, Vox, and other national publications. Pendergrass’ book Six by Ten, a collection of first-person oral histories describing the horrors of solitary confinement, was published by Haymarket Press in 2018. He is a graduate of the University of Colorado School of Law.
“Now is the time for transformational and audacious public policy successes that build a more equitable and just world,” said Deborah Richardson, ACLU of Colorado Executive Director. “Taylor’s track record for working successfully with coalitions across the country and centering people most impacted by systemic inequalities will be an asset to our team culture, to Colorado and to the world we’re striving to create. Onward.”