DENVER – ACLU of Colorado is pleased to announce Deborah J. Richardson as its new Executive Director. She will lead the organization in its mission to protect, defend and extend the civil rights and civil liberties of all people in Colorado. Most recently, Ms. Richardson was the Executive Director of the International Human Trafficking Institute of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta and was formerly its Executive Vice President. She will officially assume the position of ACLU of Colorado’s Executive Director on March 1, 2021.

“I am honored that the Board of Directors has selected me as the next Executive Director of the ACLU of Colorado,” said Richardson. “There is still work ahead in protecting and advancing civil liberties and rights for all. The deep fissures in our nation that surfaced in 2020 remain. It is our imperative to not only shine a light on these disparities but to correct them.”
Ms. Richardson has more than three decades of experience in transformative non-profit executive leadership in global, national, and local organizations working to advance civil and human rights for non-dominant identity groups. Richardson is a nationally recognized expert and advocate in advancing justice for women and their families, convening diverse, cross-cultural, community-based coalitions committed to equitable societies.

“We are confident that Deborah’s visionary leadership style, history of consensus building, commitment to social justice, and lived and professional experiences fighting for civil and human rights will be a powerful combination as our organization navigates this critical juncture in our nation's history. She has displayed international leadership on issues of gender and racial equity, and we look forward to her serving as a catalyst for even more transformational change from the ACLU of Colorado,” said Maurice “Scotty” Scott, M.D, Chair of the ACLU of Colorado Board of Directors.

Deborah J. Richardson is a native of Atlanta, Georgia and her lived observations and direct experiences informed her deep commitment to social change. “Growing up in Atlanta, the think tank of the American Civil Rights Movement, I was heavily influenced by the active engagement of my parents, and every adult I knew,” shared Ms. Richardson. “My own participation began at the age of 14 when I was among a group of students who integrated Atlanta Public Schools. My activism continued throughout college and my career.” Ms. Richardson has also served as the Chief Executive Officer of The Atlanta Women’s Foundation and as Chief Program Officer of the Women’s Funding Network in San Francisco, California.

“Deborah has the unique skills of a visionary leader who builds consensus and also implements a plan and achieves its goals. She is a well-respected leader and mentor,” said the Honorable Shirley C. Franklin, National Center for Civil and Human Rights Board Chair and former Mayor of Atlanta. “Her commitment to social justice is demonstrated in her work and in her life.”


ACLU of Colorado is the state’s oldest civil rights organization, protecting and defending the civil rights of all Coloradans through litigation, education and advocacy.