Udi Ofer, who challenged NYPD’s Stop-and-Frisk and over-policing of schools as NYCLU advocacy director, will lead New Jersey affiliate
NEWARK – The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (ACLU-NJ) is pleased to announce that Udi Ofer, the advocacy director of the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), will lead the organization as executive director starting Feb. 19.
“I am thrilled and honored to be a part of the ACLU of New Jersey, which is one of the strongest ACLU affiliates in the country and has an incredible history of advancing and protecting civil rights and civil liberties,” said Ofer, 38. “My goal will be to build on the work of the ACLU of New Jersey in the courtrooms, on the streets, and in the halls of the legislatures to defend and advance the rights and freedoms of all New Jersey residents. I will work tirelessly to elevate the voices of the 15,000 ACLU members who call New Jersey home.”
Ofer has been with the NYCLU since 2003, joining as the director of the New York Bill of Rights Defense Campaign, which focused on civil liberties and national security issues. In 2004, the New York City Council honored the campaign for its outstanding service to the city and state.
In 2008, he founded the advocacy department of the NYCLU, which has been recognized nationally for its creative and integrated advocacy.
Ofer oversaw major grassroots victories during his tenure at the NYCLU, particularly in the areas of racial justice, police accountability, immigrants’ rights and students’ rights. He documented the impact of and challenged zero-tolerance school discipline policies and policing of public schools. He spearheaded the movement to pass one of the nation’s most comprehensive reporting laws on arrests and suspensions in schools through the New York City Council. He also exposed and reformed the discriminatory practices of school districts in New York state that demanded proof of immigration status from families attempting to enroll their children in public schools.
Ofer has also led the NYCLU’s policy efforts to reform the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices by pushing for groundbreaking legislation that would ban racial profiling, institute protections against unlawful stops and searches, and create an NYPD Inspector General’s Office.
“Udi has been a forceful and vocal defender of civil liberties in New York, and his gifts as an advocate will be a great asset to New Jersey,” said Frank Corrado, president of the ACLU-NJ Board of Trustees. “He is a visionary, and we are very excited to see where he takes the ACLU of New Jersey with his passion and talent.”
Born in Israel, Ofer settled in the United States at the age of 10 with his family, an experience that led him to become an advocate for others. His childhood in Brooklyn instilled in Ofer a love for American values and traditions, as well as a sense of compassion for the hurdles faced by anyone considered outside of the mainstream. Out of his personal history grew a desire to fight for the rights of members of society who disproportionately find their rights denied.
He attended University at Buffalo, where he received his bachelor’s degree in political science and international studies in 1997. Ofer received his law degree from Fordham University School of Law in 2001 and in 2007 received the “Distinguished Graduate Award” from its Stein Scholars Program.
After graduating from law school Ofer received a Skadden Fellowship to work as a staff attorney at My Sisters’ Place in Westchester County. There, he represented women and advocated on their behalf, helping victims of abuse navigate their way through the immigration and public benefits systems.
Ofer, who has lived in New Jersey previously, said he looks forward to learning more about the state in-depth as he meets with ACLU-NJ members, allied organizations, and legislators.
“New Jersey is one of the most exciting and dynamic states for defending constitutional rights,” said Ofer. “Its diversity – both in population and geography – offers unique opportunities to promote and defend civil liberties and civil rights as new challenges emerge.”
In addition to his work at the NYCLU, Ofer is also an adjunct professor at New York Law School, where he teaches a course on public policy and social change. He will replace the ACLU-NJ’s previous executive director, Deborah Jacobs, who left in July after leading the ACLU-NJ for 13 years to become Vice President for Advocacy and Policy at the Ms. Foundation in Brooklyn.