After the 2016 election, the ACLU of Maryland realized that we were in for the fight of our lives to protect the civil liberties we hold dear. However, we also received an enormous wave of support. Thousands of Marylanders understood that our rights and liberties were at risk and felt the need to be educated, get involved, and take action.
With this momentum, our team knew we needed to advance our engagement strategies. We needed to better support Marylanders' activism and organizing by more intentionally connecting with many of these activists, organizers and community leaders on the ground, where they have been engaging in this work for the long haul. We needed to engage with the thousands of new ACLU members (and their neighbors) dedicated to doing their part. We needed to engage with the people who wanted to make a change but didn't know where to start. That is why we decided to add a new Director to our ACLU family. Someone whose sole job is to engage with and mobilize the people of Maryland on pressing civil rights issues, including the ACLU of Maryland's 2018 policy priorities: bail reform, solitary confinement reform, criminal justice reform, voting rights, and race equity more broadly.
That's why we are delighted to announce our new Director of Engagement and Mobilization, Sergio España. He will work in partnership with our members to build relationships between ACLU staff and community activists and organize supporters to advance our public policy, legal, and communications priorities.
"Sergio has a clear and tenacious vision for civil rights movement building, with the potential to radically transform the ACLU of Maryland, our service to and partnerships with communities directly impacted by injustice," said Toni Holness, Public Policy Director for the ACLU.
Sergio has been involved in community work since he was a kid, learning from family and their faith community about fulfilling the responsibility we have to look out for one another. He has lived in Baltimore for the past 13 years, after spending high school in Montgomery County (He says, "Go, Eagles!") and growing up in Los Angeles and Guatemala.
While in high school in the early 2000's, he became involved in the anti-Iraq and Afghanistan war movements, where after several years, like many of his neighbors, he realized protests alone wouldn't get solutions. They would need to talk with those they disagreed with and together build meaningful alternatives to systems that undermine rights. Sergio worked alongside veterans and military family members nationwide, helping them share their stories and experiences with the civilian community, in an effort to promote transformative healing and directly challenge the perilous consequences of rampant militarism.
While attending the University of Maryland Baltimore County, Sergio joined students and workers there to successfully win paid sick leave for service workers. In the process, Sergio realized the critical importance of working alongside and being accountable to people personally struggling with the issues he cared about. He then became involved with the Student Farmworker Alliance and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, joining thousands of farmworkers and students across the country in successful efforts to increase wages and protect the fundamental human rights of immigrant laborers across the east coast.
Most recently, Sergio worked at the Annie E. Casey Foundation where he supported their Baltimore Civic Site and grassroots partners across Baltimore City. He helped increase funding opportunities for youth organizers and facilitated connections between grassroots leaders and policy makers in Baltimore and Annapolis. Sergio also provided logistical support for grantee organizations in other states that provided workforce and childcare opportunities for systemically under-resourced families in Buffalo, Columbus, and San Antonio.
"I'm excited for the opportunity to further work alongside Marylanders aware of the threats to our civil liberties and human rights," said Sergio España, Director of Engagement and Mobilization with the ACLU of Maryland. "As I have begun to meet up with our supporters, I've been overwhelmed by the level of commitment and general interest shared by the tens of thousands of ACLU members across the state, from Garrett to Worcester counties. I'm eager to support their leadership and encourage those interested in getting further involved in local efforts to reach out to us if they haven't already."
If you want to get involved, get connected, and make some noise, feel free to email us email@example.com.