MONTPELIER >> The American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont has selected James Duff Lyall of Tucson, Ariz., as its new executive director, replacing Allen Gilbert who is ending his 12-year tenure this summer.

Lyall has been a staff attorney with the ACLU of Arizona since 2011. In 2013, he was tasked with establishing the first-ever ACLU satellite office in Tucson to investigate, document, and litigate civil rights issues related to the U.S.-Mexico border region. The ACLU's Border Litigation Project was formed as a joint initiative with other ACLU affiliates on the southwest border and has initiated multiple groundbreaking lawsuits and an array of related public advocacy focused on civil rights and civil liberties in the border region.

Before coming to the ACLU, Lyall worked for three years as a staff attorney with the Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project in Los Angeles, Calif., where he provided free legal representation to unaccompanied immigrant children and detained immigrants.

A New England native, Lyall is a graduate of Middlebury College, where he majored in art with a minor in classical studies. His law degree is from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Between college and law school, Lyall worked in Boston at the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, taught in Shanghai, China, and worked as a human rights observer in Chiapas, Mexico.


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ACLU-VT board chair Jim Morse, who headed up the search committee, said, "We had a very strong pool of applicants from Vermont, a dozen other states, and several foreign countries. Throughout our six-month search, we were impressed by the deep commitments many people have made to protecting Americans' civil liberties and speaking out for equal justice. James stood out as someone with diverse talents, dynamo-like energy, and an ability to work closely and effectively with others in bringing about significant change."

Lyall said, "I am thrilled to be returning to Vermont and grateful for the opportunity to lead the ACLU of Vermont into its 50th year and beyond. My work with the ACLU in Arizona has covered a wide range of ACLU priorities – police accountability and racial justice, national security and privacy, immigrants' rights, prisoners' rights, and freedom of speech – and I know that these are critical issues in Vermont as well. As executive director, I am committed to building on Allen's legacy and ensuring that the ACLU continues to play a key role in holding government accountable and advancing the civil rights and civil liberties of all Vermont residents."

Lyall will begin work at the ACLU-VT's Montpelier office July 25.