The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey has named Udi Ofer, the advocacy director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, to lead the organization as executive director starting Feb. 19.
Ofer, 38, is best known for challenged NYPD’s Stop-and-Frisk policy and the over-policing of schools.
“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,” Ofer said. “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. He was 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 advocacy.
He oversaw major victories during his tenure at the NYCLU, particularly in the areas of racial justice, police accountability, immigrants’ rights and students’ rights. He challenged zero-tolerance school discipline policies and the policing of public schools, and 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 also has 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 came to the United States at the age of 10. He attended University at Buffalo, where he received his bachelor’s degree in political science and international studies in 1997. He received his law degree from Fordham University School of Law in 2001. He is an adjunct professor at New York Law School, where he teaches a course on public policy and social change.
Ofer will replace the ACLU-NJ’s previous executive director, Deborah Jacobs, who left in July after leading the ACLU-NJ for 13 years to work for the Ms. Foundation in Brooklyn.