Out ACLU head receives biz award

Earlier this month the Philadelphia Business Journal announced its list of 2014 Minority Business Leaders, and the openly gay head of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania was among the honorees.

Reggie Shuford, who has helmed the organization for three years, is the first head of a nonprofit organization to make the PBJ list.

Shuford, 48, hails from Wilmington, N.C., and received his law degree from the University of North Carolina.

Prior to becoming the ACLU of PA executive director, Shuford served as director of law and public policy at the Equal Justice Society and, from 1995-2010, worked as an attorney with the national ACLU’s Racial Justice Program in New York City.

Shuford said he became acquainted with the Pennsylvania chapter while working at the national ACLU and welcomed the opportunity to serve as director.

“I knew the organization well and worked with some people in the Pennsylvania office,” he said. “I knew them to be great lawyers and advocates, so I welcomed the opportunity to take the helm at an effective organization, where I could help take it to the next level and make it even more effective than it already was and to have a farther reach than what it had when I started.”

Since taking the position, Shuford said, he has been most gratified to see the real-world impact the agency has on Pennsylvanians.

“It’s seeing the impact of our work on the faces and communities and the impact of our work across the state,” he said. “We have the ability to really affect people’s lives in meaningful ways.”

During his tenure, Shuford has helped develop ACLU’s challenge of racial profiling in respect to traffic stops, airport security and other areas and also worked to fight racism in death-penalty cases and education.

Shuford said he is most proud of the organization’s work on the marriage-equality case that led to the May 20 legalization of same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania, as well as its work to defeat the Voter ID law.

He said the ACLU’s reach and impact is both broad and impactful.

“We safeguard civil rights and liberties of every American. No other organization has the same broad mission that we do or the relevance to people’s daily lives when it comes to civil rights and civil liberties.”

In announcing the honorees, PBJ commended Shuford for his work in enhancing his agency’s legislative impact and its overall presence.

“It is very flattering and I am honored and appreciative that they recognize that non-profit organizations are businesses too and do a lot of work and contribute to the community they work in,” Shuford said.

Shuford will receive his award at an Aug. 7 breakfast at the Crystal Tea Room in the Wanamaker Building, 100 Penn Square.

For more information on the 2014 Minority Business Leaders list, visit http://www.bizjournals.com/philadelphia/news/2014/07/10/2014-minority-business-leader-awards.html.

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