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Welcome (Home) to Brittney Nystrom, our new Executive Director

28 June 2016 Published in The ACLU of Utah Activist

We are very excited to announce that the ACLU of Utah has selected Brittney Nystrom of Washington, D.C., as the organization's new executive director.Nystrom1

 Actually, replacing Karen isn't really possible, after a very productive, growth-oriented decade at the helm of our ACLU affiliate. But someone has to take over this year, with Karen retiring this summer, to spend more time with her amazing husband Kent, her aging parents in Colorado, and her adventurous sons David and Andrew.

That's where Brittney comes in, with the vision and energy and experience to move the ACLU of Utah forward.

“I'm both excited and a bit intimidated to be stepping into the role of Executive Director - the opportunity to lead the ACLU of Utah as the organization that engages on critically important issues affecting Utahns is one that I find immensely exciting,” Brittney says. “The caliber of the staff is superb and I’m honored to be joining their ranks.”

Born and raised in Ogden, Utah, Brittney has been the Director of Advocacy at the Washington, D.C.-based Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) since 2012. LIRS advocates on behalf of refugees, unaccompanied children, immigrants in detention and other populations. She is a recognized expert on immigration and refugee issues, and has testified before the U.S. House of Representatives and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

"Having focused on immigrant and refugee rights for a number of years, I'm looking forward to expanding my portfolio to include the wide range of issues that are covered by the Utah affiliate," reflects Brittney. "I'm also eager to learn more about and partner with the community groups and coalitions that have emerged and grown since I last lived in Utah."

A graduate from Bonneville High School in Ogden, Brittney was born at Hill Air Force Base, where her father served as a Lieutenant Colonel before retirement. Her parents still live in Ogden, and she's pleased to be moving closer to her roots.


Previously, Brittney was the Director of Policy and Legal Affairs at the National Immigration Forum, where her advocacy focused on due process concerns and overdue reforms to the immigration system. Earlier in her career, she represented detained individuals facing deportation and advocated for humane detention conditions as the Legal Director at the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition. She spent several years in private practice, as well, as part of the litigation team at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobsen, LLP, also in Washington, D.C. She holds degrees from the University of Notre Dame and Northwestern University School of Law, and is admitted to the bar in D.C. and Illinois.

“After an intense search, during which we had the unique opportunity to meet with many impressive candidates from within the state and across the country, we are so pleased to welcome Brittney back to Utah as our new Executive Director,” says Michael Weinholtz, President of the Board of Directors for the ACLU of Utah. “From a deep pool of passionate and highly-qualified individuals who are committed to civil liberties and the work of the ACLU, Brittney stood out for her breadth and depth of experience working on urgent racial justice issues, both through litigation and policy advocacy.”

Brittney admits that, in addition to her excitement over diving into "the complex racial justice and criminal justice reform issues that are dominating the conversation in communities across the nation, including Utah," her husband Patrick - an architect - is very excited to move to Utah to take advantage of the skiing and hiking. Brittney and Patrick are the proud parents of Anastasia (two years old) and Genevieve (four months old).

Brittney will start at the ACLU of Utah on August 8, with current director Karen McCreary generously remaining   with the organization into August to overlap with her successor.

We expect Brittney to hit the ground running, as she reports, "I’m excited to dive into this debate in Utah and get to work building a better system. It’s been encouraging to read about the reforms that have been achieved and that are currently underway and I can’t wait to take part in that effort."