On August 8, the ACLU of Utah welcomed Brittney Nystrom as its new Executive Director. We’ve enjoyed getting to know Brittney, and wanted our Members and supporters to do the same. We asked Brittney some questions about herself, her new position and some general nonsense – just for fun!
Can you share a little bit about your background? I was born and raised in South Ogden and graduated from Bonneville High School. I moved out of state to attend the University of Notre Dame and then Northwestern University School of Law. Following law school, I moved to D.C. and built a career working to advance immigrant and refugee rights for more than a decade. Most recently I served as the Director for Advocacy for Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service where I engaged Congress and the White House to implement more welcoming and just laws and policies for newcomers.
Why were you drawn to this positon? I was attracted to the real potential for progress on civil and human rights here in Utah. The opportunities to achieve meaningful reform are far more plentiful here than in our nation’s capital. This has been evidenced over the past decade as, under the leadership of Karen McCreary, the talented and passionate staff at the ACLU of Utah have pushed boundaries and won critical victories on a range of social justice and civil rights issues.
How was the move from DC to SLC? Fortunately, my mom flew out to help us pack up and fly to Utah. My husband and I each carried one of our daughters on board the airplane and my mom was responsible for making sure our very old and dazed cat fit under the seat. We were quite a scene in the airport!
Does Utah provide a unique challenge/opportunity for civil liberties? There is a perception out of state that Utah is staunchly opposed to change. I’ve discovered that, in reality, our politicians and lawmakers in Utah are leaders on important civil liberties issues. For example, our legislature nearly repealed the death penalty in the last legislative session and our Governor has stood up for welcoming refugees.
Utahns are known for their sweet-tooths – which dessert are you most excited to try upon your return to Utah? It’s going to be fun eating our way through Salt Lake’s bakeries, but I also have a weakness for Lime Rickeys from Warren’s Drive-In.
Utah boasts one of a kind nature and recreation opportunities. Which of Utah’s outdoor adventures will you show your family first? We are eagerly awaiting the ski season and the opportunity to introduce our girls to skiing in the Wasatch Mountains. There is just no comparison on the East Coast to the Rocky Mountains. In the meantime, we have been enjoying hiking the trails around Salt Lake City.
Find out more about Brittney: