Anthony Romero took the helm of the American Civil Liberties Union in September 2001, a week before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Under his leadership, the ACLU has worked tirelessly to protect civil liberties through its Safe and Free campaign and its efforts to hold government officials accountable for the treatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and in Afghanistan. Other new ACLU initiatives developed under Romero's leadership have focused on racial justice, religious freedom, gay rights, reproductive freedom, and privacy.
Romero, an attorney with a history of public-interest activism, has presided over the most successful membership growth in the ACLU's 85-year history, has almost doubled the budget of the organization, and has increased the national staff by over 75%. He is the ACLU's sixth executive director and the first Latino and openly gay man to serve in that capacity. He came to the organization from the Ford Foundation's Human Rights and International Cooperation Program, which he led through a period of extraordinary growth, transforming it into Ford's largest and most dynamic grant-making unit. Romero also served for nearly five years as a Ford Foundation Program Officer for Civil Rights and Racial Justice and for two years on the program staff of the Rockefeller Foundation.
Born in New York City to Puerto Rican parents, Romero was the first in his family to graduate from high school. He is a graduate of Stanford University Law School and Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy and International Affairs. Romero was a Dinkelspiel Scholar at Stanford, a Cane Scholar at Princeton, and a National Hispanic Scholar at both institutions. He is a member of the New York Bar Association and has sat on numerous nonprofit boards.