Dr. Melinda Brennan

Dr. Melinda Q. Brennan has been with the ACLU since January 2022. 

Melinda serves as the executive director of the ACLU of Wisconsin. As the first woman of color to lead the ACLU of Wisconsin in its more than 90-year history, Melinda will guide the affiliate in strategic planning and overall vision for the organization with a community-forward, collaborative, and DEI focus. 

Melinda has a track record of conceptualizing and implementing the strategic vision, community building and strengthening, anticipating and acting on critical situations, successfully translating vision into action, and deep experience in anti-racist and anti-oppressive work.

“Many of the issues I am devoted to reveal the way difference weaponized, made the problem, rather than honoring difference, being accountable to justice, and supporting communities held at the margins,” Melinda said. “My commitment to this work is informed by scholarship and action, much of which was done by women of color, queer people of color, and other multiply marginalized leaders who speak truth to power.”

Before joining the ACLU, Dr. Brennan served as a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Board Consultant for the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition Project, training and educating board members about disability, race, and class issues related to mobility justice.

Born and raised in Wisconsin, Melinda earned her bachelor’s degree in women’s studies and her master’s degree in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She went on to earn her doctorate in gender studies at Indiana University, where she wrote a dissertation on the nexus between hate acts, nationalism, white supremacy, and American Islamophobia. 

“I’m honored to have been entrusted to lead this organization. I plan to bring a community-first, community-orientated approach to my role and to lead the way in building back a strong team, and an even more resilient community,” Melinda said.