MILWAUKEE — Christopher Ott, current executive director of the ACLU of Wisconsin, has announced that he will leave the organization in July to pursue other endeavors. Ott, who previously worked for 10 years at the ACLU in Massachusetts, has served as the Wisconsin affiliate’s executive director since 2017.

“After 14 years of working for the ACLU, I care deeply about this organization,” Ott said. “Since the ACLU does so much important work in so many areas, there is never a convenient time to leave. But after helping our great staff, board members, volunteers, and supporters respond to the challenges of the Trump years, the pandemic, and historic new demands for racial justice, it is time for me to move on, and for the organization to bring in new talent for the challenges ahead. In addition to great colleagues who do the ACLU’s daily work in Wisconsin and across the country, I especially want to thank our members and donors, who have made our growth possible. I plan to remain a lifelong ACLU member myself.”

“The ACLU of Wisconsin has grown exponentially under Chris's leadership,” said William F. Sulton, board president of the ACLU of Wisconsin. “During his time with the ACLU of Wisconsin, Chris secured funds and technical assistance for our affiliate through the national ACLU’s Strategic Affiliate Initiative (SAI). Chris grew the human and fiscal capital of our organization, and due to Chris’s hard work, our board was in a position to create new income normalization and strategic reserve funds. Additionally, Chris added departments and expanded our geographic footprint in the state, such as through work for voting rights and criminal justice reform. And Chris has also created opportunities for staff that will continue to benefit the affiliate after his departure.”

The board of directors has formed a search committee and will conduct a search for a nationwide search for a permanent successor. An interim executive director is expected to be announced within the next week. 

"We appreciate Chris' contribution to the Wisconsin affiliate, and we remain committed to our current and future work to protect the civil rights and liberties of the people of Wisconsin. We will continue on with the momentum that we have built, and we appreciate our members and donors for their support," Sulton said. 

The ACLU of Wisconsin is the state affiliate of the national ACLU and is a non-profit, non-partisan organization. The ACLU of Wisconsin has 16,000 members statewide and is dedicated to defending the civil liberties and civil rights of all Wisconsin residents. During its 91-year history, the ACLU of Wisconsin has taken on groundbreaking work on issues such as discrimination in education, housing and policing; the cruel treatment of children in juvenile detention; the state’s cumbersome and restrictive voter ID law; free speech rights; marriage equality and discrimination against LGBT people. The ACLU has a staff of 18 in Wisconsin, and more than 1,000 nationwide. Annual dues begin at $20.