The ACLU of Maryland announced this week that John Alvin Henderson, a Baltimore-based civil rights attorney specializing in employment law, was elected president of the Board of Directors.
Henderson has been affiliated with the ACLU of Maryland for a decade, joining its Committee on Litigation and Legal Priorities in 2009, after advising the organization on a gender bias case. He joined the Board of Directors in 2012 and became chair of the nominations committee for new board members in 2016. Henderson has also led several rewrites to the organization’s bylaws.
The fifth of six children, Henderson was born in Indianapolis and raised in Tuskegee, Ala., and Silver Spring. Henderson said living his earliest years in Tuskegee, a hyper-segregated city, made him aware of the importance of civil rights and community.
Henderson vowed to continue the ACLU’s emphasis on fighting racial disparities in Baltimore City and Maryland, calling it a multigenerational problem.
“Race equity is way overdue and incredibly important,” he said.
Henderson said race equity can be achieved through policy, law and partnerships.
But, he noted, “creating a movement is not just changing the law or policy. We want something sustainable.”
Henderson said he was committed to diversifying the ACLU board and wants to ensure that the organization is “representative” of the whole state.
“Expanding the geographic reach of the ACLU of Maryland has been one of my primary goals during my time on the board,” he said. “We also evaluated the board composition through the lens of inclusion on racial, gender, and LGBTQ matters.”
Henderson also said he would encourage colleagues to think creatively and proactively about how they spend the organization’s resources, and not just hoard funds.
“I believe in a mission driven budget — if there are a few new programs and activities that generate sufficient excitement and are sufficiently meaningful to fund, drawing from the reserve fund, then we should do it,” he said.