The ACLU of Georgia has selected Burrell Ellis, former DeKalb County CEO, as its first Political Director. The new role is designed to shape and lead the affiliate’s public policy advocacy and political strategy to build a more expansive advocacy infrastructure to increase the organization’s effectiveness in achieving its public policy objectives.
Ellis has made a career out of public service. His political expertise as well as his level of understanding of the criminal justice system has deepened his commitment to a fairer, more just system.
“Burrell brings a wealth of professional experience and unique perspective to our work for civil liberties and especially criminal justice reform,” stated Andrea Young, Executive Director of the ACLU of Georgia. “His extensive experience with campaigns, government, and civic engagement, and motivating people and managing complex systems will be invaluable assets to our work for social justice.”
Ellis has personally experienced the harsh reality of injustice. During his second term in office, he was wrongfully accused and convicted of committing a crime. As a result, he was suspended from public office, denied an appeal bond, and sentenced to prison. After serving the entirety of the custodial portion of his sentence in prison, the Georgia Supreme Court reversed Ellis’ conviction.
In its unanimous ruling, the Georgia Supreme Court stated that the lower court had denied Ellis one of the most basic of Constitutional rights – a fair trial and the opportunity to defend himself. Ellis returned to office at the end of 2016 and completed his term of office. Leading the Georgia affiliate’s political and public policy arm continues his lifelong career of service to the greater community.
“I am excited to join the ACLU of Georgia and its team of professionals who are committed to protecting the freedoms to which every American is entitled,” stated Ellis. “I look forward to contributing to the affiliate’s meaningful work, particularly during this pivotal moment in history.”
Ellis is a member in good standing of the State Bar of Georgia. He is a graduate of The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and The University of Texas School of Law. Ellis and his wife, Philippa, are the proud parents of two children and reside in Stone Mountain, Georgia.
The ACLU works to advance civil liberties by employing litigation, public policy advocacy, public education, organizing, communications, and social media to protect and promote a broad range of individual rights, including freedom of speech, racial justice, privacy, religious liberty, reproductive rights, LGBT rights, voting rights, immigrant rights, and rights for people with disabilities. The organization often works with broad coalitions of conservatives, moderates, and progressives.