Jackson, Mississippi. The American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi is pleased to announce that Jarvis Dortch, former member of the Mississippi State House of Representatives, will join the affiliate as its new executive director beginning July 13, 2020. The ACLU of MS is dedicated to promoting, defending, and extending civil liberties to all Mississippians with emphasis on issues related to criminal justice reform, educational opportunities, equal access/equality for all, voter rights, and governmental transparency and accountability. We accomplish our mission through legislation, litigation, and advocacy.
Dortch has represented the people of District 66 since 2016. While in the legislature he served on the Agriculture, Education, Insurance, Medicaid, and Public Health committees. Prior to his election, he directed the Mississippi Health Advocacy Program’s statewide consumer assistance program and led a coalition of advocates, providers, and federal officials to promote and advance health insurance enrollment under the Affordable Care Act.
“As a member of the Mississippi legislature, I saw firsthand that our democracy and voting rights are under assault,” said Dortch. “I considered it a great privilege to serve in the legislature and represent all Mississippians, especially our underserved. However, there are other avenues to not only protect our democracy but to further extend voting rights and government openness. I cannot think of a better opportunity than working to promote ACLU’s goals in Mississippi.”
An alumnus of Jackson State University and Mississippi College School of Law, Dortch has worked in private legal practice as well as in policy, advocacy, and social justice work across the state of Mississippi. “Jarvis brings an impressive skill set to the ACLU of MS as a coalition builder, attorney, former legislator, and policy advocate. He has become a leading voice in the state speaking truth to power on issues that impact vulnerable communities”, said Cassandra Welchlin, President of the Board of Directors. We also wish to offer our sincere appreciation to ACLU-MS staff members Joshua Tom and Tabuthia Bell who have served as Interim Executive and Co-Executive Director since the July 2019 resignation of former Executive Director Jennifer Riley-Collins who led the affiliate through six years of significant growth. We look forward to continuing to promote, defend, and extend civil liberties to all Mississippians under Mr. Dortch’s leadership.