American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Virginia
701 East Franklin Street, Suite 1412
Richmond VA 23219
Mission Statement
To promote civil liberties and civil rights for everyone in the Commonwealth through public education and litigation with the goal of securing freedom and equality for all.
We are an affiliate of the national ACLU, with which we share resources and expertise.
CEO/Executive Director Claire Guthrie Gastanaga
Board Chair Stephen Levinson
Board Chair Company Affiliation Retired
Contact Information
Address 701 East Franklin Street, Suite 1412
Richmond, VA 23219
Telephone 804 644-8022
Fax 804 649-2733
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 1983
Financial Summary
Revenue vs Expense Bar Graph - All Years
Expense Breakdown Bar Chart - All Years
Projected Revenue $816,648.00
Projected Expenses $1,332,474.00
To promote civil liberties and civil rights for everyone in the Commonwealth through public education and litigation with the goal of securing freedom and equality for all.
We are an affiliate of the national ACLU, with which we share resources and expertise.
The ACLU of Virginia is committed to advancing civil rights and defending civil liberties:
  • Advocating for the rights of all students. Filing a lawsuit on behalf of a transgender high school student demanding that the public school allow him to use the bathroom that agrees with his gender identity. Urging all school districts to follow guidance from U.S. civil rights agencies banning discrimination based on a student’s gender identity. Filing a complaint with the US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights regarding discriminatory disciplinary practices that disproportionately affect black students and students with disabilities.
  • Protecting our liberty and security by enforcing rules governing data collection by government agencies and requiring law enforcement to obtain warrants to use mass surveillance technologies like drones and license plate readers. 
  • Co-leading a coalition focused on reforming our criminal justice system to keep our communities safer by moving people with drug and mental health issues to treatment programs rather than jail, decriminalizing marijuana possession, and addressing racial disparities in policing.
  • Working to ensure law enforcement agencies restrict the unnecessary use of force, and agencies that use police body cameras have in place policies that protect the public’s privacy rights, provide clarity about storage of the data collected, and provide for regular review of videos to track if police bias or other inappropriate conduct exists.
  • Readying a report on the disparate treatment of women in the criminal justice system.
  • Defending and expanding women’s access to abortion and securing the right to breastfeed in public and at work. 
  • Collaborating with other advocates to achieve full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Virginians by guaranteeing the successful implementation of the freedom to marry and eliminating discrimination in the workplace, housing and public accommodations.

 The ACLU Foundation of Virginia’s top 5 most pressing needs are:

  • Technology (hardware and software), including production of mobile applications (apps), that will improve productivity and management and advance our programmatic work ($25,000).
  • Funding to enhance our litigation capacity by adding a staff attorney with criminal justice experience. ($60,000).
  • Funding to enhance our work to ensure technology supports liberty rather than constrain it by hiring a program manager ($75,000).
  • Volunteer attorneys to serve as cooperating attorneys who can help the ACLU expand and defend civil rights and civil liberties by litigating these issues in the courts.
  • In-kind contributions of services to design and implement social media campaigns or funding for such. (up to $10,000).

Although the national ACLU was founded in 1920, there was no ACLU presence in Virginia until the mid-1960s. At that time, Virginia was actively resisting racial integration of public schools, had effectively blocked racial minorities from participation in politics, and had outlawed interracial marriage.

A small group of dedicated activists, most of whom lived in Charlottesville and Alexandria, decided that a strong, independent presence was needed in Virginia to protect individual liberties, advance civil rights and generally help bring the state into the modern era. The ACLU, with its reputation for aggressively promoting constitutional rights, often in the face of great resistance and against popular sentiment, seemed to be the kind of organization that could have the greatest impact in Virginia.

Among the very first cases sponsored by the young ACLU in Virginia was one that rocked the foundations of Virginia’s segregationist past. Loving v. Virginia ended up before the U.S. Supreme Court and is still counted by the national ACLU as one of the most important lawsuits in the organization’s long, storied history. This case challenged the constitutionality of the Virginia statute banning interracial marriages. When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the law violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, Virginia and other southern states were forced to repeal their antiquated anti-miscegenation statutes.

The commitment, talent and tenacity that led to the Loving case continue to serve the ACLU in Virginia to this day.

As an organization, the ACLU Foundation of Virginia has three primary roles. It funds the legal work of the ACLU and the education and outreach programs essential to that work.   The Foundation is the only statewide civil liberties and civil rights organization in Virginia with the resident capacity and resources (locally and nationally) to litigate cases in Virginia’s state and federal courts. Building public awareness and understanding of the continued importance of the ACLU’s work for all Virginians will be a critical challenge as the ACLU’s founding generation moves on and a new generation becomes its audience.  

CEO Statement

 In recent years, the legislature has been indifferent to or openly engaged in restricting women’s rights, determined to limit rather than expand the right to vote, and committed to enshrining religious beliefs in public policy and funding decisions. This seems unlikely to change significantly in the near future. There have been and may continue to be opportunities to gain bi-partisan legislative consensus, however, on some reform of our criminal justice system and to some limits on police use of technological weapons that, unchecked, can run roughshod over our rights to privacy and due process and encourage bias-based policing.

The courts will continue to be an essential bulwark in the defense of our basic liberties and the protection of our rights, however, and will be essential fora to secure the promise of true equality for all Virginians. As the only civil rights organization in the state with the capacity and resources to challenge civil rights violations in the courts, the work of the ACLU Foundation will be especially critical over the next decade if we are to maintain an effective shield against injustice and government overreach and ensure equal protection of the laws.

Areas of Service
Areas Served
Board Chair
Board Chair Stephen Levinson
Company Affiliation Retired
Term July 2016 to July 2018
Board of Directors
Board Members
Jayne Barnard Retired
Elizabeth Gilchrist Advanced Energy Economy
Lavonda Graham-Williams Law Offices of Lavonda N. Graham-Williams, Esq.
Edward Rosenthal Rich Rosenthal Brincefield Manitta Dzubin & Kroeger, LLP
Alan Rudnick Masters-Rudnick & Associates, LLC
Sandra Smith Hunter Holmes McGuire Veterans Administration Medical Center
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 2
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 5
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 3
Female 4
Board Term Lengths 2
Board Meeting Attendance % 80
Written Board Selection Criteria? Yes
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 100
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 5
Other Boards
The tables below contain information about other groups that advise this nonprofit on operations and projects.
Executive Director
Executive Director Claire Guthrie Gastanaga
Claire Guthrie Gastañaga became the ED at the ACLU of Virginia on June 1, 2012. Before that, she was the principal of CG2 Consulting – a firm that specialized in providing strategic governance, management and public policy advice to colleges and other nonprofit organizations and trade associations.
Ms. Gastañaga started her career as a federal civil rights lawyer and then served as assistant university counsel and assistant secretary of the corporation at Princeton University, where she staffed several committees of the Board of Trustees and lectured in the politics department.
Ms. Gastañaga was a trustee of Chatham College and served as the College's interim president during a year in which the College overcame a serious budget deficit, reduced the size of its faculty and staff and implemented a new core curriculum.
Ms. Gastañaga served as the first woman to be appointed to serve as Chief Deputy Attorney General of Virginia.  As Chief Deputy, Ms. Gastañaga shared responsibility for the budget and day-to-day operations and guided the legislative activities of the Office of the Attorney General -- a public law firm with an annual budget then exceeding $15 million and over 250 employees.  

Ms. Gastañaga was honored as one of the first two "Fellows" of the National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA) in recognition of her contributions to higher education law.  In 2002, the Governor of Virginia appointed Ms. Gastañaga to a four-year term as one of Virginia’s Commissioners on the Education Commission of the States. In 2007, she was appointed by the Governor to the Virginia Small Business Advisory Board. In 2006 she was named the Richmond YWCA Outstanding Woman in Law, in 2010, she was named as one of 50 Virginia Women of Influence by Virginia Lawyer's Weekly, and in 2013 she was honored for her work advancing LGBT rights by the Serpentine Society of the University of Virginia which gave her the Bernard Mays award.
Former CEOs
Kent Willis Mar 1989 - June 2012
Senior Staff
Bill Farrar Director of Public Policy and Communications
Leslie Mehta Legal Director
Liz Musselman Director of Philanthropy
Elizabeth Wong Deputy Director
Full Time Staff 10
Part Time Staff 2
Volunteers 50
Contractors 0
Retention Rate 46
Organization has a Fundraising Plan? Yes
Organization has a Strategic Plan? Yes
Years Strategic Plan Considers 5
Date Strategic Plan Adopted Mar 2014
Management Succession Plan? Yes
Organization Policy and Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistleblower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy No
Fiscal Year
Projected Revenue $816,648.00
Projected Expenses $1,332,474.00
Endowment Value $2,855,121.00
Spending Policy Percentage
Percentage (if selected) 4
Form 990s
IRS Letter of Exemption
Detailed Financials
Revenue SourcesHelpThe financial analysis involves a comparison of the IRS Form 990 and the audit report (when available) and revenue sources may not sum to total based on reconciliation differences. Revenue from foundations and corporations may include individual contributions when not itemized separately.
Fiscal Year201620152014
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
Government Contributions$0$0$0
Individual Contributions$476,220$883,039$270,277
Investment Income, Net of Losses$114,822$1,364,734$598,835
Membership Dues----$237,393
Special Events------
Revenue In-Kind$199,476$248,523$187,234
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201620152014
Program Expense$781,515$622,827$592,062
Administration Expense$120,601$108,512$213,262
Fundraising Expense$91,791$69,230$80,860
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses0.883.201.52
Program Expense/Total Expenses79%78%67%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue19%8%30%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201620152014
Total Assets$5,445,236$5,632,220$6,428,821
Current Assets$804,634$701,259$1,338,585
Long-Term Liabilities$0$0--
Current Liabilities$116,835$20,902$63,586
Total Net Assets$5,328,401$5,611,318$6,365,235
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities6.8933.5521.05
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%0%
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
State Charitable Solicitaions Permit
Solicitations Permit
Solicitations Permit 2/2017View
Foundation Comments
  • Financial information provided from audited financial statements
  • Audit represents the combined financial position of the ACLU and the ACLU Foundation of Virginia
  • Form 990 and audit prepared by Meadows, Urquhart, Acree & Cook, LLP.