When the ACLU entered a Y Combinator class, head scratching occurred. Why would one of America’s most venerable (but not necessarily innovative) advocacy organizations be part of the high-profile, high-stakes program designed for startups? Today’s ACLU is is not the “card carrying” ACLU of past decades — and many of the changes are being driven by Political Director Faiz Shakir. The former Communications and Policy Director for Senator Harry Reid, Faiz is an alum of the Center for American Progress where he served as VP of Communications and Editor-in-Chief of the influential blog Think Progress, Shakir brings political savvy, digital smarts and down-field vision to a role at a crucial time in the organization’s history.
Faiz Shakir joined the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in January 2017. As National Political Director, he oversees the ACLU’s National Political Advocacy Department, which houses the organization’s Washington Legislative Office and State Advocacy and Policy departments. In his role, Shakir develops and implements strategies to advance the organization’s priorities at the federal and state levels.
Prior to joining the ACLU, Shakir worked as one of the most senior advisers to former Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid. He directed policy and communications work for Senator Reid while also coordinating with Democratic members and staffs, key interest groups, and press to organize issue campaigns. Prior to that, Shakir served as Senior Adviser and Director of Digital Media for House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, helping wage key fights on behalf of the LGBT and Muslim American communities.
Shakir, a graduate of Harvard University and Georgetown University Law Center, also spent seven years at the Center for American Progress, helping the organization establish its identity as the leading progressive think tank in the nation. At CAP, Faiz served as a Vice President for Communications and was a founding member and editor-in-chief of ThinkProgress.org, one of the top political news websites in the United States. He also advised CAP’s senior leadership on policy matters ranging from economic and domestic policy to national security and civil rights. He led a major campaign to take on Islamophobia which featured the production of a report titled “Fear, Inc.”