ACLU of Michigan announces appointment of new political director

The ACLU of Michigan announced last week that, after conducting an extensive search, it has chosen longtime staff member Merissa Kovach to be the organization’s new political director. Kovach, who joined the ACLU in 2008, has held several positions with the premiere civil rights organization, including field organizer, policy strategist, and, most recently, legislative director. In that role, Kovach led the organization’s statewide legislative and advocacy program, which has most recently advocated for the successful passage of: the Reproductive Health Act; expansion of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to explicitly include protections for gender identity and expression, and sexual orientation; and voting rights legislation critical to the implementation of Proposal 2 of 2022. She also was instrumental in driving the strategy for the successful passage of Proposal 3, the ballot measure that enshrined the right to make reproductive health decisions, including abortion, in the state constitution.

“Time and again, Merissa has transformed ambitious vision into concrete action for the ACLU, safeguarding civil rights and liberties for all people in Michigan,” said Loren Khogali, ACLU of Michigan Executive Director. “Merissa’s vision for a reproductive freedom ballot initiative and her dogged legislative advocacy has propelled Michigan forward in protecting reproductive, voting, and LGBTQ+ rights. She has earned her reputation as smart, trusted and collaborative, ensuring that the ACLU of Michigan’s political work is inclusive of diverse perspectives and leverages the full power of the organization’s programs.”   

“It has already been an honor of a lifetime to serve at this powerhouse organization. I am deeply proud of the impact we have had, especially our recent success winning some of the greatest expansions of civil liberties in state history. The ACLU of Michigan is a formidable political force, and I can’t imagine working anywhere else, especially at a time when so much is at stake, including the future of our democracy. As we enter another Presidential Election year, we must be relentless, ensuring that our new, hard-fought rights are protected, as well as anticipating new threats to our civil rights and liberties.

“Without question, the challenges ahead are daunting, but I am fortified knowing that we do not do this work alone. Our partner organizations, volunteers, supporters, friends, cooperating attorneys, and donors are the backbone of this vital work. I am grateful to them and my colleagues, and am excited to chart our course forward as we face what’s ahead in 2024 and beyond, together.”

As political director, Kovach will shape political priorities and advocacy for the ACLU of Michigan and oversee the legislative and organizing advocacy teams. She will help drive high-impact campaigns and programs that leverage the organization’s legal, legislative, public education, and organizing prowess. In that capacity, she will be spearheading efforts to have our 2024 legislative priorities enacted. These include passage of a state Voting Rights Act; ensuring children in Michigan have access to attorneys when involved in the criminal legal system; and passing Drive SAFE legislation to restore the ability for residents who are unable to show proof of U.S. citizenship or immigration status to be able to obtain drivers licenses. She will also oversee the department responsible for executing our clerk engagement and voter education programs, both of which will play a pivotal role in making sure that the ballot box is accessible to every eligible voter in elections that are safe and secure.  

Kovach is a graduate of Michigan State University’s James Madison College with a B.A. in Political Theory and Constitutional Democracy.

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