CHICAGO - Ofelia Casillas, an award winning journalist at the Chicago Tribune, has joined the staff of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois to assist the organization in communicating with its many and diverse audiences. Beginning this week, Mrs. Casillas is the Deputy Director of Communications and Foundation Relations. In her new position, she will have primary responsibility for the organization's on-going interactions with several prominent Illinois-based (as well as national) foundations which contribute substantially to the work of the ACLU in Illinois. In addition, Mrs. Casillas will assist in the overall communications' efforts that support the advocacy of the ACLU throughout Illinois on behalf of its clients, its principles and policies and the Constitution.

"We are fortunate that an individual of Ofelia's experience and talents agreed to join our staff," said Edwin C. Yohnka, Director of Communications and Public Policy at the ACLU of Illinois. "Her background and expertise on many of our issues of focus will enable us to enhance our communications with key foundation partners, with our members and supporters, with members of the media and with the general public."

Ofelia Casillas joined the Tribune in 2001 and specialized in covering child welfare, juvenile justice and community social issues. In that work, she established an on-going dialogue with many of the experts in the state concerning issues that affect some of Illinois' most vulnerable populations. Her reporting - about children in the juvenile justice system or in the care of the Department of Children and Family Services - demonstrated a command of the facts and circumstances faced by many young people caught up in those bureaucracies, but also a deep understanding of the nuance and complexity that must be understood in order to reform these vast, impersonal systems. In 2003, she was awarded the Tribune's Edward Scott Beck Award for outstanding professional performance because of the excellence of her work.

"Ofelia knows our issues and she knows the people whose lives are improved by our work," added Yohnka. "She is an invaluable addition to the staff."