Nusrat Jahan Choudhury is the new Roger Pascal Legal Director for the ACLU of Illinois. She joins the staff after nearly 12 years on the legal staff of the ACLU national office in New York City. The Northbrook, Illinois native replaces Benjamin Wolf, who announced his retirement last year after more than three decades with the ACLU of Illinois.
“It is exciting to have someone with Nusrat’s level of experience and expertise to lead our legal staff as we address the many challenges and opportunities for justice in Illinois,” said Colleen Connell, Executive Director of the ACLU of Illinois. “We clearly see the threats to basic civil liberties and civil rights at the federal level, and we know that there is much we can do to protect residents in Illinois. Nusrat has the legal acumen, the strategic vision and the commitment to lead these efforts.”
“I am thrilled to work with the ACLU of Illinois to build an affirmative agenda to address injustice across Illinois,” Ms. Choudhury said as she joined the Chicago staff. “The affiliate’s history of success provides a rich legacy to build upon. Using the courts and all of our tools, I believe that we can work alongside communities in Illinois to advance equality, dignity, and liberty. When we at the ACLU of Illinois bring together people and harness the power of courts and the legislature, we can make real, lasting change.”
While at the national ACLU, most recently as the Deputy Director of the Racial Justice Program, Ms. Choudhury worked on a range of important matters, including: leading litigation and advocacy to end debtors’ prisons—the unlawful incarceration of people who cannot afford to pay money to courts—in Mississippi, Georgia, and South Carolina; winning a critical argument in the Fourth Circuit to advance a federal lawsuit against debtors’ prisons in South Carolina; securing national guidance promoting fairness and equal treatment of rich and poor in courts; helping to launch federal litigation and related advocacy against racial profiling and unlawful stops in Milwaukee’s stop-and-frisk program, resulting in a landmark 2018 court-ordered settlement agreement; challenging the FBI’s targeting of Black activists based on race and speech under the guise of addressing a fictitious group of “Black Identity Extremists”; and working on the team that secured the first federal court ruling striking down the U.S. government’s No Fly List procedures for violating due process; and exposing and challenging national security practices that improperly target Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian communities.
Ms. Choudhury is a graduate of Yale Law School and clerked for Judge Denise Cote in the Southern District of New York and Judge Barrington Parker in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, prior to joining the staff of the ACLU.
“Illinois is where I grew up. I’m excited to return and be part of the effort to make it a better place for all of its residents,” added Ms. Choudhury.