Amy Woolard has joined the ACLU of Virginia (ACLUVA) as the newly created Chief Program Officer. The Chief Program Officer will provide oversight and guidance to the ACLUVA’s legal, policy, and community organizing programs, serving as the conductor, director, and facilitator of its programmatic work. The primary responsibility of the Chief Program Office will be to ensure efforts are integrated and focused on the organization’s strategic goals, to operationalize racial equity, and to improve the lives and protect the civil liberties of people in Virginia.
Ms. Woolard comes to ACLUVA with vast and varied experience in litigating, policymaking, and organizing on a variety of issues, especially for marginalized and court-involved children and adults in the Commonwealth. Before joining the ACLUVA, Woolard spent a total of nearly ten years with the Legal Aid Justice Center as the Attorney and Director of Policy and the Youth Justice Program Attorney and Policy Coordinator. Woolard has worked with the University of Virginia School of Law, Voices for Virginia’s Children, and the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia.
Since becoming a lawyer, Woolard has primarily focused on building policy initiatives to enact systemic change that aims to increase power and opportunity for low-income communities and communities of color and redress past harms. She has designed and worked on campaigns both large and small, successful and ongoing, hyperlocal and national in scale, with and under Republican and Democratic leadership, and singularly and as part of a broad coalition. Her work has intentionally integrated policy with tools like litigation, organizing, and communications to effect long-term and meaningful change.
Two notable examples of Woolard’s work expanded rights and opportunities for communities of Virginians historically failed by systems. While at Voices for Virginia’s Children, she served as the architect of a successful statewide campaign to extend foster care services and supports in Virginia up to age 21 for young people who “age out” of foster care. The work found its roots in partnership with current and former foster youth themselves, with help from community groups and a bipartisan coalition of legislators. This integrated advocacy created a foundation of understanding in policymakers that continues to drive foster care policy in Virginia to this day. She also led the state legislative efforts of LAJC’s imaginative and ambitious “Drive Down the Debt” campaign, which ended the suspension of driver’s licenses for unpaid court debt in Virginia. This effort affected nearly one million drivers and required coordination of litigation, legislative and administrative advocacy, data research and analysis, communications, and community outreach and organizing – a major component of the work of the ACLUVA Chief Program Officer.
“We are so pleased to have Amy join our team. Her diverse experiences as well as her honed policy and legal skills will allow the ACLU of Virginia to do even more integrated and authentic work,” said ACLUVA Executive Director Mary Bauer.
Ms. Woolard will be joining the ACLU of Virginia on August 22. “I’m so thrilled to be joining such an accomplished team and taking on some of the most ambitious and important work yet to be done in Virginia,” said Ms. Woolard. “Integrated advocacy, at its heart, helps to shift and build power inside and around the clients and communities we support to bring meaningful change, and I’m so fortunate to help build that work at ACLUVA as the Chief Program Officer.”