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Gastañaga will be new ACLU chief

The ACLU of Virginia has hired activist, advocate and administrator Claire Guthrie Gastañaga as its new executive director.

Gastañaga will succeed Kent Willis who is leaving the group after 25 years.

“Claire brings to the ACLU a huge network of people throughout Virginia who share our commitment to equality and civil liberties,” said board president Jayne Barnard in a news release. “What’s more, her talents are endless — she’s been a lawyer, lobbyist, administrator, writer, and fundraiser.

Gastañaga has lobbied for groups such as Equality Virginia, the Virginia Coalition for Latino Organizations and the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Alliance. She previously has served as Chief of Staff and Special Counsel to the Speaker of the House of Delegates. She was the first woman Chief Deputy Attorney General of Virginia.

A 1974 graduate of the University of Virginia law school, Gastañaga is a member of the 2010 class of VLW’s Influential Women of Virginia . She will start work at the ACLU at the beginning of June, the group said.

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