Dana Vickers Shelley


Dana Vickers Shelley, Executive Director, ACLU of Maryland

Dana Vickers Shelley, Executive Director, ACLU of Maryland

Dana Vickers Shelley brings to the ACLU her uniquely strong and diverse background in community outreach, policy advocacy, organizational management, and strategic communications. A strategic leader of diverse, high-performing teams at social justice, government, political, corporate, and philanthropic organizations in both Maryland and across the country for more than two decades, Shelley will helm the state ACLU affiliate during times of great challenge and opportunity.

Shelley joins the ACLU of Maryland at a key time. Since the 2016 election, threats to the civil rights of marginalized communities in the country and our state have intensified. At the same time, support for the ACLU and activism generally also has continued to grow. During this time, the ACLU of Maryland has sharpened our focus on community engagement and grown our capacity to mobilize Marylanders to defend and advance rights. At the same time, the ACLU of Maryland has also been implementing a race-equity lens in approaching our work internally and externally, so that our advocacy has a greater impact.

Dana Vickers Shelley has advised CEOs and senior leaders, and led multi-generational, multi-cultural teams working in social justice, government, political, corporate, and philanthropic organizations in Maryland and nationwide focused on racial equity, community engagement, strategic partnerships, and policy advocacy.

Shelley previously advised the NAACP national board chairman and board members on management priorities and communications strategies during an executive transition. Shelley helped guide Anna Deavere Smith's School-to-Prison Pipeline Project on research and community discussions to address racial inequity in Baltimore's education system following the 2015 Uprising. And she has advised a wide range of foundations, NGOs, businesses and social-impact organizations, including the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, and Black Entertainment Television (BET) Networks.

She developed national partnerships with African-American, Native American, and Latinx journalist organizations to raise awareness of structural racism and disparities in child welfare systems. Shelley advised a national social impact organization in stakeholder engagement to create and advocate for safe and energy efficient homes where low-income families and their children can thrive. Shelley has leveraged the work of the Detroit nonprofit, Mothers of Murdered Children, to gain community support for efforts to engage youth in reducing violence, and she advised organizations in their efforts to connect neighborhood leaders to political officials and law enforcement.

Shelly has also advised Democratic National Convention Committee officials to develop a more progressive agenda. Shelley developed a replicable community relations program that trained youth, parents, faith leaders, and residents to organize and advocate with state/local elected and law enforcement officials.  And she initiated Capitol Hill outreach on immigration reform for the Southern Poverty Law Center, including legal and policy advocacy team meetings with members of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees and legislative staffs of the Congressional Hispanic and Black Caucuses.

While with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, she worked in coalition with community residents to advocate on their own behalf for solutions that were helpful and safe for their families, in the midst of a 31-acre redevelopment project by the city and Johns Hopkins University that relocated 600 low-income families. Most recently, Shelley has been on the faculty of Morgan State University's School of Global Journalism and Communication. Her advocacy for increased voter participation across Maryland has included serving as a Baltimore County voter registration volunteer, lobbying for expanded voter participation across the state, and speaking at the 2018 Baltimore Women's March on the importance of state and local elections.

She holds a Master of Public Administration degree from American University's Key Executive Leadership Program, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is a member of American Association of University Women, National Association of Black Journalists, Native American Journalists Association, and the NAACP (Randallstown, Md. Chapter).