September 27, 2012

RENO, NV – Vanessa Spinazola has been appointed Legislative and Advocacy Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, and will be working from its Reno office.

Spinazola was a cooperating attorney and then a staff attorney for the Workplace Justice Project at Loyola University (New Orleans) College of Law from September 2008 to February 2012; an employment law staff attorney at The Pro Bono Project (New Orleans) from August 2007 to August 2011; a summer law clerk at Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest (Seattle) in 2005; Rapid Response Coordinator/Social Worker at King County (Seattle) Dislocated Workers Program from July 2002 to August 2004; co-founder, board member and volunteer, Women’s Freedom Center/Centro para la Liberacion de la Mujer (Seattle) from November 2000 to August 2004; and Employment Coordinator at Washington Women’s Employment & Education (Seattle) from December 2000 to June 2002.

A native of Massachusetts, Spinazola holds a J.D. from Loyola University (New Orleans) School of Law (2007) and a B.A. (Anthropology; Spanish Language & Literature) from Whitman College (1998).

Dane S. Claussen, Executive Director of the ACLU of Nevada said, “Vanessa Spinazola has an extensive breadth and depth of experience with women’s rights, immigrants’ rights, workers’ rights, voters’ rights, HIV/AIDS, and many other issues that are of top priority to the ACLU of Nevada and the national ACLU. She will be a powerful presence lobbying the state legislature, working with other elected and appointed officials in Nevada, representing the ACLU to its members, the general public, and the news media, and heading our Reno office. Vanessa is an ideal addition to our staff as we continue and expand our important and necessary work.”

Spinazola said, “I am extremely enthusiastic about having returned to the West to tie together my legal, advocacy, and organizing experiences for the ACLU and Nevada. I will be working very hard to protect the broad variety of civil liberties which the ACLU of Nevada defends and fights to expand, and which are close to my heart.”

Spinazola’s activism started early, when she founded her high school’s Amnesty International chapter and organized groups of students to raise money for AIDS dance-a-thons in Boston. During her time in Washington State, Spinazola also studied a fishing community in Costa Rica, participated in an archeological dig in Turkey, and worked in the original warehouse and for the 2000 Census. While working for King County, she also served as president of her AFSCME local and on the collective bargaining agreement negotiation team.

Evacuating to New York and Fordham Law after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, Spinazola co-founded the Student Hurricane Network, where she organized thousands of law students from around the country to travel to the Gulf Coast and volunteer to help legal services organizations get back on their feet. During law school, she also was president of Loyola’s National Lawyers Guild chapter, and worked with the ACLU of Louisiana to organize legal observers for events such as the Mardi Gras Indians’ Super Sunday and with the NAACP on election protection programs.

After passing the Louisiana bar, Vanessa remained in New Orleans to work with a small, dedicated group of advocates and represent Spanish and Portuguese-speaking immigrant workers who were rebuilding greater New Orleans but not receiving their hard-earned wages and subject to disproportionate detention by various authorities. (Spinazola is fluent in Spanish.) She also co-founded the Wage Claim Clinic at Loyola Law School.