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Alumnus Spotlight: Jessica Ayoub

June 30, 2021

Jessica Ayoub

Jessica Ayoub (SRP, PTCD '13) (she/her/hers) 
Public Engagement Strategist, ACLU of Michigan

You’re coming up on four years at the ACLU of Michigan—congratulations! Can you tell us a bit about what drew you to the ACLU?
Thank you—hard to believe it has only been four years! I came to the ACLU because I was looking for work that had a deeper social justice connection—and work that connected to my personal and professional values. I joined the team almost a year to the day after the 2016 election, which as many folks know, was roughly the same time that the ACLU exploded. Our membership in Michigan ballooned from 9,000 members to nearly 45,000 members in just a three month span. But, this growth in support was met by an increasing hunger from our supporters to not just support our work financially, but to also take action through volunteerism. My position was created to meet that increased excitement we saw from supporters to activate on the most pressing issues. I was drawn to the position because it was an incredible opportunity to build something from the ground up—and I’ve stayed because my role continues to evolve and challenge me. 

What are some of the most pressing issues you and your team are currently working on? 
We work on so many issues—ranging from immigration to LGBTQ+ rights to voting rights to criminal legal reform. While we work on all of these issues—and then some—most of my time is spent working on criminal legal reform and voting rights. In the criminal legal reform space, I’m leading our campaign to reform Michigan’s pretrial and bail system. On any given day, over 8,000 people are in Michigan jails because they can’t afford to pay for their bail. We’re working with the Michigan Legislature to pass legislation that would end this unjust practice. I also spend a lot of time on voting rights—of course during the election that work focused on ensuring voters knew their voting rights and that they had a plan to vote, and now we’re working to defeat the voter suppression bills moving through the Michigan Legislature right now. 

What motivates you in your role, despite its challenges? 
It’s an incredible privilege to do this work, and even when it is challenging I find motivation in knowing that I’m just playing a small part in something much bigger. While the ACLU is responding to some of the greatest threats here in Michigan and nationally—we were not the first people to do this work, and we won’t be the last. I’m able to do this work because of the people who came before me.