Shenna Bellows, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine for the past eight years, announced she is stepping down from the post.
Bellows posted a letter Thursday to her Facebook page talking about her recent marriage to Brandon Baldwin and her decision to resign her post as one of the state’s leading civil rights advocates.
Baldwin is schools and curriculum coordinator for the Civil Rights Team Project for the Maine Attorney General’s Office, according to the state’s website.
“I feel a deep sense of gratitude for the opportunities I have had at the ACLU for over a decade, both in my two years at the Washington Legislative Office and especially in my last eight years home in Maine with all of you,” Bellows said.
Former director Karen Foster has been named interim director.
Bellows cited a number of accomplishments the organization contributed to during that period, including:
• Rejecting the REAL ID initiative.
• Resisting warrantless surveillance of telephone and email communications. Maine became one of only two states to pass warrant requirements for surveillance of cellphone communications.
• Reducing solitary confinement in Maine prisons.
• Restoring same-day voter registration.
• Enabling same-sex couples to marry.
In her letter, Bellows noted that her marriage had been on hold until Maine passed a law that allowed gay and lesbian partners to marry, a cause Bellows worked on for the past seven years.
“Shenna is one of the most strategic thinkers I’ve ever worked with,” said Betsy Smith, who recently stepped down as executive director of Equality Maine. “Her communication expertise during the 2009 legislative campaign and referendum campaigns of 2009 and 2012 are some of the best communications strategy I’ve ever seen, and I think they contributed significantly to helping us win” the right for gays and lesbian couples to marry.
ACLU Maine communications director Rachel Healy said Bellows has helped to prepare the organization for her departure.
“Shenna’s eight-year tenure at the ACLU of Maine was incredibly successful,” Healy said. “I want to assure you she’s leaving on nothing but good terms.”
Bellows did not indicate what she will be doing in the future — except embarking on her honeymoon — but she has been mentioned as a possible challenger to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins in 2014.
David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: