The American Civil Liberties Union of Maine has picked a University of Maine School of Law professor and administrator to serve as its new executive director.

Alison Beyea succeeds Shenna Bellows, who led the state ACLU for eight years before stepping down last fall to run as a Democrat for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Susan Collins.

“We are thrilled to welcome Alison Beyea to the ACLU of Maine team,” Susan Peck, president of the ACLU of Maine board of directors, said in a statement. “Throughout her impressive career, Alison has demonstrated a dedication to key civil liberties issues including criminal justice reform, children’s rights and women’s rights.”

Beyea has a lengthy legal background that includes time at the UMaine law school, where she was director of admissions and an adjunct law professor; at the University of Maine Muskie School of Public Service; and at Pine Tree Legal Assistance, where she co-founded KIDS Legal, a statewide program that serves low-income children.

The ACLU of Maine has become a major policy-shaping organization at the State House on various issues and often initiates or gets involved in litigation that deals with personal freedom. Notably, the group recently represented a group of homeless people who successfully overturned a law in Portland that banned loitering, including panhandling and political protests, in medians.

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

erussell@pressherald.com

Twitter: @PPHEricRussell