Howard Simon: Lessons from a Career Defending Human Rights

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Meeting ID: 871 9982 1900

Please join by 11, the meeting will be closed at 11:10

Howard Simon served as Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida from 1997 – 2018. He retired in November 2018 as the longest serving state director for the American Civil Liberties Union – serving 23 years as Executive Director in Michigan, and 21 years as Florida ACLU Executive Director.  Howard graduated from the City College of New York and earned a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. He taught philosophy at the University of Minnesota and DePauw University. During his 44 years with the ACLU Howard worked on a number of high-profile issues including school vouchers, the Terri Schiavo case, abortion rights, legislation barring doctors from talking to patients about the safe storage of guns in the home, school and library censorship, and the right of gay men and lesbians to adopt children and marry. His work for voting rights began in 1965 as a college student working as an assistant to the Rev.Andrew Young during the Selma to Montgomery march for passage of the Voting Rights Act.Other voting rights work has included:   drafting the 2018 constitutional amendment to restore voting rights for former felons; working successfully to replace electronic voting in Florida with voting system that uses paper-based ballots and optical scan readers; challenging Legislature’s restrictions on voter registration and early and Sunday voting, and helping secure passage of the Fair Districts Amendments to curb partisan gerrymandering.

After his retirement from the ACLU, Howard founded the Clean Okeechobee Waters Foundation to work with medical researchers who linked toxins in blue-green algae to neuro-degenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s and ALS. His work involves public education about the threat to public health and for policy changes to mitigate the pollution of Florida’s fresh waters that create harmful algal blooms. Howard is a Board member of Calusa Waterkeeper and the Florida Policy Institute. He is a regular contributing columnist for The Palm Beach Post, The Fort Myers News-Press, The Tampa Bay Times and other Florida newspapers.