James Duff Lyall will take over as executive director of the ACLU of Vermont in July.
James Duff Lyall will take over as executive director of the ACLU of Vermont in July. (Courtesy photo)

A new executive director will take over at the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont next month.

James Duff Lyall, who is currently an attorney with the ACLU of Arizona, will replace Executive Director Allen Gilbert in July.

Gilbert, who has held the position for 12 years, announced his plans to retire in February.

Originally from New England, Lyall graduated from Middlebury College. He spent time teaching in Shanghai and working as a human rights observer in Chiapas, Mexico, before getting a law degree from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

Lyall worked for the Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project in Los Angeles. He joined the ACLU of Arizona in 2011 and two years later established a satellite office in Tucson to investigate and litigate issues that relate to the U.S.-Mexico border.

In a statement released Monday by the ACLU of Vermont, Lyall referenced the issues he has confronted in Tucson.

"My work with the ACLU in Arizona has covered a wide range of ACLU priorities — police accountability and racial justice, national security and privacy, immigrants' rights, prisoners' rights and freedom of speech — and I know that these are critical issues in Vermont as well," he said.

Jim Morse, the chair of the ACLU-VT board and the head of the search committee, said the organization reviewed applications from candidates within Vermont, across the country and in other countries.

"James stood out as someone with diverse talents, dynamo-like energy, and an ability to work closely and effectively with others in bringing about significant change," Morse said.