2017 ACLU of Louisiana Board Election

Members of the ACLU of Louisiana are entitled to vote in our annual board elections. Please carefully review the following information before downloading your ballot. (Download at bottom of page)


Following is a list of nominees for the Board of Directors of the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana. Those elected will serve terms beginning April 1, 2017. All nominees have been recommended by the Board Relations Committee.


DORIAN ALEXANDER (New Orleans): As policy fellow for the CHANGE Coalition, my work engages me in the community for services, treatment and prevention of HIV on local, state, and national levels.  My advocacy, as a person living with HIV, provides a voice for those infected and affected by this condition. Over the years, I've focused on policies that discriminate or infringe on the rights of the disabled or vulnerable, especially HIV criminalization. I currently host a community radio talk show about health & HIV to reduce stigma and was named one of POZ Magazine’s Top 100 Unsung Heroes.  (Term ending 2020)

EMMA ELIZABETH DASCHBACH (New Orleans): I oversee litigation at Jones Swanson Huddell & Garrison, where I spearheaded the efforts behind the litigation filed by the SLFPA-E against 97 oil and gas companies in 2013. I graduated from Tulane Law School in 2001, where I served in the Immigration Clinic and on the Journal of Law & Sexuality.  In 2006, I earned an L.L.M. in International Law from Columbia. I previously practiced in New York, and worked with the ILO on a factory improvement project in Sri Lanka; the UN Legal Affairs Codification Division; and Open Society on efforts to address discrimination against Muslims in France. (Term ending 2019)

ASHLEY HEILPRIN (New Orleans): I’m a commercial litigator at Phelps Dunbar LLP.  I attended William & Mary, in Williamsburg, Virginia, obtaining a Master of Public Policy and Juris Doctorate.   Last fall, I participated in the Bryan Bell Metropolitan Leadership Forum program, where I learned about important issues plaguing our community.  In my free time, I volunteer regularly throughout the New Orleans area.  I believe in the importance of community engagement and diversity of perspectives.  I am proud to defend civil liberties and would be honored to continue on the Board of Directors. (Term ending 2020)

LAILA HLASS (New Orleans): Laila Hlass is a lifelong ACLU member, and serves as the Director of Experiential Learning and a Professor of Practice at Tulane Law School where she’ll teach in the experiential curriculum and oversee Tulane’s extensive externship program. Previously, she directed the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Boston University School of Law, where students represent newly arrived unaccompanied children facing deportation and refugees fleeing human rights abuses. Prof. Hlass’ teaching and scholarship focus on law, policy, and practices that affect access to justice within the immigration law regime for particularly vulnerable communities. (Term ending 2019)

JAMES KING (New Orleans): As a former administrative assistant of the ACLU of Louisiana, I witnessed first-hand how vital and effective the organization is. Now as a member of the Board and the Treasurer, I have an even greater appreciation of the organization's abilities and impact. During the past two years, I have participated in the budgeting process, planned two events, and attended coalition meetings and events on behalf of the organization. I would be honored to serve another term. (Term ending 2020)

JAYA McSHARMA (Shreveport): I’ve lived in Louisiana my entire life. (Just a blue-state girl living in a lonely world…) As an adult, I’ve found it impossible to stay out of the fight for civil liberties – whether clarifying the intent behind #BlackLivesMatter, being the only doctor to hug the openly gay nurse anesthetist in our hospital the day after marriage equality passed, or organizing events to protect First Amendment rights when threatened at local government meetings. I think LGBT rights and rooting out racism are the most important battles of my generation. This passion runs in my blood. I’m ready for the next step. (Term ending 2019)

MERCEDES MONTAGNES (New Orleans): is an attorney on behalf of incarcerated men and women in Louisiana at the Promise of Justice Initiative in New Orleans. In that role, she litigates unconstitutional prison conditions and other civil rights violations. Recently, she has been an advocate for transparency by the state of Louisiana in its execution protocol. Before becoming a lawyer, Mercedes worked for People for the American Way, where she worked on discrimination based on sexual orientation, religious freedom, and ex-offender re-enfranchisement. Mercedes is a graduate of Barnard College and Harvard Law School, an avid Saints fan, and has a love of cooking. (Term ending 2019)

KATIE SCHWARTZMANN (New Orleans): I’ve always loved and admired the ACLU. In law school I volunteered with the organization, and was hired years later as legal director. I ultimately worked as an attorney for the ACLU here in Louisiana for six years. I still practice civil rights law, now with the MacArthur Justice Center. I believe that my legal experience and my passion for the organization will be assets to the board of directors, and I would appreciate the opportunity to remain engaged with an organization I care so much about. (Term ending 2020)

LAMAR WHITE (Baton Rouge): For nearly 11 years, I have published Louisiana’s most popular progressive blog, CenLamar. I’ve exposed widespread corruption in the state’s school voucher program, associations between a US Congressman and a hate group, and discrimination against LGBT families, among other things. I’ve also used my platform to advocate for disability rights; I live with cerebral palsy. I was born and raised in Alexandria, and after attending Rice University, I spent five years as an assistant to the mayor of Alexandria. In 2015, I earned a law degree from SMU, and today, I split my time between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. (Term ending 2019)


Download, print, and return the completed ballot to: ACLU - Election, PO Box 56157, New Orleans LA, 70156.

Ballots must be received by March 1, 2017.