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MMC Announces 2023 Honorary Degree Recipient, Graduation Speaker

  • Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the ACLU 
Marymount Manhattan College will welcome Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), as the keynote speaker of its 2023 Commencement ceremony on Friday, May 19. Romero, who has led the ACLU since 2001, will also receive an honorary doctorate in recognition of his long career in public-interest activism.

For over a century, the ACLU has defended Americans’ constitutional rights, including speech and religion, due process, and citizens’ rights to privacy. Romero is the organization’s sixth executive director and the first Latino and openly gay man to serve in that role.

He has presided over the most successful expansion in the ACLU’s history, dramatically increasing its membership and national and affiliate staff and broadening its litigation, lobbying, political advocacy, and public education efforts.

Indeed, under Romero’s tenure, the ACLU has challenged some of the greatest injustices of our time. Among other things, the organization launched high-profile litigation and lobbying efforts to win the freedom to marry for same-sex couples as well as a nationwide campaign to reduce prison and jail populations by 50 percent and combat racial disparities within the criminal justice system. It also established a project to assist in the defense of terrorism suspects being tried by military commission in Guantánamo.

Before joining the ACLU, Romero served as a program officer for Civil Rights and Racial Justice at the Ford Foundation and ultimately became its global director for Human Rights and International Cooperation. He is a New York Bar Association member and a graduate of Stanford University Law School and Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy and International Affairs. He has also sat on the board of several nonprofits. In 2005, Romero was named one of Time magazine’s 25 Most Influential Hispanics in America.

MMC has a proud history of awarding civil rights and social justice leaders honorary doctorates. Past recipients include Rosa Parks H’81 and Coretta Scott King H’69. Last year, the College conferred an honorary doctorate on Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Commencement will take place at the historic United Palace Theatre. Read more about MMC’s graduation exercises here.