U.S. Department of State
International Visitor Leadership Program
Reflections on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility
CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS
Wednesday, 15 December 2021
Group 5: American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio
Cleveland, Ohio | Organized by Cleveland Council on World Affairs
Raya SHARBAIN | Jordan
Zukhra GALIYEVA | Kazakhstan
Assylkhan NURZHANOV | Kazakhstan
Erickson MOONEEAPILLAY | Mauritius
Aua BALDE | Portugal
Mohamed ABUKAR ZUBEYR | Somalia
Yuan-Ting CHANG | Taiwan
Pikhaneth PRAWANG | Thailand
Wrongful Convictions - Equal Justice Initiative:
National Institute of Justice:
Please join 10 minutes early
Login: 07:50 Eastern U.S. Time
Meeting: 08:00–09:30 Eastern U.S. Time
Zoom link: https://meridian-org.zoom.us/j/89842664319?pwd=N29GNVBmaHFuUW9lRXlNdThFVlk1dz09
Meeting ID: 898 4266 4319
Meeting organized by: Cleveland Council on World Affairs in collaboration with Meridian International Center
Meeting Topic: J. Bennett (Ben) Guess will discuss how the organization advocates for civil rights and racial, economic, gender, and social equity through an anti-racist, intersectional lens.
Meet Your Speaker
J. Bennett (Ben) Guess
American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio
J. Bennett (Ben) Guess, a prominent activist and minister, has been Executive Director of the ACLU of Ohio since June 2017, bringing a lifelong commitment to civil rights and social justice and decades of non-profit management experience. He leads the ACLU of Ohio’s 25-member statewide staff team working to advance political participation and voting rights, criminal legal system reform, personal autonomy and dignity, and greater inclusion and belonging for all Ohioans. An ordained minister in the United Church of Christ (UCC), Ben is a former national officer and executive administrator at the UCC’s national headquarters, based in Cleveland. He also served for many years as the UCC’s director of communications, where he led the denomination’s historic advocacy for media justice before the Federal Communications Commission. In 2014, Ben was a lead spokesperson for UCC v. Cooper, the federal lawsuit that helped bring marriage equality to North Carolina. A graduate of Leadership Columbus and the Nollau Servant Leadership Institute, Ben is a board member of the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland and United Church Homes, a national affordable housing/healthcare corporation. He is a former board member of the National LGBTQ Task Force, Witness for Peace, Jobs With Justice, National Interfaith Worker Justice, National Farm Worker Ministry, and the ACLU of Kentucky.
Early in his career, Ben served as pastor of a progressive congregation in Henderson, Kentucky, the state’s first openly LGBTQ-affirming congregation, where he established an on-site Planned Parenthood clinic and co-founded Matthew 25 AIDS Services, one of Kentucky’s largest health care providers for persons with HIV. He is a founding co-chair of the Kentucky Fairness Campaign, the state’s leading LGBTQ rights organization. Ben is a graduate of the University of Kentucky with a B.A. in journalism and completed graduate studies in public policy and administration at Murray State University. He earned a Master of Divinity at Vanderbilt University and a Doctor of Ministry at Chicago Theological Seminary, where he was honored as the distinguished alumni in 2014 for his lifelong public witness for justice and mercy. Ben and his husband, Jim Therrien, divide their time between homes in Columbus and Cleveland.
About the Organization
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio (Cleveland, Ohio) champions and expands constitutional and other fundamental rights and pursues racial, economic, gender, and social equity using all the tools of integrated advocacy without political partisanship. Staff will highlight how they advocate for civil rights and racial, economic, gender, and social equity through an anti-racist, intersectional lens.