Md. ACLU appoints executive director Goering succeeds Comstock-Gay

she will 'continue vision'

July 12, 1996|By John Rivera | John Rivera,SUN STAFF

The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland board of directors found its new executive director within its own ranks yesterday, appointing legal director Susan Goering to the post.

Goering will succeed Stuart Comstock-Gay, who will leave to pursue a master's degree in public administration at Harvard University.

"We conducted a national search. We found the best person in our own back yard," said Ellen A. Callegary, ACLU president. "We're delighted that she's willing to add the day-to-day management of the office and take on the vision for the next century for civil liberties in the state of Maryland. She'll be setting the agenda along with our board."

In choosing Goering, who has served as legal director since January 1987, the ACLU board ensures that the civil rights organization will continue on its present course.

She worked closely with Comstock-Gay in the high profile cases the ACLU has pursued in recent years, including its lawsuit against the state of Maryland over inadequate funding of Baltimore public schools and another suit that prodded the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development into DTC agreeing to relocate 1,300 residents of the city's high-rise public housing into mostly white suburbs.

Although Comstock-Gay has been praised for reviving the once-flagging Maryland ACLU during his tenure, he said much of that success was due to Goering's work.

"Susan and I have worked as a team for the last nine years," Comstock-Gay said. "She deserves much of the credit for the growth of the organization. I'm pleased the board was able to convince her to apply for the job."

Goering said that she was eager to "continue the vision" of the Maryland ACLU. "I think the organization is in very good health right now. I don't expect any dramatic philosophical changes."

Having worked for years as a litigator, she said she is looking forward to engaging in other aspects of the ACLU's work, such as public education and other forms of civil rights advocacy.

"Our first job as the ACLU is to protect the rights [of citizens], but it's also important to try to heal the wounds that the violations of those rights have caused," she said. "I think this community and the commonwealth of Maryland have a long way to go to heal those wounds."

Callegary said that Goering's salary has not been negotiated, but will be "at least comparable" to the $49,000 a year that Comstock-Gay earned.

Lawyers who have worked with the ACLU say that Goering and Comstock-Gay share a similar philosophy and style.

"Just like Stu, she's got the personality, disposition and temperament that you need to do that job," said attorney Nevett Steele Jr.

"I work in the same arena and sometimes I get a little too hot about what I'm doing," Steele said.

E. Clinton Bamberger Jr., another attorney who has come to know Goering through her work with the ACLU, said that Goering "looks at issues very carefully, in a principled way, and as a lawyer she is very careful in her work and her positions.

"In some senses, she's a conservative lawyer, in the sense that Susan isn't out to blaze new trails in the law. Susan's mission is to apply the law to contemporary situations."

Goering, 43, earned her law degree from the University of Kansas School of Law and practiced in Washington, Kansas City and Philadelphia before moving to Baltimore.

She is married to Gregg Mitchell, a fund-raiser for the Wildlife Foundation in Washington. They live in the West Baltimore community of Hunting Ridge and have a 13-month old son, Austin Wade Mitchell Goering.

Pub Date: 7/12/96

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