Fajardo, an experienced policy advocate, previously guided policy work at social welfare nonprofits and NYC government
The ACLU-NJ today announced the addition of Sarah Fajardo as the organization’s policy director. Fajardo began leading the ACLU-NJ’s policy program in April, drawing from her near-decade’s experience guiding public policy in the nonprofit and government sectors.
For Fajardo, the new position brings the opportunity to enact lasting, equitable change.
“The ACLU-NJ continues to protect and defend the civil rights and liberties of all New Jerseyans, and I’m honored to join this fight,” said Fajardo. “I’m eager to lead campaigns to push for the priorities justice demands – like legalizing marijuana for adults, defending the rights and dignity of immigrants, and limiting the use of solitary confinement – while making sure we remain true to our roots of supporting every New Jerseyan in exercising their civil rights and liberties regardless of who they are.”
Prior to joining the ACLU-NJ team, Fajardo developed and led a campaign to end the criminalization of poverty as a senior policy analyst for FPWA, formerly the Federation for Protestant Welfare Agencies. She built coalition partnerships to launch FPWA’s Ending the Poverty to Prison Pipeline Initiative, which under her leadership advanced efforts to interrupt the rampant criminalization of poverty seen throughout society.
“I’m so proud to have Sarah Fajardo on the ACLU-NJ team as our new policy director,” said ACLU-NJ Executive Director Amol Sinha. “Her long experience in crafting inclusive, forward-thinking public policy will be instrumental in furthering the ACLU-NJ’s leadership defending the rights of all New Jerseyans. I know that with Sarah leading the ACLU-NJ’s policy work, the Garden State’s profile as a national leader in promoting racial justice and equality, and protecting civil rights will only rise.”
Earlier in her career, Sarah analyzed education revenue and policies at the New York City Office of Management and Budget and helped develop child welfare and education policy at the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families, working to ensure equitable access for all.
Fajardo began her policy career at the Vera Institute of Justice, where she directly witnessed the power of advocacy and research to bring about change. As a project coordinator working on cost-benefit analyses of the criminal justice system, Fajardo recognized the importance of system-wide analysis in making the criminal justice system more just and humane.
Fajardo earned a Master’s Degree in Urban Policy Analysis from the Milano School at The New School, and she graduated from Wesleyan University with a bachelor’s in anthropology.
Fajardo knew she wanted to give back to her community from a young age, having witnessed members of her own family positively impact those around them after overcoming obstacles. Her parents dedicated their lives to teaching and service provision to Massachusetts residents – her father was a child psychologist and her mother was a speech language pathologist. Influenced by her parents’ commitment to service, as well as her own multiracial white/Filipino and queer identities, Fajardo felt a personal calling to advance social justice issues.
Fajardo currently serves on the board of directors for CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities as chair of the Fundraising and Communications Committee, supporting the organization’s efforts to build power among low-income Asian immigrants and refugees in New York City and strengthen racial and economic justice.
“My passion for social equity has shaped my deeply held belief that meaningful change can only come when we empower experiences that have been historically oppressed,” said Fajardo. “I’ve committed my career to learning from and listening to experiences different from my own, and this will continue to guide my work at the ACLU-NJ.”
Fajardo’s role as ACLU-NJ Policy Director bridges her diverse experiences as an adviser and advocate, which has equipped her to leverage public policy to protect, defend, and affirm all New Jerseyans’ most essential civil rights and civil liberties.
“When it comes to defending our fundamental rights, there is always work to be done, and I’m eager to make progress,” said Fajardo. “It’s a privilege to join the ACLU-NJ team in fighting for a fairer, more just New Jersey – and I’ll carry out that responsibility with an unwavering commitment.”